Washington Review, December 20, 2019
This week in Washington, the House passed vital legislation on fiscal year (FY)2020 appropriations, the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, and United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Additionally, two articles of impeachment reached the floor for consideration. I met with delegations from Chile and Colombia, as well as led two bipartisan efforts to shape our foreign policy with Nicaragua and Taiwan.
On Tuesday, I voted for H.R. 1865 and H.R. 1158, comprising the federal government’s appropriations for fiscal year (FY)2020. Included in this package was full funding for the 2020 Census, increased election security, and, for the first time in 20 years, $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research gun violence. Additionally, funding was increased for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services, among other essential measures. H.R. 1865 passed by a vote of 297-120 and H.R. 1158 passed by a vote of 280-138. Both measures were approved by the Senate on Thursday, December 19, 2020 and were sent to President Trump to be signed into law.
The following day, I voted for Article I and Article II of the H.Res.755, Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors. I believe the impeachment inquiry conclusively proved that President Trump used the powers of his offices inappropriately and risked the our national security. The separation of powers embedded in our Constitution requires us to hold every public official accountable and uphold the integrity of our democracy. Article I, Abuse of Power, passed by a vote of 230-197 and Article II, Obstruction of Congress, passed by a vote of 229-198.
On Thursday, I voted for H.R. 4530, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act, introduced by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). This legislation makes essential changes to the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to strengthen key labor protections, close compliance loopholes, and establish enforcement mechanisms to ensure our trading partners live up to their labor commitments. H.R. 4530 passed by a bipartisan vote of 385-41 and now awaits consideration before the Senate.
That same day, I stood up for New Jersey and against the unfair $10,000 cap on State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions. I voted for H.R. 5377, the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), which I was proud to also cosponsor. This bill removes the cap established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and restores tax fairness for states unduly burdened. H.R. 5377 passed by the House by a vote of 218-206 and now awaits a vote before the Senate.
On Wednesday, my bipartisan resolution with Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs by a unanimous vote. H.Res.754 condemns the abuses of the Ortega regime in Nicaragua and conveys support on behalf of the House of Representatives for the people of Nicaragua as they reclaim their fundamental human rights. H.Res.754 now awaits a vote on the House Floor.
That same day, I joined Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) to meet with the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. We expressed concern over recent violence, included the murder of 9 members of the LeBaron family and a spate of killings of Mexican police officers. We had a productive discussion about how the U.S. can work to reduce violence in the border region and I look forward to taking steps with my colleagues to ensure meaningful results.
Then, I met with Chile’s Minister of Economy Lucas Palacio, Vice Minister of Trade Rodrigo Yañez, and Chile’s Ambassador to the United States Alfonso Silva Navarro. I expressed my concerns over reports from international human rights bodies of Chilean police using excessive force against peaceful protesters. We agreed that all such incidents must be fully investigated as part of Chile’s ongoing effort to build an even stronger, more responsive, and more inclusive democracy. I look forward to working together to further strengthen U.S.-Chile relations.
On Thursday, I met with Colombia’s Foreign Minister Claudia Blum and Ambassador to the United States Francisco Santos to discuss the U.S.-Colombia relationship. I look forward to working closely with the Foreign Minister to advance our countries’ shared interests and support Colombia’s admirable response to the Venezuelan migrant crisis.
Also on Thursday, I led a bipartisan letter with my Congressional Taiwan Caucus co-chairs, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer. We encouraged him to begin work on a bilateral trade agreement with Taiwan, a critical economic partner to the U.S. In total, 157 of our House colleagues joined us in support of Taiwan and to address the serious issues of global competitiveness and growing our economy.
Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my Facebook, Twitter, and website.