Washington Review, December 27, 2018
Last week in Washington, important issues were addressed from local transportation to national criminal justice reform. However, Congress must remain focused on resolving the partial government shutdown currently impacting hundreds of thousands of government workers.
On December, 19, 2018, the Senate unanimously passed a continuing resolution to cover federal agencies under the seven unpassed appropriations bill and extend their funding through February 8, 2019. This legislation was widely agreed upon by both Democrats and Republicans and provided crucial economic stability for American families and businesses. However, House Republicans refused to hold a vote on this package because it did not include any additional funding specifically set aside for a southern border wall. It is irresponsible to block bipartisan funding for important agencies and disrupt reliable pay for hundreds of thousands of federal workers. The continuing resolution passed by the Senate included funding for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), proven border security measures, and national nutritional assistance programs. This legislation deserves a vote on the House floor. Through the rest of 2018 and as the 116th Congress begins, I am committed to ensuring that we have a functioning and responsible federal government.
Positive Train Control (PTC) has the power to completely revolutionize the safety of our transportation system. As one of the busiest rail hubs in the Western Hemisphere, thousands of commuters in the 8th District rely on trains to reach work every day and safely return home each night.
PTC is an automated breaking system that will protect commuters from human or machine operating errors. Preventing crashes, derailment, or any number of tragic accidents, PTC is a critical investment in the safety of our loved ones and the future of our infrastructure.
Last Monday, I joined Governor Murphy and other New Jersey leaders to announce the installation of PTC technology on over 326 miles of the NJ Transit system. Then on Thursday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that New Jersey Transit has been awarded nearly $6,550,000 in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants for PTC implementation.
Tragedies like the 2016 crash in Hoboken and the 2017 train derailment in Dupont, Washington can be prevented with technology like PTC. I will continue to always support robust, targeted investments in innovation and safety for NJ transit.
On December 14, 2018, a district judge in Texas ruled in favor of a suit brought by Republican State Attorneys General seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.
Without immediate impact, this case nonetheless represents yet another attack on the health care of millions of Americans. I have fought against repeated attempts to legislate the ACA out of existence and I remain dedicated to protecting coverage for vulnerable Americans. As we enter the 116th Congress, preserving access to quality health care for our community remains one of my top priorities.
Between 2007 and 2015, federal investments in global health by the U.S. government created 200,000 new jobs and $33 billion in global economic growth. I introduced H.R. 1660, the Global Health Innovation Act of 2017, to strengthen the effectiveness of these programs under the direction of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
On January 1, 2018, my legislation passed the House by an overwhelmingly supportive vote of 423-3. Then, last Thursday, I was proud to see H.R. 1660 pass the Senate by unanimous consent. The Global Health Innovation Act of 2017 now awaits a signature by the President to be enacted into law.
For a small fraction of the annual budget of the federal government, this foreign aid spending lays the groundwork for essential partnerships in international business and security cooperation. H.R. 1660 is critical oversight for programs that progress the health care of millions around the world and establish American global leadership for generations to come.
Last week, the House considered a number of bipartisan measures representing years of concentrated work on issues ranging from health care to criminal justice.
I have always supported the critical investments needed for breakthroughs in care for Alzheimer’s patients. Last Wednesday, the House passed S. 2076, the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Act, by a vote of 361-3. I was proud to cosponsor the House version of this bill and vote for the passage of S. 2076. Now, the federal government can fund Alzheimer’s initiatives to promote early detection, reduce risk, and prevent avoidable hospitalizations.
Last Thursday, I voted in favor of a bipartisan criminal justice reform package, S. 756, the First Step Act. Passing the House by a vote of 358-36, the First Step Act is the culmination of years of work and compromise by both the Democrats and Republicans to address expensive, ineffective policies currently governing our prison system. Now, this legislation will reform good time credits, increase career training opportunities, and amend unjust sentencing practices – emphasizing our ability as a society to rehabilitate prisoners, not just punish.
The preservation and enjoyment of the Jersey Shore’s natural landscape was ensured by the passage of H.R. 6602, a bill reauthorizing New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route. Running 300 miles from Sandy Hook to Cape May, the Trail Route is an essential way for not only our community, but Americans from all across the country, to visit with the historic Jersey Shore. I was proud to vote to extend funding for the Trail Route through 2025 and see the vast majority of my colleagues also support this bill with a vote of 382-9.
Last Thursday, I also voted in favor of H.R. 7279, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, which codifies into law the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Integrated Planning” initiative. This legislation will streamline local investments and reporting metrics to better tackle challenges in municipal water quality – such as population growth, aging infrastructure, and limited resources. These are innovative steps critical to increasing environmental and health benefits for our country’s water supply. H.R. 7279 passed by a vote of 351-10.
The BOLD for Alzheimer’s Act and First Step Act now await the signature of the President to be enacted into law. H.R. 6602 and H.R. 7279 require a vote before the Senate.
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.