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Congressman Albio Sires

Representing the 8th District of New Jersey

Washington Review, December 8, 2017

Dec 8, 2017
Washington Review

While in Washington this week, I introduced two bills to strengthen protections for consumer data, spoke against the tax bill on the House Floor, attended a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on counterterrorism in Africa, and held a number of meetings. Additionally, the House passed a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown.

Strengthening Protections for Consumer Data

This week, along with Senator Menendez, I introduced two bills to strengthen protections for consumer data. The Consumer Data Protection Act would require credit reporting agencies to notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as well as customers and law enforcement, in the event of a data breach. This bill would also ban arbitration clauses. The second bill we introduced was the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights, which would restrict the types of information businesses can collect on customers, and grant consumers access to the collected information, allowing them to correct errors and opt-in to data collection.

Speaking on the House Floor

On Wednesday, I went to the House Floor to speak out against the disastrous effects of the Majority tax bill. I have continuously opposed this harmful bill which gives tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of communities who need it the most, such as students, veterans, and low-income families. I am outraged that the House decided to go to conference on a bill that cuts deductions for our most vulnerable populations, yet maintains a deduction for golf course owners. I do not believe a bill that prioritizes golf course owners over seniors and students is fair, and I will continue to oppose a bill that is so harmful to the citizens of New Jersey.

Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

Later in the week, I attended a hearing in the Foreign Affairs Committee which examined U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa and the impact of the State Department redesign on these efforts. I expressed my disappointment at the Administration’s State Department cuts and its failure to address issues of freedom of speech and democracy promotion. I also questioned Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan about the threat of spillover from Libya into neighboring African countries, such as Tunisia and Morocco. 

Meetings

At the beginning of this week, I met Mr. Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, a Polish Member of the European Parliament. We discussed the importance of continued security cooperation between the U.S. and the E.U., as well as strengthening the U.S.-Poland relationship.

I also welcomed Starz’s Vice President of Distribution, Mr. Joe Glennon, to learn more about their business and their work in New Jersey. Later, I discussed the mutual interests of cooperation between the U.S. and Armenia with the Armenian Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Grigor Hovhannissian.

Additionally, I welcomed back Ambassador László Szabó of Hungary to review the U.S.-Hungarian relationship. Finally, my colleagues and I met with the Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, Mr. Richard Gere, to discuss how the United States can address the suffering of the Tibetan people.

Legislation on the Floor

This week, the House passed yet another short-term, two week continuing resolution to keep the government open until December 22. While I believe it is important to keep the government open, I have been very clear about bipartisan priorities that need to be addressed before the fiscal year ends, including items such as reauthorizing Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding, and passing a clean DREAM Act. A short term stop-gap funding measure is an irresponsible way to run a government and keeps programs that rely on stable, long-term funding in limbo for another two weeks.

I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the President urging him to keep the government open, and to also address pressing funding concerns related to the opioid crisis, veterans’ health,  and critical funding for community health centers. Additionally, I sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to work together to urgently and responsibly extend funding for CHIP.

As Congress continues to address the budget, while keeping the government open is an obvious objective, we must also work together to provide much needed attention to critical programs that impact vulnerable communities throughout America. I hope that in the coming weeks my colleagues will be able to reach across the aisle to develop a long-term budget that addresses these priorities.

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