Washington Review, February 11, 2019
Last week in Washington, my bill to reform commuter safety inspections passed the House, along with increased child care services for veterans’ families. I met with representatives of the New Jersey Education Association, the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association, and a number of foreign delegations. I continue to work with my colleagues on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to address the crisis in Venezuela, and my colleagues and I on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met for the first time in the 116th Congress.
On Wednesday, I was proud to see my bill, H.R. 543, pass unanimously in the House of Representatives. After the tragic 2016 Hoboken train crash in our community, it was clear to me that more must be done to protect our commuters who depend on rail infrastructure. My bill brings members of Congress into the fold when safety reviews are conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). When safety investigations are opened into commuter rail agencies, the FRA must inform Congress, and, when the review is completed, it must transmit its findings and any recommendations to Congress as well. Federal officials must remain proactive and engaged on local commuter safety. H.R. 543 now awaits review in the Senate.
On Thursday, I voted with my colleagues in favor of H.R. 840, the Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act, which was introduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) and passed by a vote of 400-9. This legislation expands the 2010 pilot program offering child care services for veterans at some Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. As they return to civilian life, the brave men and women who served our country should not have to worry about childcare availability while accessing medical care. H.R. 840 now awaits further action by the Senate.
Additionally last week, I was honored to receive a 100% from the Humane Society Legislative Fund on their Humane Scorecard, tallying my support for animal rights legislation in 2018. I will continue this important work with my colleagues in the 116th Congress and always fight for the humane treatment of animals.
The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) visited me in Washington on Thursday. NJEA Representatives, including Anita Kober and Donna Mirabelli from West New York, discussed with me the vital need for investment in our public schools as well as challenges in the daily safety of our students. I look forward to addressing critical education issues for our nation in the 116th Congress.
Also on Thursday, Rodrigo Masses, President of the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association (PRMA) met with me to discuss challenges tax policy and challenges in energy for Puerto Rico. Following Hurricane Maria, efforts to rebuild Puerto Rico must take into account the long-term impact on the island’s economy.
I spoke with CNN Español on Wednesday about the partial government shutdown, the Trump Administration’s divisive language on immigrants, and the crisis in Venezuela. The next day, I sat down with Voices of America to discuss the twisted tactics of Venezuela’s dictator Nicolás Maduro blocking medicine and food from the Venezuelan people. Links to these interviews can be found here: bit.ly/2DzfGnF
Serving on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has been essential to my time in Congress representing the 8th District, one of the busiest transportation hubs in our country. I was proud to join my colleagues for our first hearing and begin serving as the senior-most Representative from New Jersey on the Committee. Our country demands bold action on infrastructure for the 21st century, and I am passionate about reviewing and advancing the innovative solutions that our Committee will consider.
As the world continues to support the Venezuelan people, it is heartbreaking to see dictator Nicolás Maduro halt food and medicine from the country at this critical time. Nearly 90% of Venezuelans live in poverty and over three million have fled the country to seek refuge, yet Maduro meets this humanitarian crisis with brutal force and the imprisonment of political dissidents. As the National Assembly remains the only democratically-elected institution in Venezuela, Head of the Assembly Juan Guaidó is the constitutionally-mandated leader of Venezuela. On Thursday, I met with Charge d’Affaires Carlos Vecchio to discuss how a peaceful, democratic transition must promptly lead to new elections that are free, fair, and transparent.
On Wednesday, I met with Isabel de Saint Malo, the Vice President of Panama to discuss the partnership between our countries and Panama’s commitment to sustainable development. Later that day, I sat down with Ambassador Hugo de Zela, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru to discuss how the U.S.-Peru relationship can best support the Venezuelan people. Then, on Friday, Dr. Srdjan Darmanovic, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, met with me to discuss challenges facing NATO and Russian aggression.
My colleagues and I on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs convened a hearing last Wednesday for the first time in the 116th Congress. We received expert testimony focused on the current challenges facing Yemen and the Arabian peninsula. Following the hearing, we held a markup on H.J.Res.37, which would direct the removal of U.S. troops in Yemen not authorized by congressional action. This legislation passed out of committee by a vote of 25-17 and now awaits a vote before the full House of Representatives.
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.