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Washington Review, February 12, 2016

Feb 12, 2016
Washington Review

While in Washington this week, I held several meetings, completed Transportation and Infrastructure Committee work, and attended a Joint Subcommittee hearing.

Meetings

This week John Rasati and Alexa Akin, two multi-sport athletes with Special Olympics New Jersey, came to visit my office.  I enjoyed having a chance to talk to them about their experience with Special Olympics and the impact the program has in New Jersey.  I am very proud of all of our Special Olympics athletes and wish John and Alexa continued success. I also met with the Honorable Karina Sosa, Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in El Salvador. We discussed current issues of importance in El Salvador and how we can improve bilateral relations.

Transportation

This week, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing to review a proposal to privatize the air traffic control (ATC) system.  I questioned the witnesses on how different aspects of the reform would impact aviation issues that are important in the 8th District of New Jersey, such as airport noise.  The following day, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a markup of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill, which includes the provision to privatize the ATC that was discussed at the earlier hearing.  Unfortunately, while this bill includes many positive bipartisan provisions, it places the safest air traffic control system in the world under the control of a private corporation. I cannot support a reform that would risk public safety and put the ATC system in the hands of big airlines.

Subcommittee Hearing

On Thursday, I participated in a joint subcommittee hearing of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. The hearing focused on the Zika virus and the rapidly increasing rate of infection in the Americas. My colleagues and I were able to learn more about the virus and the Administration’s efforts to combat it.  The Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitos   and, although not all of those infected show symptoms, it has recently become an issue of international concern. While there are still many unanswered questions, it is alarming that the virus has been linked to a rare condition, Microcephaly, which results in children being born with incomplete brain development.  Rates of infection have increased rapidly and there have been cases reported in over 25 countries.  As we learn more about the Zika virus and face this new global health crisis, we must work closely with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere to coordinate an effective strategy that will strengthen health systems and control the outbreak.

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