Washington Review, February 16, 2018
This week in Washington, the nation struggled to come to terms with yet another incident of mass gun violence which targeted young students at a Florida high school. The President also released an overpromised, yet underfunded infrastructure plan and a misguided budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2019. Additionally, I attended a Transportation Subcommittee hearing, a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing and held a number of meetings.
- Parkland, Florida Shooting
- Infrastructure Plan
- FY 2019 Budget Proposal
- Transportation Subcommittee Hearing
- Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Hearing
Earlier this week, another community was shattered by a senseless act of violence that no one should have to experience. My heart breaks for the victims and families of the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Though it is not enough, my sincerest condolences go out to all those affected. There is an epidemic plaguing our country, yet Congress continues to sit idly by as children are attacked in the very places where they should be safest. I have cosponsored numerous pieces of legislation that have been introduced to restrict access to deadly weapons that are all too often turned on innocent civilians and I call on Speaker Ryan to bring these bills to the Floor for a vote. Congress can and must do better.
On Monday, President Trump released his long-awaited Infrastructure Initiative which was overpromised, but under-delivered. What was advertised to the American people as a $1.5 trillion Federal investment plan for updating our degrading national infrastructure is in reality a ten year plan that only provides $200 billion. This is not nearly enough especially when added to the proposed $168 billion cuts to infrastructure funding over the same period of time. This plan instead relies on states and cities to raise an additional $1.3 trillion and rolls back protections intended to keep public services from being privatized. This plan is a disgrace and falls well short of the President’s promises.
At the beginning of this week, the President released his proposed budget for FY 2019, which will devastate working Americans by slashing vital programs that millions rely on. The President’s proposal takes away money from critical social programs that invest in communities across the country in order to begin construction of his superfluous border wall. Cuts to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the elimination of affordable housing programs such as Community Development Block Grants place a greater burden on America’s communities. Additionally, a concentrated focus on private schools, slashed funding for the COPS hiring program, and steep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, prove that rather than fighting for the American people, the President has vested interests elsewhere. I vow to continue supporting programs critical to the 8th District and work with my colleagues to ensure the President’s budget does not become law.
On Thursday, I attended a Subcommittee on Railroads and Pipelines hearing which examined the ongoing process of installing Positive Train Control (PTC) technology on U.S. rails. This technology is a critical part of the upgrades being installed on rail infrastructure around the country because it would help prevent accidents like the one that occurred in Hoboken in 2016. Had PTC been fully installed and operational, it would have detected the engineer’s failure to stop the train in time and may have prevented one life from being cut tragically short and over one hundred people from being injured.
After a years-long investigation, the National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB) ruled that, not only would PTC have at least mitigated that fatal accident, but that its probable cause was the engineer’s fatigue, likely resulting from his undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea. Ensuring that the people who have the lives of men, women, and children literally in their hands be capable of doing their job is common sense. That is why I have been an advocate for sleep apnea testing and am an original cosponsor of H.R. 3882, which would direct the Department of Transportation to continue and complete making a rule that would require all bus, truck, and rail operators to be tested for sleep apnea.
I also participated in a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing examining the relationship between the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS). In a time of political instability in the region, the OAS has the potential to be a critical tool for the advancement of democracy and I hope that the U.S. can do more to work with OAS to address its challenges and foster its leadership in the Hemisphere.
On Wednesday, I welcomed small business leaders from New Jersey’s 8th District which shared their experiences with me participating in Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiatives and the challenges they face in today’s economy.
Finally, I spoke with members of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police to discuss critical issues facing our law enforcement officers in New Jersey and how Congress can continue to support them.
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.