Washington Review, February 19, 2019
Last week in Washington, I was assigned to the House Committee on the Budget and introduced legislation addressing health research and international human rights. I met with New Jersey community colleges, members of Local 2369 from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition and Transportation Energy Partners, and other important stakeholders. Additionally, I cosponsored a resolution to overturn President Trump’s harmful emergency declaration.
Last week, I was honored to be named by Speaker Pelosi as a new member of the House Committee on the Budget. Enacting oversight of the federal budget, this committee will hold critical debates on the future of our nation’s fiscal policy. I look forward to working with my new colleagues and representing the 8th District on the committee.
President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency last Friday is a blatant abuse of executive power and harmful waste of taxpayer money. This archaic border wall will divert essential funds from drug interdiction programs and our military, as well as completely disregard proven border security strategies. I joined my colleague Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) to cosponsor a privileged resolution to terminate this fabricated national emergency. Congress must stand up on behalf the American people against this destructive executive overreach.
I voted on Thursday night in favor of H.J.Res.31 which provides funding for nine federal departments and averted the threat of another government shutdown. It is essential that services at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and more remain in operation for the American people. This fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending package included funding for proven border security methods, affordable housing, law enforcement grants, and critical investments in infrastructure like the vital Gateway Project. The American taxpayer does not deserve to have their resources wasted on policy skirmishes and inefficient strategies.
Last Monday, I introduced legislation to expand and coordinate research on Tourette syndrome at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). H.R. 1131, the Collaborative Academic Research Efforts (CARE) for Tourette Syndrome Act of 2019, is for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who suffer from this neurological disorder and their loved ones who care for them. This legislation would establish grants through NIH for the creation of Centers for Excellence in Tourette research and the advancement of data collection methods. We must remain vigilant in the early detection, diagnosis, prevention, control, and treatment of Tourette syndrome.
I also introduced H.Res.136 last week to demand accountability from the Castro regime following reports of coercion and oppression of medical professionals by the Cuban government. For years, the Cuban government made billions of dollars at the expense of Cuban medical professionals who were forced to provide medical services abroad. Over 2,000 Cuban doctors have asked the U.S. government for help following the restriction of movement, surveillance, coercion, retaliation against family members, and wage garnishing carried out by the Cuban government. This disregard for human rights cannot be ignored by the international community.
America’s public schools are the bedrock of our democratic society. However, too many students in vulnerable communities are forced to learn everyday in crumbling facilities that pose health and safety risks. I am proud to cosponsor H.R. 865, the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). This legislation proposes bold investment in our nation’s public school facilities through the creation of grants and tax credit bonds, specifically prioritizing investment in at-risk communities. H.R. 865 is currently under review by the House Committee on Education & Labor and the House Committee on Ways & Means.
Last Tuesday, I met first with theNew Jersey Clean Cities Coalition and Transportation Energy Partners to discuss the future of clean energy in our community. Then, I spoke with students, faculty, and representatives of community colleges in New Jersey to emphasize my support for accessible higher education. I also sat down with members of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2369 to receive updates on labor contract negotiations and discuss ways to support our federal employees.
On Wednesday, members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) met with me in Washington. We discussed the traumatizing effects of our immigration system on American children whose parents have been torn from them or deported. This must end and I will continue supporting these families, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and DREAMers. Our nation’s strength has always been in its diversity and proud history of immigration.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs met on Wednesday to receive expert testimony on the current crisis in Venezuela. I was honored to chair the full committee for a time during a hearing about a subject that my colleagues and I on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee work so closely on. Later that day, I met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) to welcome Chargé d’Affaires Carlos Vecchio to the Capitol. We discussed the importance of free, fair elections and the release of humanitarian aid for the Venezuelan people.
Also last week, I met with President Iván Duque of Colombia to discuss the implementation of the peace agreement with FARC as well as regional developments in Venezuela. I also sat down with the Ambassador from Ecuador, Francisco Carrión, to discuss bilateral relations. On Thursday, I attended a breakfast forum at the Council of the Americas to share updates on the political crisis in Venezuela.
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.