Washington Review, March 2, 2015
Last week in Washington, I participated in various Committee and Subcommittee hearings, introduced legislation, spoke on the Floor of the House, and met with constituents and foreign leaders.
I first participated in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to examine the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Foreign Affairs budget request. While international affairs accounts for just over one percent of our federal budget, it makes important contributions to U.S. security and economic objectives abroad. In the Committee hearing, I asked Secretary of State John Kerry several important questions regarding recent events in the Western Hemisphere, U.S. relations with Colombia, and the status of U.S. diplomatic efforts to return fugitive Joanne Chesimard to the United States and bring her to justice.
I also participated in a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing regarding the national security implications of the Administration’s new Cuba policy. U.S. intelligence and defense officials have noted some concerns about Cuba as part of their assessment of worldwide threats facing the United States. As such, in the Subcommittee hearing, I expressed my concern regarding the national security implications of the policy shift.
I then participated in a markup session of three important pieces of legislation with the Foreign Affairs Committee, preparing them to be brought to the Floor for a vote. This legislation includes the Trafficking Prevention in Foreign Affairs Contracting Act (H.R. 400), the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 757), and a resolution condemning the attack in the Nigerian town of Baga (H.Res. 53).
Last week I also reintroduced the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 1053) in conjunction with Senator Menendez (D-NJ). This important, common-sense piece of legislation comes at a critical time when data breaches are happening more and more frequently. The Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act is a comprehensive privacy plan that strengthens protections for consumers’ sensitive data, holds retailers who fail to keep that information secure accountable, and enforces a uniform data security notification standard without burdening small businesses. You can read the full press release here.
I then met with the Ambassador of Pakistan, Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani, to discuss ongoing U.S.-Pakistani relations and how Pakistan is contributing to peace and reconciliation in the region.
I also had the privilege to meet with officers and cadets of the New Jersey Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. It was encouraging to hear of their dedication to the safety of our citizens, and I thank them for their service to the state of New Jersey.
Finally, I spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives to acknowledge Jersey City, New Jersey on its economic growth and diversity. As you may know, Jersey City is the 2nd largest city in New Jersey and was recently named the country’s most diverse city. Over half of the residents of Jersey City speak a language other than English at home and City Council is comprised of a wide array of individuals from different ethnicities. Furthermore, just this past year Jersey City has seen an upgrade in its credit rating, a continued decline in unemployment, and an ever increasing skyline. Jersey City is a true American melting pot and I applaud Mayor Steve Fulop and the residents of Jersey City on continued progress.