Washington Review, February 4, 2019
Last week, I was elected Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade by my colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I visited the Hudson River Tunnel last Monday and worked with my colleagues in the New Jersey Congressional delegation to implore action on crucial infrastructure projects. Additionally, I voted to raise the pay of civilian federal employees, including those impacted by the shutdown, and sponsored legislation to address the crisis in Venezuela.
On Tuesday, I was honored to be elected by my peers to the Chairmanship for the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade. This region is deeply personal to so many constituents in the 8th District. I am humbled to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead this Subcommittee and formulate our nation’s relationship with countries of the Western Hemisphere. Critical challenges lay ahead and are already present, but I am inspired to work tirelessly on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the promotion of peace, security, and prosperity for our international community.
Last Monday morning, I joined Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to personally inspect the Hudson River Tunnel. Our economic region relies on this century-old infrastructure every single day. We cannot ignore the necessary maintenance and updates to keep our economy growing – businesses in the 8th District and across the state desperately depend on it.
Upon returning to Washington, I sent a letter with Sen. Menendez, Rep. Pascrell, and Rep. Payne Jr. to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao urging full support for the Hudson River Tunnel Project. Administrative delays and government shutdowns should not stand in the way of this critical investment. With 200,000 daily passengers, the Hudson River Tunnel project is one of the most urgent infrastructure priorities for our nation.
On Wednesday, I voted with my colleagues to give federal employees a 2.6% pay increase, consistent with a pay increase approved for the military last year. Following the longest government shutdown in America’s history, the pay freeze proposed by President Trump was simply unacceptable. These civil servants provide crucial services for our nation and many endured undue hardship caused by the shutdown. H.R. 790, the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019, which was introduce by Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), passed the House by a vote of 259-161 and now awaits action before the Senate.
I joined my colleagues on Thursday to become an original cosponsor of Rep. Donna Shalala’s bill, H.R. 920, the Venezuela Arms Restriction Act. Nicolás Maduro and his despotic regime of fear, corruption, and violence has been rejected by the Venezuelan people. The United States must support their attempts to peacefully rebuild their nation and I am proud to support a bipartisan bill to prevent American-made articles from being used against the Venezuelan people. H.R. 920 is currently pending review by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
New Jersey members of the United Postmasters and Managers of America visited me in Washington last week. We discussed our shared commitment to a financially secure future for the U.S. Postal Service and our opposition to its privatization. For generations, Americans have relied on the high-quality, affordable services provided by USPS and I am dedicated to ensuring that legacy continues.
Students from the Simon Youth Academy of Elizabeth who are participating in the Close Up program stopped by my office on Tuesday. We discussed the pivotal role education plays in democracy and the importance of civic engagement at every age.
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.