Washington Review, February 6, 2014
This week I had a series of productive meetings with constituents and leaders from New Jersey; attended a Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing regarding Iraq; met with members of the British Parliament to discuss transportation policy; and supported bringing legislation to the floor that would relieve increasing costs of flood insurance.
At the beginning of the week, I met with leaders of universities from across New Jersey to discuss their priorities for education in 2014. They shared personal stories about the difference Pell and other grants have made in making college affordable for their students. I assured them that I am committed to ensuring that every student has the opportunity to obtain a college education.
I also met with President Nariman Farvardin of the Stevens Institute of Technology, located in Hoboken. The Stevens Institute of Technology is a hub for innovative research that benefits our state, region, and nation, particularly in the areas of healthcare and medicine, defense and homeland security, energy, infrastructure resilience, and STEM education. I was pleased to hear that much of the work done at the university is already providing significant results that benefit New Jersey every day. President Farvardin and I also discussed the importance of continued investment in research at the university.
I was also pleased to welcome my counterparts from the British Parliament who sit on their Transport Select Committee to Washington, DC. My fellow colleagues and I from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee discussed our shared goal of maintaining old and rapidly deteriorating road and water infrastructure, how technology can improve the movement of goods and services, and how public-private partnerships can be better utilized to generate greater private sector funding for our transportation and infrastructure.
Additionally, I met with members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Task Force who represent New Jersey each year at the annual National Narcotics Officers Association Coalition conference in Washington DC. They updated me on the hard work being done in regards to current drug enforcement issues across our state.
Furthermore, the Foreign Affairs Full Committee Hearing examined the resurgence of Al-Qaeda forces in Iraq since the U.S. drawdown. The Committee discussed potential threats to U.S. interests in the region and possible security solutions to this resurgence. I asked the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran how he is working with the Iraqi government to increase protections for residents still living in Camp Liberty as Iranian refugees, waiting to be transferred to new homes outside both Iraq and Iran.
This week, I voted to bring to the floor a vote on the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370) to stem the tide of rising flood insurance premiums that affect hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the country. Hard-working American families shouldn’t be drowned by unwarranted flood insurance premium increases that could depress home prices and harm the housing market. Unfortunately, the effort to bring H.R. 3370 to the floor failed.
Finally, it is dismaying that yet another week has gone by in which Congress has been unable to bring relief to those who desperately need their emergency unemployment insurance benefits. Once again, I called upon the House to bring H.R. 3824, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, to a vote immediately so that we might finally provide relief to over one million Americans.