Washington Review, February 14, 2014
This week I had a series of productive meetings with members of my constituency, spoke on the Floor of the House about the importance of career technical education, and supported several pieces of legislation that were brought to a vote before the House.
At the beginning of the week, I met with members of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2001 from the Federal Correctional Institution Fort Dix to discuss challenges faced by Bureau of Prisons staff regarding increasing inmate population, budget shortfalls, and the need for more staff. While the Joint Base has been a success, wage parity for wage grade employees working at the base remains an issue that must be addressed.
I also met with members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee where we discussed the need to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon as well as the current negotiations taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. While it is clear that a nuclear armed Iran would be a dangerous and destabilizing presence within the Middle East, it is critical to ensure that all diplomatic options are exhausted before any military action is considered in the region.
This week, I spoke on the Floor of the House to address the issue of joblessness in America and to advocate for continued investments in career technical education and vocational schools. Our labor market is evolving and placing greater emphasis on high-tech skills, and it is necessary to provide opportunities for students to learn skills they can apply to a job either right after graduation or through further certification. By investing in career technical education, we can ensure that more Americans have secure career opportunities after graduation. You may listen to my full remarks here.
On the House Floor, I was pleased to support H.Res. 447, a resolution which calls for the support of the democratic and European aspirations of the people of Ukraine, and their right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear. While many Ukrainian citizens have been calling for their county's participation in the European Union as opposed to a Russian-led economic union, this political crisis has led to violent clashes between protestors and riot police. The House passed H.Res. 447 by a vote of 381-2.
This week, Congress also voted to suspend the debt limit through March 15, 2015, bringing greater certainty to the American people, businesses, and the economy. This increase simply allows the Treasury to pay the bills that Congress has already approved and does not add one cent to the deficit. Delaying a debt ceiling increase in the past led to the nation’s first ever credit downgrade, costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars in lost retirement savings, and hundreds of thousands of urgently needed jobs. A clean bill to raise the debt ceiling is the only path to avert a historic and catastrophic default and I am pleased that the House passed this legislation by a vote of 221-201.
This past week I was also proud to support the passage of H.R. 3676, the Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013, during a meeting of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This bill would prohibit the use of cell phones for voice communications during the in-flight portion of any scheduled domestic commercial flight. This legislation is in response to a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (DC) to lift the ban on the use of cell phones to make voice calls in flight. While the usage of phones, tablets, and personal computers for internet purposes and text messaging on domestic flights should be accepted, to allow voice calls would be a nuisance not only to fellow passengers, but for flight crews as well. It could also pose a serious safety risk should the flight crew not be able to conduct their work in an appropriate manner due to the disturbance. H.R. 3676 was unanimously passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and now awaits action on the House Floor.