Washington Review, January 16, 2017
Last week in Washington, I spoke out against the Administration’s decision to open U.S. shores for drilling, cosponsored legislation to raise wages for federal employees, sent letters regarding property taxes and the National Flood Insurance Program, and attended a meeting and two Foreign Affairs Committee hearings.
Earlier this month, the Administration announced its misguided proposal to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all U.S. coastal waters, which could cause irreparable damage to the environment, and endangers livelihoods of our coastal communities. As a former business owner in Atlantic City, the President should understand the importance of clean and vibrant shores to the New Jersey economy. That is why my colleagues in the New Jersey delegation and I have sent letters to Interior Secretary Zinke expressing our opposition to the Administration’s recent proposal. Additionally, I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 2272, the COAST Anti-Drilling Act , introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). This bill would prohibit the Department of the Interior from issuing leases for oil and natural glass developments in the Atlantic Ocean.
The New Jersey shoreline brings nearly $45 billion to the state’s economy and if Florida can receive an exemption from this disastrous proposal by citing the delicate nature of its waters, then New Jersey certainly deserves an exemption too. I vow to work with my New Jersey colleagues to do all that we can to protect New Jersey’s coastal communities.
Our nation’s federal employees contribute years of their professional lives in service to the operation of our country, and should be recognized for their contributions. As such, I am an original cosponsor of Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (D-VA) FAIR Act of 2019, which would provide federal employees with a 3% pay increase for calendar year 2019. I have also cosponsored H.R. 757, the FAIR Act of 2018, which would provide a 3.2% increase to federal employees for 2018.
Also last week, I joined my New Jersey delegation colleagues in sending a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanding that the IRS rescind their directive that would prohibit New Jersey residents from deducting their prepaid 2018 property taxes from their 2017 federal taxes. This December announcement by the IRS adds chaos and confusion to the implementation of the rushed tax bill.
Additionally, I sent a letter to House Leadership requesting a clean reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) beyond the current January 19, 2018 expiration, which is set by the Continuing Resolution. The NFIP aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures by providing affordable insurance to property owners and encouraging communities to adopt floodplain management regulations. Adding in controversial reforms impedes Congress’s ability to reauthorize this critical program.
Last week, I attended a hearing hosted by the Foreign Affairs Committee to examine the effectiveness of sanctions as a national security tool. With recent events in North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela, the U.S. has consistently turned to sanctions as a key tool to hold bad actors and aggressors towards the United States accountable. Expert witnesses testified on the efficacy of these measures as well as the challenges threatening their implementation.
Later, I participated in a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing that focused on electoral integrity and the upcoming elections in the region. There are many elections slated for 2018 in Latin America including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Paraguay, whose outcomes have the potential to alter U.S.-Latin American relations. The undemocratic transitions of power in Cuba and Venezuela also pose continuing challenges for U.S. relations in the Hemisphere. At the hearing, I reemphasized the importance of free and fair elections to the region’s development and that the United States can work together with regional partners to promote and protect human rights throughout the Hemisphere. I questioned the witnesses about the purported meddling of Russia in Mexican elections and how the U.S. can work with the Mexican government to share some of the lessons we learned to prevent foreign interference in elections.
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.