Washington Review, January 18, 2019
This week in Washington, I voted again to reopen the federal government, marking eight total different pieces of legislation I have supported to end the shutdown. Additionally, I introduced a bill to increase commuter safety and met with USAID officials to discuss foreign policy priorities.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House of Representatives once again considered legislative attempts to reopen the federal government. H.R. 268 included relief funding for victims of hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters as well as funding for all impacted federal agencies through February 8, 2019. H.R. 268 passed the House by a vote of 237 – 187. H.J.Res.28 includes a Continuing Resolution to reopen all federal departments through February 28, 2019, bringing financial security to 800,000 federal employees and providing more time for continuing negotiations. The House of Representatives will continue consideration of this bill next week. The Senate has yet to consider any of the funding bills passed by the House of Representatives.
Ending the shutdown is an essential priority as I continue to work with my colleagues in Washington. Holding the pay of public servants hostage in order to obtain a southern border wall is irresponsible. I am focused on ensuring these hard-working men and women, at all levels of government, receive the backpay they are owed. I am an original cosponsor of both the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), and the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act, introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). The first bill mandates backpay for federal workers furloughed by the shutdown, while the second ensures low-income contracted and sub-contracted employees are not overlooked by traditional backpay structures.
I am proud to introduce H.R. 543, legislation to improve oversight of intercity commuter rail transportation by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Following deadly incidents in our own community of Hoboken and around the country, we cannot afford to ignore the safety of our public transit. H.R. 543 would require the FRA to notify members of Congress when the agency conducts safety investigations in their districts, allowing them to take further action if necessary. Coordination between our federal and local governments ensures all necessary resources are available to prevent any further tragedies.
Also on Thursday, I voted in favor of H.J.Res.30, a resolution to reverse the Trump Administration’s decision to remove sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska. These sanctions were imposed following Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election and their reversal came with a troubling silence from the Administration on their reasoning. Foreign adversaries that have attempted to undermine our democracy should not be given a free pass to conduct business as usual.
Statehood for Puerto Rico and continued advancement of the island’s recovery were the priorities of my Wednesday discussion with Charles Rodríguez, the former Senate President of Puerto Rico. On Thursday, I met with Mark Green, Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to discuss the passage of my bill, the Global Health Innovation Act of 2017, as well as receive updates on the agency’s priorities for 2019.
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.