Washington Review, July 1, 2019
Last week in Washington, the House continued to advance the funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020 as well as vote on humanitarian assistance for migrants at the Southern border and election security. I spoke at a House Committee on the Budget hearing about the positive impact of immigrants on our economy, received the Legislator of the Year award from the New Jersey Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars, and met with stakeholders as a part of my work on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Last week, the House continued consideration of two appropriations bills to fund our government through FY2020. On Tuesday, I voted in favor of H.R. 3055, the Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act and on Wednesday, I voted in favor of H.R. 3351, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. Included in these bills was $1.5 billion for military family housing, $61 billion for infrastructure development, $3.39 billion in funding for the National Park System, $600 million for election security grants, and more. H.R. 3055 passed by a vote of 227-194 and H.R. 3351 passed by a vote of 224-196. Both bills await consideration before the Senate.
On Thursday, I voted in favor of H.R. 2722, the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act, which includes a $600 million grant program for improving voting system security, establishes federal cybersecurity election standards, and requires states to conduct risk-limiting audits. I also voted in favor of H.R. 3401, which provides $1.3 billion to address the desperate, inhumane conditions for migrants detained at DHS facilities. Reports of the unjust treatment of migrants and asylum seekers at the border, including young children, shocked and saddened me. The United States of American cannot lead the world on democracy and human rights, if we do not practice those same values in our borders. This legislation was not perfect but it provided funding specifically for medical are and the purchase of consumables, desperately needed by migrants at the border. This bill is only the first step and I will continue to fight to hold Ice and CBP accountable H.R. 2722 passed by a vote 225–184 and awaits a vote before the Senate. H.R. 3401 passed the Senate by a vote of 84-8, passed the House by a vote of 305-102, and now awaits a signature by the President.
I was honored to be recognized by the New Jersey Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars as the Federal Legislator of the Year. It is more important than ever to stand up for the care of our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. I will continue throughout my time in Congress to support legislative solutions that provide resources and eliminate obstacles for our veterans.
On Wednesday, the House Committee on the Budget convened to examine the positive impacts of immigrants on the American economy. When my family arrived to the United States, we were welcomed and received a hat, coat, glove and the support of our community. That is what enabled me to one day become an independent businessman and eventually a Member of Congress. Our community, the 8th District, is nearly 44% foreign-born and home to nearly 12,000 immigrant entrepreneurs. The increased productivity and business dynamism allows our home to flourish and grow. Mischaracterizations of immigrants as criminals is not only rooted in hate and prejudice, but statistically inaccurate. According to one study by the New American Economy, 9 out of the 10 American cities that received the largest influx of refugees between 2006 and 2015 saw violent crime rates drop over this same period.
I am proud to cosponsor and vote for landmark immigration legislation like H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, which provides a pathway to legal permanent resident status for DACA and TPS recipients. I will continue to support commonsense reforms to our broken immigration system, and work with my colleagues on the Budget Committee, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and from every part of the country to make sure the diversity of our nation continues to be its greatest strength.
Last Monday, I spoke at the Embassy of Argentina’s event commemorating the 25th anniversary of AMIA bombing. I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.Res.441, introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), honoring the 85 lives lost and calling for a resolution to hold the perpetrators accountable. The next day, the Third Deputy Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, Kerstin Lundgren, stopped by to discuss developments in the region, Russian aggression, and share foreign policy interests. I also met with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to emphasize my support for Israel in the face of threats from Iran and meet with Ivan Simonovis, the longest-serving Venezuela political prisoner. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), and Venezuelan Ambassador Carlos Vecchio joined me to her Mr. Simonovis’ story of his heroic activism and captivity. On Wednesday, the Consul General of Canada, Phyllis Yaffe, visited to discuss the incredibly important economic ties between the United States and Canada and the need to push for worker protections while we consider ratification of United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).