Washington Review, July 12, 2019
This week in Washington, the House of Representatives tackled the annual funding of our nation’s defense and voted to extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. I met with a North Bergen teacher, New Jersey students, the Ambassador from Peru, and a Congressional Delegation from Colombia. I also held a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing to examine the current human rights abuses of the regime in Cuba.
On Friday, I voted in favor of H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, introduced by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA). As part of the annual funding package for our nation’s defense systems, this legislation funds a pay raise for our armed servicemembers, addresses military housing issues, increases support for military spouses and families, develops strategies to respond to Russian aggression, and ensures Congressional oversight of all military use in conflict. Additionally, this legislation prohibits funding by the Department of Defense (DoD) for a southern border wall. H.R. 2500 passed by a vote of 220-197 and now awaits further action by the Senate.
The House also voted on H.R. 1327, the reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). This legislation rightly extends funding for the VCF through at least 2092, providing funds for many of the heroic men and women who were first responders at Ground Zero. H.R. 1327 also allows claims to be filed until October 2089 and mandates back payment for any beneficiary who was impacted by the period of insufficient funding. This legislation passed by a vote of 402-12 and now awaits further action by the Senate.
On Wednesday, I sat down with North Bergen teacher Chris Camizzi and the American Federation of Teachers. We discussed imperative issues affecting our educators like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and funding for Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). I will continue to fight for our public education system in Congress and the right of every child to a quality education. The next day, I met New Jersey students visiting Washington, D.C. as part of the Close Up program. We discussed their perspectives on policy and the importance of public service.
This week, I met with the Colombian Congressional Delegation to discuss the continuing implementation of the peace deal, the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and our countries’ shared strategy on counter-narcotics. Then, I led a bipartisan working group, along with Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), focusing on current issues facing Latin America and the Caribbean region.
On Thursday, I sat down with Hugo de Zela, the Ambassador from Peru and Coordinator of the Lima Group. We continued our dialogue on the ongoing operations to end the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and discuss ways our partnership can bring stability to the region. I then chaired a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on human rights in Cuba. Experts offered testimony on the regime’s human rights violations and opportunities for Congress to protect the rights of marginalized Cuban communities.
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.