Washington Review, July 14, 2017
This week in Washington, I discussed microfinance and the importance of international diplomacy at a Foreign Affairs Hearing and at a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing, spoke with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly about President Trump’s immigration reforms, voted on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and held a number of meetings.
- Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing
- Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Hearing
- DHS Secretary Kelly
- National Defense Authorization Act
On Wednesday, experts testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the importance of providing more opportunities to empower women across the globe. I asked the witnesses how Congress can work with global partners, particularly in the Western Hemisphere, to ensure that women have greater inclusion and participation opportunities in the global economy. It is important that the United States support and encourage the continued education of women and girls around the world to give them the tools they need to be successful and independent in a global economy.
Later that afternoon, I attended a hearing of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee where we discussed the effect of the President’s proposed international affairs budget on international diplomacy in the Western Hemisphere. I expressed my concerns about the proposed cuts to the international affairs budget and asked the experts how these cuts will affect the anti-corruption efforts of the Attorneys General in the Northern Triangle countries. I also asked the witnesses about the impact the proposed elimination of the Food for Peace program and the drastic reduction in global health programming will have on young children and families in Latin America and the Caribbean. I will continue to encourage President Trump and Secretary Tillerson to fund a robust international affairs budget so the United States may adequately support the security and prosperity of our Western Hemisphere neighbors.
Earlier this week, I joined my colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in meeting with DHS Secretary Kelly to discuss the Administration’s troubling policy shift on ICE enforcement, deportations, and immigration. I encourage my colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Administration to work together towards comprehensive immigration reform that fixes our broken immigration system without jeopardizing the pursuits of those who have come to our country legally.
At the end of this week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which funds the Department of Defense (DOD) and programs for fiscal year (FY) 2018, by a vote of 344 to 81. While this bill is not perfect, I am pleased that the legislation takes steps to address military readiness gaps, requires a strategy from the President on Syria, and enhances services and programs for our service members and veterans. Specifically, this bill raises military pay by 2.4% and does not include discriminatory language banning transgender individuals from serving in the military. It also bolsters international partnerships to counter Russian, Chinese, and North Korean aggression as well as responses to cyber warfare threats. Additionally, this bill acknowledges that climate change is a direct threat to U.S. national security and requires a report on the effect of climate change on military installations. The National Defense Authorization Act now awaits further action in the Senate.
On Wednesday, I welcomed representatives of Association of School Business Officials International to the office to discuss how Congress may continue to support the tireless work of the education professionals who mold the next generation of our country. I also met with Close Up students from Harrison and Jersey City, who were interested to learn about my experience on Capitol Hill.