Washington Review, July 17, 2015
I advocated for the people of the 8th District this week by attending Foreign Affairs Committee hearings, meeting with several groups from the Garden State, and voting on critical pieces of legislation.
Earlier in the week, much of my work was focused on foreign relations. The Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to further examine the implications of a final nuclear agreement with Iran. While I support efforts to pursue a peaceful path to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, I am deeply skeptical that the proposed agreement will actually prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran has spent decades evading international sanctions, promoting terror in the region, and violently oppressing its own people. Any proposed deal with Iran must include the most intrusive inspections regime to verify that Iran is compliant with the agreement and unable to flout the parameters undetected. In the coming days and weeks, I will carefully review this agreement and see how it measures up against the claims that its implementation will cut off Iran’s pathway to a bomb. You may read my full statement on the proposed Iran agreement here.
Also this week, the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, held a hearing to assess the future of the European Union (EU). Over the past five years, the Eurozone has been struggling with a debt crisis that threatens financial stability in Europe, posing the largest threat to the euro since it was introduced as a common European currency over a decade ago. Given that we share the largest, most deeply integrated trade and investment relationship with the EU, this crisis and subsequent solution is of considerable importance to the United States. It is critical that we continue to engage with our European allies to resolve this crisis and reduce the risks to the U.S. and broader international economy.
During last month’s Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on Colombia’s negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), I examined the ongoing peace negotiations in detail with my colleagues. This week, Colombia’s Minister of the Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo, met with me to continue the discussion of victims’ rights and land restitution policies in the ongoing negotiations between Colombia and the FARC. Minister Cristo highlighted the recent progress that has been made in the negotiations while also noting the challenges that are faced. It is essential that any agreement that is reached brings lasting peace to this nation which has struggled with violence for over 50 years.
Several groups visited from New Jersey this week to brief me on the important issues that impact their businesses and employees. Alma DeMetropolis, President of JP Morgan’s New Jersey Market Leadership Team, visited to review the bank’s recent $1 million investment in Jersey City along with their ongoing commitment to philanthropic activities. JP Morgan Chase has over 11,900 employees who reside in New Jersey and has recently added 2,100 jobs in Jersey City.
Students from Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program were in Washington this week to meet members of Congress. The Student Leaders Program offers high school students a leadership development program that provides students with valuable perspectives on civic, social, and business partnerships as positive forces of change within their communities. It was great to meet Tasmima Tazin from Jersey City, who is participating in this year’s program and to talk with her about how the current issues facing Congress can affect New Jersey.
Representatives from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and Southwest Airlines also visited from the district this week. Members of NJEA came to express their concerns regarding the recently passed Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill, which was introduced by the majority. As a former teacher, I share many of the concerns the NJEA has with this reauthorization bill. Also visiting was John Loureiro, who is a Customer Service Agent for Southwest Airlines from Kearny. Mr. Loureiro traveled to Washington this week to discuss the importance of passing Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization by the end of the fiscal year and the impact it will have on the aviation industry in New Jersey.
This week, I voted in favor of several pieces of legislation that are critical to assisting New Jersey veterans, homeowners, and those affected by Superstorm Sandy. Specifically, the bills passed aim to prevent low-income veterans and their families from becoming homeless, remove red tape that will allow housing assistance to be accessed more quickly, and improve the Small Business Administration’s disaster lending initiative to give businesses impacted by Superstorm Sandy the opportunity to reapply for a disaster loan from the agency. I am glad these measures received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and hope that they are quickly passed in the Senate. You may read my full statement on these bills here.
Finally, I was honored to be recognized as one of this year’s recipients of the Friend of National Parks Award. National parks are critical to protecting our national treasures, spurring growth in local economies, and allowing people to enjoy the outdoors. Like national parks, local parks also benefit our communities. That is why I introduced H.R. 201, the Community Parks Revitalization Act. For decades, parks have been recognized as significant contributors to the quality of urban neighborhoods, many of which are in our district. With four of every five Americans living in an urban or metropolitan area, it's time we give these spaces the necessary attention that they deserve. I will continue to work diligently to protect both our national and local parks so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come.