Washington Review, July 2, 2020
This week, I traveled back to Washington D.C. to vote for important legislation to expand access and affordability to healthcare, provide housing and rental relief to homeowners and renters, and upgrade our country’s infrastructure. I also chaired a Western Hemisphere hearing on the Administration’s response to COVID-19 in Latin America, and attended a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Hong Kong.
On Wednesday, I proudly cast my vote in favor of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), which passed the House by a vote of 233-188. H.R. 2 invests nearly $1.5 trillion into our nation’s infrastructure, helping to bring our national and regional infrastructure into the 21st century. The bill includes measures such as $9 billion for projects of national and regional significance, including the Gateway Project, which is of vital importance to the Northeast and New Jersey economy. Additionally, billions worth of funding is included for carbon pollution reduction, climate resilient projects in communities, bridge reconstruction, and increased rail infrastructure. This legislation will help to revitalize our nation’s infrastructure and economy while creating jobs for millions of Americans. H.R. 2 currently awaits further action by the Senate.
On Monday, I voted in favor of H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, which passed the House by a vote of 234-179. This legislation includes provisions which increase access and affordability of coverage by lowering premiums and increasing financial assistance to purchase insurance. The legislation also helps states expand Medicaid and CHIP coverage and extends coverage for pregnant women and children. Under this law, the U.S. government would also be allowed to negotiate drug prices, lowering the costs for consumers. H.R. 1425 currently awaits further action by the Senate.
I also supported H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). In a time where millions of Americans are feeling the financial impact of COVID-19, it is more important now than ever to provide relief for renters and homeowners. This legislation provides over $100 billion in rental relief, an additional $75 billion for homeowner’s assistance, and extends a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. H.R. 7301 passed the House by a vote of 232-180, and now awaits further action by the Senate.
On Wednesday, I chaired a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing focused on the Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Honorable Michael G. Kozak, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State, and Mr. Josh Hedges, the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), were the two witnesses for this hearing. As COVID-19 cases are rising in the region, I urged the administration to reverse on counter-productive policies such as deporting COVID-19 individuals to Guatemala and Haiti, and to prioritize a greater assistance effort in helping the region combat the spread of COVID-19.
Also on Wednesday, I attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing focused on China’s new national security law which places restrictions on Hong Kong. I spoke to the witnesses about whether the United States still has the international credibility to speak out against this troubling development. As co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, I am greatly concerned with China’s aggression in the region. I will continue supporting policies and people across the world that push for freedom and democracy.
On Wednesday, I joined members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in demanding answers from the Administration about reports of a Russian bounty program to kill American and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. Russia’s efforts to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to harm U.S. soldiers is appalling and if the Administration had prior knowledge of this program it would be a major breach of trust for all our brave servicemembers and the American people. Prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our courageous men and women abroad is always one of my top priorities, and I look forward to receiving answers from the Administration on this matter
On Wednesday, I joined the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in sending a letter to Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Director Ken Cuccinelli regarding new DACA applications. On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled that the Administration’s attempted recession of the DACA program was capricious and ordered the program to continue. The letter calls for the Administration to resume the DACA program and to start accepting new applications. DACA recipients are engaged members of our communities and help to shape the country that we all call home.
Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202)-225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.