Washington Review, July 22, 2019
Last Week in Washington, I voted to raise the federal minimum wage, supported the introduction of legislation reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and met with the Mayor of Belleville. I met with stakeholders to discusses the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and worked with my colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee to authorize critical programming at the State Department for fiscal year (FY) 2020.
Last week, I voted in favor of H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). This bill will raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 and also implement automatic future increases relative to growth in the median wage. We cannot allow inequality in our society to grow unabated. All workers deserve to be properly compensated for their work. H.R. 582 passed the House by a vote of 231-199 and now awaits consideration by the Senate.
On Tuesday, I joined Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to introduce the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. As an original cosponsor of this legislation, I am dedicated to enacting a fair, long-term, and stabilized National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Congress can no longer piecemeal approve the NFIP, leaving our local economies and real estate market in a constant state of flux. This legislation includes a coherent fix to many of the flaws New Jerseyans experienced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a cap on premium increase, and funding for mitigation efforts.
On Tuesday, Michael Melham, the Mayor of Belleville, stopped by my office in Washington, D.C. We discussed local issues in Belleville and throughout the 8th District, along with how best Congress can address them. Hearing directly from my partners in local government is crucial to best representing our community in the House of Representatives.
Last week, I sat down with agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to discuss their on the ground work combatting narcotic trafficking in the Caribbean. Our national security and international partnerships rely on the life-threatening work these brave men and women undertake every day. I thanked them for their service and discussed what policies have been successful. Later that day, I met with the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce to continue our dialogue on current U.S. trade policy and its impact on American businesses.
I also met with Venezuelan Ambassador Carlos Vecchio and Colombian Ambassador Pacho Santos and then with members of the Venezuelan Assembly as well to see how we can continue supporting the Venezuelan people and their neighboring countries as the crisis continues to worsen. Following the Barbados talks, we continue to stand with the oppressed people of Venezuela, support democratic elections, and work with our partners in the region like Colombia.