Washington Review, July 24, 2015
This week in Washington, I examined issues pertaining to U.S. foreign relations, met with groups who serve the 8th District, and spoke to future leaders.
The Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing to continue its discussion on the implications of a final nuclear agreement with Iran. I have heard from many constituents during the past few weeks regarding this proposed agreement. I will continue to keep the thoughts of the residents of the 8th District in mind as I, along with my colleagues in Congress, continue to examine the agreement’s details. To further discuss this issue, I met with the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. I appreciate Ambassador Dermer’s insight and opinion on how this nuclear agreement could affect the region not only in the coming years, but also over the long-term.
Also this week, the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee held a hearing to examine Mexico’s energy reforms. The U.S. – Mexico relationship is among the most critical for our nations’ economic and public security and remains one of the most promising relationships in our hemisphere. The U.S. and Mexico share common democratic values, similar desires for peace and economic prosperity, as well as a nearly two-thousand mile border. With countries like China working to increase influence in the Western Hemisphere, the U.S. cannot afford to fall behind due to the critical role the Western Hemisphere plays in our energy security.
I joined several colleagues this week in attending the American Hellenic Institute commemoration of the 41st anniversary of the illegal invasion of Cyprus. Although the invasion took place decades ago, this conflict and its painful aftermath still affect Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities today.
This July, Telemundo 47 is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Telemundo 47 began its operation as a television station to serve Spanish-language viewers in the New York Tri-State area on July 30, 1965. For the past 50 years, Telemundo 47 has done an outstanding job of broadcasting both entertainment and informative programs to viewers in the 8th District, North Jersey, and throughout the Tri-State Area. I met with Cristina Schwarz, President and General Manager of WNJU, this week to congratulate her and the rest of the Telemundo staff for reaching this important milestone.
Representatives of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) also visited this week. BLET was the first permanent trade organization for railroad workers in the United States. Robert Hagan, BLET’s Political and Legislative Director, and Vincent Verna, BLET’s Director of Regulatory Affairs explained their organization’s views on proposed legislation that could affect the railroad industry.
It was great to see Elizabeth Mayor, Chris Bollwage, testify before the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment in support of the Brownfields Program this week. This program provides grants to municipalities across the country to clean up properties that have been contaminated by hazardous substances. Elizabeth utilizes grants from this program for several projects, including the city’s Hope VI project, the area surrounding the Midtown Elizabeth Train Station, and the Jersey Gardens Mall.
Finally, it was a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to student interns and young professionals from across the country at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s Future Leaders Conference this week. I spoke to these future leaders about the importance of being involved in their communities, connecting with those who may have different views, and working together to develop compromises that benefit the public.