Washington Review, July 28, 2017
This week in Washington, legislation I introduced passed the Foreign Affairs Committee. Additionally, I voted to increase sanctions against our adversaries, attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on the continued fight against terrorism, spoke to the next generation of leaders at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s (CHCI) Ready to Lead Next Generation Program, and attended a markup in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. I also spoke on the importance of affordable housing, and held a number of meetings.
- Affordable Care Act
- CHCI Ready to Lead Next Generation Program
- Transportation and Infrastructure Markup
- Affordable Housing Event
- NICA Act
- Foreign Affairs Hearing
- Iran, North Korea, and Russia Sanctions
Early Friday morning, numerous attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act collapsed once again in the Senate. The repeated failure of these repeal efforts are consequences of a hurried process that excluded Members of Congress from participating in the discussions and the crafting of new legislation. It is long past time for Congress to move beyond bipartisan grandstanding and work together to address issues with the Affordable Care Act and implement effective changes that improve quality, expand coverage, and lower health costs. Stripping health care from millions of American families, seniors, and children is not the solution. My Democratic colleagues in Congress and I remain ready and willing to work across the aisle with our Republican counterparts to update the Affordable Care Act in a way that improves health care for millions, and it is my great hope that we can move forward with this in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation.
It was my great privilege to address students participating in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Ready to Lead Next Generation Program this week and share my experiences about coming to America, teaching ESL, and being elected to public office with a room full of young adults who are eager to be the leaders of tomorrow. I am encouraged by their passion for change and it is crucial that we continue to support these individuals to follow their dreams and make a difference in our society.
At the end of the week, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up several pieces of legislation, which included a bill that would improve disaster victims’ access to FEMA assistance and a bill which would reauthorize the brownfields cleanup program. Additionally, the Committee reviewed and discussed a Resolution of Inquiry into the conflicts of interest surrounding the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., which unfortunately did not receive the Committee’s approval. The other pieces of legislation we considered passed the full Committee and now await further action on the House floor.
I was proud to speak at an event hosted by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and Monarch Housing Associates on the importance of investing in affordable housing. As the former Mayor of West New York, I saw firsthand the effect that affordable housing investments made on the communities of New Jersey’s 8th District. I have worked hard at the local, state, and federal level to preserve and expand vital programs and I believe President Trump’s proposed budget cuts threaten communities in New Jersey and across America. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that critical programs such as Community Development Block Grants and the HOME Investment Partnership Program receive the support needed to continue providing New Jerseyans with affordable housing.
At the beginning of this week, I welcomed AIPAC back to the office to continue our discussion on how the United States can best work with our ally Israel to fend off continued Iranian aggression. Later, I met with New Jersey representatives of Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) to discuss how current events affect the U.S.–Korea relationship.
I also met with Kerry McCarthy, a member of the British Parliament, who visited my Washington D.C. office to update me on Brexit and to discuss the importance of our longstanding relationship with the United Kingdom.
On Thursday, H.R. 1918, the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2017, which I introduced with my colleague Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This legislation would assist the Nicaraguan people in their fight for human rights, rule of law, and basic democratic processes by putting conditions on aid for Nicaragua that require the government to certify that they are taking steps to hold free, fair and transparent elections. H.R. 1918 now awaits further action on the House floor.
Earlier this week, I attended a Foreign Affairs Hearing which examined the United States’ continued fight against terrorism. Experts testified on the importance of Congress’ constitutional duty to authorize the use of military force. As Congress continues to debate the use of military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, I take my duty to understand and scrutinize this authority very seriously and firmly believe that President Trump must present any future military operations to Congress before acting.
Finally, this week, the House of Representatives took a critical step in protecting U.S. national interests by voting to strengthen and increase sanctions against Iran, North Korea, and Russia. H.R. 3364, the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act, would restrict the President’s ability to reduce or terminate existing sanctions related to Russian aggression while also leveraging sanctions against entities that engage in business with the Russian military, intelligence agencies, or oligarchs connected to Vladimir Putin. Furthermore, this bill mandates new sanctions against individuals who assist Iran in their pursuit of ballistic missiles and expands sanctions against North Korea. I voted for this bill, which passed the House by a vote of 419 to 3 and now awaits further action in the Senate.