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Washington Review, July 30, 2021

Jul 30, 2021
Washington Review

This week, I voted to pass three appropriations bills to fund the federal government. I also voted to establish commemorative works for Gold Star Families, recipients of the National Medal of Honor, victims of the September 11th attack, and Japanese Americans interned during World War II. The House also passed several pieces of legislation to upgrade medical facilities for veterans, safely dispose of certain medications, and supplement funding for the U.S. Capitol Police and National Guard following the January 6th attack. I also reviewed several bills in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

Votes

On Monday, I joined my colleagues in passing H.R. 2365, the Gold Star Mothers Family Monument Extension Act, by a 412-0 vote. This legislation, introduced by Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), would authorize the establishment of a monument for Gold Star Families to honor their support for their fallen loved ones. The bill extends an earlier authorization which expired in January 2020. I also voted in support of H.R. 1664, which was introduced by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) to authorize the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation to establish a commemorative work in the District of Columbia. The Medal of Honor is the highest military award for bravery which is awarded by the President on behalf of Congress. H.R. 1664 passed by unanimously in a 416-0 vote. Both bills will now advance to the Senate.

On Tuesday, I supported S.1910, the Major Medical Facility Authorization Act, which passed the House by a 413-7 vote. The Major Medical Facility Authorization Act, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), authorizes major medical facility construction projects of the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve medical facilities for our veterans. I also joined a large bipartisan majority of my colleagues to pass S.957, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to ensure that certain medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs have physical locations for the disposal of controlled substances medications, by a 424-0 vote. This legislation, introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to specify periods of time for the public disposal of certain medications at VA facilities. S.957 and S.1910 were signed into law by President Biden on Thursday, July 29.

On Wednesday, I joined my colleagues in passing two appropriations bills. H.R. 4373, the Department of State, Foreign Operation, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), provides annual funding for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as its programs to support international peace, democracy, and press freedom. H.R. 4373 increases fiscal year 2022 funding for these programs by 12%, including an addition $10.6 billion for global health and prevention of future pandemics, and continues our support for international migration and refugee and disaster assistance. In addition, I supported the passage of H.R. 4346, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), which passed by a 215-207 vote. This bill provides funding for the House of Representatives, as well as the Capitol Police, Congressional Budget Office, the Library of Congress, and other offices critical to the functioning of the legislative branch. Both appropriations bills will advance to the Senate.

On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 4502, a package of seven fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations bills, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), which includes Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; and Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies bills. This package makes essential investments to assist small businesses, create good-paying jobs through job trainings and investing in renewable energy development, addresses climate change and infrastructure sustainability, and makes necessary investments in education and childcare. The appropriations bill passed by a 219-209 and now advances to the Senate.

I also joined a large bipartisan majority of my colleagues to support H.R. 3237, the Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, as amended by the Senate. The bill, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, meets the needs of the brave Capitol Police Officers who defended the Capitol by providing $70.7 million for the U.S. Capitol Police and $521 million for operations costs for the National Guard deployment to protect the Capitol. Unfortunately, the Senate stripped the bill of funding for the prosecution of January 6th attackers and other provisions to provide long term security to the Capitol. H.R. 3237 passed by a 416-11 vote and will be sent to President Biden.

In addition, I supported the passages of several bills on the Floor of the House on Thursday which established historical sites and memorials, and improved access to national parks. H.R. 43000, the Alexander Lofgren Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act, introduced by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), passed the House unanimously in a 420-0 vote. This bill would make National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes free to members of the Armed Forces. I also joined a large majority of my colleagues in passing H.R. 2497, the Amache National Historic Site Act, by a 416-2 vote. This bill, introduced by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), would preserve land to establish a national historic site of Amache, also known as the Granada Relocation Center, where civilians of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated during World War II. This historic site would educate future generations about the war and the wrongful internment of Japanese Americans. Lastly, I supported the passage of H.R. 3237, which was introduced by Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to designate the September 11th National Memorial Trail. As the 20th anniversary of September 11th approaches, the September 11th National Memorial Trail will honor the families and love ones lost on that tragic day. Specifically, the triangular trail route will connect the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia to the Flight 93 National Memorial and to New York City’s National September 11th Memorial and Museum. H.R. 3237 passed the House by a 423-0 vote. All three bills passed the House by large majorities and will be reviewed by the Senate.

Foreign Affairs Markup

On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed my bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2946, the Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act. This legislation reaffirms the United States’ commitment to protect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the people of Nicaragua. I advanced this legislation in support of the Nicaraguan people to respond to the Ortega regime’s increasingly aggressive steps to eliminate the political opposition by arresting presidential candidates and other political leaders. By expanding U.S. foreign policy tools and aligning our sanctions strategy to ensure coordination with our allies, this legislation increases pressure on the Ortega regime to allow for competitive and credible elections in Nicaragua. H.R. 2946 will now advance for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Transportation and Infrastructure Markup

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a markup this week reviewing legislation that I cosponsored to support fair labor standards in airlines. H.R. 3095, the Fair and Open Skies Act, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) requires the Department of Transportation to ensure that all new foreign air carrier permits issued to foreign airlines flying between the U.S. and Europe follow the U.S.-E.U.-Norway-Iceland Air Transport Agreement’s fair labor standard and fair competition requirements. H.R. 3095 passed the committee and will now go to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Current Washington D.C. Office Status

My staff continue to work remotely during this time. Please know we continue to monitor our phone system, so while we are unable to speak directly with you, we manage all voice messages left. If you reached out to us through phone or e-mail, please expect an e-mail response. Be sure to check your spam or junk folders for a response from our office. We appreciate your understanding as we all navigate working through the pandemic.

Vaccination Efforts

Vaccines are now available to all individuals 12 and older who live, work, or study in New Jersey. Each of the state’s megasites are now offering walk-in vaccinations, so you do not need an appointment prior to your visit. These megasites are:

  • Middlesex County at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, 97 Sunfield Ave. Edison
  • Morris County at 301 Mount Hope Ave., Rockaway

You can find additional vaccination sites here.

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.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment has been extended through the end of 2021. This year, instead of using the federal marketplace, New Jersey will switch to their own state-run marketplace. In order to browse health care plans you can visit: www.nj.gov/getcoverednj. Here you will be able to compare available plans, review financial assistance options, and select a plan that is best for you. This new marketplace is easy to use and helps to clearly identify plans that will be most beneficial to you. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial we leave no one behind and that everyone has access to affordable health care. If you need a health care plan, be sure to visit the site.