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Washington Review, July 6, 2021

Jul 6, 2021
Washington Review

Last week, I reintroduced H.R. 4188, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, with Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). I also voted to pass several important pieces of legislation to make long overdue investments in our infrastructure, establish a Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, remove Confederate statues from the Capitol, support the independence and efficacy of Inspectors General, create a coordinated strategy for counterterrorism activities in North and West Africa, prevent future pandemics, and make important investments in scientific research and innovation.

Sponsored Legislation

This week, I introduced H.R. 4188, the Respect for the Peace Corps Volunteers Act, alongside Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). This legislation would amend the Peace Corps Act to allow former volunteers, officers, and employees to use the seal or emblem of the Peace Corps on death announcements and gravestones. H.R. 4188 would honor the thousands of former Peace Corps volunteers from New Jersey, and across the country.

Votes

On Thursday, H.R. 3684, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America, passed the House by a 221-201 vote. This important piece of legislation makes critical investments in our surface transportation and infrastructure and climate sustainability. Specifically, this legislation authorizes $715 billion in transportation and water infrastructure and prioritizes investments to cut carbon pollution. Many of these investments will benefit underserved communities, communities of color, and rural communities by promoting equity in transportation. Recent infrastructure collapses, and the inability of states and cities to adequately fund large infrastructure improvements, have proven the need for federal investment to build sustainable roads, bridges, and passenger rail. I was proud to vote in favor of this long overdue investment in our infrastructure and climate future.

On Wednesday, I joined my colleagues in passing H.Res.503, introduced by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to establish a Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Attack on the Capitol. The resolution passed in a 222-190 vote, with just two Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in supporting the resolution to gather all relevant information, identify the causes of the attack, and prevent future acts of violence and domestic terrorism at the Capitol. After the Senate failed to approve an independent commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol, Speaker Pelosi vowed to move forward with a select committee in order to prevent future attacks and honor the Capitol Police Officers who sacrificed to protect the Capitol. I was proud to support the Speaker in this effort.

On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 3005, Directing the Joint Committee on the Library to replace certain statues in the Capitol, by a 285-120 vote. This bill would request the Joint Committee to replace a bust of Roger Brooke Taney, the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who delivered the Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) ruling that African Americans could not be considered as U.S. citizens. The bust would be replaced with a bust of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice. In addition, the bill would also request that the Joint Committee remove all statues of Confederate soldiers from display in the Capitol. It is shocking and disappointing that statues of members of the Confederacy, and others who supported the institution of slavery, are currently on display in the Capitol, and it is beyond time that we replace these statues.

In addition, I joined my colleagues in passing H.R. 2662, the IG Independence and Empowerment Act by a 221-182 vote on Tuesday. This bill, introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), addresses issues with inspector generals (IGs), important federal employees responsible for conducting independent and objective audits and preventing waste, fraud, and abuse in government agencies. In particular, this legislation allows an IG to be removed for documented malfeasance, adds provisions regarding acting IGs when a position is vacant, and requires the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) to report to Congress and the President on the committee’s activities, among other provisions. I also joined a large bipartisan majority of my colleagues in passing H.R. 567, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Program by a 395-15 vote. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), introduced this legislation to create a partnership program to coordinate all U.S. counterterrorism activities in North and West Africa. In addition, the bill requires the State Department to create a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy with adequate commitment from partner countries, clearly defined outcomes, and development strategies.

On Monday, I voted in favor of H.R. 391, Global Health Security Act, which passed the House by a 307-112 vote. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) introduced this bill to direct United States foreign assistance to strengthen the preparedness of developing countries to respond to public health crisis. I cosponsored and supported the passage of this legislation which aims to prevent the spread and impact of future pandemics and support global public health.

In addition, on Monday, the House passed two bills introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to invest in the future of scientific research, innovation, and science education.  H.R. 3593, the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act would provide guidance and funding for major research programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Scientists at DOE’s Office of Science research chemical science, bioscience, climate science, fusion energy, and nuclear physics which can be applied to advancements in energy storage technology and biofuels, among other innovations. The bill passed by a 351-68 vote. The House also passed H.R. 2225, the National Science Foundation for the Future Act, by a 345-67 vote. This bill supports the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) as a funding source for federally supported research at colleges and universities, addresses issues in STEM education programs, and establishes a directorate to accelerate research on solutions to combat climate change and other issues. I was pleased to support these bills, along with a large majority of my colleagues.

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 six megasites are now offering walk-in vaccinations, so you do not need an appointment prior to your visit. These megasites are:

  • Atlantic City Convention Center, 1 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City
  • Bergen County at 1 Racetrack Drive, East Rutherford
  • Burlington County at 400 Route 38, Moorestown
  • Gloucester County at Rowan College of South Jersey, 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell
  • 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.