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Washington Review June 21, 2013

Jun 21, 2013
Washington Review

This week, Congress debated critical policies that would deeply affect American’s across the nation. The House voted on legislation that would restrict women’s rights and legislation that would have cut food aid for nearly two million Americans, mostly working families and seniors. Furthermore, the 113th Congress has been in session for 170 days, and House leadership has yet to bring a jobs bill or a budget agreement before the House of Representatives. This week, however, I was able to join my colleagues on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for a meeting with Speaker John Boehner to discuss immigration reform, and I was also proud to introduce new legislation that would greatly benefit our communities. Lastly, I wrote an editorial piece to inform the public about the dangerous situation in North Korea, and the growing unity in Congress to establish solutions. I encourage you to continue reading my Washington Review for detailed updates.

I voted against H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, because of its devastating cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program. The FARRM Act would have slashed the food stamp benefits by $20 billion. I believe it is critical that Congress provides farmers and ranchers with the necessary tools to supply American consumers with a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply, but I cannot support measures that achieve that goal by slashing nutrition assistance to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. The FARRM Act did not receive enough support to pass in the House. I look forward to a more common sense solution that would benefit both families and famers. 

I also voted to protect women’s rights, by casting my vote against H.R. 1797, the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks, with no exception to protect a woman’s health. While most women can look forward to a safe childbirth, for some, their pregnancy can be dangerous under dire circumstances. Instead of focusing on legislation that revokes a woman’s constitutional right, Congress should invest in comprehensive family planning programs and sexual education to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

I was also proud to introduce H.R. 2424, the Community Parks Revitalization Act.  This legislation is modeled after the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act, which I introduced in the 111th and 112th Congresses with strong bipartisan support.  The Community Parks Revitalization Act would create federal, matching grant programs and secured loans to revitalize parks and park infrastructure. In New Jersey’s 8th district, our parks and green spaces play a key role in creating vibrant, livable communities where people want to live and businesses want to invest. With most Americans living in urban and metropolitan regions, it’s critical that we provide communities with the tools they need to create new or rehabilitee existing parks and recreation spaces.

Lastly, as we strive to build a stronger America, it is important that we continue to stand up for the victims of injustices around the world. Two weeks ago, the governments of Laos and China forcibly sent nine refugees — most of them children — back to North Korea, in violation of international law and basic standards of human decency. These children are now in grave danger of imprisonment, torture and execution. In Congress, there is a growing unity that a nation without regard for the lives of its own people would also attack our South Korean allies and sell nuclear weapons to terrorists. Tough sanctions can slow North Korea’s proliferation, give diplomats the leverage to negotiate North Korea’s disarmament, avoid another Korean War, and help end the abuses by North Korea’s government on its own people. I wrote an article about this in the Star Ledger, click here to read it.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my Washington Review and to stay informed about the current issues affecting facing our district and our nation. I am always looking for ways to better serve as your district representative, and your involvement is important to me. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact my office or email me directly using my website. Also, please take the time to fill out my survey on NSA’s PRISM program here.