Washington Review, June 17, 2016
While in Washington this week I held meetings, participated in a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing and markup, and attended an event hosted in honor of the Caribbean.
On Tuesday, representatives of the U.S. maritime industry stopped by to discuss legislative priorities including security program funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and cargo preference shipping requirements. I also had the opportunity to meet with Special Agent Timothy Gallagher, the newly appointed FBI Newark Field Office Special Agent in Charge. Members of the Air Line Pilots Association visited my office to voice their concerns regarding the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) approval of Norwegian Air International’s application for a foreign air carrier permit. I recently led a letter to DOT Secretary Foxx to express my opposition to this decision.
Next, I had the pleasure to welcome members of the Girl Scouts of New Jersey, including Julie Averbach who received the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award this year. They provided me with an update on their ongoing work in New Jersey. Later that day, it was an honor to meet with April Homes, a New Jersey native, Paralympic athlete, gold medalist, and speaker who is preparing to qualify for the Paralympic games in Rio this summer.
On Wednesday, I met with the Honduran Minister of Security, Julian Pacheco, and members of the Police Reform Commission in Honduras to discuss their ongoing efforts to reduce corruption and improve the security of Honduran citizens. Finally, I met with activist, former political prisoner, and founder of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia. We discussed Mr. Ferrer’s ongoing work to improve human rights in Cuba.
This week, I participated in a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing focused on U.S. policy toward Putin’s Russia. My colleagues and I heard from a panel of experts including two former U.S. Ambassadors to Russia, the Honorable Michael McFaul, and the Honorable Jack Matlock, as well as Dr. Leon Aron, a Russian Studies scholar with the American Enterprise Institute. These experts provided testimony and answered questions on Russia’s recent actions on the international stage and the challenges presented by these actions. It is important that the United States continue to monitor Russia’s actions in unstable regions, including the Ukraine and the Middle East, and respond in ways that advance U.S. foreign policy.
On Thursday, I participated in a markup of several pieces of legislation in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs focused on terrorism and women. One piece of legislation, H.R. 5332, the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2016, would ensure that the United States promotes the meaningful participation of women in mediation and negotiations processes that are seeking to prevent, mitigate, or resolve violent conflicts around the globe.
On Wednesday, I participated in a discussion on U.S.-Caribbean relations at a panel hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank and Caribbean Central American Action. The Caribbean is an important partner to the United States, linked by close economic and cultural ties. It was an honor to speak about the opportunities and challenges in the region and how we can continue to work towards a strong partnership between the United States and the Caribbean.