Washington Review, June 17, 2019
Last week in Washington, Congress considered the first appropriations package to fund our nation’s government through fiscal year (FY) 2020. I attended the rededication of the Bayonne Bridge, sent a letter to Secretary Chao about the Gateway Project, and met with a New Jersey family to discuss bus safety legislation.
On Tuesday, I voted in favor of H.Res.430, a resolution which authorizes the House to enforce subpoenas against Administration officials, including Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn. No citizen is above the law and Congress must be able to pursue the truth on behalf of the American people. These subpoenas are crucial measures to obtaining a full unredacted Mueller report, with the underlying documents and critical evidence needed to move forward with the investigation. H.Res.430 passed by a vote of 229-191.
Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, the House began the next step in funding our nation’s government for FY 2020, by bringing the first appropriations package to the floor. This package included appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, State, and Energy, along with related agencies and government divisions. The House will continue to consider amendments to H.R. 2740 through this week.
Last Sunday, I attended the Essex–West Hudson Labor Council breakfast with Assemblyman Tom Giblin and Governor Phil Murphy to honor NJ State Chairman of the Amalgamated Transit Union Ray Greaves. Later that day, I was honored to help unveil a statue for the late Bernardino Coutinho ahead of the 40th annual Newark Portuguese Parade. Mr. Coutinho founded the parade, and I was joined by his wife and this year’s Grand Marshall of the parade, Maria.
On Wednesday, I sat down with NJTV news to discuss the ill-advised Trump Administration plan to move U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and resources from our region to the Southern border. Our region is home to four busy airports and a large port that are already operating at a disadvantage. Transferring resources could leave our area less safe and I’ve joined aletter asing for more details and a justification for this transer. I then met with members of Blacks in Law Enforcement Servicing the Community (BLECS) to thank them for their service to the 8th District. Their mentorship of the youth in our community is an inspiration.
On Thursday, I met with Joevanny Vargas, father of Miranda Vargas who tragically lost her life in a school bus accident last year, to discuss Miranda's life and legacy. School bus safety is critical to protect the children of our community. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and I discussed potential legislation with the Vargas family.
Since 2006, when I first came to Congress, I have fought for the resources and support needed to raise the Bayonne Bridge. On Friday, it was my honor to attend the bridge rededication ceremony with many of those who I worked alongside with, including Senator Menendez and Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. Through setbacks and hurdles, we pressed on to give the project the resources it needed to get the project finished. Now, during Bayonne’s 150th anniversary, the Bridge has been raised to protect the traffic and commerce of our region.
Also on Friday, I led a letter with the support of the entire New Jersey Delegation in the House of Representatives to Elaine Chao, Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT). We sought clarification on what projects have received DOT funding after previously being denied grants and why those projects were awarded funds. The Gateway Project is facing unpresented delays and continues obstruction of this vital project is unacceptable for our community and the nation. Understanding why other projects have received a greenlight will move us closer to making the Gateway Project a reality.
I chaired a Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing on Tuesday to receive expert testimony on the human rights crisis in Nicaragua. Congress must stand for democracy and human rights around the world. Later that day, I sat down High Commissioner for Stabilization in Colombia Emilio Archila to discuss his country’s implementation of the historic peace agreement.
On Wednesday, I joined my colleagues on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to hold a hearing on the Trump Administration’s fake emergency waiver to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia. The Administration is dodging accountability from Congress and we must demand answers on this illicit action on behalf of the American people.