Washington Review, June 19, 2015
During my time in Washington this week, I attended several Foreign Affairs Committee hearings, participated in a roundtable with business leaders from Latin America, and met with several constituent groups.
At the hearings I attended, I discussed the ongoing relations between the United States and Cuba. Earlier in the week, the Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing to address priorities of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. At the hearing, I voiced my concerns to Ambassador Power regarding the ongoing human rights violations in Cuba and asked what is being done by the Administration and the United Nations to address the continuation of these violations. Later in the week, the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere held an important hearing on the future of property rights in Cuba. The Cuban people have endured decades of unfair and unjust treatment from the current regime. The expropriation of private properties in Cuba, along with the seizing of almost all assets of Cuban nationals between 1959 and 1968, is something we must not forget. As Ranking Member of this Subcommittee, I will continue to exercise oversight as the Administration continues its policy of normalizing relations with Cuba.
Continuing my work on the Foreign Affairs Committee this week, I participated in a hearing to examine allegations of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons and the Administration’s response. During this hearing, I affirmed my commitment to ensuring that necessary actions are being taken to protect the vulnerable citizens of Syria while expressing my opposition to sending American soldiers into this conflict. I then joined colleagues in a roundtable discussion with business leaders from Latin America to find ways to achieve sustainable growth and security for the Western Hemisphere. At the roundtable, I expressed the importance of Latin American countries having the ability to focus on making long term investments, such as in education, in order to support economic development in the region and counter countries like China, who are trying to gain influence through economic investment.
Visiting from the Garden State this week were members from the New Jersey Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED) and representatives from Hackensack University Health Network. NJ SEED is a coalition of labor and business leaders in New Jersey who advocate for issues concerning transportation infrastructure, energy efficiency, and environmental stability. During their visit, NJ SEED explained the impact of federal policies on their members’ ability to create jobs, bolster the economy, and protect the environment. Also visiting this week were Bob Garret, CEO of Hackensack University Health Network, and Dr. Gabriel Esteban, President of Seton Hall University to give an update on the progress of their new medical school building in New Jersey. The school of medicine will be the first of its kind in the state and committed to educational and healthcare excellence and cutting edge research.