Washington Review, June 26, 2015
While in Washington this week, I participated in a Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials hearing on Positive Train Control and a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on the Colombian negotiations with the FARC.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials held a hearing on the status of positive train control (PTC) implementation in the United States this week. PTC provides a safety net for human performance failures by monitoring the location and movement of trains and would be used to slow or stop passenger and freight trains that are traveling at unsafe speeds. Witnesses for this hearing included the Acting Administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Sarah Feinberg, along with individuals from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and freight and passenger rail companies. During this hearing, I questioned the panel about how railroads will reach the December 2015 deadline for implementing PTC.
Continuing my committee work, I also participated in the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee’s hearing to examine the ongoing peace negotiations between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC is a violent insurgent group in Colombia and is the oldest, largest, and best financed guerilla organization in Latin America. This decades-long conflict between the Colombian military and the FARC displaced millions of innocent civilians and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Colombia. As Ranking Member of this Subcommittee, I know that while the United States does not have a formal role in these peace negotiations, our close partnership with Colombia that has been forged as a result of counter-narcotics and counterterrorism cooperation, makes the outcome of these talks significant for U.S. interests and policy in Latin America. It is essential that any agreement that is reached brings lasting peace to this nation, which has struggled with violence for over 50 years.
I am relieved that this week the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold subsidies for 6.4 million Americans to ensure that they continue to receive affordable health insurance. Prior to the decision, 34 states, including New Jersey, were at risk of losing access to premium tax credits when purchasing health coverage on the federal marketplace. This is now the second time that the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court. The decision reaffirms that the law is working in providing access to health care for millions of families and middle-class Americans who would not otherwise be able to obtain affordable coverage. Now the 172,000 New Jerseyans who were at risk of losing financial assistance can rest easy knowing that they will continue to have access to affordable and comprehensive health care.