Washington Review, June 27, 2014
Over the past several days in Washington, I had a series of meetings with constituents, attended several Committee and Subcommittee hearings, and participated in a Foreign Affairs Committee markup.
Last week, I was pleased to meet with members of Silverman Building and LOCUS to discuss transit oriented development, which would help local communities better capitalize on their transit systems to spur economic development through loans and loan guarantees. We also discussed Smart Growth America, an initiative to produce sustainable, walkable development in metropolitan and urban communities.
I was also pleased to meet with the Chief Minister of the Commonwealth of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, to discuss strengthening the relationship between Gibraltar and the United States.
I then met with Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, Nancy Cantor, to discuss the University’s priorities for the year ahead. Rutgers-Newark is a world-class research university and has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the nation’s most diverse national university campus since 1997 with students from more than 100 countries.
Earlier this week, I met with members of Pfizer’s Global Established Pharmaceuticals, the branch of Pfizer that seeks to promote global health through specific, global areas of medicine. Pfizer’s Global Established Products has more than 600 branded and generic products in its portfolio, and these initiatives are at work in countries such as India, Canada, and Turkey.
Later, Union County Manager, Alfred Faella, relayed the priorities of the County, including projects to decrease traffic congestion in the area, and concerns regarding efforts to cut HOME and TIGER funding. Recent appropriations legislation has failed to make needed investments in critical infrastructure projects, and does not provide sufficient support for critical housing programs for low-income families and the homeless.
I also met with members of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce. We discussed the crucial role the Export-Import Bank plays in supporting and creating U.S. jobs by helping U.S. companies compete in the global market for foreign business and customers, and the importance of its reauthorization.
Furthermore, several students from both the Formosa Foundation Ambassador Program and the Capitol Leadership Academy visited to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations and the American democratic process, respectively. I wish these students the best of luck in their education and future endeavors, and was pleased to speak with them about such important topics.
I was also honored to be awarded the Students Against Destructive Decisions’ (SADD) 2014 Excellence in Government Award. SADD is a peer-to-peer organization, dedicated to preventing destructive decisions, particularly underage drinking, drug use, risky and impaired driving, teen violence, and teen suicide. We must promote teen traffic safety as a national transportation priority, and I am thankful for the hard work SADD is doing within their communities to advocate for responsible decision-making.
This week, I also participated in a markup session with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where we considered eight pieces of legislation, several of which I have cosponsored, and prepared them to be brought to the Floor of the House for a vote. At this markup session, we discussed H.R. 4347, the Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act. This bill would safeguard religious freedom for all faiths in Turkey and ensure that Christians can freely practice their faith in Houses of worship without fear of hindrance or restrictions, and I hope it is soon brought to a vote before the House of Representatives.
Finally, I attended a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing regarding children migrating from Central America. More than 47,000 unaccompanied child migrants have been apprehended during the first eight months of Fiscal Year 2014. While the migration of unaccompanied children is not new, the rapid rise in volume of children from the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. I have written to the Ambassadors of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, urging these countries to find solutions to this growing humanitarian crisis, provide a safe environment for these children, and address the underpinnings of what is compelling these young children to abandon their homelands and risk their lives to come to the United States.