Washington Review, June 29, 2020
Last week, I travelled back to Washington D.C. to cast my vote for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The House also considered legislation on Washington D.C. statehood and I announced additional funding for NJ Transit from the CARES Act.
On Thursday, I voted for H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which was introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). Following the tragic death of George Floyd by former officer Derek Chauvin on May 25th, policing practices across the country have come under much needed scrutiny by Americans demanding change. H.R. 7120 prioritizes de-escalation in policing practices and requires thorough investigations into police misconduct, specifically reviewing any use of force. This legislation also institutes a federal ban on chokeholds, racial profiling, and no knock warrants in drug cases. Furthermore, it prevents officers from transferring jurisdictions to avoid accountability and limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement. Also included in the bill is the Emmett Till Antilynching Act which I am a cosponsor of and would make lynching a federal crime. H.R. 7120 passed the House by a vote of 236-181, and now awaits further action by the Senate.
On Friday, I voted in favor if H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, introduced by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). This legislation provides admission into the Union of the United States for Washington D.C., and provides representation in Congress equal to all other states for the territory. The 700,000 residents of Washington D.C. deserve equal representation and the protection under the law their fellow citizens enjoy. H.R. 51 passed the House by a vote of 232-180, and now awaits further action by the Senate.
On Wednesday, I announced, along with my fellow New Jersey delegation members Sen. Bob Menendez, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Donald Payne Jr., and Rep. Tom Malinowski, that New Jersey Transit was receiving over $13 million in additional federal funding from the CARES Act. This funding will help to continue operations in certain areas of New Jersey, at a time when NJ Transit ridership has fallen significantly as more people stay home due to COVID-19. These funds will help ensure that NJ Transit continues operating smoothly as people across the state start heading back to work.
Last Friday, I joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and members of the New Jersey congressional delegation, in announcing that the Portal North Bridge replacement program was moving forward into the engineering phase of the project. This important step sees the project closer to securing the full federal financial investment needed to complete reconstruction on the century old bridge. The Portal North Bridge carries an average of 450 trains and 200,000 passengers each day and securing this federal funding will help to keep our economy moving and ease stress for commuters.
Last week, I joined my New Jersey delegation colleagues urging Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to abandon a proposed rule that could see New Jersey hospitals lose more than $100 million in funding. Hospitals and health care workers in our state have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, working tirelessly to ensure our health and safety. We must ensure our hospitals have adequate resources so they may continue providing essential care to New Jerseyans and prepare for future health emergencies.
I also cosponsored the Masks Work Act, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Facemasks have been proven as an effective way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, and this bill would allow any American to request a free cloth mask. Additionally, this legislation would create a public service announcement campaign that will educate the public on the benefits of wearing a mask during the pandemic and direct further research into masks effectiveness in stopping the spread of the virus.
Last Friday, I signed onto a letter led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA), to President Trump, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of State, condemning the administration’s asylum policies. 40 years ago, Congress passed the bipartisan Refugee Act of 1980, codifying the United States commitment to asylum seekers and creating our modern day asylum system. As a refugee, I am personally disgusted by the cruel policies put forward by this Administration such as Remain in Mexico, and family separation at our Southern border, which have undermined the our commitment to protecting the world’s vulnerable citizens.
Last Wednesday, I signed onto a letter led by Reps. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), asking the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General to investigate the use of disinfectants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Multiple reports have come to light showing that migrants being held in detention facilities are suffering adverse effects from chemical disinfectant being used to sanitize for COVID-19. While it is important to ensure everyone is well protected from the virus, we must do so through methods that cause no individual harm and ensure individuals in these facilities are treated with compassion and respect.
Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202)-225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.