Washington Review, March 11, 2019
Last week in Washington, the House of Representatives voted to restore access to the ballot for all Americans and clean up the ethics of our electoral system. I met with my colleagues on the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as began fighting for our community in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process.
Last week, my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives passed historic, sweeping reform to strengthen the right to vote in our country. Suppression of voters’ rights, the influence of mega donors in elections, and unethical behavior by elected officials has long diluted the voice of the average American. I voted in favor of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which was introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), to stand up for the voices of those without power in Washington and return integrity to our elections. This legislation ends voter suppression practices – such as voter roll purging and restrictive voting hours – along with new requirements for campaign donation disclosures and lobbying restrictions on former members of Congress. H.R. 1 passed by a vote of 234-193 and now awaits further action by the Senate.
Last Wednesday, I attended the House Committee on the Budget hearing for Member’s Day, as Congress anticipated the release of the President’s FY2020 budget request. Members of Congress were invited to testify before my colleagues and I on priorities for their constituents in the upcoming federal budget. I was thankful for the opportunity to listen to a diverse group of members, including my New Jersey delegation colleague Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), who highlighted the importance of federal investment in infrastructure projects. Our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling and our districts, along with the entire state of New Jersey, desperately need the Gateway Project and other infrastructure projects to be a top priority as Congress crafts this year’s budget.
As the President’s budget request starts the annual appropriations process in Congress, I am beginning to work with my colleagues on funding the priorities facing our community. The nationwide drought of effective investment in infrastructure hits our district especially hard. Located in one of the most important economic regions in the country, so many constituents in the 8th District rely daily on safe, effective, and modern public transit.
Some of the priorities I will be fighting for on behalf of our district include the Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP). The IBSGP provides funding for a wide range of safety operations for intercity bus and motorcoach companies – including vulnerability assessments, emergency preparedness drills, and installation of new security technology – to keep commuters safe. Additionally, I will be supporting the Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office’s Clean Cities coalition program, which leverages federal funding for the implementation of alternative fuel vehicles, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and improvements in residents’ quality of life. I also will be fighting for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary grants, a central funding mechanism for the critical Gateway Project. Further delays and lapses in funding for Gateway threaten the viability of our community’s economic participation and I will continue fighting for the project’s advancement.
Last Tuesday, I met with representatives of our region’s maritime labor industry to discuss current challenges to job growth and transportation investment. Also last week, I met with stakeholders in the sugarbeet industry to receive updates on the impact of the Farm Bill as well as agricultural priorities for the FY 2020 budget.
Last Thursday, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs gathered for a markup on five bipartisan bills. I participated in the consideration of legislation holding Russia accountable for the unlawful annexation of Crimea and the politically-motivated murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Additionally, I met with the Ambassador of Paraguay to the relationship between our countries as well as our shared support for free and fair elections in Venezuela. I also met with Erzhan Kazykhanov, the Ambassador from Kazakhstan to receive updates on the region.
Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my Facebook, Twitter, and website.