Washington Review, March 14, 2014
I began this week by participating in a global health event, and ended the week by attending a Committee hearing on our foreign relations with Taiwan. In between, I had various meetings regarding transportation initiatives, New Jersey infrastructure projects, and the upcoming 2014 Special Olympic USA Games.
Earlier this week, I was proud to participate in the UN Foundation’s “Shot @ Life” event to celebrate global vaccinations efforts. U.S. investments in global health research are central components of U.S. foreign policy and national security, strengthen U.S. relations around the world, and reduce infectious diseases. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and I have introduced H.R. 1515, the 21st Century Global Health Technology Act, to promote the development of health products that are affordable and easy to use in low-resource health systems. I appreciate the UN Foundation and everyone who has committed themselves to improving global health.
This week I was honored to receive the Ancient Order of the Hibernians (AOH) pin for Irish American History Month. The AOH is the largest Irish Catholic Fraternity in the United States and has an estimated 3,000 members in New Jersey, whom I am proud to represent in Congress.
I also attended a Transportation Subcommittee hearing on the Administration’s fiscal year 2015 budget and the implementation of last year’s surface transportation bill. I strongly support the Administration’s budget proposal that includes funding for a new freight program that will greatly enhance transportation across New Jersey’s 8th District. I was also pleased to meet with members from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) who echoed this support and expressed additional support for a renewal of the short line tax credit and preserving balanced rail regulation.
In addition, I met with members of the Army Corp of Engineers, who updated me on their 2014 civil works projects and disaster relief initiatives. I was glad to hear of their progress on the Port of New York and New Jersey harbor deepening project; they reported that by the end of the year, the harbor will be equipped to accommodate larger ships, bringing increased trade to the port.
I then met with Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) representatives and athletes who updated me on the important work they are doing to enhance the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am very pleased that this year, the 2014 Special Olympic USA Games will be held in New Jersey at venues throughout Mercer County, and I am excited to support the 270 athletes representing Team New Jersey at the 2014 Special Olympics.
Later in the week I was pleased to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne. We discussed the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship; Mexico’s recent wave of reforms, particularly in energy; security cooperation under the Merida Initiative; and the recent capture of the Sinaloa Cartel’s Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. While I am still concerned with the presence of transnational crime organizations in Mexico’s interior and along the U.S. southern border, I was pleased to hear that our security cooperation has improved since the beginning of President Peña Nieto’s Administration and that Mexico is making significant progress in advancing an ambitious reform agenda.
I ended my week in Congress by attending a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, where my colleagues and I evaluated the success of the Taiwan Relations Act, which is now in its 35th year of enactment. I believe it is important to preserve extensive and friendly commercial and cultural relations between the people of the U.S. and the people of Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region.