Washington Review, March 16, 2018
While in Washington this week, I attended a Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on how Congress may best protect U.S. businesses in the international marketplace, cosponsored a resolution condemning the Russian chemical weapon attack in the U.K., and held a number of meetings. Additionally, the House passed school safety legislation which will enable schools to utilize violence prevention strategies. Finally, I attended a Foreign Affairs Committee markup which considered legislation on human rights violations in Iran.
- Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing
- Russian Chemical Weapon Attack
- STOP School Violence Act
- Foreign Affairs Committee Markup
At the beginning of this week, I participated in a hearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee which examined export controls. I questioned the experts on what tools the government has at its disposal to protect intellectual property and innovation originating here in the U.S., particularly as it relates to the pharmaceutical industry, which greatly impacts New Jersey. I also challenged the experts to explain why more isn’t being done to guard against dumping by foreign trading partners.
On March 4, 2018, former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned in an apparent assassination attempt. Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was also hospitalized from this attack. Analysis of the chemical agent used in the attack was identified as one developed in the Soviet Union. In response, Prime Minister Teresa May announced the expulsion of 23 Russian intelligence agents. As such, I have joined five of my colleagues in introducing a resolution which expresses our solidarity with the victims of the Russian chemical weapons attack in the United Kingdom and strong support for measures to counter Russian aggression. This attack is a brazen violation of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and is simply the latest example of Russia’s attempts to undermine democratic institutions.
On Wednesday, I spoke with representatives from the TRIO Program at Rutgers to receive updates on how the program uses its services to support first-generation and low-income undergraduate students. The TRIO Program at Rutgers strives to maximize the benefits of a college education for its participants and ensure that its students are well-equipped for continued success.
I also met with members of the New Jersey Parent Teacher Association to discuss how Congress may continue to support early education. As a former educator, I understand how important continued investment in our children’s education is and I will continue to advocate for this on Capitol Hill.
Later, I met with Joseph Danatzki, who represents the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in New Jersey, to discuss the implications of the President’s Infrastructure plan on infrastructure in New Jersey. This year, the ASCE rated both our national and state infrastructure at a D+ in their 2016 Report Card. It is crucial that the government invests in our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.
Additionally, I met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss their important work around the 8th District. I also met with the Children’s Health Project to discuss important challenges facing children’s health this year.
Finally, I was honored to receive the Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award from the New Jersey Primary Care Association, who provides critical and comprehensive health care services to our communities. I will continue to fight against the attacks on funding for health care and will always stand up for equitable access to health care for New Jerseyans.
On Wedesday, the House passed H.R. 4909, the STOP School Violence Act. This bill would provide funding to states to improve school security by training students, teachers, personnel, and local law enforcement on how to identify warning signs of potential violence at school and intervention strategies, or invest in better coordination between schools and law enforcement. Funds may also be used to improve physical security of schools such as metal detectors, locks, lighting and other deterrent measures at schools. While this measure is an important first step in addressing gun violence in our schools, it is essential that Congress also consider commonsense gun safety measures that could reduce and prevent acts of gun violence wherever they might occur. I will continue to push my colleagues to address this issue and bring commonsense gun safety measures to the floor.
At the end of the week, the Foreign Affairs Committee considered several pieces of legislation dealing with the treatment of migrants in Libya, human rights in Iran, and the ongoing conflict in Syria. I am a cosponsor of two of these pieces of legislation, H.Res. 644 condemning the slave auctions of migrants and refugees in Libya and H.R. 4744. H.R. 4744 would impose additional sanctions on Iran for serious human rights abuses and the detention of U.S. citizens. All four pieces of legislation were passed out of Committee, and now await further action on the House Floor.
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