Washington Review, March 17, 2017
While in Washington, I spoke out against the President’s proposed budget, attended a Subcommittee hearing and a press conference, and held meetings.
On March 16, 2017, President Trump released his fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposal. His proposal includes large cuts in funding for essential programs and eliminates resources for 19 agencies. This budget proposal reduces support for seniors, teachers, and the working poor and cuts critical resources needed for infrastructure projects and natural disaster responses. Specifically, it drastically reduces funding for numerous departments and agencies including the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education. I will continue to work with my colleagues to protect funding critical to New Jersey and ensure that the President’s misguided budget proposal does not become law.
In response to the President’s proposed cuts to the international affairs budget, I joined my Democratic colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to hold a press conference about the importance of diplomacy and funding international aid programs. As a leader on the global stage, the United States must continue to use diplomacy and foreign aid to help improve international stability, rather than rely on military strength alone. As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, I have personally seen the impact that humanitarian aid and social programs can have on communities. It is important that we continue to support these crucial investments that are critical to our national security and global partnerships.
On Thursday, I participated in a hearing about the National Preparedness System held by the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. My colleagues and I heard from a panel of experts as they assessed the developments of the National Preparedness System, which organizes preparedness activities and programs so that communities can prevent and respond to disasters. As the Mayor of West New York, NJ during September 11th, I witnessed how unprepared the U.S. was in responding to a terrorist attack. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security was established and new grants were administered to support first responders and help communities prepare for future disasters. Funding for these grants have been targeted in the President’s proposed budget. If these grants are reduced or eliminated, we will once again be left ill-equipped to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released their cost analysis of the Republican’s proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The report estimated that 18 million will be uninsured by 2018 and 24 million people will lose insurance by 2026 if the plan becomes law. It also confirmed that millions of Americans will see their premiums increase. I am also deeply concerned at efforts to discredit the Congressional Budget Office, which has always been relied on for a nonpartisan analysis on the impact of legislation.
This week, I met with two students from McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, NJ and the Academy for Medical Science Technology in Hackensack, NJ, who were both finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search in Washington, D.C. They exhibited projects on electricity and kinetic energy and cells and immunotherapy.
Later that day, Domenika Lynch, President of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), visited my office. We discussed upcoming projects and I thanked her for the important work that CHCI does to encourage students and support the next generation of leaders.
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to meet with the Ambassador from Mexico, Gerónimo Gutiérrez. We discussed the importance of the relationship between our two countries and how we may coordinate efforts to tackle regional issues affecting many of our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.
Finally, I met with President Luis Guillermo Solis of Costa Rica, along with a number of my colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We discussed ongoing security cooperation between the U.S. and Costa Rica as well as joint efforts to combat drug trafficking and corruption in the region in order to make communities safer.