Washington Review, March 20, 2015
This week in Washington, I participated in various Committee hearings, discussed important topics with several constituent groups, and met with foreign officials.
Earlier in the week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs. Investing in transportation infrastructure is essential to not only our national economy, but also to our state’s economy and the economy of the Eighth District. During this hearing, I took the opportunity to address a variety of transportation funding mechanisms and highlighted important issues pertaining to transportation projects in our district.
I also participated in the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management roundtable to discuss rising disaster costs, mitigation efforts, and emergency preparedness. This topic is of particular importance to New Jersey as many of our friends and neighbors continue to recover from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. With this in mind, I then joined my colleagues of the New Jersey Delegation to discuss pending FEMA damage claims as a result of the storm.
It was a pleasure meeting with Ella Teal from the Urban League of Union County, who came to discuss unemployment, education, workforce training, and funding for community services. It is critical that we support policies that expand job opportunities for all individuals in New Jersey and across the country.
I also met with Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) representatives and athletes who gave an update on the important work they are doing to enhance the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This year’s SONJ Summer Games will be held from June 12 to June 14 at the College of New Jersey.
I then had the opportunity to meet with Representatives of the New Jersey Primary Care Association (NJPCA), specifically individuals from New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), to discuss important policy issues. Community Health Centers are the only accessible health care facilities to many in our community and are an integral part of the health care system. Therefore, I cosigned a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, to support funding for Community Health Centers in fiscal year 2016.
Many of my other meetings this week focused on foreign affairs. I first met with French Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Kareen Rispal, to discuss Cuba, Venezuela, Haiti, and U.S. – French relations. Continuing discussions regarding the Western Hemisphere, I met with Andres Navarro Garcia, Minister of Foreign Affairs from the Dominican Republic, to discuss current U.S. – Dominican relations.
Also this week, a delegation of political activists from Venezuela and Ecuador visited with National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House to provide updates on their respective work and the human rights situations in their countries. Through my work as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, I have advocated for international partnerships that will promote global human rights.
I then met with Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Tom Countryman. Assistant Secretary Countryman provided a brief on the civil nuclear 123 Agreements pending with South Korea and China and discussed the importance of the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that the U.S. will be hosting in New York City this April.
Finally, this week I participated in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing regarding the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. It is clear that a nuclear armed Iran would not only be dangerous to our allies in the region, but would also be a destabilizing presence globally.