Washington Review, March 24, 2017
This week in Washington, I opposed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, called for an independent investigation into Russian interference, attended a roundtable, held meetings, and introduced legislation.
This week, the House of Representatives debated the Republican’s misguided proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal would be a disaster for the American people, reducing coverage and leaving an estimated 24 million more people uninsured by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This plan would defund Planned Parenthood and allow insurance providers to charge seniors exponentially more for coverage. Furthermore, it would harm Medicare and Medicaid, leaving millions without essential care. After intense scrutiny and massive popular opposition, Republican leadership decided to withdraw the legislation and not hold a vote on the House floor. I will continue to ardently oppose irresponsible proposals such as this that would make Americans pay more for less coverage and leave millions without access to essential care.
Last year, the U.S. Intelligence Community, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), concluded that Vladimir Putin and his senior officials in the Russian government took actions to interfere in the U.S. elections. The House Intelligence Committee has set up an investigation into Russian cyber activity and interference directed against the United States and its allies as well as relevant links between Russia and U.S. citizens. This week, the Committee held a public hearing on the issue and heard testimony from James Comey, the director of the F.B.I., and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency.
However, recent events including conflicting reports, accusatory statements by the President, and actions that serve to undermine the Committee’s ability to work together, underline the need for an independent investigation into Russian interference. I will continue to advocate for an independent investigation and the appointment of a special prosecutor so we may uncover the extent of Russia’s activities and protect our democracy from future attempts by foreign powers to interfere with American democracy.
On Tuesday, I attended a roundtable hosted by the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials focused on innovations in railroad technology. Experts in the industry highlighted new technologies that are being developed to improve the safety and efficiency of our Nation’s railroads, including Positive Train Control (PTC). PTC is a set of technologies designed to prevent collisions and derailments by automatically stopping a train before an accident occurs.
This week, I met with the members of the New Jersey Bankers Association, who illustrated the role that community banks play throughout the 8th District. Later that day, I hosted a meeting with representatives from Nicaragua’s civil society and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. We discussed the deteriorating situation of human rights in Nicaragua in post-election society.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and I also hosted the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, at a meeting where we discussed important issues in the Western Hemisphere and U.S.-Central American anti-corruption efforts.
On Wednesday, I met with members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who provided an update on ongoing Corps projects in the 8th District.
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to welcome students from the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls to my D.C. office. They highlighted the importance of continued security cooperation between the United States and Israel.
Later that day, I met with Panama’s Minister of Security, Vice Minister of Security, Director of Panama’s National Security Council, and the Panamanian Ambassador. We discussed issues of mutual concern and ongoing efforts to tackle corruption in the region.
This week, I reintroduced H.R. 1660, the Global Health Innovation Act of 2017, with bipartisan support to promote the development of health products that are affordable, culturally appropriate, and easy to use in low-resource health systems. This legislation would provide the oversight needed to gain a clearer picture of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) global health research and development. It would direct the USAID Administrator to report to Congress on the development and use of global health innovations in USAID programs, projects, and activities, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being spent in the most efficient and effective ways possible. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this legislation to improve global health technologies.