Washington Review, March 29, 2021
Last week, I participated in a House Foreign Affairs Committee markup, where we discussed a number of important bills including regaining observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization, accountability for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, and repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq. I also participated in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing examining congressional war powers. I cosponsored bills protecting paid sick leave, ensuring injured veterans receive full pensions, and creating a program to teach financial literacy in secondary schools.
On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee marked up a number of bills to move to the full House. Specifically, we advanced H.R. 391, the Global Health Security Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), which would require the President to establish a Global Health Security Coordinator and interagency review council to ensure global health security preparedness activities are coordinated and prioritized across the federal government. The bill would also require a global health security strategy be sent to Congress. These measures would strengthen the federal response to the next pandemic. The Committee also reviewed H.R. 1145, introduced by Rep. Young Kim (R-CA), which would direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to regain observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO). Taiwan’s engagement with WHO has faced increasing resistance from China, but the United States must continue to support Taiwan – a global health leader and a key ally in the fight against COVID-19. Additionally, the Committee considered H.R. 1464, the Khashoggi Accountability Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), which would mandate visa sanctions on anyone deemed responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The bill would also require the State Department to certify that the Saudi government is not intimidating or attacking anyone within the US, otherwise arms sales to Saudi Arabia would be suspended. Finally, the Committee considered H.R. 256, to repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The AUMF was enacted in 2002 and authorized the Iraq War but has since been used by subsequent administrations to justify military actions in the region that are outside of the original intent of the 2002 AUMF.
On Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the congressional war powers resolution, and various ways to amend it. The resolution was enacted in 1973 to provide a process for Congress and the President to engage with each other when deciding whether to send U.S. armed forces into hostilities. In practice, the President does not often consult with Congress prior to introducing armed forces into hostilities, and past Presidents have exercised increasing power and authority over use of military action. Amending the War Powers Resolution would better reflect the equal balance between the Legislative and Executive branches that they should constitutionally have with respect to war powers.
Last week, I cosponsored multiple pieces of legislation to help the residents of New Jersey’s 8th District, including:
The Healthy Families Act, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illness, access preventive care, provide care for a sick family member, or attend meetings related to the health or disability of a child. Additionally, it would allow workers in businesses with less than 15 employees to earn up to seven job-protected unpaid sick days each year and allows workers who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault to use their sick days to recover or seek assistance related to an incident.
The Major Richard Star Act, introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). Veterans who are injured in combat are entitled to an injury pension from the Department of Defense (DoD) as well as disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Currently, veterans who served under 20 years but who were forced to retire due to combat related injuries have their DoD pension reduced or fully eliminated to offset payments from the VA. Approximately 42,000 veterans are caught in this loophole. This legislation would close the loophole and ensure veterans who were injured but served less than 20 years would receive full payments from both the DoD and the VA.
H.R. 1474, the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), provides support services and training to individuals who are unpaid caretakers for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Additionally, this legislation would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate with the Office of Minority Health to ensure that minorities and underserved areas have access to these resources and training as well.
The Youth Financial Learning Act, introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), would create a grant program to enable secondary schools to teach financial literacy classes to students. Specifically, money from these grants will be awarded to states to distribute to school districts. Funds can be used to enhance, expand, or start, financial literacy and entrepreneurship classes in schools.
Current Washington D.C. Office Status
My staff continue to work remotely during this time. Please know we continue to monitor our phone system, so while we are unable to speak directly with you, we manage all voice messages left. If you reached out to us through phone or e-mail, please expect an e-mail response. Be sure to check your spam or junk folders for a response from our office. We appreciate your understanding as we all navigate working through the pandemic.
Open Enrollment has been extended through May 15th. This year, instead of using the federal marketplace, New Jersey will switch to their own state-run marketplace. In order to browse health care plans you can visit: www.nj.gov/getcoverednj. Here you will be able to compare available plans, review financial assistance options, and select a plan that is best for you. This new marketplace is easy to use and helps to clearly identify plans that will be most beneficial to you. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial we leave no one behind and that everyone has access to affordable health care. If you need health care, be sure to visit the site. Open enrollment is open from November 1, 2020 to May 15, 2021.
Please continue to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing when possible. As always, exercise caution if meeting with loved ones, and take necessary measures to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and our community. Working together, we can help slow the spread of this virus. Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202)225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.