Washington Review, March 6, 2015
This week in Washington, I participated in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, supported critical pieces of legislation, attended a joint session of Congress, and met with various constituent groups.
I first attended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before a joint session of Congress. As we examine U.S. policy towards Iran, we must take smart, clear steps towards addressing our concerns with the Iranian regime and protecting our national security abroad.
I also attended a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to examine the current crisis in Ukraine. Congress has thus far focused on providing assistance to the Ukrainian government and supporting sanctions against Russia for its occupation of Crimea and efforts to destabilize Ukraine.
This week I also met with various constituent groups, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). We discussed Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear capabilities, current developments in the region, and security assistance to Israel.
I then spoke with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Paul Owen, who provided updates regarding ongoing Corps projects in the 8th District. We also discussed a bipartisan, bicameral appropriations request for $1 million to be included in the President’s 2016 budget for further analysis of the coastal areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
I also met with individuals from the New Jersey State Council of Machinists, the Machinists Local Lodge 914 (Newark), the New Jersey AFL-CIO, the New Jersey United Steel Workers, and the United Auto Workers of New Jersey and Pennsylvania to discuss the importance of protecting American jobs.
I then had the opportunity to meet with members of the New Jersey School Nutrition Association (NJSNA) to discuss the importance of nutrition standards for school lunches. NJSNA works to advocate for principles that help ensure the delivery of healthy meals to our nation’s children.
I then met with the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. Sugarbeet and sugar cane producers are an integral part of our economy, directly impacting jobs across the country.
I was glad to support the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (H.R. 749), which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 316-101. The bill would provide $7.2 billion for passenger rail over the next four years, including $1.9 billion to improve Amtrak routes that run through New Jersey in the Northeast Corridor. This legislation addresses much-needed infrastructure improvements and will assist states with the opportunity to grow their passenger rail services, which in turn will help provide more affordable transportation options.
Finally, I supported legislation to replenish funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September, which passed by a vote of 257-167. This funding means that more than 230,000 people, who we ask daily to work for the federal government on behalf of America’s security and the safety of our people, will have the assurance that they will have the resources to allow them to protect our country.