Washington Review, May 13, 2016
This week in Washington I held several meetings, introduced, and voted on, important legislation, and participated in a Subcommittee hearing.
This week, I met with members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, one of the largest industrial trade unions in North America. We discussed funding levels for Amtrak in Fiscal Year 2017. I also met with the Commanding Officer of the 316th Sustainment Command of the U.S. Army Reserve, Brigadier General Richard Staats, who is responsible for the readiness and resilience of over 8,000 soldiers across twelve states. He provided me with an overview of the Army Reserve’s recent projects and mission in New Jersey and I expressed my gratitude for the New Jersey reservists’ service and dedication.
I was honored to be recognized by the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) as a Champion of Healthcare Innovation for my continued support of patient-centered medical progress. I received this distinction at the HLC’s Innovation Expo where I learned about new technology being developed for the healthcare industry.
Natural disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy, have shown how vulnerable our nation’s infrastructure is to these devastating events. In an attempt to curb losses following natural disasters, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and I introduced H.R. 5177, the National Mitigation Investment Act of 2016. This legislation focuses on pre-disaster preventative measures and provides incentives for the adoption and enforcement of state building codes. It is our hope that we can apply lessons learned from past disasters to prevent similar destruction, and lengthy rebuilding, from happening in the future.
This week, the House of Representatives considered a bipartisan legislative package focused on combating opioid abuse. My colleagues and I voted, and passed, a number of bills including H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, which would create a grant program to address the opioid addiction epidemic. Specifically, this legislation, which passed by a vote of 413-5, would authorize $103 million a year for state, local, and tribal grantees to provide opioid abuse services and combat the crisis through programs focused on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. The House also passed H.R. 4641, Establishing an Inter-Agency Task Force on Best Practices for Pain Management, by a vote of 412-4. This legislation would create a task force of representatives from federal agencies, doctors, hospitals, pain management organizations, and members of the mental health treatment and addiction recovery community in order to update best practices for pain management. Reviewing pain management and pain medication prescription is an important part of addressing the opioid epidemic.
In addition to these bills, the House of Representatives passed 15 additional pieces of legislation that focus on different aspects of opioid addiction and abuse. These included opioid addiction among veterans managing chronic pain, the need for transparency in future treatment and rehabilitation efforts, and reducing the misuse of unused opioids prescriptions. I was pleased that my colleagues and I were able to come together and pass important legislation that begins to address opioid addiction in the United States.
On Thursday morning, I participated in a Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management hearing focused on controlling the rising cost of federal disaster responses. I emphasized the importance of investing in pre-disaster mitigation as a way to effectively reduce the rising costs of recovery following natural disasters. I was also able to question the panel on how to coordinate mitigation efforts on a federal, state, and local level to ensure that future natural disasters are prepared for, and responded to, effectively. I look forward to working with my colleagues to lower costs of natural disasters and reduce the lengthy recovery times from events like Superstorm Sandy.