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Congressman Albio Sires

Representing the 8th District of New Jersey

Washington Review May 13, 2019

May 13, 2019
Washington Review

This week in Washington, the House considered legislation addressing our crisis in health care as well as communities still suffering from tragic natural disasters. I met with a number of groups to discuss the state of transportation in our country, executed committee work on both the Transportation and Foreign Affairs committees, and met with visiting foreign officials to better inform our country’s policies.

Legislation

The House of Representatives voted this week to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions and repeal Trump Administration policy that would undermine access to care. On Wednesday, I voted in support of H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019, which was introduced by Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH). This legislation removes Administration guidance that would allow states to promote junk insurance plans that forego critical protections enshrined in the Affordable Care Act. We must ensure Americans throughout the country with preexisting conditions are not denied coverage. This bill passed the House by a vote of 230-183 and now awaits action before the Senate.

The following day, I voted in support of H.R. 2157, a comprehensive emergency disaster bill to help meet the needs of American communities recovering from recent hurricanes, typhoons, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters. Introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), this bill provides $17.2 billion in long overdue funds that can be used by struggling communities which have been struck by recent tragedies in the Midwest and the South. H.R. 2157 passed by a vote of 257-150 and now awaits Senate action.

Meetings

On Wednesday, I met with members of the Urban League of Union County, including CEO Donna Alexander. We discussed important community priorities in voting rights, access to education, and health care.

Transportation

I attended a House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure markup on Tuesday that considered bills addressing port infrastructure upgrades nationwide, innovation in federal data collection on disaster assistance, and transparency requirements on federal building projects.

On Wednesday, I met with International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to discuss labor challenges in infrastructure and understand how to best support workers. Then, I sat down with members of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. We discussed the hurdles faced by short-line trains and different ideas to fix them. I have long been a proponent of fighting to improve rail lines in my district and across the country.

On Thursday, I spoke to representatives of d’Escoto Inc to talk about rail and pipeline construction, specifically the Pipeline Safety Act. We also discussed engagement and entrepreneurship in underserved communities, including the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). DBE provides minority- and woman-owned businesses with increased opportunity to compete for federal contracts. Later that day, I also met with International Union of Painters and Allied Trades to emphasize the importance of including anti-bridge corrosion provisions in any infrastructure legislation. 

Foreign Affairs

Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez and her delegation visited Washington, D.C. on Monday and met with me and my colleagues. Discussion focused on the crisis in Venezuela and its impact on Colombia, regional responses to the humanitarian crisis, and the status of the implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC. Additionally, we emphasized our continued support and collaboration on security measures to curb drug trafficking and production.

On Tuesday, I met with Chilean Ambassador Alfonso Silva to discuss issues of shared interest to our nations as well as Chile’s response to the crisis in Venezuela. Then, the House Foreign Affairs Committee hosted President-elect of El Salvador Nayib Bukele. I attended the discussion on the misguided cuts to aid for Central America and emphasized my support for Temporary Protected Status program (TPS) for Salvadorans. We also had a productive dialogue on methods to increase government transparency and fight corruption.

This week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee focused our attention on the U.S.’s strategy toward China and how China seeks to find modes of influence abroad. I chaired our Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing, where we focused on solutions to China’s debt-trap diplomacy, its involvement in the crisis in Venezuela, and how the U.S. can counter Chinese influence in the region.

Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my FacebookTwitter, and website.