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Washington Review, May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015
Washington Review

I advocated for the people of the 8th District this week by attending several committee hearings, discussing important topics with several industry groups from the Garden State, and meeting with government officials.

I am deeply saddened by this week’s derailment of the regional Amtrak train that occurred just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which tragically killed eight people and injured over 200. As a frequent rider of this Amtrak route, I understand how horrifying this incident is for those in New Jersey and for everyone who uses this line for their own transportation. My thoughts are with the families of those affected by this tragedy. I commend the first responders for their quick response and have faith that the National Transportation Safety Board will proceed with a thorough investigation to provide the public with answers.

On Wednesday, I attended the Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials hearing regarding the Staggers Rail Act. This law enabled individual railroad lines to adjust their rates and tailor their services to meet shippers’ needs. As a result of this legislation, the health and vitality of the railroad industry has improved significantly since 1980. The transportation industry plays an important role in the 8th District’s economy: 1 in 8 jobs is directly affected by the shipping industry.

The Foreign Affairs Committee held several hearings this week regarding important international issues. The first hearing discussed the state of religious minority communities in Iraq and Syria where ISIS has unjustly taken over. The Committee then held a hearing on U.S. economic interests in Asia. Important questions were asked regarding human rights concerns in the region, how China is influencing American business interests in the area, and how to increase American exports to the region. Finally, I attended a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing to examine the current opportunities and challenges regarding energy policy in the Western Hemisphere.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer this week to discuss ongoing infrastructure projects in Hoboken, notably the “Complete Streets” redesign of Washington Street. Mayor Zimmer discussed the city’s application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to complete the Washington Street project. TIGER grants are awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and have a significant impact on crucial roadways across the United States.

Visiting this week from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) was Assistant Secretary Jay Williams, who briefed me on the EDA’s plans for the coming year. The EDA is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides grants and technical assistance to economically distressed communities in order to generate new employment, help retain existing jobs, and stimulate industrial and commercial growth through a variety of investment programs.

A few groups representing residents of the 8th District visited this week. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) from Local Lodge 914 in Newark stopped by to discuss the importance of protecting American workers. Also visiting this week were members of NORPAC, who came to discuss the importance of preventing Iran from having the ability to create a nuclear weapon and the importance of our nation’s strong relationship with Israel.

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