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Washington Review May 18, 2021

May 18, 2021
Washington Review

Last week, I cosponsored numerous bills aimed at installing a green rooftop program for public schools, supporting a diverse teacher workforce, and investing clean water infrastructure. I also joined a letter supporting the Biden administration’s ending of the Title X Gag Rule. I also held a call with the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament.

Meeting

On Thursday I met with Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Kakha Kutchava. We discussed vaccination efforts in the United States and abroad, and the importance of expanding vaccine access globally. The Biden administration has announced that the United States will send an additional 20 million vaccine doses to countries facing vaccine shortages. This batch of doses will include Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The clear path through the pandemic is to vaccinate as many people as possible, and as long as high numbers of cases persist around the world, the threat remains. It is critical that the United States continue to work with its global partners to ensure countries have enough resources to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cosponsored Legislation

This week, I cosponsored H.R. 1863, the Public School Green Rooftop Program Act, introduced by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). This bill directs the Department of Energy to create a grant program for public elementary and secondary schools to install green roof systems on their buildings; grants additional maintenance funding for up to four years; provides funding for technical assistance including an engineering analysis, cost estimate and assessment of a school’s roof characteristics. Green roofs provide heat island mitigation, thermal regulation, habitat enhancement, and can serve as educational spaces for students.

I also cosponsored The Diversifying by Investing in Educators and Students to Improve outcomes For Youth (DIVERSIFY) Act, introduced by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL).

The DIVERSIFY Act will help create a well-prepared and diverse educator workforce by strengthening the TEACH Grant program, which provides scholarships and supports undergraduate and graduate students who commit to teaching a high-need subject in a high-poverty elementary or secondary school for at least 4 years. Specifically, this bill would end the annual cuts to the TEACH grant, which diminishes each grantee award package; increase the maximum amount a grantee can be awarded; ensure the TEACH grant program reduces debt burdens; and supporting early educators by including an early education program as an eligible area of service.

In addition, I cosponsored H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act, introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). This bill authorizes approximately $50 billion in Clean Water infrastructure investment over the next five years. It also supports the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and other municipal grant programs.

I cosponsored the Promoting Service in Transportation Act, introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA). This bill would establish a series of Department of Transportation public service announcement campaigns to promote career opportunities in the transportation sector, including pilots, safety inspectors, mechanics and technicians, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, truck drivers, engineers, transit workers, railroad workers and other transportation professionals. It would also aim to increase diversity, including race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status of professionals in the transportation sector.

Lastly, I cosponsored H.R. 1819, the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act, introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). This bill would require that increasing percentages of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil exports be transported on U.S.-built, flagged, and crewed vessels.

Letter

I joined several members, led by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), in submitting formal comments to Secretary of Health and Human Services Becerra supporting the Biden administration’s ending of the Title X Gag Rule. The proposed overhaul of the gag rule will return Title X to its essential function of making voluntary family planning services readily available to all who need such services. The gag rule, imposed by the Trump administration, restricted the care patients could receive from the Title X network of health centers, which service thousands of communities across the country, and provide quality reproductive and sexual health care, including cancer screenings, testing and treatment for STIs, contraceptive services and supplies, and other basic care. The rule prohibits Title X-funded health centers from providing referrals for abortion, removes requirements for pregnancy options counseling, and makes it difficult for health centers that offer abortion services to participate in the Title X program.

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.

Vaccination Efforts

Vaccines are now available to all individuals 16 and older who live, work, or study in New Jersey.  Each of the state’s six megasites are now offering walk-in vaccinations, so you do not need an appointment prior to your visit. These megasites are:

  • Atlantic City Convention Center, 1 Convention Boulevard, Atlantic City
  • Bergen County at 1 Racetrack Drive, East Rutherford
  • Burlington County at 400 Route 38, Moorestown
  • Gloucester County at Rowan College of South Jersey, 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell
  • Middlesex County at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, 97 Sunfield Ave. Edison
  • Morris County at 301 Mount Hope Ave., Rockaway

You can find additional vaccination sites here.

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.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment has been extended through the end of 2021. 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 a health care plan, be sure to visit the site.