Washington Review, May 22, 2014
This week in Washington, I had a series of meetings with constituents from New Jersey, spoke on the Floor of the House, voted on several important pieces of legislation, and introduced a new bill.
Earlier in the week, I met with members of the Transport Workers Union regarding labor rights and transit funding. We discussed the importance of long-term, dedicated funding for public transportation and how it helps to creates jobs, and I was pleased to hear their updates about the important transit work being done in New Jersey.
I was also pleased to meet with New Jersey AARP to discuss the importance of reauthorizing the Older Americans Act, as well as ensuring the availability of accessible and affordable transportation options for seniors. We also discussed the importance of Social Security and Medicare. I will continue to push both the House leadership and the Administration to protect these two critical programs when discussing deficit reduction.
I then joined the United Service Organizations’ (USO) Service Project initiative on Capitol Hill to help pack supply kits for our service men and women currently overseas. I am thankful to USO for supporting our service members and their families.
I also attended a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the threat posed by Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram to West Africa and U.S. interests abroad. My colleagues and I discussed U.S. security assistance and Nigeria’s capacity to combat Boko Haram, including efforts to support the rescue of the nearly 300 schoolgirls who were abducted on April 14. Some estimates claim that more than 4,000 civilians, security forces, and militants have been killed in Boko Haram-related violence. I was also honored to meet a survivor of a Boko Haram attack, who bravely shared her experience.
Later, I spoke on the Floor of the House to recognize National Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month. Tourette syndrome is an often misunderstood and stigmatized disorder that affects as many as one in 100 Americans, and through expanded research, we can learn more about the cause and treatment of the disorder. My legislation, the CARE for Tourette Syndrome Act (H.R. 4221) would expand NIH research, enabling the medical community to better understand the cause of Tourette syndrome. You can watch my entire speech here.
I also introduced a new bill into the House of Representatives, the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights. Data breaches, like the ones we’ve most recently seen with eBay and Target, happen far too often. Citizens put their trust in corporations and their security systems every day when they shop, bolstering the economy and providing for their families in the process. It is unfair that they are unprotected as they go about their daily lives. I am pleased to introduce this data security legislation with Senator Menendez in order to protect consumers’ personal information and hold those accountable who fail to keep that information secure. You can read my full press release here.
I was also proud to support the Conference Report of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which passed in the House by a vote of 412-4. This Conference Report authorizes water infrastructure projects for the first time since 2007 and invests in America’s transportation network. This bipartisan legislation will not only create good-paying transportation jobs in New Jersey, but will also ensure that American steel is used to build water infrastructure projects. I am glad that the Senate also passed this legislation by a vote of 91-7 and sent WRRDA to the President for his signature.
Towards the end of the week, I voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 3361), which passed in the House by a vote of 303-121. This bipartisan bill would end the government’s bulk collection of phone metadata and other tangible records, replacing it with a new process in which the government must get approval on a case-by-case basis from the FISA Court before asking phone companies for specific call records. The bill also contains several provisions to increase the transparency of intelligence-gathering programs, and preserves our ability to protect America’s national security, while better protecting Americans’ privacy.