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Washington Review, May 24, 2021

May 24, 2021
Washington Review

Last week, several colleagues and I met with Vice President Harris to discuss root causes of migration from Central America. I voted in favor of the bipartisan bill to create a commission investigating the insurrection on January 6, 2021. I also voted in favor of providing additional funding to the Capitol Police to strengthen security at the Capitol Complex. I cosponsored several pieces of legislation including a federal protection for abortion access, free menstrual products for students and through Medicaid, and equal pay for women in the military.

Meetings

Last week, I joined several of my colleagues from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a meeting with Vice President Harris to discuss her ongoing efforts to address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I discussed with Vice President Harris the conditions driving families to flee their homes for the United States and ways for our diplomacy and foreign assistance efforts to help individuals achieve lives of dignity and opportunity in their home countries. On Thursday, I met with Ambassador David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme to discuss food insecurity in Central America and Venezuela.

Votes

On Wednesday, I joined a bipartisan majority of my colleagues in passing H.R. 3233, creating a National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act by a vote of 252-175. The insurrection on January 6th will forever be a stain on our country’s history, and the starkest example of the growing anti-democratic, illiberal forces at work. A congressional commission set up in the style of the 9/11 Commission is necessary to determine what actions and events led to the January 6th attack, and most importantly, to learn from these events so that they can never happen again. We should all want to learn from the actions of this day and demand accountability from the actors responsible; this Commission is the logical, necessary response, and should be passed by the Senate immediately.

 On Thursday, I voted in favor of H.R. 3237, the Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), which passed the House by a vote of 213-212. This bill would provide $1.9 billion in emergency funding for security-related upgrades, repairs to facilities damaged by the attack, reimbursements for the cost of responding to the attack, the establishment of a quick response force within the District of Columbia National Guard to assist the Capitol Police, and the requirement for Capitol Police officers who interact with the public to use body cameras.

Cosponsored Legislation

Given the recent news that the Supreme Court will hear a case regarding abortion rights next year, it is paramount that a woman’s legal right to abortion access be protected federally. Currently, abortion access is determined by each state, and if the Supreme Court restricts abortion rights, women who live in states with restrictive abortion laws will face a nearly insurmountable obstacle to abortion access. To prevent this erosion of rights, we must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), which I have cosponsored. This bill would create a federal statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and a right for patients to receive that care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and impede access.

I also cosponsored the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY). This bill gives states the option to use grant funds to provide students with free menstrual products, incentivizes colleges and universities to pilot programs that provide free menstrual products to students, and requires Medicaid to cover the cost of menstrual products. It also requires all public federal buildings, including the Capitol campus, to provide free menstrual products in restrooms, and directs large employers (100 or more employees) to provide free menstrual products.

Last Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed H.Res.408, my bipartisan resolution I introduced with Reps. Michael McCaul, Gregory Meeks, and Mark Green, along many of my colleagues. The resolution condemns the removal of five judges and the attorney general and urges the Government of El Salvador to respect the country's democratic institutions.

I joined several of my colleagues in cosponsoring the Anti-Hunger Pandemic Recovery Act, led by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). This legislation would create a grant program that would allow non-profit organizations to partner with small and medium sized businesses to coordinate the preparation and distribution of meals to those in need in the community.

I cosponsored H.R. 2502, the Equal Pay for Servicewomen Act, introduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), which would ensure that uniform prices for men and women servicemembers are the same price. This bill would also develop consistent criteria for determining how to reduce differences in out-of-pocket uniform costs across services by gender, and address the out-of-pocket cost differences by gender. Women in the military face higher uniform costs and additional price disparities compared to men, and this bill aims to eliminate these differences.

Finally, I cosponsored Rep. Mark Takano’s (D-CA) legislation, H.R. 1183, Honoring the Oath Act of 2021. This bill protects undocumented members of the Armed Forces and veterans, as well as their families, from deportation proceedings until a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee assesses each individual case and makes a recommendation to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice on whether the removal proceedings of any of these individuals should continue.

Letters

I joined several colleagues in a letter to House Leadership led by Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA) urging them to support the Low-Income Water Assistance Program. This letter urges support for funding an ongoing federal water affordability assistance program in any infrastructure or economic recovery package this year. Congress provided a one-time allocation of federal water affordability assistance in the American Rescue Plan Act, but additional investments will be needed to ensure continued access to water services for low-income families.

I also signed on to a letter to Speaker Pelosi led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), urging the Speaker to include strong labor protections in any infrastructure package. The federal government should guarantee that as a condition of receiving any funds that might be released with the passage of an infrastructure bill, that strong labor standards are enforced, and that workers are supported. My colleagues and I are committed to ensuring strong worker protections are included in any future infrastructure legislation.

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.