Washington Review, May 31, 2016
While in Washington this past week I held several meetings and participated in a Subcommittee on Highways and Transit hearing.
On Tuesday, I met with members of the New Jersey Rural Letter Carrier Association who stopped by to discuss upcoming legislation as well as postal concerns including six-day delivery and restoration of delivery standards. Later in the week, I met with Afro-Colombian mayors and received an update on the Colombian peace processes and priorities for the Afro-Colombian community. I also welcomed Jahleel Gomez, a Florida Tech Aeronautical Science Student from New Jersey, and other members of Citizens for Space Exploration to my office this week. We discussed recent developments in aerospace projects and the importance of investing in space exploration.
Finally, I spoke at a panel hosted by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), focused on the disappearance of forty-three students in Iguala, Mexico in September, 2014. After the initial investigation was deemed inadequate, a team of international experts was appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to conduct another investigation in collaboration with the Mexican government. This case is being viewed as a turning point for the Mexican government’s efforts to minimize corruption and violence as it is a true test of Mexico’s commitment to reforming its justice system and eliminating the current culture of impunity for violent crimes. I urge them to continue working with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights towards a resolution.
Last week, I participated in a Subcommittee on Highways and Transit hearing focused on improving the safety and reliability of the Washington, D.C. Metro which is the responsibility of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The Washington Metro System is one of the largest public transportation systems in the United States and is a key piece of infrastructure that services millions of individuals every year. Unfortunately, WMATA has a history of safety and reliability concerns and, in spite of federal investment and numerous investigations over the years, these issues persist, putting workers, commuters, and visitors at risk. My colleagues and I questioned the panel about new approaches to improving the system to make it a more reliable transportation option.
Later in the week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes the water resources program of the Army Corps of Engineers. For New Jersey, this means vital port dredging projects that keep our ports competitive, a larger share of money for harbor maintenance projects, and greater infrastructure resiliency, protecting us against the damage of future storms. Additionally, the legislation includes important reforms to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which guarantees that our ports and harbors are maintained and dredged. H.R. 5303 now awaits further action in the House of Representatives.