Washington Review, November 15, 2019
This week in Washington, I voted for the passage of legislation to support veteran-owned small businesses as well as a bill to increase the competitiveness of U.S. exports. I met with DACA recipients, the New Jersey League of Conservation, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and more to discuss the impacts of federal policy on our community. I also attended a House Budget Committee hearing with the Chair of the Federal Reserve and a Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee hearing on democratic values in NATO.
This week, the House voted on legislation to support veteran-owned small businesses and ensure our servicemembers have economic opportunity upon returning home. I joined my colleagues in voting to pass a suite of bipartisan legislation including the following bills:
H.R. 3537, the Veteran Entrepreneur Training Act of 2019, was introduced by Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-IL). This bill authorizes the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Boots to Business program for 5 years and improves reporting measures. Boots to Business provides in-depth business training to servicemembers and helps identify entrepreneurial opportunities in their communities. H.R. 3537 passed the House by a vote of 424-1.
H.R. 499, the Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Continuation Act, was introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). This bill modernizes SBA practices to clarify the rights of surviving spouses in service-disabled and veteran-owned small businesses. This legislation ensures servicemember’s spouses and their businesses retain federal benefits and are able to continue the normal operation of their business. H.R. 499 passed the House by a vote of 423-0.
H.R. 3734, the Successful Entrepreneurship for Reservists and Veterans Act (SERV) Act, was introduced by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS). H.R. 3734 requires the SBA Administrator to continually report on access to credit for small businesses owned by veterans. Vigiliance and transparency are required to make sure we are not letting the brave men and women who served our country fall through the cracks of our economy. This bill passed by a vote of 421-3.
On Friday, the House considered H.R. 4863, the United States Export Finance Agency Act of 2019, which was introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). This legislation reauthorizes and modernizes the Export-Import Bank, which will be renamed the United States Export Finance Agency. As the official export credit agency of the United States, this institution significantly impacts the ability of U.S. businesses to compete with foreign exporters. This bill authorizes the bank through 2029, increases its lending authority to $175 billion, includes new provisions to extend more financing to small businesses, especially minority and women owned, and establishes pro-environmental provisions. I voted in favor of H.R. 4863, which passed the House by a vote of 235-184.
H.R. 3537, H.R. 499, H.R. 3734, and H.R. 4863 now await further action in the Senate.
On Wednesday, I sat down with Nicholas Larigakis, President of the American Hellenic Institute, to discuss regional developments in Europe and the priorities of the Greek-American community. I then met with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to emphasize my commitment to labor issues and infrastructure funding. I also discussed my cosponsorship of H.R. 2474, Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and addresses the future of labor rights. Lastly, the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters also stopped by to raise awareness on the connection between protecting air quality and Americans’ health. I am proud to cosponsor legislation such as H.R. 3973, the Clean School Bus Act, which was introduced by Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) and helps cities replace old diesel school buses with clean-energy engines.
The following day, I met with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients to discuss updates on the restoration of Advance Parole and emphasize my commitment to full DACA protections. These young people deserve to continue thriving in their communities and hometowns.
Also on Thursday, I sat down with former Representative Peter Deutsch, a founder of Americans for Puerto Rico’s Self-Determination, to discuss how federal policy can support the future of Puerto Rico. I then met with Vinay Limbachia, a member of the BAPS Hindu temple in North Bergen, NJ, to discuss his community’s recent philanthropy efforts and policy impacts on their work.
The House Budget Committee convened this week to hold a hearing on America’s future economic outlook. I asked Jerome Powell, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, to elaborate on how industries would be impacted by a reduction in immigration. Chairman Powell described that immigrants, both high and low skilled, can help expand our economy and counteract the effects of an ageing labor force. I firmly believe immigrants are vital to our economy and our nation’s future growth.
This week, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held the first public hearings of the impeachment inquiry. On Wednesday, William Taylor, the acting Ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the senior Ukraine policy official at the State Department, testified before the committee. They both recounted their experiences with a pressure campaign on the Ukrainian government led by Administration officials and colleagues of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer. According to their testimony, individuals were allegedly using the power of our nation’s government to extract an advantageous political investigation into the family of President Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Ambassador Taylor testified that Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union, had expressed to his staff that “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden” than the withholding of critical military aid to Ukraine.
On Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, former Ambassador to Ukraine, recounted her experiences with the same pressure campaign while she was representing the United States abroad. Speaking about the efforts to supplant the United State-Ukraine allyship with political motivations, former Ambassador Yovanovitch stated, “These events should concern everyone in this room.”
On Wednesday, I attended the Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee hearing on upholding democratic values in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. Former President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Walesa, was one of the witnesses who contributed detailed testimony informing the policy work of our subcommittee. I asked the witnesses what steps we can take in Congress to dissuade member countries from acting against NATO interests.
On Thursday, Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) and I met with Haitian Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond and Ambassador Hervé Denis to express our concerns about the political and economic situation in Haiti. President Moise must take immediate action to address his role in the Petrocaribe scandal and engage with the opposition and civil society to end the current crisis. I will continue to work with my colleagues to support the Haitian people until they have the economic opportunities and political representation that they deserve. Later that day, I also met with Amit Kumar, the Deputy Ambassador of India, to discuss U.S.-India relations.
Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my Facebook, Twitter, and website.