Washington Review, November 20, 2015
While in Washington this week, I participated in several Foreign Affairs Committee hearings, voted on important legislation, and had several meetings.
This week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on increasing opportunities and driving international development for women in technology. My colleagues and I examined efforts to expand internet and mobile phone access to women in developing countries where women are significantly less likely to use the internet. By overcoming barriers to women’s internet access we can expand the global economy and increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of developing nations.
Later that day, I attended a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats that focused on the growing significance of the Arctic region on U.S. economic, energy, and foreign policies. As the ice caps recede and glaciers diminish, the United States is in a unique position to work with other Arctic nations to ensure security of the region. The changing geography has resulted in an increase of navigable waters that could be used for future, more efficient trade routes. Global interests in this region are continuing to develop and it is important that we remain focused on how they could impact our policies in the Arctic.
Freedom of expression is a key part of any democracy because there is a strong connection between a country’s democratic values and the freedoms afforded to their press. I introduced H.Res. 536, supporting the freedom of press in Latin America and the Caribbean, to condemn violations of these freedoms and acts of violence against those who are exercising their right to freedom of speech.
Additionally, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Res. 524, Condemning in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Paris, France, on November 13, 2015, that resulted in the loss of at least 129 lives. These attacks are, unfortunately, another example of the senseless targeting of innocent civilians by ISIL-affiliated extremists who seek to perpetuate terror around the world. My condolences go out to the families and loved ones of the victims. We stand with our French allies and remain committed to finding those responsible and bringing them to justice.
Former Governor Jim Florio visited this week to discuss transportation issues that impact New Jersey and ongoing transit projects that are taking place in the 8th District. Later, I met with Costa Rican Ambassador Roman Macaya along with Congressman Carlos Curbelo and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. We talked about Costa Rica’s crackdown on human trafficking rings and the ongoing border dispute with Nicaragua.
On Wednesday, I participated in a meeting of the Senate and House Transportation Conference Committee Conference Members to consider surface transportation reauthorization. While both the House and Senate versions of the bill authorize transportation projects for six years, I am concerned that the bill’s funding, needed to support our transportation infrastructure, is insufficient. I look forward to continuing work on this important legislation.
Later that day, I attended Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Portrait Unveiling. The portrait commemorates her time as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs from 2011-2013.