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Washington Review, October 13, 2020

Oct 13, 2020
Washington Review

Last week, I signed onto legislation to make it easier for men to get screened for prostate cancer, introduced a resolution to protect supply chains in the Western Hemisphere and Sub-Saharan Africa, and signed onto a resolution to designate National Wildlife Refuge Week. I also signed onto letters to alert the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about the rising threat of extremists in NJ, opposing rollbacks to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), opposing the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and outlining concerns over mail delivery in NJ to the Inspector General of the Postal Service.

Legislation

Last Tuesday, I became a cosponsor of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Screening for High-Risk Insured Men (HIM) Act, introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL). This important piece of legislation requires health insurance plans to cover prostate screenings for men with a family history of prostate cancer and for African-American men, who are 70% more likely to get prostate cancer in their lifetimes. It is unfortunate that far too many men in New Jersey and across the country forgo or do not have access to preemptive screening for prostate cancer. If caught early, prostate cancer has a significantly higher survival rate than when diagnosed late, making this legislation and access to prostate screening vital for the health of our communities.

I also signed onto H.Res.1179, Expressing support for the week beginning on October 11, 2020, as National Wildlife Refuge Week, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). This resolution highlights the myriad accomplishments of the Refuge System and reiterates the importance of refuges to wildlife, recreation, and conservation. Organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Refuge Week is designed to highlight the diverse benefits and opportunities provided by our nation’s wildlife refuge system. National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed annually during the second full week of October, underscores the tremendous conservation success of the Refuge System while stressing the importance of supporting refuges for future generations.

I introduced H.Res.1178, to protect supply chains in the Western Hemisphere and Sub-Saharan Africa, along with my colleagues Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). The resolution, which was endorsed by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), reflects bipartisan opposition to including textile, apparel, and footwear products in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) because this would cause job losses for the textile sector in the United States. The resolution also responds to the need to preserve and strengthen U.S. supply chains throughout the Western Hemisphere, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Letters

Last Wednesday, I joined my colleagues Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), in a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS) Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb asking for a full investigation after it was reported that vote by mail ballots destined for West Orange, NJ were found in a dumpster in North Arlington. On October 4th, vote by mail ballots en route to West Orange from the Dominick V. Daniels Processing and Distribution Center in Kearny were found in a dumpster in North Arlington. This comes as my NJ colleagues and I have been raising concerns in recent weeks about the ability of USPS to handle the large influx of mail-in ballots throughout NJ. Last week, I sent a letter to the USPS, along with Rep. Pascrell (D-NJ), demanding entry and inspection into the Dominick V. Daniels Processing and Distribution Center in Kearny to see if the operations there were suitable. The USPS has still refused to permit entry into the facility and these new reports of ballots ending up in the dumpster continue to trouble me. The letter calls for a swift and transparent investigation into the matter so that we can correct these issues and have confidence that USPS will safely maintain all mail-in ballots for the November election.

I also signed onto a letter led by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and the Pro-Choice Caucus, to the Senate leadership opposing the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barret to the Supreme Court of the United States. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is breaking with the precedent he sent in 2016, refusing to consider the Obama Administration’s nominee, by pledging to swiftly confirm Judge Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. I believe Leader McConnell should stick to his past precedent and allow the November election to go ahead before he holds confirmation hearings or votes for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. The letter details the same concerns and urges Senate leadership to wait to hold confirmation hearings until after the November election results are conclusive.

I joined members of the New Jersey congressional delegation, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), in sending a letter to the Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, outlining our concern about the growing threat of extremist groups in New Jersey. The letter details how white supremacist groups, domestic terrorists, and other extremists have had a resurgence in NJ. Earlier this year the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) increased the threat posed by white supremacists from ‘moderate’ to ‘high’. Additionally, members of the Proud Boys group, which has been classified as a hate group by civil rights organizations, have appeared at sites across New Jersey throughout the recent months. The letter outlines these details for the FBI and asks what steps the FBI is taking to combat this extremism in our communities.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), led a letter to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) opposing the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to critical habitat regulations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This letter opposes the proposed rule to revise Endangered Species Act (ESA) critical habitat regulations which would weaken the ability to recover species. Under the ESA, when critical habitat is established for an ESA-listed species, there is an opportunity for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to exclude some areas of habitat from designation for economic, national security-based, or other reasons, provided doing so will not lead to species extinction. The proposed rule would allow the USFWS to exclude habitats if the costs of preserving them outweigh the benefits. These alarming proposals are the latest iterations of this Administration’s systematic attacks on the ESA, which threaten the survival of our nation’s wildlife and exacerbate the global biodiversity crisis. It is incumbent upon us to protect our endangered species and the habitats they live on, not to demolish those habitats for profit.

I joined over 70 of my colleagues in a letter led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), addressed to President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo about excluding refugees and cutting refugee admissions in 2021. Recently, reports emerged that the Trump Administration intends to cut refugee admissions to 15,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2021 after failing to fulfill its statutory obligation to consult with Congress by September 30th. The letter, addressed to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calls on the Administration to reverse the decision and increase the Presidential Determination to at least 110,000 for FY 2021, which is the level that was determined for FY 2017. As a refugee, I can personally attest to America’s strong history as a welcome safe harbor for those who are fleeing violence, hunger, and persecution. We must continue to uphold our principles and not lower our refugee admission numbers.

I led 14 of my colleagues in a letter to the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO Michael Pack regarding visa denials at Voice of America. When Michael Pack became CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media in July, he refused to renew the visas of foreign national employees who were doing important work to advance the United States’ interest in supporting a return to democracy in Venezuela. The letter highlights the case of two journalists hired by Voice of America to cover Venezuela who were fired by Mr. Pack without cause and urges CEO Pack to immediately reinstate these journalists and cease his persecution of foreign national employees who are working to promote U.S. values through their contributions to free and independent journalism.

Census

The Census response rate in the 8th District is far below the average for the rest of New Jersey. Completing the Census is not only a constitutional responsibility but also greatly helps your district and local community get the funds it needs. Census results are directly tied to funding for emergency first responders, hospitals, schools, and many other important federal programs. Completing your census takes less than 10 minutes total and can have a significant impact. To complete your census visit: https://2020census.gov/en.html

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. Together we can get through this.