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Washington Review, October 21, 2019

Oct 21, 2019
Washington Review

This week in Washington, the House voted on legislation in response to the ongoing crisis in Syria. I asked the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation to investigate claims of conflict of interest in Secretary Chao’s office and spoke at Budget Committee Hearing on economic resiliency. I also welcomed the Elmora Youth Little League baseball team from Elizabeth, NJ to celebrate their trip to the Little League World Series.

Legislation

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives took up the grave matter of what I believe was the President’s abandonment of our Kurdish allies. I voted in favor of H.J.Res.77, legislation I joined as an original co-sponsor, which condemns the illogical military strategy and demands the U.S. immediately return support to the Syrian Kurdish communities that fought with American forces to contain ISIS. H.J.Res.77 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 354 – 60.

This week, the House also considered legislation to increase transparency in our country’s financial sector and hold major corporations accountable. H.R. 1815, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Effectiveness Testing Act, was introduced by Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL). This legislation will require the SEC not only to inform the average investor of financial disclosures, but to also test these disclosures before their release to ensure they are useful to the general public. I voted in favor of this bill, which passed the House by a vote of 228 – 190 and now awaits further action before the Senate.

H.R. 3624, the Outsourcing Accountability Act of 2019, was introduced by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA). This bill requires public companies to include both domestic and foreign workforce headcounts in their annual reports, allowing for insight and accountability on keeping jobs in the United States. I also voted in favor of H.R. 3624, which passed by a vote of and 229 – 186, and also awaits further action before the Senate.

Meetings

This week, I met with the Puerto Rico Private Sector Coalition, a group of business leaders representing various industries on the island. We discussed the long-delayed assistance following the tragedy of Hurricane Maria, as well as the promise of Puerto Rico’s future. On Tuesday, the Elmora Youth Little League baseball team from Elizabeth, NJ visited me in Washington. It was my honor to host the hometown team, which represented the Mid-Atlantic region in the 2019 Little League World Series, to celebrate their incredible accomplishments and show them around our nation’s Capitol. 

Budget Hearing

On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee convened to discuss fiscal policy options that promote economic resiliency. I used the opportunity to advocate for two issues very important to our district, immigration and infrastructure investment. The economic experts agreed with me that even in the face of vilification, immigrants have been a positive force on our economy. Our nation’s workforce is aging and declining in size, so it must be supported by an influx of new individuals looking for a chance at the American dream. Additionally, efficient, modern infrastructure provides economic opportunities to Americans across every income bracket and promotes opportunity in the economy. We must focus on present needs and future challenges in our infrastructure to ensure our economy reaches its full potential.

Transportation

On Tuesday, I sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation (DOT) asking for an investigation into the alleged favoritism of Secretary Elaine Chao’s office. Nearly every state in the country has immediate infrastructure funding gaps and DOT grants are a lifeline for countless projects. Reports have emerged that since taking office, Secretary Chao and her staff have specifically coordinated and prioritized projects in Kentucky, the home state of her husband Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to the detriment of communities across the country. Serious conflicts of interest cannot exist in the assignment of federal tax dollars, and every project must be given fair, equal, and non-political consideration. Fourteen of my House colleagues joined me in asking for a full report into any alleged misuse of federal funds.

Foreign Affairs

I sat down on Thursday with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECRO) Representative, Ambassador Stanley Kao. We discussed the state of Taiwan’s diplomatic relationships in the Western Hemisphere, the economic partnership between the United States and Taiwan, as well as threats to their country’s democracy. The following day, I met with the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen M. Chastanet. Prime Minister Chastanet and I spoke about expanding bilateral cooperation and present challenges to the Caribbean region.