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Washington Review, October 25, 2019

Oct 25, 2019
Washington Review

This week, the House considered legislation on financial reporting and election security. I introduced job training legislation with Senator Menendez and testified at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the conflict in Syria. Additionally, I chaired a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing addressing the Administration’s policy towards Latin America.


I joined with Senator Menendez (D-NJ) this week to introduce our bicameral legislation, the Better Education and Skills Training (BEST) for America’s Workforce Act. H.R. 4848 seeks to increase employment opportunities in New Jersey by uniting the strength of our local businesses with our community colleges. This bill would create a $1 billion tax-credit program that institutions could use to create job-training partnerships with businesses, placing students or trainees into our community’s present employment gaps. Additionally, local businesses would be eligible to receive $4,000 in tax credits for the tuition costs of training and hiring long-term unemployed workers, specifically covering required certifications or training credentials.  

Grants would be awarded on a competitive basis with opportunities that create long-term job and income security receiving preferential consideration. The BEST for America’s Workforce Act is currently under review by the House Committee on Education & Labor and the House Committee on Ways & Means.

This week, the House passed H.R. 2513, the Corporate Transparency Act, which was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). The Corporate Transparency Act closes financial reporting loopholes that criminal operations – including terrorists and traffickers – often use to obscure their activities from law enforcement. I voted in favor of H.R. 2513, which passed the House by a vote of 249-173 and now awaits consideration before the Senate.

On Wednesday, the House also considered H.R. 4617, the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). This bill would require new compliance and reporting systems for federal campaigns to better detect foreign interference in our elections. Our nation’s adversaries have demonstrated their ability and intent to continue attacking American elections. We must purse every measure to fortify the integrity of our voting system, or we risk losing the integrity of our democracy. I voted in favor of the SHIELD ACT, which passed the House by a vote of 227-181 and now awaits action before the Senate.


Foreign Affairs

On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, I spoke about the concerning alignment of presidents Trump, Putin and Erdogan and its disastrous effects on America’s foreign policy.

This week, I spoke at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the conflict in Syria and expressed my disgust over America’s diminishing place in global politics. The picture I’m holding demonstrates what is wrong with the current state of American foreign policy.  When President Trump capitulates to the whim of authoritarian leaders, like Putin and Erdogan, I believe he demolishes America’s credibility as a reliable partner and surrenders our global influence. My colleagues and I questioned Administration officials on the decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Northern Syria, leaving our Kurdish allies susceptible to attack. I will continue to speak out and pressure this Administration to make democracy, human rights, and the rule of the law the essential pillars of our foreign policy.

The following day, I chaired a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on the Trump Administration’s FY2020 budget request and U.S. policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean. I expressed my deep concerns about the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate the right to seek asylum for those fleeing violence in Central America and its draconian cuts to our foreign assistance programs in the region. I also pressed administration officials on the impact of our assistance to Mexico under the Merida Initiative, our strategy for promoting a democratic transition in Venezuela, and the status of the State Department’s efforts to secure repayment of $57 million in Peruvian land bonds owed to pensioners in New Jersey. This hearing should have taken place at the beginning of the 116th Congress, but unfortunately the former Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Kim Breier, repeatedly refused to testify. I am glad we were finally able to hold the hearing and I will continue advocating deepened U.S. engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean.


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