Washington Review, October 27, 2017
While in Washington this week, I urged Speaker Ryan to reauthorize CHIP, cosponsored legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, and sent letters to the Administration asking them to restore policies that facilitate access to affordable contraception. I also voted on the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget and an Iran sanctions bill in addition to holding a number of meetings.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a federal-state program that provides health coverage to certain low-income children and pregnant women. This critical program provides coverage for almost nine million children, and has been essential in reducing the uninsured rate of children since its inception in 1997. However, current CHIP funding expired on September 30, 2017 and has yet to be brought to the Floor. It is imperative that Congress work together to reauthorize this historically bipartisan program, which is why I have sent a letter to Speaker Ryan, along with my colleagues, urging him to bring CHIP extension legislation to the Floor immediately. I have also cosponsored Rep. Michael Burgess’s (R-TX) H.R. 3921, the Healthy Kids Act, which would extend CHIP funding through FY 2022.
This week, I cosponsored H.R. 2670, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, introduced by Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD). This bill would close three loopholes in federal law that currently allow convicted stalkers and those under temporary restraining orders to buy firearms, while also expanding protections to include those subject to abuse by current or former partners. This is commonsense legislation that would restrict the ability of those with demonstrated violent tendencies to be able to purchase firearms, and provide greater protections for domestic violence and stalking victims. H.R. 2670 is currently under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.
In response to the Administration’s recent decision to eliminate mandatory coverage for contraception which was provided under the Affordable Care Act, my colleagues and I recently sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan, expressing our strong opposition to the two interim final rules that could leave women without access to birth control coverage. Furthermore, we asked that the rules be rescinded so policies which allow affordable access to contraception can be restored.
At the end of the week, the House voted on the Iran Sanctions bill (H.R. 1698) and the Senate Amendment to the House Republican Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 71). I am disappointed by the passage of H. Con. Res. 71, which includes drastic cuts for vital services in order to provide tax cuts for the wealthy. Cuts to critical programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, student loan programs, and infrastructure funding are just some of the reasons I opposed this proposal which would increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion. Unfortunately, H. Con. Res. 71 passed the House by a vote of 216 to 212.
Additionally, the House voted on H.R. 1698, the Iran Ballistic Missiles International Sanctions Enforcement Act. This legislation would expand sanctions against any entity that aids Iran’s pursuit of a ballistic missile. H.R. 1698 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 423 to 2, and now awaits further action in the Senate.
Earlier in the week, I met with representatives from Bristol-Myers Squibb to discuss their initiative, the Organization for Latino Achievement. I am encouraged by their important work to find solutions to incorporating greater diversity in health care and the workplace.
On Wednesday, I welcomed new members of Ecuador’s legislature to my Washington D.C. office to share with them my experiences working in Congress. I emphasized to them the importance of a strong, democratic, and independent legislature.
I also met with Newell Brands, which is headquartered in Hoboken. They providee an update on the progress of their new headquarters, as well as their expansive global business ventures.
Finally, I met with members of CH2M, who was selected to provide program management and support services for the Gateway Program in the Northeast Corridor. I learned more about their partnership with Amtrak on the Gateway program, and we discussed their other infrastructure projects around New Jersey.