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Washington Review, October 6, 2017

Oct 6, 2017
Washington Review

While in Washington this week, I cosponsored several pieces of legislation that would make it harder for guns to be converted, managed two bills on the House Floor, and I pressed a panel at the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing on the urgent need for investment in transportation infrastructure. I also met with members of the New Jersey Education Association to discuss education priorities.

Las Vegas

On Sunday night, the Nation witnessed the largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history which took the lives of 58 people and left over 500 others injured in Las Vegas. I am saddened and troubled that another act of senseless violence has stripped innocent civilians of their lives too soon, and continue to offer my sincerest condolences to the victims and their families.  Unfortunately, this act is yet another solemn reminder of the increasing frequency and scale of such violent attacks on our country, and it is imperative that Congress work together to adopt comprehensive legislation that addresses the gun violence epidemic that is plaguing our nation. That is why I am an original cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act and the Online Sales Ammunition Act, both of which were introduced this week.

The  Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), would ban the manufacture, possession, transfer, sale, or importation of bump stocks like the one used in the attack in Las Vegas. Bump stocks enable a shooter to fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds per minute and have been approved for sale by the U.S. government since 2010. I believe that there is absolutely no reason a civilian should ever be able to possess a device that turns a semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun. The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-NJ), would require federally licensed dealers to confirm the identity of individuals who arrange to purchase ammunition over the internet by verifying a photo I.D. Additionally, this legislation would also require ammunition vendors to report sales of more than 1,000 rounds within 5 consecutive days to the U.S. Attorney General.

In addition, I have joined my colleagues on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force to send a letter to President Trump inviting him to meet with our task force members so that we may work with the Administration to establish policies that respect the 2nd Amendment while also protecting our communities from gun violence. Congress cannot continue to ignore the need for comprehensive reform on this issue.  

Legislation on the House Floor

On Tuesday, I spoke on the House Floor as manager of two important bills which would support human rights in Nicaragua and promote access to education for girls around the world. H.R. 1918, the NICA Act, which I introduced with my colleague Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), would make loans to Nicaragua conditional upon the government’s certification that free, transparent, and fair elections are being held. This bill would prevent the Ortega regime from continuing to amass cash while the Nicaraguan people suffer. I also managed H.R. 2408, the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), which would urge the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to consider the educational needs of vulnerable women and girls when designing, implementing, and evaluating U.S. foreign assistance policies and programs. This bill is critical to providing children with an alternative to radical ideologies and presenting the possibility of positioning them to make a further positive impact on their communities. Both of these bills passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and now await further action in the Senate.

Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing

Later in the week, I attended a hearing in the Railroads and Pipelines Subcommittee and pressed our panelists on the need for actual investment in our Nation’s transportation infrastructure. Experts and government officials agree that our transportation system is in disrepair and in dire need of maintenance, yet actual funds for this much-needed investment continue to be cut. For one of the most advanced countries in the world, our rail infrastructure continues to lag behind, and I am increasingly frustrated by the lack of real action to address the impending infrastructure crisis. A failure of major infrastructure networks is not only a problem for the community and the state, but also the national economy. I hope that Congress and the Administration will work together to find a long-term solution to fixing our national transportation infrastructure which is critical to the productivity of the country.

NJEA Meeting

Finally, at the end of the week, I met with representatives of the New Jersey Education Association to discuss the continued importance of funding for advancing educational opportunities for all communities.

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