Washington Review, September 11, 2015
Representing the 8th District in Washington this week, I completed Foreign Affairs Committee work, cast several important votes, and participated in a USO service project.
This week, I voted against approving the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran that is set to go into force on September 17, 2015. Iran has spent decades evading international sanctions, promoting terror in the region, and violently oppressing its own people. I am concerned that if the proposed agreement is made official, hardliners within the Iranian regime may hinder its implementation.
Since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was announced, I have participated in numerous hearings, meetings, and briefings regarding the state of negotiations and specific aspects of the deal. Additionally, I listened to the testimonies of the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Energy as they outlined details of the agreement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Furthermore, this week, I participated in a hearing to further analyze the implications of the nuclear agreement with Iran. After much thought, I remain unconvinced that this deal is the best path forward to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere held a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific this week to probe China’s growing influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the past decade, China’s engagement and investment in the region has increased significantly. This influx of investment has brought with it dubious funding, environmental disregard, and poor labor and health conditions for workers. If China wants to continue to engage our neighbors, we must insist that they comply with international labor, health, and environmental standards.
I had several meetings this week regarding foreign relations. A delegation of Latin American parliamentarians from Colombia, Panama, and El Salvador visited to give an overview on the security of the citizens in their countries and to discuss ongoing work to grow their economies. The parliamentarians came with the International Republican Institute, which is an international development agency that carries out government contracts focused on democracy promotion, capacity building, and enhancing civil society. I also met with New Jersey members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) this week. AIPAC visited to highlight their views of the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran and to explain how they believe it will impact the stability of the region.
I enjoyed the opportunity to assemble care packs for American troops at a USO event on Capitol Hill this week. The dedicated people of the USO always do great work supporting the men and women who serve in our military. This week’s service project was held to mark the 14th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 by giving back to those who protect us.
This week, we remember the tragedy that occurred across the Hudson River, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001. Each year, this anniversary stands as a day of solemn remembrance and reflection in our area, across the country, and around the world. As we look back on the lives of those we lost that day, we must recommit ourselves to caring for those still affected and to preventing another tragedy from taking place.
I believe Congress can do more than reflect on the anniversary of the worst terror attack on American soil, we can take concrete steps to support our heroes by passing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1786). This bill would reauthorize and fully fund the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which is set to begin to expire later this year. These programs provide long-term, comprehensive health care and compensation for those thousands of first responders and others exposed to the toxins of Ground Zero who are now sick and in need of treatment and compensation. As Americans remember 9/11 at memorial ceremonies, events, and services, it is my hope that Congress will be able to come together to pass this critical piece of legislation.