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Washington Review, September 13, 2013

Sep 13, 2013
Washington Review

Congress has faced critical policy dilemmas all year long including rising student loan interest rates, budget battles, and immigration reform, among other issues. Most recently, Congress has been charged with the difficult task of responding to the President’s proposal for military action in Syria. As Congress continues to examine and debate the next step for the United States, it is important not to lose focus on the issues at home.  

Last week, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I attended a hearing where Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, testified on the Administration’s proposed response to the alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian military. Since the atrocities of World War II, deterring the use of these unforgiving and horrific weapons has been a key goal of both the United States and the international community. The world benefits from the removal of chemical weapons from such a volatile region.  Removing such weapons from the hands of a tyrant will allow the focus on Syria to shift to the growing and increasingly destabilizing humanitarian crisis in the country.  As information continues to come before Congress on the issue of Syria, I will continue to listen to my constituents and experts on the crisis, to determine the best path forward for our nation and the international community.

While much of the public attention has focused on foreign affairs this week, I was also working on pressing issues here at home, including transportation safety and immigration reform.  This week, I met with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Anne S. Ferro, and discussed the recent bus crash in West New York which resulted in the tragic death of Angelie Paredes, an 8-month-old girl.  The FMCSA is the federal agency tasked with regulating commercial motor vehicles, including commuter buses.

This meeting was held in response to an August 7th press conference with State Senator Nicholas Sacco (D-32), and several State legislators in West New York, New Jersey, in which I vowed to call for stricter regulations for drivers and bus companies.  I will continue to work with FMCSA officials to identify legislative solutions that ensure greater safety of our commuters and pedestrians. 

Also this week, as a member of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI), I joined CHLI and my fellow members at a press conference about the urgency to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is imperative that, in the midst of a fiscal and an international crisis, Congress does not allow immigration reform to fall by the wayside. Reforming the system is not only important to the 11 million people living in the shadows, but also for our economy and our relationship with the global community.

Once again, thank you for reading my Washington Review. I appreciate the calls and emails my office has received on foreign affairs, immigration reform, and the tragic bus accident in West New York.  As your representative, it is important I receive comments on issues that matter to you.  I invite you to contact me through my website or you may leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter with your ideas, concerns and recommendations.