Washington Review, September 13, 2019
Congress returned to Washington this week and began working to protect our shorelines from oil and gas drilling. Since the Senate is also back from recess, I believe it is time for Senate Majority Leader to act immediately on passing commonsense gun reform legislation already passed in the House, like H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. This week, I also met with the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars and convened the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee for a hearing on deforestation in the Amazon and the recent outbreak of devastating fires.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House passed three bills – H.R. 1941, H.R. 205, and H.R. 1146 – that would ban oil and gas drilling on the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Beyond the imperative to not further harm our environmental home, I voted for these bills because ecosystems in these regions support the livelihoods of entire communities. In New Jersey, we know how important the Jersey Shore is to the heritage and economy of our state. I voted for these bills because I understand the importance of protecting our resources and promoting livable communities.
H.R. 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), would permanently ban the Department of Interior from allowing any offshore drilling projects along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf. H.R. 1941 passed by a vote of 238 to 189.
H.R. 205, the Protecting and Securing Florida's Coastline Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), would extend the moratorium on offshore drilling projects in protected regions of the Gulf of Mexico. H.R. 205 passed by a vote of 248 to 180.
Finally, H.R. 1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), would prohibit offshore drilling along the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. I was proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation and fight to protect this vital preservation site. H.R 1146 passed by a vote of 225 to 193.
All three of these bills now await further action by the Senate.
On Tuesday, I sat down with representatives of New Jersey’s Veterans of Foreign Wars to thank them for their service and receive updates on issues facing our veterans. Earlier this year, I was honored to be recognized as a Legislator of the Year and will continue to fight for the dignity, support, and success of our brave men and women who have served our nation overseas.
Then on Thursday, I met with New Jersey City University President Sue Henderson to discuss current projects at the school and the current state of higher education. We must break down barriers to full employment in our economy and empower the young people of the 8th District to achieve their educational potential.
On Tuesday, I convened the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade for a hearing on the recent wildfires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Titled “Preserving the Amazon: A Shared Moral Imperative”, my colleagues and I received testimony from conservation and regional experts on the devastating impacts of deforestation. Well-regulated economic development goes hand in hand with environmental protection – the successful use of our resources drives prosperity for generations to come. I believe the United States has a role to play in our continued relationship with Brazil to promote the protection of the Amazon rainforest and support the indigenous communities that call the region home. Additionally, we must also be a leader on climate change within our own borders. I believe the Trump Administration was seriously mistaken in pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and we must as a nation immediately grapple with the scientific reality of our present conditions.
On Wednesday, I met with Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, Governor of Tamaulipas, Mexico, to discuss security along the U.S.-Mexico border and ways our countries can work to end violence and arms-trafficking. Also this week, I celebrated the establishment of the Congressional Friends of the Dominican Republic Caucus, spearheaded by my colleague Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY). I look forward to the success of the caucus and working to continue a strong relationship with the Dominican Republic.
Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my Facebook, Twitter, and website.