Washington Review, September 19, 2014
This week in Washington, I had a series of meetings with constituents, participated in several Committee hearings and markup sessions, attended a Joint Session of Congress to hear from the President of Ukraine, and announced an important transportation and infrastructure grant for the State of New Jersey.
Earlier this week, I supported multiple pieces of legislation in a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure markup session, including a bill that would provide $7 billion for Amtrak over the next four years, including $1.88 billion to improve Amtrak routes that run through New Jersey in the Northeast Corridor. This bill addresses the much needed infrastructure improvements along the Northeast Corridor that many New Jerseyans use.
I was also pleased to join New Jersey’s Congressional delegation in announcing a combined award of $1.5 billion in Sandy resiliency grants to repair and fortify the state’s transit system, which had sustained significant damage. These grants, awarded to New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, move New Jersey another step closer toward full recovery from Superstorm Sandy and are essential to building a transportation infrastructure that can withstand future storms. I will continue to work with my counterparts in the New Jersey delegation to ensure that funding is directed to projects that will strengthen our resiliency and economy, and I would like to thank the Department of Transportation for this important investment for our community.
Furthermore, there was a series of Member meetings this week that covered a variety of international issues, such as the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Russian arms control, the training and equipping of Syrian authorities in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the Kurdish response to ISIL encroachment. These meetings come at an appropriate time, as conflicts across the globe continue to necessitate the oversight of Congress. In addition, I met with AIPAC members to discuss the importance of Israel’s security and their right to self-defense, as well as the need for bipartisan leadership in Congress in order to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
I also participated in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to review ISIL’s offensive in the Middle East, its threat to vital U.S. interests and allies, and President Obama’s plan to degrade and destroy this terrorist organization, where Secretary of State John Kerry testified. In response to ISIL’s hostile aggression and heinous crimes against Iraqi citizens, American journalists, and a British aid worker, the Obama Administration has incrementally deployed U.S. military personnel to Iraq to bolster the security of U.S. diplomatic missions and assess the capability of Iraqi forces, as well as conducted limited airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq.
Lastly, in a Joint Session of Congress, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine addressed both the House of Representatives and the Senate on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. President Poroshenko spoke on the importance of U.S. diplomatic and economic support, including sanctions, to help Ukraine regain the Crimea Peninsula from Russia. The speech reaffirmed Congress’ commitment to our Ukrainian allies.