Washington Review, September 23, 2019
Last week in Washington, the 2020 Census, income inequality, and climate change were the focus of my attention as I met with my colleagues and stakeholders. I also attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing and questioned Administration officials on our nation’s policy towards Afghanistan.
On Friday, the House considered and passed H.R. 1423, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). As an original cosponsor, I proudly supported this legislation’s goals and its passage on the floor. The FAIR Act seeks to increase justice and accountability in our federal court system by stripping away forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases. H.R. 1423 passed by a vote of 225 to 186 and awaits further action before the Senate.
Greta Thunberg, a 16 year-old Swedish climate activist who sailed from the U.K. to New York City, testified on Wednesday before my colleagues and I on the Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. She submitted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming as her testimony, underscoring the severity of the claims put forth by the scientific community. Along with testimony from Jamie Margolin, co-founder of This is Zero Hour, Vic Barret, Fellow at Alliance for Climate Education, and Benji Backer, President of the American Conservation Coalition, it is clear we no longer have time to delay. I am dedicated to working with my colleagues to immediately address our planet’s climate crisis and make America a leader once again in the fight for our environmental future.
The 2020 Census is rapidly approaching and its importance for our community cannot be stressed enough. Nearly $22.6 billion in federal funding for our state is directly tied to an accurate count. I met with the New Jersey congressional delegation and New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way to discuss our state’s census outreach strategy and anticipate problems that lie ahead. If you are interested in becoming active in the census effort or have any concerns, reach out to your Local Complete Count Commission for more information. Every member of the 8th District deserves to be counted.
On Thursday, I attended the House Budget Committee hearing on rising income inequality in the U.S. Since 1979, the before-tax income for the top 1% of U.S. households has, on average, more than tripled, while the middle 60% and bottom 20% of households have only risen by a third. I questioned experts on mitigating factors, from the decline in union membership to the stagnant federal minimum wage. I also asked about the President’s tax cuts, designed for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, and how they impacted our economy. The experts responded that they have increased the burden on those facing wage stagnation in our country. Congress must act quickly for the health of our economy.
Also on Thursday, I questioned Trump Administration officials at a House Foreign Affairs hearing on the insensitive decision to invite Taliban leaders to Camp David so close to the anniversary of 9/11. The consequences of that tragic day continue to impact the lives of countless Americans, including members in our own community. I also asked officials about the current strength of the Taliban and the prospects for a successful intra-Afghan dialogue
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.