Washington Review, September 9, 2016
While in Washington this week I attended a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing and held several meetings.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at a ceremony hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority marking the completion of the Port of New York and New Jersey, 50-Foot Harbor Deepening Project. The Port is the largest port on the East Coast and a critical transportation hub that provides over 270,000 jobs. While the Port handled 3.7 million containers of cargo valued at $208 billion in 2015, its channels could not previously accommodate the large Post-Panamax container ships. The Harbor Deepening project is the last part of a dredging program that will increase the channel capacities and allow the Port to maintain its competitiveness, improve its transportation efficiency, and benefit the regional economy.
This week, I met the UNITE HERE workers from the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ who visited my office to discuss labor issues and pending legislation with my staff. UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents workers in many industries including food service, manufacturing, and transportation.
On Thursday, I attended a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing focused on Congress’ role in providing oversight of the President’s National Security Council (NSC) staff. The NSC serves to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policy issues. My colleagues and I heard from a panel of experts on how the NSC has evolved and expanded since its inception in 1947. We also discussed the best ways to reform the NSC in order to increase efficiency and better equip our government agencies to work together in tackling national security challenges.
On Friday, I met with Colombia’s Post Conflict Minister, Rafael Pardo, to discuss the ongoing peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC is a violent insurgent group in Colombia that has been in an armed conflict with the government since 1964. It is the oldest, largest, and best financed guerilla organization in Latin America and the decades-long conflict has displaced millions of innocent civilians and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Colombia. In June of 2016, the Colombian government and the FARC reached a peace accord for a cessation of hostilities. Minister Pardo and I discussed the upcoming vote to approve the peace agreement and efforts to implement it.
Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks that took place on September 11th, 2001. We will never forget the victims of that tragic day as well as the brave first responders who risked their lives to protect innocent civilians. To honor the sacrifices made and those who lost their lives, I remain committed to caring for all those who were affected by the events of 9/11. I was pleased that the House of Representatives passed, by voice vote, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act that I cosponsored. This legislation would permit lawsuits by victims of international terrorism against foreign nationals for supporting terrorist groups. This bill now goes to the President to be signed into law or vetoed.