Washington Review, September 9, 2017
This week in Washington, the House of Representatives passed a relief package for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, I cosponsored the DREAM Act of 2017, met with President Trump and other Congressional members about the Gateway Project, and welcomed Mayor Corral of Santa Fe City in Argentina.
Last week, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast leaving thousands stranded and without homes. As the East coast braces for yet another disaster with Hurricane Irma, Congress made passing a relief package a top priority upon returning from August recess. Recovering from these disasters can take years and is an effort beyond any single state’s resources. I remember the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and the delays in recovery that were caused by Congressional inaction, which is why I voted for H.R. 601, the Harvey Supplemental, without hesitation. Fortunately, this bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 316 to 90 and provides $15.25 billion in disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and other fiscal year (FY) 2017 disasters. Additionally, the Harvey Supplemental extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was due to expire at the end of the month, through December 8, 2017, and allows individuals to buy federal flood insurance. I am glad that Congress could come together to provide much needed assistance to the victims of these disasters.
President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program abandons nearly 800,000 DREAMers who have participated in DACA since 2012. These individuals were brought here as children, and know no country other than America as their home. I believe this policy decision goes against our core values as Americans, and unfairly targets individuals who only seek to contribute to their communities and expand their education, enabled by DACA.
In response to this continued threat to the DACA program, I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 3440, the DREAM Act of 2017, which has bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This bill would allow DACA beneficiaries to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and set them on the path to citizenship. Eligible individuals must be longtime residents, with no felonies or other serious crimes, who came to the United States as children and have passed extensive background checks.
America was built on the hard work of immigrants and diversity is the foundation of our nation. I believe that Congress must come together to pass this legislation that will protect the DREAMers who put their trust in our government and contribute to our economy, society, and national identity every day.
On Thursday, I joined my House and Senate colleagues from New Jersey and New York in a bipartisan meeting with President Trump to discuss the future of the Gateway Project, which would repair and upgrade the century-old rail infrastructure that New Jersey’s economy is dependent on. This rail corridor is the busiest in the country, and suffered great damage from Superstorm Sandy, creating a new urgency for investment that will allow this project to get underway. The President has said that he is committed to rebuilding American infrastructure and I hope that this meeting is an indicator of his intention to move forward with that promise.
Finally, I met with Mr. Jose Corral, the Mayor of Santa Fe City in Argentina, to discuss my resolution, H.Res. 54, reaffirming the United States-Argentina partnership and recognizing Argentina’s economic reforms. Mayor Corral has been internationally recognized for his Development Plan for Santa Fe 2020 and it is important that the United States continue to support Argentina’s positive growth and development.