e-News 11/17/19

e-News 11/17/17

  • I Voted “NO” on House tax bill
  • Rebuilding American Security
  • Making the Veterans Administration Work for Veterans
  • Salute: To the late Thomas Hudner, Navy hero and civil rights icon
  • Salute: Mr. Weinstein’s class at Parsippany Hills High School.


I Voted “NO” on House tax bill

I opposed H.R. 1, the House tax bill, this week because this legislation will hurt New Jersey families who already pay some of the highest income and property taxes in the nation!

Specifically, this measure unfairly limited the state and local tax (SALT) deduction which is vital to many families. H.R. 1 also reduced mortgage interest deductions.  These changes will certainly erode property values, one of the most important financial assets for many New Jerseyans.  These provisions alone could do much damage to the business climate in our state, a trend we must never tolerate, let alone encourage. 

I am also opposed to the elimination of the medical expense deduction.

I had hoped that 2017 would be the year that Congress enacts permanent, pro-growth tax reform.  In fact, I was looking forward to voting for legislation that creates jobs, increases paychecks, reinforces fairness and expands the economy here at home, while strengthening America’s competitiveness around the world.

However, I simply could not support the legislation due to very negative impacts it would have on so many of my fellow New Jerseyans.

Rebuilding American Security

Under our Constitution, it is the primary duty of the federal government to provide for the national defense. This week, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), one of two major bills that annually support our military and their families. 

This year’s NDAA authorizes increases to the size of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, so we can be better prepared to confront any threat against the United States, our people, our allies and our interests at home and abroad.

This legislation also gives our service members a 2.4 percent pay raise—the largest pay hike in eight years! Our men and women in uniform, including the 300,000 serving overseas in 168 countries, deserve that.

Keeping the taxpayers in mind, this bill contains reforms that will save billions of dollars. Those include updating the retirement system, improving the military health care system, reorganizing the defense bureaucracy, improving Congressional oversight and transparency, and changing the way the Pentagon buys supplies. All of these changes are important because it means that every dollar spent will be wisely used to strengthen our national defense.

Overall, the NDAA is one more step towards more support for those men and women who serve and their families.

Unfortunately, as the world has become more dangerous, our military has been allocated fewer resources for the troops. This year, again and again, we have seen the tragic consequences of asking our troops to do more with less.  Serious accidents are on the rise, troops with critical skills are leaving the force, and our allies and enemies alike are questioning our commitments. 

Of course, it will take more than one year and more than one bill to restore our strength.  But this NDAA is an important step. And when we finalize and pass the FY 2018 Defense Appropriations bill from my Committee, we will have made real progress toward rebuilding American security.  

Read a detailed summary of the FY 2018 NDAA here.

Making the Veterans Administration Work for Veterans

Among my many priorities for the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) are two critically important goals:

1)    Ensure that the VA provides the best medical care possible for those who have worn the nation’s uniform.

2)    Do it in a fiscally responsible way in order to maximize the number of veterans who receive that care;

The Appropriations Subcommittee which oversees the VA held an important public hearing this week on an issue that is vital to the timeliness and quality of medical care that veterans receive: electronic health records.

For years, and despite generous funding from Congress, the Department of Defense and the VA have struggled to develop a modern, “interoperable” system to allow the sharing of patients’ medical records.  I told VA Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin, again on Wednesday that in this day and age, there is no excuse that explains why retiring service personnel cannot transfer their medical histories electronically and seamlessly from the DoD into the VA health system.  And there’s no reason why the VA cannot access any veteran’s medical records anywhere in their system across the country! 

Secretary Shulkin agreed that the VA would meet those standards and promised a system that will also easily transfer records to private-sector hospitals and physicians as the VA works to expand outside partnerships.

To watch the hearing, click here.

Salute: To the late Thomas Hudner who passed away this week.  As a 26-year old Navy pilot, he crashed landed his plane in 1950 in an attempt to rescue a downed squadron mate, Ensign Jesse Brown.  For his heroics, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor.  Hudner and Brown are now considered icons of the civil rights movement. Read more about their fascinating story in the Washington Posthere.

Salute: Mr. Rob’s Weinstein’s class at Parsippany Hills High School. Thanks for visiting me yesterday in Washington.  And thanks to Mr. Weinstein who has taught at the school for 24 years! 

Twitter Facebook