e-News 12/15/17

e-News 12/15/17

  • A Milestone for National Security – But Not Far Enough
  • Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions
  • Liberty Science Center Grows
  • Salute: SGT John Basilone of Raritan 


A Milestone for National Security – But Not Far Enough

The President on Tuesday signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill that authorizes everything from well-deserved troop pay raises to increases in the size of our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines in fiscal 2018.   The legislation establishes policies for the Department of Defense -- around $626 billion for the base budget and another $66 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations -- the fight against ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban and other extremist groups and threats from Iran, North Korea, Russia and China.

The NDAA calls for a badly-needed increase in the size of the Armed Forces and the salary of current soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and improvements in missile defense capabilities, to name a few key provisions.

Having the President sign the NDAA conference report into law is a critical milestone in the effort to rebuild America’s military strength, support our troops, and reform the way the Pentagon does business.  The policies in this bill reflect months of bipartisan work and agreement.  But Congress must soon pass our critically important funding bill – the FY 2018 Defense Appropriations Act from my Appropriations Committee.  The House passed this important legislation multiple times this year, most recently in September.  That’s three months ago and we’re still waiting for the Senate to act!

Learn more about the House-passed Defense Appropriations Act for 2018 here.

In the meantime, on Wednesday I introduced legislation that would fully fund our Defense Department and Intelligence Community for fiscal 2018, but would place the rest of government spending under a stopgap continuing resolution (CR) until January 19 in order to keep the government open for business.  The also includes full funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The government is currently operating under a stopgap funding resolution set to expire December 22.

Funding national defense is a top priority, especially in these uncertain times of instability around the globe.   Our troops and commanders must have the resources they need right now to meet threats around the globe and advance peace.

Of course, the CR is not the preferred way to do business.  However, this resolution will allow time for the leadership of the House and Senate and the White House to come to agreement on overall spending levels for this fiscal year.

Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions

With my support, the House this week advanced bipartisan legislation designed to ensure that people who threaten religious centers with violence are prosecuted for committing a hate crime. This bill, the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017, is a direct response to the rise of bomb threats and violence targeted at Jewish Community Centers across the nation, including New Jersey.

I am proud that the House is standing up against anti-Semitism and reaffirming our duty to protect the religious liberty of Americans from all walks of life to worship without fear. We are united under one flag and one Constitution. We can never tolerate bigotry and violence designed to intimidate and obstruct people’s ability to exercise their religious freedom.

Regrettably, there has been a significant rise in threats against religious institutions lately.  In 2017 alone, more than 160 bomb threats and other threats of violence have been made against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) across America, including several in New Jersey.

That is precisely why the FY 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, drafted by my committee, includes a 100 percent increase in funding for the Non-Profit Security Grant program.  Funding from this program is used by Jewish Community Centers, temples, synagogues, schools and other nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack to finance target hardening and other physical security enhancements.  

We must stand united against acts of hate and protect the rights of all Americans to worship freely and without fear. I am proud that this bipartisan bill passed in the House this week. 

Learn more about the Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act of 2017 here.

Liberty Science Center Grows

Exciting news: New Jersey’s Liberty Science Center, a local hub for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education, has opened a new planetarium which is being billed as the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. The Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium in Jersey City, which opened last weekend, features a dome that is 89 feet in diameter, surpassing a 79-foot dome in St. Louis.

For more information, please click here

Salute: SGT John Basilone of Raritan.  The House of Representstives this week approved legislation that I co-sponsored to rename the post office in Raritan the “John Basilone Post Office” in honor of the hero of Guadalcanal.  For three days in the summer of 1942, without food or sleep, Basilone and his comrades fought off the Japanese forces until reinforcements arrived, with only two men other than Basilone surviving. At one point, Basilone had to single-handedly fight his way 150 yards through Japanese lines to get more ammunition and continue the fight and, by the time the engagement was over, he had killed at least 38 Japanese soldiers. For his actions on Guadalcanal, Basilone became the only Marine in World War II to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.  Our New Jersey hero is a true Marine Corps legend!

Learn more about John Basilone here.

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