e-News 12/21/17

e-News 12/21/17

Why I Opposed the Tax Bill

My Bill Keeps the Federal Government Open

“China Keeps Building on Disputed Islands”

Fighting Human Trafficking on the Roads

Salute: Congratulations and thank you to the college interns


Why I Opposed the Tax Bill

As I have said in these pages for a long, long time, we cannot accept 1.5 percent annual economic growth in this nation as the “new normal.”  I firmly believed that we had to fix the federal tax code to help America’s job creators create jobs. 

My view is we can increase American competitiveness to spur investment by streamlining the code and lowering the tax rate for individuals and businesses, including small business owners. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  It definitely needs to be lowered.

So I had hoped to be given the opportunity to vote for a pro-growth tax bill but not one that deliberately penalized New Jersey and a handful of other states.

But the reality is that the people of New Jersey already carry an extremely heavy tax burden.  They need and deserve tax cuts. 

Unfortunately, the tax bill passed by Congress this week, H.R. 1, caps a time-honored provision, established in law in 1913 that many New Jersey residents have long depended upon: the federal deduction for state and local taxes (SALT).  H.R. 1 capped the SALT deduction which will lead to tax increases for far too many hardworking families in our state.  As passed, this legislation will also damage our New Jersey’s housing market and business climate.

Yes, I had hoped to be able to vote for a pro-growth tax bill.  However, the reality is that H.R. 1 forces New Jersey residents to pay for tax cuts for residents in other states! 

I was asked to vote on the tax bill three times.  Each time without exception, I voted ‘No.’

My Bill Keeps the Federal Government Open

As I write this eNews, Congress is moving toward giving final approval to my legislation to extend current funding for federal operations and prevent a government shutdown.  The bill also provides emergency funding for missile defense activities and to continue the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

This Continuing Resolution (CR) is a stopgap measure that will temporarily extend federal funding until January 19, 2018. In the absence of such a measure, under the current law, existing federal funding will run out at midnight tomorrow for all federal agencies.

This CR is absolutely not the preferred way to do the nation’s business. Of course, the House passed all 12 Appropriations bills developed by my Appropriations Committee over 100 days ago!  Frankly, the Senate has failed to act requiring us to pass these temporary bills to ensure that vital federal services remain available to Americans who need them.

I will say it again: leadership of the House and Senate and the White House must come to agreement on a topline spending level for this fiscal year, so my Appropriations Committee can finalize its work with the Senate to complete the final legislation.

Learn more about the CR here.

Supporting Disaster Recovery

At the same time, the House also approved my legislation to provide additional emergency assistance for recent hurricanes and wildfires in California. We have vetted the Administration’s request for funding, reviewed existing needs and listened to governors and elected leaders, including Members of Congress, and determined the bill should total $81 billion, and target funds to programs to continue relief and recovery efforts in affected communities in Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This legislation is the next step in helping our fellow Americans recover from multiple, back-to-back, devastating disasters, including some of the largest major hurricanes, wildfires, and agriculture losses this country has ever seen.

We have a commitment to our fellow citizens that are in the midst of major rebuilding efforts.  They deserve our continued support, and we must provide the necessary resources for them to recover from these emergencies.

As we move forward, we will continue to monitor recovery efforts and require continuing oversight by Congress and the General Accountability Office.

For additional details, please click here

“China Keeps Building on Disputed Islands”

The Associated Press article, “As Tensions Ease, China Keeps Building on Disputed Islands” is worth a read.  Visit here.

Fighting Human Trafficking on the Roads

This past summer, the silent tide of human trafficking broke in focus again as 10 people died while being illegally transported in a tractor-trailer in Texas.  That horrendous incident served as a stark reminder that the transportation sector can be exploited for heinous acts.

This week, the House gave final legislative approval to two bipartisan Senate bills designed to aid in the fight against this scourge.

S. 1532 provides new penalties for truck drivers who participate in this terrible crime. Traditionally, drivers have been the first line of defense in helping identify and report these sorts of activities within the trucking community. We need these drivers to stay vigilant as we work to weed out the bad actors.

In addition to the criminal penalties, drivers who knowingly take part in human trafficking should never again be able to drive commercially. Current law prohibits an individual from operating a commercial motor vehicle if they are convicted of one of nine different crimes, including alcohol abuse, negligent manslaughter, and drug trafficking. S. 1532 disqualifies individuals from operating a commercial vehicle for their lifetime if they ever use that commercial vehicle to commit a felony involving human trafficking.

We also approved S. 1536 which directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to designate an official to: (1) coordinate human trafficking prevention efforts and expands the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's outreach and education program to include activities for the recognition, prevention, and reporting of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a terrible crime with an estimated 20 million victims worldwide.  Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received reports of more than 22,000 sex trafficking cases inside our country. In addition, it has received over 5,000 reports of individuals who have been coerced into forced labor or indentured servitude. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that one of every six runaway children who was reported to them last year had become victims of sex trafficking.

It is vital that Congress continue to search for new and innovative ways to combat human trafficking wherever and whenever possible.

Learn more about S. 1532 here.

Learn more about S. 1536 here.

Salute: Congratulations and thank you to the college interns who served in my Washington and Morristown offices this semester: Cassidy Champi of Morris Township, Gabrielle Borruso of Randolph and Richard Barkauskas of Mountain Lakes.  They did a great job for the people of the 11th Congressional District and deserve our thanks and fondest best wishes!