- House Appropriations Committee Up and Running!
- Congress’ Ambitious Agenda
- Secretary of Defense: Military Not the Answer to All of the World’s Problems
- Salute: Students of Memorial Middle School in Cedar Grove
House Appropriations Committee Up and Running!
It was my honor to gavel the House Appropriations Committee to order on Tuesday as we held our official reorganization meeting for the 115thCongress. With unified control of the House, Senate and White House in 2017, we have a unique opportunity to alter the size, scope and direction of the U.S. government and this committee will be in the center of the action!
We are committed to reducing federal spending responsibly; streamlining government operations; maintaining strong oversight over how taxpayer dollars are spent; and, yes, protecting federal programs that Americans rely on.
I told our members that my commitment is to restore our role under the Constitution’s Article One, Section 9 – power of the purse – and to put the legislative branch back in charge of funding decisions.
As you might guess, it’s going to be a busy spring. We have a lot on our schedule: we must complete the 11 remaining fiscal year 2017 bills by the end of April – if not sooner – and we also must complete our regular, fiscal year 2018 work– holding necessary oversight hearings, then drafting and bringing these bills to the floor.
We’re ready to get to work!
To read my entire statement to members of the Committee on Appropriations, click here.
Congress’ Ambitious Agenda
Members of the House and Senate Republican conferences spent the bulk of this week meeting in Philadelphia where we worked on setting an ambitious agenda for the first 200 days of the 115th Congress. Our goal is to repair our broken health care system; reform our tax code to jump-start job creation; to clear out the regulatory underbrush so we can promote economic growth.
It was also an honor to meet the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May in Philadelphia. She made an excellent presentation about strengthening the special relationship between our nations. I agree with her assessment that the U.S. and the U.K. must engage Russia and other adversaries “from a position of strength.”
You can watch Prime Minister May’s speech here.
Secretary of Defense: Military Not the Answer to All of the World’s Problems
The morning after he was confirmed 98-1 by the United States Senate, James Mattis arrived at the Pentagon to assume his duties as Secretary of Defense. Notably, his first order of business was to write a memo to our men and women in uniform and civilian members of the Department of Defense. “You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind,” he wrote. “Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future.”
In the memo, he noted the Defense Departments partnership with the Intelligence Community and our nation’s diplomats: “Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances.”
Secretary Mattis has it right. In the days, weeks and months to come, this military must be prepared to meet any challenge it faces. But, as Mattis wrote, “we shouldn’t be turning to the military to answer all of our problems in the world.”
Dan Lamothe writes about Secretary Mattis in the Washington Posthere.
Human Trafficking: See Something, Say Something
This weekend marks the end of Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or sex act.
Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking - modern day slavery - generates many billions of dollars of profit per year, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.
Human trafficking is a hidden crime as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.
Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.
For more information, consult the Department of Homeland Security’s “Blue Campaign” here.
Salute to the students of Memorial Middle School in Cedar Grovewho took on the “Great Kindness Challenge” as part of a full week of activities to treat one another with care. Students started this week with a checklist of 50 kind acts to complete by the end of the challenge while they collected donations for needy people and sent encouraging notes to hospitals and shelters. Read Joshua Jongsma’s story on NorthJersey.com here.