e-News 3/16/2018

STOP School Violence

Protecting our Veterans from Financial Predators

Congressional Oversight Continues

Salute: Healthy Morris and Sussex Counties

Salute: New Jersey –Task Force 1


STOP School Violence

If there is any place our children need to feel safe, it should be our schools.   Every parent should be able to trust that when we drop our children off at school or put them on the morning bus, their classroom will be a secure place for them to learn. Tragically, that confidence was broken one month ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and previously at Freeman High School in Eastern Washington, and in Colorado, Connecticut and far too many others.

In these moments, we need to ask the question, ‘Why? And, ‘what’s causing our young people to choose violence?’

The answers to those questions are not readily at hand.  But that does not mean we can wait to take action.

This week — with overwhelmingly bipartisan support — the House passed the STOP School Violence Act (H.R. 4909), voting to empower students, teachers, school officials, and law enforcement to identify individuals with the propensity to commit acts of violence. And to intervene before they do.

H.R. 4909 takes a multi-faceted approach that will help prevent school violence before it takes place. It gives law enforcement, school officials, and students the training, technology, and resources they need to identify and prevent threats.

Specifically, the bill reauthorizes and modifies the Secure Our Schools grant program, authorizing $75 million a year for 10 years through FY 2028 and modifying the program to more explicitly focus the program on preventing student violence.

Under the measure, the eligible use of grant funding would be expanded to include help for state and local governments to provide training to prevent student violence (including training for local law enforcement officers, school personnel and students); development and operation of anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence (including cell phone apps, telephone hotlines and internet website); and development and operation of school threat assessment intervention teams.

I would also note that the bill specifies that grant funding could not be used to provide either firearms or firearms training to any individual, which would include teachers and school personnel.

At a time when people are asking Washington to do something, Congress took action this week to start addressing the problem with this strong bill.  Of course, more work must be done on background checks and other preventative measure. 

But the STOP School Violence Act is actually a start.

Learn more about the STOP School Violence Act (H.R. 4909) here.


Protecting our Veterans from Financial Predators

A loathsome breed of financial predators have been advertising themselves to the veterans community claiming that, for a hefty fee paid by the veteran, they can speed up the claims process with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although it is illegal under existing law for anyone who is not an approved agent to charge a fee for helping a veteran with a claim or an appeal with the VA, there is absolutely no criminal or financial penalty associated with breaking the law.

This week, the House acted to change that law by passing the “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act” (H.R. 506). 

This legislation will both deter and penalize fraudsters that blatantly engage in a scheme to defraud a veteran (or his or her survivor or spouse) of his or her benefits by imposing a fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

Defrauding vulnerable veterans by going after their hard-earned pensions with false claims of additional benefits is despicable.  This law now makes it a punishable offense. The next step is making sure veterans are aware of these scams and know the services available to protect themselves.

For more information on H.R. 506, the “Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act,” please visit.

You can access more information about veterans poaching swindles here.

To learn more about other veterans scams, please visit.


Congressional Oversight Continues

Even as the House Appropriations Committee, which I chair, works to complete the 12 funding bills for Fiscal Year 2018, our Subcommittees were hard at work this week exercising our Constitutional oversight responsibilities.

We are carefully examining the Fiscal Year 2019 budget request from the President, holding agencies accountable for the use of taxpayer funds and asking them to justify their request.  Several oversight hearings were on this week’s schedule:

The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee questioned the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James and the Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, LTGEN Todd Semonite.  Watch the hearing here.

The Defense Subcommittee held two oversight hearings.

Watch the hearing with Air Force Secretary Dr. Heather Wilson and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, GEN David Goldfein here.

Watch the hearing with Army Secretary Dr. Mark Esper and the Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Mark Milley here.

Recommended Reading:  “Future defense budgets could be a ‘dry hole’ after major funding increase, House appropriations chairman warns”  in the Washington Examiner.  Read the story here.

Watch the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee hearing with Secretary of the Energy Rick Perry here.

Watch the Labor-Health and Human Services Subcommittee hearing with Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services here.


Salute: a heartfelt “thank you” to 33 members of New Jersey –Task Force 1 (Urban Search and Rescue) for 20 years of dedicated service to our state and nation!


Salute:  To Morris and Sussex Counties which rank in the top five healthiest counties in New Jersey according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, released this week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Morris was top-ranked.  Sussex was #5. The rankings are available at