e-News 3/17/17

e-News 3/17/17

  • Congress and the “Power of the Purse”
  • Demanding a Culture of Accountability at the VA
  • Bringing STEM Education to Life in NJ-11 Schools
  • Another Telephone Town Hall Meeting
  • Marking Women’s History Month
  • Salute: Verona and Cedar Grove environmental commissions


Congress and the “Power of the Purse”

This week the President sent to Congress a request for additional Defense and Homeland Security funding for the current fiscal year and a budget outline for the fiscal year that begins October 1.

We welcome the Administration’s submission of this “skinny budget” and look forward to receiving the necessary details in the broader FY ’18 budget to come.

As always, the Power of the Purse lies with Congress and our Constitutional responsibilities.

To begin crafting our FY ’18 bills we need to see the full budget request and all of its specific elements.

Since yesterday morning, the newspapers and headlines and the websites have been filled with stories about the dire consequences ofthis aspect or that portion of the President’s budget outline. 

I think everyone should rest assured that the House Appropriations Committee will take all of the Administration’s proposals and give them complete and fair consideration. 

All budget decisions will go through the regular budget and appropriations process.

We will do our due diligence, conduct hearings and oversight, and go line by line to ensure taxpayer dollars are invested effectively and wisely. 

Of course, we need to protect the vital programs that our people rely on, that promote economic growth and job creation and that protect our nation.

It is our duty to represent our districts and our people at home. That is why we have a budget process, so that voices can be heard on programs that are important to the American people.

Learn more about the President’s Budget Request here.

Demanding a Culture of Accountability at the VA

The House continues to work to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) into an organization truly worthy of the veterans it serves! Unfortunately, much more work needs to be done to fix the widespread problems at the VA. Every day we are focusing on the VA’s problems and improve the department’s ability to provide our veterans the care and benefits they have earned. 

This week, the House approved several bills designed to establish a culture of accountability at VA and expand access to quality care.  I was proud to support these important bills:

  • The VA Accountability First Act of 2017, would provide the VA Secretary increased flexibility to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including Senior Executive Service employees, for performance or misconduct. Read the bill here.
  • The Eliminating the Sunset Date of the Choice Act, would eliminate the statutory sunset date for the Choice Program and instead allow the program to continue until the original funding has been expended. Read the bill here.
  • "To improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes” would establish a recruiting database to make high-quality potential employees aware of positions at VA and create opportunities for career training and advancement for current VA employees through fellowship positions and a promotional track for technical experts. Read the bill here.
  • "To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the entitlement to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs for members of the Armed Forces awarded the Purple Heart." Read the bill here.

Bringing STEM Education to Life in NJ-11 Schools

As part of my ongoing efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) among New Jersey’s students, I had the honor of escorting a NASA astronaut to two local schools this week.  Captain Lee M.E. Morin, M.D., PH.D. (USN) met with students at Liberty Middle School in West Orange, Ridgedale Middle School in Florham Park and Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell about his experiences as an astronaut and the contributions of space exploration to the advancement of STEM education. 

In my view, nothing is more important to our nation’s continued economic strength than developing the talents and expertise of students interested in STEM fields. Captain Morin’s presentations demonstrated to the students the value of math, science and STEM education and will hopefully inspire many of them to pursue their life’s work in these fields.

Read Michael Izzo’s story in the Daily Record here.

Read Christine Lee’s story in the Florham Park Eagle here.

More Telephone Town Hall Meetings!

Another in my ongoing series of Telephone Town Hall meetings is scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. Of course, we provide the opportunity for any constituent to be on any of the calls.  If you’re interested, please call one of my offices and provide them with a telephone number which will then be added to the list. Or visit my website and use the convenient button on the right-hand side of the opening page to sign up.

On Monday, we’ll be reaching out to constituents in Essex and Passaic counties and, of course, anyone who has “signed up.” 

Marking Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, the month we set aside for commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. The Library of Congress has joined together with the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to mark this month of celebration by providing access to digital versions of unique and rare photos, maps, historic documents, and other materials. 

To learn more, please visit:

Salute: To the Verona and Cedar Grove environmental commissions as they team up to clean the West Essex Trail on April 1.  Read Joshua Jongsmas’ story on North here.

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