e-News 4/27/2018

Moving Forward on New Funding Bills
In the Spotlight: Thanks Rodney!
Oversight: Protecting the Taxpayer’s Money
Music Modernization
Sparta, Wayne, Madison Students Win 2018 Congressional Art Competition
Salute: LT. David Dinan (USAF) of Nutley
Moving Forward on New Funding Bills
Fiscal Year 2019 begins on October 1, 2018 and the House Appropriations Committee is off to a fast start to meet its obligation to produce 12 annual government funding bills by that deadline. 
This week saw the first Subcommittee “mark-ups” of the 2019 cycle – legislative meetings where the members actually consider, debate and approve legislation.
On Thursday morning, the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Subcommittee approved its annual appropriations bill.  The legislation will continue to rebuild the military, provide funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, and ensure resources for military families. The bill also includes robust funding for veterans’ benefits and programs.
In total, the legislation provides $96.9 billion in discretionary funding – $4.2 billion above the fiscal year enacted 2018 level.  Within this total, discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs is increased by $3.9 billion – 4.8 percent – over the fiscal year 2018 level, including funding to increase access to services for veterans, and to increase oversight and accountability within the department.
Military construction is increased by $412 million over the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. This funding will provide needed resources for our service members to face existing and emerging threats, and to care for military families.  
Providing critical resources for the men and women of our Armed Services and their families is a top priority of the Committee. We owe it to those who serve and fight for our freedom every day to ensure they have the necessary tools and support to do their jobs, and to give them the peace of mind that their families are well-cared for.
Just as importantly, the bill also funds programs and services for our veterans, continuing our commitment to these brave men and women after they leave active service.  I am pleased that the bill addresses the VA benefit appeals backlog and provides funding for veterans’ homeless assistance – two pressing issues for my fellow veterans in New Jersey.
You can watch the mark-up here.
For more information, please visit.
On Thursday, the Legislative Branch Subcommittee considered and approved its FY 2019 appropriations bill. For more information on this legislation, please visit.
In the spotlight: Thanks Rodney!
“We applaud you for leading the bipartisan effort that resulted in the enhanced NSGP (Nonprofit Security Grant Program) funding and program support included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.  The strengthened program will further reinforce critical engagement of law enforcement, homeland security and community organizations working together on the safety and security of at-risk communal institutions.  It will further provide for greater access to resources to the nonprofit sector that help supplement the work of local and federal law enforcement to keep communities safe.”
                             Robert Goldberg
                             Senior Director, Legislative Affairs
                             The Jewish Federation
The Consolidated Appropriations bill included significant funding for programs important to New Jersey.  To get the run-down, please visit.
Oversight: Protecting the Taxpayer’s Money
The Appropriations Committee this week continued to exercise its oversight responsibilities by conducting numerous with its extensive public hearings with senior administration officials.
For example, the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee convened to take testimony from Attorney-General Jeff Sessions. 
Find an excerpt from my statement at that hearing here:
…“Mr. Attorney General, I am pleased you are sitting here today as the 84th Attorney General of the United States - representing the people of the United States.  It is your responsibility as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, to enforce the laws and defend the interests of the United States, against all threats foreign and domestic, ensuring a fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
“I am especially proud of the work of your Department’s law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
“It is abundantly clear, our nation needs you and the men and women of the Department of Justice to protect our nation as we face mounting and complex challenges like:
–     a growing and deadly opioid and drug epidemic;
–     the ever-present cyber related attacks on our nation’s private and public IT infrastructure;
–     the scourge of 21st century human trafficking;
–     the heightened threats posed by foreign and domestic terrorists.
“I would like to focus on and applaud your dedication to attacking the opioid epidemic. In the FY 2018 spending bill, this Committee made a substantial investment – the largest to date - providing your Department, along with many other agencies across the federal government with increased funding to respond to this killer epidemic.
“Further, as we are fighting the deadliest drug epidemic in history, I share your concerns that our nation will face additional consequences with the growing availability of marijuana.
“As we march down the ill-advised road of legalization- in direct contradiction of current federal law - I fear we do not fully understand the consequences and impact these actions may have on our children and generations to follow…”
You can watch the entire hearing here.
The Appropriations Subcommittees also held oversight with
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Director of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • Administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD)
  • Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHA)
  • Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
Music Modernization
Music enriches our lives and expands our cultural opportunities. Therefore, music is very important to our everyday lives.
Several years ago, the House Judiciary Committee began a comprehensive review of our nation’s copyright laws and how they affected the music industry.  The Committee held dozens of hearings, hosting over a hundred witnesses from cities across the country to hear directly from stakeholders who use these laws. It became apparent that our music licensing laws were no longer working as intended for songwriters, artists and creators, or for the companies that deliver the music in innovative ways for consumers.
As a culmination of the reform effort, this week the House passed HR 5447, the Music Modernization Act, which will help ensure fair compensation to artists and other creators, and increase certainty and efficiencies across the entire industry.  The bill:  
  • Helps move music licensing law into the digital age while increasing efficiencies and transparency. This modernization would facilitate proper royalty payments to copyright owners, as well as facilitate the lawful use of musical works by internet platforms, including interactive streaming services.
  • Update copyright protection for pre-1972 recordings and ensure that both pre- and post-1972 recordings are treated uniformly.
For more information on the Music Modernization Act, please visit.
Sparta, Wayne, Madison Students Win 2018 Congressional Art Competition
My annual Congressional Art Competition allows high school students to express themselves through many creative artistic mediums.  I am very proud of each of the 63 artists from 23 schools who made submissions to the 2018! 
And now, we have winners! 
  • Alyssa Talon of Sparta and Pope John XXIII High School was the First Place honoree for her oil painting entitled “Girl on the Bus”
  • Ava Economou of Wayne Valley High School was awarded second place for her pencil work entitled “Reflections of the Past”
  • Rachel Cenicola of Madison High School was awarded third place for her photo entitled “The Stories We Wear”
Honorable mention was garnered by:
Tafari Dempster, Whippany Park High School – his colored pencil work entitled “Bioluminesence”; Caitlyn Gethins of Whippany Park High School –  her photograph entitled “From Heaven Above”; Morgan Hoover of Wayne Valley High School  – her gel pen work entitled “”Mel”; Katherine Hu of Randolph and Morris County School of Technology – her painting entitled “Perspicacious.”
Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district.  Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.  The competition concluded with a reception at The Morris Museum.   Independent judges determined the winners, as well as those art works that received honorable mention. 
The wining work by Alyssa Talon of Sparta will be displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol! 
Salute:  A sad “Welcome Home” to LT. David Dinan of Nutley, who was finally laid to rest this week at Arlington National Cemetery over four decades after his death in combat in Southeast Asia.  LT. Dinan, 25, was killed March 17, 1969, in Laos, after he was forced to bail out of a F105 Thunderchief jet that had been hit by ground fire. His remains were not recovered until last summer at the site of his plane crash.
For more information on LT. Dinan’s service and sacrifice, please visit.
My recent fact-finding trip to Laos included a briefing by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) on their efforts to recover the remains of lost service personnel from the Vietnam War and other conflicts. At my direction, the recently-enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act included additional funding to help DPAA accelerate their operations in Southeast Asia.