e-News 6/29/2018

A Nation of Immigrants and Laws (Part 2)
House Defense Appropriations Bill Supports New Jersey Programs
Keeping Key U.S. Technologies Away From Foreign Regimes
A Good Day for the Blue Water Navy
“How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port.”
Salute: Carmine Spinelli: An American Patriot

A Nation of Immigrants and Laws (Part 2)

The effort to modernize the nation’s broken and dysfunctional immigration system suffered a significant setback this week.  The House soundly defeated a wide-ranging “compromise” bill designed to improve border security, provide young undocumented immigrants a path to legalization and address the wholly unacceptable family-separation crisis at the southwest border.  

As I have always said: we are a nation of immigrants.  But we’re also a nation of laws, and Congress has a profound responsibility to control our own borders. 

We need enhanced security measures at our borders – greater surveillance, sensors and physical barriers where needed.  And, there is no doubt that U.S. border officials need better tools and legal authorities to keep out violent criminals, deter and arrest drug traffickers, halt human trafficking and identify those who may be seeking to take advantage of our asylum laws.  At the same time, the fate of the DACA kids - young people brought to our country through no fault of their own - needs to be resolved quickly.

The elements of a real compromise exist and genuine bipartisan discussions could produce a true compromise.  I would support continued engagement on these issues for they are too important to ignore.

To learn more about my views on immigration in general, please visit


House Defense Appropriations Bill Supports New Jersey Programs

The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations bill by a vote of 359 to 49.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

The legislation funds military operations at home and overseas, increases the purchase of new aircraft and ships and improves readiness of our troops to meet global threats.  The measure also provides for a 2.6% pay raise for our troops, the largest such raise in nine years, and strengthens the various health programs for military personnel and their families.  In addition, the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations bill assures New Jersey’s continued contribution to our national security.

In addition to providing base operating funds for New Jersey’s military installations, Picatinny Arsenal, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Naval Weapons Station Earle and the 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic City, the measure includes funding that will increase New Jersey’s military contributions. 

For example, the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations bill contains new funding to allow scientists, engineers and technicians at Picatinny Arsenal, the DoD Joint Center of Excellence for Armaments, to accelerate their urgent work to ensure that our weapons systems overmatch those of our adversaries.  The bill also includes funding to expand production of the new KC-46 Pegasus air refueling tankers that will be stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst beginning in 2020, enhancing the future missions of that New Jersey base. 

To protect New Jersey residents at home and abroad, the measure includes $1.3 billion above the President’s budget for key readiness programs to prepare forces, including New Jersey’s National Guard and Reserve, for peace-time missions and potential overseas operations. 

Protecting the strength and sustainability of New Jersey’s unique military installations is critical to all of our Armed Forces. Supporting these bases is vital to both our national defense and our state’s historical support for national security.  Beyond a doubt, they are essential to our economy, our national security, and our future.

Specifically, the Department of Defense bill:

  • Provides over $300 million in funding to the Armaments Research Development Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County as a result of a 2015 study conducted under the auspices of the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD).  The OSD study identified specific areas of concern including loss of weapons range overmatch, effects of enemy countermeasures to global positioning system (GPS), and the proliferation of low-cost commercially available unmanned aerial systems.  This bill provides the funding to allow the experts at Picatinny to advance the capabilities of our Armed Forces as quickly as possible.
  • Includes $2.3 billion to procure another 15 KC-46 Pegasus aircraft – the new airborne tanker that will be stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, beginning in FY 2021. “The Joint Base has significant current and future military value. Ensuring that the proper resources are available to conduct successful missions from New Jersey is vital,” Frelinghuysen said.
  • The bill provides an additional $10 million to allow the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to hasten their critical work of recovering the remains of military personnel lost in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
  • The bill maintains an increased special account used by the National Guard and Reserve to procure equipment to maintain readiness in key weapon systems and help close equipment interoperability gaps with the active Army and Air Force.  The National Guard Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA) is funded at $1.3 billion, up significantly from two years ago.
  • The bill provides $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research, and $318 million for sexual assault prevention and response. All of these funding levels exceed the President’s budget request.

Learn more about the FY ’19 Defense Appropriations bill here


Keeping Key U.S. Technologies Away From Foreign Regimes

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is the only government body to ensure potential foreign investments do not harm the national security of the United States of America. 

The Secretary of the Treasury is the Chairperson of CFIUS, which is composed primarily of the Attorney General, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Secretaries of Defense, Commerce, Homeland Security, State, Energy, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and other key government officials.  The Committee’s job is to carefully examine proposed financial transactions in our open investment environment to protect national security.  In other words, CFIUS is the main vehicle for protecting American technology from foreign governments.

However, our laws have not kept pace with rapid change in the global economy.  When CFIUS was established, in the 1970s, the companies holding and protecting key technology were not only very large, but also iconic so that any takeover attempt by foreigners would be certain to attract attention. Now, much of the cutting-edge technology in the United States is in the hands of much smaller firms, including Silicon Valley startups that are hungry for cash from investors.  In far too many cases, these investors hail from international competitors or adversaries, like the Chinese.

For years, China has been using America’s open economy against us, leveraging our investments and stealing sensitive technology and information to overcome our military advantage. CFIUS has not been substantially updated in many years. And today the gate is wide open for China to steal our sensitive national security technology through loopholes and other strategic business deals

This week, the House passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).  This important legislation closes the loopholes and tightens the lax regulations China depends on to take advantage of American innovation: 

  • Expands CFIUS jurisdiction to include joint ventures, minority position investments, and real estate transactions near military bases and other sensitive national security facilities.
  • Updates CFIUS definition of “critical technologies” to include emerging technologies that could be essential for maintaining the U.S. technological advantage over countries that pose threats.
  • Adds new national security factors to the review process.
  • Strengthens the government’s ability to protect American “critical infrastructure” from foreign government disruption.

This legislation has been endorsed by Secretary of Defense Mattis, and five former Secretaries of Defense.  I was proud to support its passage on Tuesday.

To read the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) please visit


A Good Day for the Blue Water Navy

At long last, the U.S. House of Representatives this week passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. The legislation, approved by a unanimous vote, would extend Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits to approximately 90,000 sailors who served off the coast during the Vietnam War, some of whom have been fighting for years to prove their illnesses were caused by exposure to Agent Orange used inland.  The herbicide has been found to cause respiratory cancers, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and other health conditions.

Thousands of sailors who served aboard aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other ships during the Vietnam War believe they were exposed to Agent Orange through the ships’ water systems. A VA policy decision in 2002 stripped Blue Water Navy veterans of their eligibility for compensation, unless they could prove they actually set foot in Vietnam. 

The bill also extends benefits to veterans who served near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from September 1, 1967 to August 31, 1971 and in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

This is a good day for veterans.  It is past time that they receive the care and comfort they deserve.

To read H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, please visit


Worth a Read: Maria Abi-Habib’s report in the New York Times: “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port.” Read it here


Salute: A fond farewell to Carmine Spinelli, a native of Raritan Township, Somerset County who passed away last weekend.   Carmine served as Technical Director of the Armaments Research Development Engineering Center (ARDEC) at the culmination of a four decade career at Picatinny Arsenal. He was a patriot who worked every day to make our warfighters more effective. And then after his formal service at Picatinny ended, Carmine Spinelli still labored every day to boost the Arsenal, the Army and veterans across our State in various capacities, including as the unsung Chairman of the New Jersey Council on Armed Forces and Veteran's Affairs, which advocated for all of the State's military installations and missions.

Carmine leaves behind a loving family – his wife of 57 years, Roseanne, his son, David and daughter, Dina and several grandchildren. We hold them close in our thoughts and prayers.

Read my statement about Carmine in Tuesday’s Congressional Record by visiting here