e-News 7/14/17

e-News 7/14/17

  • Advancing Solutions for our Region’s Gridlock
  • The Appropriations Committee at Work
  • Defense Policy Bill Advances: Rebuilding our Military
  • America Has a Human Trafficking Problem
  • Salute: Protecting of Kinnelon’s Untermeyer Tract    


Advancing Solutions for our Region’s Gridlock

Now more than ever, it is imperative to our economy and to our quality of life to have safe and well-functioning transportation infrastructure.  

In this regard, I was gratified with the work of the Appropriations Committee this week.   On Tuesday night the Subcommittee on Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) approved legislation that will allocate well over $900 million to the Gateway project which includes the rebuilding of the Hudson tunnels and the Portal North Bridge over the Hudson River.   

It is not an overstatement to say that Gateway is critical to our nation’s economy.  The Northeast Corridor, encompassing over 50 million people from Washington D.C. to Boston, produces approximately $3 trillion in annual economic output, equal to 20% of our national Gross Domestic Product.  Safe and reliable passenger rail travel through New Jersey and New York City is essential to that economic productivity.

Rebuilding the Hudson Tunnels is of vital importance to northern New Jersey, and really, to the entire region.  From 2002-2014, the number of New Jersey residents commuting to New York City grew by more than 35%.  However, even before this week’s New Jersey Transit “Summer of Hell” on the rails, New Jersey residents have been plagued by perpetual delays and decaying infrastructure commuting, and reverse commuting, into New York City.

 The Gateway project, especially the proposed new Hudson River Tunnel, serves both public transportation (NJ Transit) and intercity passenger rail (Amtrak).   The Committee’s approach to funding Gateway taps several different accounts of the Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration and AMTRAK. 

This week’s action on Gateway is just one more step toward construction and a better commute for our neighbors in northern New Jersey.   To be sure we have significant hurdles to cross in the House, the Senate and the Administration before we reach the finish line on this year’s funding effort.  But we cannot succeed if we do not offer solid, common-sense solutions to one of the most important infrastructure crises in America.

You can watch the T-HUD Subcommittee’s mark-up here.

Learn more about the Gateway project and its funding here.

The Appropriations Committee at Work

The Appropriations Committee this week “marked-up” - debated and amended - nine more of the nation’s annual funding bills.  As of this morning, all 12 Appropriations bills had been moved through their respective Subcommittees.

Several of the bills we’re moving contain significant good news for New Jersey, its programs, organizations and residents.

Learn which provisions in the Energy and Water Development bill benefit New Jersey here.

Learn which provisions in the Agriculture Appropriations bill benefit New Jersey here.

Learn which provisions in the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill benefit New Jersey here.

By this time next week, the Committee will have completed its deliberations on all of our annual bills, putting them in position to be debated by the full House of Representatives when the Leadership decides to begin those debates.

Defense Policy Bill Advances: Rebuilding our Military

The companion bill to the annual Defense Appropriations bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was approved by the House this morning. 

This year’s bill repairs, rebuilds, and ultimately, reforms our military.  It provides for our troops and their families and helps ensure that our men and women in uniform are fully trained, equipped, and supported. And, it sets national security policy in a dangerous and complicated world where new threats arise every day.

The Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has correctly made readiness and modernization of our forces his top priorities. Today, we have too many planes that cannot fly, too many ships that cannot sail, too many troops who cannot deploy, while too many threats are rising.

In recent years, we have been just getting by - cutting resources as the world becomes more dangerous, asking more and more of those who serve, and putting off the tough choices. We cannot keep piling missions on our service members without ensuring they have all they need to succeed.

In tandem, the FY 2018 NDAA and Defense Appropriations bill begin a much-needed rebuilding of our military after a half-decade of cuts and at the same time the military remained in constant combat.

Congress's most important constitutional duty is to 'provide for the common defense.'  These two bills allow us to meet that responsibility.

For more information on the national Defense Authorization Act for FY 2018, please click here.

America Has a Human Trafficking Problem

In fact, America has a human trafficking epidemic!

This is the reality: Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 145,764 reports of trafficking in America. In 2016, 7,572 cases were reported. The majority of these victims are women and children forced into heinous acts like prostitution, child labor, and pornography. And that only includes what’s on paper.

Unfortunately for the countless victims, a comprehensive system to actually to measure the expansive reach of human trafficking - the children being forced into labor, the women being held captive in brothels - does not exist.  In addition, many victims are invisible to society, having been brainwashed, or trained to fear law enforcement.

There is no doubt that this is an epidemic—a human rights crisis.

ON Wednesday, the House approved three additional bipartisan bills to continue to crack down on human trafficking and implement a stronger detection system in the U.S.:

  • The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Actintroduced reauthorizes $130 million to fund the prevention of human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers. As Douglass’s great-great-great grandson said, this is about “human slavery”—and it should be a priority for both sides of the aisle.
  • The Enhancing Detection of Human Trafficking Actintroduced ensures the Department of Labor can effectively train its employees to spot the illegal trade of people—and respond quickly and effectively when cases are detected.
  • The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Actintroduced expands eligibility for Department of Justice grants to allow law enforcement agencies to qualify for federal funding for the development and execution of programs that fight sex trafficking.

With the passage of these three bills—in addition to the 13 bills passed earlier this summer—we’ll begin to see a more effective anti-trafficking system. Agencies will be better funded, officials better equipped, and communities better informed to apprehend these barbaric offenders.

Salute: Protecting of Kinnelon’s Untermeyer Tract   

Salute: Congratulations to the Borough of Kinnelon, the Morris County Freeholders, Trust for Public Lands and the New Jersey Highlands Council for agreeing to purchase and preserve 116 acres of undeveloped land in Kinnelon known as the Untermeyer Lake.  The property is a high groundwater recharge area in the New Jersey Highlands, which provides drinking water for millions of New Jersey’s families. In addition to protecting drinking water supplies, this preservation will provide new recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to our region.

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