e-News 7/28/17

e-News 7/28/17

  • Making Good on the Promise to Protect America
  • Sanctioning Russia, Iran North Korea
  • A “Forever” Update for the GI Bill
  • Salute:  Zachary Sanders of Randolph is a Library of Congress Fellow!


Making Good on the Promise to Protect America

As I have said many, many times before, it is Congress’ primary Constitutional duty to “provide for the common defense” and ensure the safety and security of our homeland and the American people. 

Earlier today, the House completed more than two days of debate and voted to approved H.R. 3219, the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act."  This package includes the four appropriations bills for defense, military construction and veterans, energy and water, and the legislative branch.

You can watch as I kicked off debate on this important legislation here.

You can review the text of the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act” here.

But here are some key elements of H.R. 3219:

1.     It funds the next steps to repair, rebuild, and re-equip our Armed Forces after years of declining budgets and misplaced priorities;

2.     It gives our service members a much-deserved pay raise—the largest military pay raise in eight years;

3.     It pays for updated equipment and weapons so that our men and women serving abroad are fully prepared for the ever-evolving threats of modern warfare and defense.

4.     It funds military infrastructure so that our service members can be safe and prepared.

5.     It takes care of our veterans by providing the highest level of funding — ever — for the Veterans Affairs Department.

6.     It deters and defends against attacks by increasing funds for the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons program.

In short, H.R. 3219 is carefully crafted to that meet that responsibility - funding our critical military priorities, supporting our troops and their families and making sure our veterans get the benefits they have earned in a timely way.

Finally, a word about my House Appropriations Committee. We received the President’s budget on May 23 – just over two months ago – and since then, the Committee has worked nonstop to shepherd all 12 Appropriations bills through the Committee process in record time.

While the House only had time to consider four of these bills, each and every one of the 12 annual bills deserves to be sent to the President’s desk, and I look forward to completing our work on all of our bills.

Find out what‘s in this bill for New Jersey here.

Sanctioning Russia, Iran North Korea

With my strong support the House passed one of the toughest sanctions packages Congress has ever passed—and also one of the most necessary. Iran, Russia, and North Korea are threatening U.S. national security and undermining global stability with a range of aggressive acts – including ICBM tests, support for terrorist organizations, and interventions in neighboring countries. 

I voted for H.R. 3364, the bipartisan Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act:


  • sanctions Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs by targeting key sectors of the Russian economy – including arms sales and the exportation of oil and gas – and those responsible for gross human rights abuses.
  • enshrines existing sanctions against Russia into law for its intervention in Ukraine and its cyberattacks against the United States and other democracies, as well as imposes new sanctions for propping up Syria’s murderous Assad regime.
  • subjects Russian sanctions relief to Congressional review.


  • targets anyone who contributes to the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile program, which aims to develop missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads.
  • sanctions Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps for its support of terrorism, a direct threat to the U.S. and our allies, including Israel.

North Korea

  • clamps down on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs by cutting off the Kim Jong Un regime’s access to hard cash.
  • restricts North Korea’s ability to engage in illicit trade by cracking down on its shipping industry and its access to international ports.
  • sanctions those who employ North Korean slave labor, a source of billions of dollars for the Kim regime.

A “Forever” Update for the GI Bill

Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped millions of veterans pay for college, graduate school, and other training programs. So in a real sense, the original GI Bill helped build today’s middle class in America by allowing millions of World War II veterans to get solid jobs paying solid wages. 

I strongly supported the Congressional effort to update the GI Bill back in 2008.  Veterans who served on active duty after September 11, 2001 were eligible for a housing allowance, money for books, and the option to transfer unused education benefits to a spouse or a child.

But one way we make sure that the GI Bill endures is by updating it to meet the times.  That is why the House voted unanimously to approve the biggest GI bill expansion in a decade: the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. (Harry Colmery was the principal architect of the original GI Bill.)

Here’s what H.R. 3218 does:

  • Right now, veterans have to use their education benefits within 15 years of the end of their service. H.R. 3218 takes those limits away. From now on, new servicemembers will be able to use the GI bill’s education benefits throughout their lifetimes. They will have the flexibility to get an education later in life. This is a big  deal.
  • Another big change concerns post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients, who need to put in three years of service to receive full benefits. The new law will give full GI bill eligibility to all post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients, regardless of how long they have served.
  • And this GI Bill update gives veterans a better shot at in-demand science and technology jobs. A pilot program will help veterans take advantage of non-traditional technology courses. And benefits will be extended by nine months for veterans enrolled in STEM five-year degree programs. This is good news as we work to improve job training and close the skills gap.

The vote on the bipartisan Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act was 405-0 and came just nine days after it was introduced in the House.

You can access a fact sheet here.

Salute: Congratulations to Zachary Sanders of Randolph, one of 37 college students selected to serve as a Library of Congress Junior Fellow this summer.  Zach, a student at George Washington University, was one of 900 applicants from across the country for the program this year.  He spent ten weeks in the Congressional Research Service’s American Law Division delving into the nation’s cultural heritage and Library’s international collections of 165 million items.

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