e-News 9/14/2018

Never Forget: September 11, 2001
New Jersey Wins in Three Bill Spending Package Approved by Congress
Save American Workers Act
Salute: Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone
Salute: First Responders Heading into the Storm

Never Forget: September 11, 2001

On Tuesday, we marked the 17th Anniversary of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks.   

On that fateful morning, in less than two hours, we lost 3,000 people, over 700 of them from New Jersey alone and over 100 from the 11th Congressional District.

"I stand with every American to pay tribute to those who perished and the first responders on that tragic day.  

We must also recognize our police, EMS and fire personnel from many New Jersey towns who responded to the attacks, saving countless lives and who continue to put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe.

We must also thank the members of our Armed Forces and Intelligence Community, all volunteers, who continue to serve our nation on battlefields across the world and sacrifice so much to protect our nation.

To honor the memories of those who perished on September 11, this week, the House gave approval to H.R. 6287, the 9/11 Memorial Act.

I was pleased to be a cosponsor of this legislation as it provides federal support for the operation and maintenance of the 9/11 memorial in New York City, as well as, memorials honoring the victims of the Pentagon and Flight 93.

You can read the text of H.R. 6287 here.


New Jersey Wins in Three Bill Spending Package Approved by Congress

Yesterday, the House of Representatives gave bipartisan approval to my three-bill Appropriations “minibus” funding bill.  The House approved the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 5895, by a vote of 377 to 20, sending the measure to the President’s desk. Included in the package is funding for the Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.

These key funding bills provide funding for some of the most important federal responsibilities, including national defense, care of our veterans, key water and military infrastructure improvements and scientific discovery.

This marks the first time in more than 10 years that Congress has sent more than one Appropriations bill to the President’s desk prior to the end of the fiscal year, representing a significant effort which I championed to return to “regular order”.

To read the text of the Conference Report please visit here and to view the Joint Explanatory Statement please visit here. You can also review summaries of each bill below:

The Conference Report to H.R. 5895 includes many provisions that are important to New Jersey:

Military Construction/Veterans Affairs:

The FY 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations section of the legislation includes a total of $98.1 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $5.3 billion above FY18, to support care and benefits our veterans earned and provides resources for our service members and their families. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Includes the highest dollar level ever for the Department of Veterans Affairs, $86.5 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $5 billion from FY 2018.
  • Provides $72.3 billion to support VA medical care for 7 million patients, including the VA Medical Centers at Lyons and East Orange and the Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) in Morris Township and Newton.
  • Supports VA Homeless Assistance Programs by providing $1.8 billion, an increase of $60 million from FY 2018 to support organizations like Community Hope in Parsippany, which runs Valley Brook Village at the Lyons VA Medical Center.
  • Funds new construction at New Jersey’s largest military bases, Picatinny Arsenal and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL).  Specifically, $41 million is provided to build a “Munitions Disassembly Complex” at Picatinny and $10.2 million is provided to replace a “Hot Cargo Hydrant System” at JBMDL.

Energy and Water Development:

The FY 2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations portion of this bill totals $44.6 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion above FY18, providing vital funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of Energy (DOE) programs including research conducted in New Jersey. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Includes $7 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, an increase of $172 million above FY18, which supports flood prevention and mitigation efforts in our state, and keeps our local port, the New York-New Jersey harbor, open for business.
  • Requires the Army Corps to update Congress regularly on its flood prevention efforts along the Passaic River Basin Mainstem, the Peckman River and the Rahway River. Continuing this work is essential for towns across northern New Jersey, some of which have very recently experienced devastating flooding. 
  • Invests $2 billion to reduce flood and storm damage across the nation including $5 million for construction of the Green Brook Sub-Basin flood control project and $668,000 for monitoring of the Passaic River Flood Warning System.
  • Provides $6.6 billion within the Department of Energy for science research, an increase of $325 million above FY18 to support basic and advanced energy research to promote our energy future and reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
  • Funds fusion energy science at $564 million, an increase of $32 million above FY18 and $224 million above the President’s request.  This funding supports the work of New Jersey’s Princeton Plasma Physics Lab.
  • Invests in protecting our nation’s electric grid from cyber-attacks by providing $120 million, an increase of $24 million above FY18, to strengthen grid security. 

Legislative Branch:

The FY 2019 Legislative Branch Appropriations division provides $4.8 billion in funding for the operations of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Includes $456 million for the Capitol Police, an increase of $30 million, to enhance the safety and security of the Capitol Complex for the thousands of guests who visit every day.
  • Dedicates funding for paid internships (up to $20,000 per Member office), providing greater opportunities to young people who wish to serve our nation.
  • Supports the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, by providing $696 million in funding and includes $2.4 million for the Veterans History Project.  You can learn more about this important project here.


Save American Workers Act

This week, the House took another step to bring much needed relief to individuals, families, and small businesses by approving H.R. 3798, the Save American Workers Act, which would increase flexibility for consumers and lower burdensome taxes that have been driving up health care costs.

Specifically, this legislation would change the definition of "full-time employee" for purposes of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate from an employee working at least 30 hours per week to an employee working at least 40 hours per week. Unfortunately, the ACA’s definition has resulted in the subsequent reduction in hours, and therefore wages, for many workers. By restoring the traditional 40 hour definition, employees will be able to increase their weekly income. 

Additionally, this legislation would delay the ACA’s tax on high cost employer-sponsored health plans, known as the "Cadillac Tax” until 2023. If implemented, this tax would increase costs and reduce care for American workers.

H.R. 3798 will also repeal additional taxes and reduce unnecessary paperwork requirements.

More information on H.R. 3798 can be found here.


Salute: Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone

In the coming days, the United States Post Office is expected to recognize American Marine hero Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, by renaming the Raritan Post Office in his honor. Last year, the House of Representatives gave unanimous approval to H.R. 2815, the legislation which directed the USPS to make this important designation. I was pleased to be an original cosponsor of this bill!

Known as the “Hero of Guadalcanal”, for three days in the summer of 1942, without food or sleep, Basilone and his comrades fought off the Japanese forces until reinforcements arrived, with only two men other than Basilone surviving. At one point, Basilone had to single-handedly fight his way 150 yards through Japanese lines to get more ammunition and continue the fight and, by the time the engagement was over, he had killed at least 38 Japanese soldiers. For his actions on Guadalcanal, Basilone became the only Marine in World War II to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.  Our New Jersey hero is a true Marine Corps legend!


Salute: First Responders Heading into the Storm

We must recognize the thousands of first responders at all levels of government and from across the country who have selflessly volunteered to aid their fellow Americans in the path of Hurricane Florence.  This includes 80 highly trained members of New Jersey Task Force One (NJ-TF1) who were deployed earlier in the week to the Carolinas to assist with search and rescue operations.   

In the coming days, I stand ready to work with all of my colleagues to ensure the necessary resources are available for a full response and recovery.