e-News 9/15/17

Government-Wide Appropriations Bill Approved On Time, On Budget

Follow-up: Protecting Jewish Centers from Terror

“BeThere” For Veterans

Salute: Thank you to John Fila, FDNY


Government-Wide Appropriations Bill Approved On Time, On Budget

The House of Representatives this week approved a package of appropriations bills (H.R. 3354) to provide funding for the entire federal government for the 2018 Fiscal Year which begins onOctober 1. The bill, also known as the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act,” provides federal dollars for important domestic and international programs that help our economy grow, keep our people safe and preserve America’s leadership across the globe.  The final vote was 211-198.

Speaker Paul Ryan said: “This is big deal: It’s the first time in nearly a decade that the House has passed all 12 appropriation bills on time. To people who don’t pay attention to this process, that sounds like a normal, no big deal thing. It hadn’t been done in a long time. So the House of Representatives is doing its work. The House of Representatives is doing its job. And the House of Representatives is bringing all of its appropriations bills on budget, on time. And that is a historic achievement. And I want to thank the Appropriations Committee for doing this, for [getting] that done.”

Watch the Speaker’s Press Conference here

Drafted by my Committee on Appropriations, this package disburses money to every agency and program of the federal government through the 12 annual Appropriations bills.  This year’s total is $1.2 trillion, including $87 billion in funding for Global War on Terror.

You can read my entire statement here

You can learn more about the specific provisions of H.R 3354, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act” here

And these investments are made responsibly. In each of the bills within this package, we have found savings, eliminated waste, fraud and duplication, and increased oversight to ensure that no taxpayer dollar is misspent.

And just like the Defense, Energy and Water Development and Military Construction/VA bills we passed in July, the bills approved by the House this morning contains important funding for programs important to New Jersey, such as the more than $900 million included in the Transportation Appropriations bill for eligible projects such as the Gateway program in the New Jersey-New York area. 

Now more than ever, it is imperative to our economy and to our quality of life to have safe and well-functioning transportation infrastructure. Gateway is critical to our nation’s economy: the Northeast Corridor region, encompassing over 50 million people from Washington D.C. to Boston, produces approximately $3 trillion in 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.”

As we debated these bills, there was an effort last week to cut this funding.  Read Herb Jackson’s story in The Record here about how we turned back a cutting amendment.

Many other programs important to New Jersey individuals, families and businesses were supported in H.R 3354.  You can review these provisions by visiting my website here

Of course, we still have more work to do. The House’s action this week marks an important step in the process, but it is not the end. The Senate and the President will weigh in.  Funding these important federal responsibilities is our constitutional duty to the people we serve, and I look forward to the final completion of all these critical bills.

Follow-up: Protecting Jewish Centers from Terror

Several months ago, a spate of anti-semitic bomb threats shook synagogues, Jewish Community Centers and schools in New Jersey and across the nation.  At the time, I contacted Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to urge him to apply every Department of Justice resource to the investigation of these crimes.  I also spoke to then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to urge him to disburse DHS grants from the Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to support “target hardening” and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack.

The Department of Homeland Security has informed us that New Jersey will be receiving $3.8 million for the FY 2017 NSGP. This funding will be distributed to more than two dozen organizations in northern New Jersey, with four receiving funds in our Congressional District:

  • Congregation Ohr Torah of West Orange;
  • Hebrew Congregation of Mount Freedom (Mt. Freedom Jewish Center) in Randolph;
  • Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest  in Whippany;
  • Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston;

In addition, in the FY 2018 legislation just passed by the House, our Appropriations Committee made sure to double the funding for this important program, adding $25 million, for an annual total of $50 million. 

“BeThere” For Veterans

September is suicide prevention month and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is raising awareness through its “Be There” campaign. 

Every Veteran suicide is a tragedy. Regardless of the numbers or rates, one Veteran suicide is one too many.  New data show certain groups are at increased risk - older and female Veterans.

Many people don’t know what they can do to support a Veteran in their life who’s going through a difficult time.  The #BeThere campaign emphasizes that small actions- like calling up an old friend, checking in on a neighbor, or inviting a colleague to go for a walk- are thoughtful ways to show someone you care.  Your actions can help someone going through a tough time feel less alone.

For more information, visit: here and here

The American Legion has information here

Salute: Thank you to John Fila, FDNY.  I listened intently to his poignant and inspirational remarks at last Sunday’s Morris County Ceremony marking the 16th Anniversary of September 11, 2001.  A Boonton native, John serves at Engine 54, the hardest hit firehouse in New York City on that infamous day. He reminded us: “Don’t just say ‘never forget.  Be a part of ‘never forget.’ Those who we loved and lost are the true heroes of that day.  They deserve to be remembered.” Watch his remarks here