MIL-OSI USA: Washington Review, September 27, 2021

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Albio Sires (8th District of New Jersey)

Last week, the House took several important votes to provide much needed emergency aid to those impacted by Hurricane Ida, extend federal funding through December 3 to prevent a shutdown, provide resources to assist the relocation of Afghan refugees, authorize additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, authorize funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) for fiscal year 2022, guarantee women’s abortion rights, and provide support to members of the foreign services experiencing Havana Syndrome.

  • Votes
  • Budget Committee
  • Cosponsored Legislation

Votes

On Thursday, I joined my colleagues in passing H.R. 4350, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), in a 316-113 vote. The NDAA authorizes funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) for fiscal year (FY) 2022, guaranteeing the DoD sufficient resources to adapt to new threats, use innovative technologies, and readjust DoD priorities. This year, the NDAA included amendments to end U.S. military logistic and intelligence support that enables offensive strikes against the Houthis and suspends maintenance support to Saudi air force units responsible for civilian casualties in Yemen. The NDAA is now under review before the Senate.

On Tuesday, I joined my Democratic colleagues in passing H.R. 5305, the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), in a 220-211 vote. House Democrats fought for this legislation to prevent a government shut down by continuing appropriations to federal agencies until December 3, or the enactment of an appropriations act for FY2022.  This bill also suspends the debt limit, a necessary and important provision to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt. In addition, this legislation authorizes funding to support recovery from Hurricane Ida and provide additional resources for the resettlement of Afghan refugees. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass this important legislation to protect the U.S. economy from default, support refugees, and help New Jerseyans who continue to deal with aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

I also joined a large bipartisan majority of my colleagues in passing H.R 5323 which provides $1 billion to Israel’s Iron Dome defense system in a 420-9 vote. This bill, introduced by Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), continues U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself from short-range missiles. The Iron Dome defense system has saved countless lives by countering missiles aimed at populated areas of Israel. Israel is an important friend and ally to the U.S., and maintaining their defense is a key U.S. foreign policy priority.      

I was proud to join my colleagues in passing the H.R. 3755, the Women’s Health Protection Act in a 218-211 vote on Friday. This bill, which was introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) represents a historic step to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade and guarantee reproductive freedom for woman across the country, no matter what state they live in. The Texas state law banning abortion at 6 weeks was the latest and most extreme restriction on reproductive freedom, and several states seek to follow Texas’ lead. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation to protect women’s bodily autonomy.

On Tuesday, the House voted to unanimously pass S. 1828, the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, in a 427-0 vote. Sen. Collins (R-ME) introduced this legislation to support personnel from the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, and other federal agencies who have incurred unusual cognitive and neurological injuries referred to as Havana Syndrome. Havana Syndrome was first reported in Cuba in 2016 and has impacted U.S. officials in posts around the world. This bill provides support to U.S. officials who have unfortunately become victims of these neurological attacks.

On Monday, the House unanimously passed two bills which support veterans. S.189, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), passed the House in a 423-0 vote. This bill would increase disability compensation, compensation for dependents, and other support for disabled veterans in proportion to the cost-of-living increase in benefits for Social Security. H.R. 5293, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Expiring Authorities Act, which was introduced by Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-IN), also passed in a 423-0 vote. This legislation would extend certain programs in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) which would otherwise expire at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, such as the VA’s Dental Insurance Program, a pilot program that allows the VA to accept donations, and VA authority to provide travel reimbursements for veterans who need to travel to the distant Vet Centers. H.R. 5293 will now be considered by the Senate.

Budget Committee

On Saturday, the Budget Committee voted to advance the budget reconciliation package to the floor of the House of Representatives. The package, also known as the Build Back Better Act, would make meaningful investments to help our economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen American families. The Build Back Better Act would make the Child Tax Credit permanent, make massive investments in education and child care, lower prescription drug prices, lower health care costs by reducing Affordable Care Act premiums, and make investments to combat climate change and advance climate sustainability. Both the budget reconciliation package and the bipartisan infrastructure package will go to a vote on the floor of the House this week.

Cosponsored Legislation

Last week, I joined Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV), Jesús García (D-IL), and Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA) in introducing a resolution to name from September 22 National Hispanic Nurses Day. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated September 15 to October 15, honoring the contributions, histories, and cultures of the many diverse Hispanic communities across the United States. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, approximately 10% of the registered nurse (RN) workforce are Hispanic. Diversity in the medical field is critical to providing culturally appropriate care and disseminating information which can stop the spread of COVID-19. By naming September 22 National Hispanic Nurses Day, we honor the contributions of Hispanic nurses across the country.

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