MIL-OSI USA: Washington Review, December 18, 2021

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

This week, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing several pieces of legislation to raise the debt ceiling and prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, recommend holding Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer a subpoena, address international Islamophobia, and address the ongoing crimes against humanity against Uyghurs in China. In addition, I cosponsored legislation to require safe storage of firearms.  

Votes

This week, the House passed a joint resolution to increase the debt limit by a 221-209 vote. Raising the debt ceiling does not involve authorizing or appropriating new funds, rather it allows the Department of the Treasury to pay bills that the U.S. has already incurred. Although this is not a partisan issue, all but one Republican member voted no. If this resolution had not passed, the U.S. would not have been able to pay its bills, meaning that Social Security payments and veterans compensation payments and pensions would not be sent out, troops and federal employees would not be paid, and food assistance benefits would be cut off for millions of Americans. By raising the debt ceiling now, Congress acted to prevent economic catastrophe and sustain U.S. credit in the global economy.

The House also passed two pieces of legislation to address international Islamophobia and threats to Muslims around the world. I voted in support of H.R. 5665, the Combatting International Islamophobia Act, which I cosponsored. Muslims around the world continue to be targeted in attacks, such as in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, as well as the ongoing persecution of Muslims in Burma and China. I stand against these horrific acts of violence and Islamophobia in all forms. This legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), would create a Special Envoy in the State Department for monitoring and combating Islamophobia and require that the State Department’s annual human rights report include a review of state-sponsored Islamophobic violence and impunity. H.R. 5665 passed by a 219-212 vote. I urge the Senate to take up and pass this legislation.

I also voted in support of H.R. 6256, legislation which would ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China do not enter the United States market. The internment of Uyghurs in labor camps throughout the Xinjiang region is a gross violation of international human rights and one of the most horrid practices of the Chinese government. This legislation, which was introduced by Rep. McGovern (D-MA), would create a “rebuttal presumption” of forced labor so that goods manufactured in XUAR are rejected, unless there is convincing evidence that they were not created by forced labor unless. In addition, it would direct the Secretary of State to create a diplomatic strategy to address human rights abuses and forced labor in the XUAR and directs the President to impose targeted sanctions on foreign persons responsible for serious human rights abuses and forced labor trafficking of Uyghurs. This legislation will now be considered by the Senate.

I also joined my colleagues in passing a resolution to recommend holding former Chief of Staff to President Trump, Mark Meadows, in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack. H.Res.851 passed the House by a 222-208 vote, with the support of all House Democrats and just two Republican members. To be clear, the purpose of this committee is to investigate the full extent of the crimes committed on and before the January 6th attack, to create a historical record of those events, and to prevent a future assault on the Capitol, and on our democracy. As a nation, we must have a full understanding of what happened on January 6th and in the days leading up to it, especially as some try to spin another narrative for their benefit. It is important for future generations to accurately understand our history, and for us to protect our democracy now. Meadows, and others, who choose to withhold information about January 6th are failing to uphold their duty to the country.

Cosponsored Legislation

To address gun safety, I cosponsored H.R. 748, Ethan’s Law, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Ethan’s Law is named after Ethan Song, who tragically died when he obtained access to an unsecured firearm and accidentally shot himself. Accidental gun deaths such as this can be prevented by safely storing guns. This bipartisan legislation would require the safe storage of firearms to prevent a child or others who cannot lawfully obtain a firearm from getting a hold of one and causing harm to themselves or others.

Current Washington D.C. Office Status

In response to the pandemic, my staff continue to work in a hybrid model during this time. Please know we continue to monitor our phone system, so while we are unable to speak directly with you, we manage all voice messages left. If you reached out to us through phone or e-mail, please expect an e-mail response. Be sure to check your spam or junk folders for a response from our office. We appreciate your understanding as we all navigate working through the pandemic.

Vaccination Efforts

Vaccines are available to all individuals 5 and older who live, work, or study in New Jersey. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, as a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. To find your nearest vaccine location and make an appointment, please visit Vaccines.gov.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommend booster shots of all three vaccine types and allow for individuals to choose which vaccine they may use as a booster. Those ages 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are recommended to get a booster 2 months after initial vaccination. Those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are recommended to get a booster shot after 6 months, if they are: 65 years and older, or 18 and older who live in long-term care settings, live or work in a high-risk setting, or have an underlying medical condition. See updated CDC guidelines here.

Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment began November 1 and will close on December 31 for coverage beginning on January 1, 2022. Go online now to review new plan options and more affordable coverage for 2022. This year, instead of using the federal marketplace, New Jersey will switch to their own state-run marketplace. In order to browse health care plans you can visit: www.nj.gov/getcoverednj. Here you will be able to compare available plans, review financial assistance options, and select a plan that is best for you. This new marketplace is easy to use and helps to clearly identify plans that will be most beneficial to you. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial we leave no one behind and that everyone has access to affordable health care. If you need a health care plan, be sure to visit the site

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