Verona In Washington: Environment, Internet Privacy, More

By on April 2, 2017

NJWashingtonCollageBoth of New Jersey’s senators sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order rolling back climate change initiatives while Verona’s congressman, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, said that he continued to support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“Today is a sad day for our nation, and for our planet,” Sen. Cory Booker said on Tuesday when the environmental action was announced. “With the stroke of his pen, President Trump is doing serious damage to nearly a decade of progress on one of the most defining – and important – issues of our time. Climate change is an urgent economic and national security challenge that is already beginning to have disastrous effects.” Added Sen. Bob Menendez, “New Jerseyans in particular will suffer from the rollback of clean air and climate change protections. Lifting pollution standards on dirty, upwind power plants would result in more toxic emissions blowing towards our communities, shrouding the Garden State in a cloud of soot and smog, eroding our air quality and exacerbating already high asthma rates. Allowing climate change to continue unchecked threatens the viability of our shore communities, and paves the way for more frequent and more powerful storms like Sandy that put lives and property at risk.”

Rep. Frelinghuysen, meanwhile, voted with the Republican majority in the House to scrap Obama administration rules that prohibited internet providers from sharing data on individuals’ web browsing activities. Senate Republicans approved a similar measure, and President Trump is expected to sign it, but Menendez and Booker issued a joint statement calling for a veto. The two also co-sponsored a bill, along with senators from New York, California and Oregon, to guarantee basic due process rights for anyone detained under an immigration enforcement action.

Frelinghuysen also seemed firmly back in the camp of Obamacare opponents. “The effort to rescue the American people from the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) has not ended,” Frelinghuysen said in his newsletter to constituents. “It is just too important. Obamacare is a collapsing law which is doing too much damage to families. I’ve seen predictions of more double-digit increases in premiums because the Obamacare model simply does not work.” The cost of ACA plans in New Jersey did increase in 2017 from 2016, but they were not double-digit increases and they were well below the increases in other states. Last week, Frelinghuysen, who is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, effectively doomed the Republican repeal plan when he announced that he would not support it.

“Verona In Washington” is a new weekly column summing up the activity of Verona’s representatives in Congress. Here are the legislative actions by Verona’s federal representatives, both major and procedural, during the week of March 27-31:

Mar 27, 2017 5:36 p.m. — Vote
Motion to Invoke Cloture on Treaty Doc. 114-12
Cloture Motion Agreed to 97/2
Sen. Booker [D-NJ]: Yea
Sen. Menéndez [D-NJ]: Yea

Mar 27, 2017 6:53 p.m. — Vote
H.R. 1117: To require the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to submit a report regarding certain plans regarding assistance to applicants and grantees during the response to an emergency or disaster.
Passed 408/0
Rep. Frelinghuysen [R-NJ11]: Yea
H.R. 1117 directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to foster more open communications between disaster response operations and affected communities after an emergency or disaster by providing more transparency, increased consistency, and better assistance during the recovery phase after a disaster or emergency. Specifically, the bills requires FEMA to report to Congress regarding its plans to provide consistent guidance to applicants on FEMA disaster funding procedures during the response to an emergency or disaster, appropriate record maintenance and transfer of documents to new teams during staff transitions, and accurate assistance to applicants and grantees to ease the administrative burden throughout the process of obtaining and monitoring assistance.

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Mar 27, 2017 7:13 p.m. — Vote
H.R. 654: Pacific Northwest Earthquake Preparedness Act of 2017
Passed 395/11
Rep. Frelinghuysen [R-NJ11]: Yea
H.R. 654 directs the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to carry out a plan for the purchase and installation of an earthquake early warning system for the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ). Specifically, FEMA is required to develop a plan and identify the necessary funding for an earthquake early warning system. The President is directed to establish an Earthquake and Tsunami Task Force to develop a strategy and make recommendations on how to prepare for and respond to an earthquake in the CSZ. In addition, the legislation clarifies that FEMA may use hazard mitigation funds to for earthquake-related projects.

Mar 30, 2017 9:56 a.m. — Vote
H.J.Res. 67: Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to savings arrangements established by qualified State political subdivisions for non-governmental employees.
Joint Resolution Passed 50/49
Sen. Booker [D-NJ]: Nay
Sen. Menéndez [D-NJ]: Nay
H.J.Res. 67 disapproves and nullifies the rule issued by the Department of Labor on August 30, 2016, establishing a “safe harbor” from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for government-run IRAs managed by states and certain political subdivisions for private sector workers.

Under the final rule, cities and large political subdivisions will not have to comply with the fiduciary oversight and other protections of ERISA that ensure that workers’ savings are available to provide a secure retirement. In addition, the rule will result in overlapping and inconsistent requirements for employers operating in multiple jurisdictions, even within a state, disregarding ERISA’s statutory preemption of state and local laws affecting employee benefit plans.

Mar 30, 2017 10:29 a.m. — Vote
On Motion to Recommit with Instructions: H.R. 1431: EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017
Failed 189/233
Rep. Frelinghuysen [R-NJ11]: Nay

Mar 30, 2017 10:30 a.m. — Vote
Motion to Proceed on H.J.Res. 43: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule submitted by Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting
Motion to Proceed Agreed to 51/50
Sen. Booker [D-NJ]: Nay
Sen. Menéndez [D-NJ]: Nay

Mar 30, 2017 10:40 a.m. — Vote
H.R. 1431: EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017
Passed 229/193
Rep. Frelinghuysen [R-NJ11]: Aye

Mar 30, 2017 3:55 p.m. — Vote
H.J.Res. 43: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule submitted by Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting
Joint Resolution Passed 51/50
Sen. Booker [D-NJ]: Nay
Sen. Menéndez [D-NJ]: Nay
H.J.Res. 43 would disapprove and nullify the rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on December 19, 2016, relating to Title X family planning funds in which states would be blocked from restricting Title X family planning funds to abortion providers. If it becomes law, H.J.Res. 43 would allow states to use Title X grants funds for only those entities that refrain from providing abortions. The bill’s sponsor names Planned Parenthood specifically as an entity that would be guaranteed the Title X funds regardless of the preferences of a given state unless the rule is nullified.

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Mar 28, 2017 — Bill Text
S. 748: A bill to protect United States citizens and residents from unlawful profiling, arrest, and detention, and for other purposes.
This bill’s text is now available.
Sen. Robert “Bob” Menéndez [D-NJ] is the sponsor of this bill.

Mar 28, 2017 — Bill Text
S. 742: A bill to promote competition, to preserve the ability of local governments to provide broadband capability and services, and for other purposes.
This bill’s text is now available.
Sen. Cory Booker [D-NJ] is the sponsor of this bill.

Mar 30, 2017 — Introduced
S. 793: A bill to prohibit sale of shark fins, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Cory Booker [D-NJ]
This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

Mar 30, 2017 — Introduced
S.Res. 104: A resolution honoring the accomplishments and legacy of Cesar Estrada Chavez.
Sponsor: Sen. Robert “Bob” Menéndez [D-NJ]
This resolution was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary which will consider it before sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

Sen. Robert “Bob” Menendez is a Democrat who has represented New Jersey in the United States Senate since 2006. You can read more about Menendez’ record on GovTrack, an independent developer of open data resources on Congress.

Sen. Cory Booker is a Democrat who has represented New Jersey in the United States Senate since 2013. You can read more about Booker’s record on GovTrack, an independent developer of open data resources on Congress.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican, represents New Jersey’s 11th Congressional district. Verona has been part of this district since a gerrymandering in 2012. You can read more about Frelinghuysen’s record on GovTrack, an independent developer of open data resources on Congress.

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