Working for you!
In Congress, I’m laser-focused on getting things done for our families and for our children. When I got there, I quickly noticed that the extreme partisanship and gridlock were even worse than any of us could have imagined. However, I also found that from day one, if you actually made an effort to reach across the aisle, to find common ground, you could actually get things done that are good for the country and for New Jersey.
Early last year, I was elected Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. It’s a group of 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans who meet every week to see where we can make progress on our toughest issues, from lowering taxes, to creating jobs, to fixing our infrastructure, to balancing the budget. Just like when I was at Ford Motor Company and Microsoft, my goal is to bring people together to get something done. I was honored to be recognized as the most bipartisan freshman Democrat in Congress. For me, it’s not about a partisan agenda; it’s about working with both sides for what’s best for New Jersey. It’s about our shared values – our Jersey Values.
What does that mean? We need lower taxes, less red tape, balanced budgets, and we must reinstitute the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT) that was gutted by the federal Tax Hike Bill. We must claw more of our federal tax dollars back home, instead of continuing to prop up those Moocher States who take so much more than they give. We must also fight for clean drinking water, top-notch schools and STEM education for our children, and investment in our roads, bridges, and tunnels – so we can cut down on our commutes and attract new and keep our businesses.I will always stand by our seniors, veterans, and first responders, so our families are safe from crime and terror at home and around the world.
The bottom line: I work for Jersey, not some national political party. We are always stronger when we work together and remember that our best days are ahead of us.
Cutting Taxes and Clawing Back our Federal Tax Dollars
Before I took office, our District had one of the worst returns on the tax dollars we sent to Washington – just $0.33 for every dollar. Our hard-earned money has instead been going to prop up Moocher States like Mississippi and Alabama that get back as much as $4.38 per dollar. That’s a raw deal and it means that making up the gap falls upon the shoulders of our towns and taxpayers.
So, when Congress passed a Tax Hike Bill that slammed our state and raised taxes on a majority of our residents and businesses, I fought back for Jersey. I’m also not going to stand idly by when so much damage is being done to our state. This massive tax hike on New Jersey is already driving property values down and sending businesses and jobs to other states.
Last December, I introduced a Jersey Tax Cut Plan to restore the value of the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT). Our plan gives New Jersey taxpayers a tax cut by allowing them to donate to new charitable funds set up by their towns. In just four months, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass our plan and it was signed into law. I’m now working to make sure this plan – which is supported by our nation’s tax scholars and consistent with legal precedent and IRS rulings – can be quickly implemented in our towns to provide much needed tax relief.
Our Jersey Tax Cut Plan is just one way I’m fighting back against the Moocher States and working to cut taxes for our families and our businesses. We must eliminate wasteful spending, balance budgets, and cut taxes, at every level – and I’ve made that my top priority. When I took office, I also quickly got to work with our mayors and local officials to claw back more of the tax dollars that we have already sent to Washington. Working together, we’re getting results – winning back 16% more than in recent years. That’s $290 per family to help our towns lower their property taxes, fix our infrastructure, protect our students in their schools, respond quickly to storms, and provide essential equipment our first responders need to fight crime and terror.
There’s nothing partisan about getting our families a better return on their investment. Whether it’s cutting taxes or clawing back our hard-earned money, I will keep fighting to make our District more affordable for our families and more attractive for businesses to invest and create jobs.
Bringing New Businesses and Jobs to the District
Here in North Jersey, we have some of the best schools and brightest minds who call our communities home. Many of the top life science companies are based in our state and we have some of the fastest broadband in the country – which is why the whole back-end of the New York Stock Exchange sits in Bergen County. The question is: How can we maximize these assets to create good-paying job and strengthen our economy?
That’s why, as part of my Five-Point Economic Growth Plan, I’m working across the aisle to help create jobs, draw, keep and expand businesses in northern New Jersey, lower taxes, cut red tape, and eliminate outdated, burdensome regulations. I’ve also fought to secure bipartisan funding for the Gateway Program and other essential investments to fix our transit, roads, bridges, and infrastructure to boost economic growth. Ultimately, harnessing our potential is about creating the conditions where innovative businesses can thrive and stay here to create good-paying jobs for our residents.
For my pro-business work across the aisle to help New Jersey, I was honored to receive the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Spirit of Enterprise” Award. I have partnered with chapters across our District and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken noted that I am, “fighting for us every day.” I will continue to work to lower taxes and help businesses of all sizes stay and grow in New Jersey by making the state we love more affordable.
Fixing Our Roads, Bridges, Tunnels and Trains
New Jersey is second in the nation among states with commuters who rely on public transit. Meanwhile, one-third of New Jersey’s bridges are considered unsafe for travel and NJ Transit had more accidents in 2016 than any of the 10 largest commuter railroads in the country.
With the safety of our families at stake, there’s no room for partisan games. My first stand-alone bill to pass the House, the FRA Safety Data Improvement Act, strengthens our data collection so that we can uncover potential safety problems on our rails before they can do harm or cost lives.
Safety has to be our top priority, but we also know that we can’t attract new businesses and jobs to a state where our roads, tunnels and bridges are crumbling. That’s why I’ve fought to secure bipartisan funding for the Gateway Project, which would double our rail capacity into New York City. Right now, only twenty-one trains can travel in and out of the city in an hour because we have one tunnel – that’s more than a hundred years old and in massive disrepair – along this corridor that one-fifth of America’s economy relies upon. Moving this project forward couldn’t be more vital to our region and our nation’s economy.
I’ve also worked to bring new bus and rail service to our communities in Sussex and Warren and we need to bring light rail to Bergen County to ease our commute within our District. Fixing our infrastructure isn’t just essential to our economic future. Most importantly, it allows us to get home earlier to spend more time with our families and tuck our kids into bed.
Standing Strong Against Terror, Standing by Our Veterans and First Responders
In New Jersey, we know all too well about the threat of homegrown, Lone-Wolf terror, and that we must always be vigilant at home and in the war on terror – against ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other terrorist groups around the world. We need to make certain our cops, first responders, and military have the tools they need to protect our families and to prevent terrorists from following through on their threats, both foreign and domestic. There is no room for compromise against terror and Americans must present in a united front, coming together as Democrats and Republicans, for our national security. We owe that to all Americans and to the brave men and women, who have risked their lives to protect our freedoms.
In the aftermath of the tragic terror attack in New York City last October, where a rented pickup truck was used to kill eight people, including Darren Drake, a resident of New Milford, New Jersey, I was proud to work with Darren’s father Jimmy to develop a plan to prevent future ISIS-inspired Lone-Wolf attacks. Named in memory of Darren, TheDarren Drake Combatting 21st Century Weapons of Terror Act is essential to help keep us safe against these new, emerging threats.
Last year, I also introduced the bipartisan Freezing Assets of Suspected Terrorists and Enemy Recruits (FASTER) Act to give law enforcement the tools that they need to combat domestic terrorism, especially Lone-Wolf attacks in our backyard. We must make sure that our law enforcement agencies have the training, information, and cutting-edge resources necessary to protect our communities.
I will always have the backs of the brave cops that keep our families safe across North Jersey. For my work in Congress and at home to support law enforcement, I was received a perfect rating on a recent scorecard from the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), which includes police from across our state and the New Jersey State PBA.
I’m also working to honor our commitment to our military, veterans, and first responders who put their lives on the line every day by ensuring that they have the best possible care, when they serve and after. I am committed to helping New Jersey veterans cut through the red tape and bureaucratic hurdles whether it relates to their benefits, health care, a VA home loan, or overdue medals. I’m proud that the very first measure of mine to become law was to help our veterans get jobs when they return home and makes it easier for these courageous men and women to get care in the District.
Civil Rights and Equality
As I learned growing up, we were all created in the image of God. I believe that everyone should be treated equally no matter what their background, race, sexual orientation, or station in life. We will only succeed as a nation if everyone is included and treated with respect and dignity. It’s what built America and allowed our economy and culture to flourish.
As a member of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, I’ve fought to extend protections for the LGBTQ community. Last year, I proudly introduced the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act (FDCA), a bipartisan bill to prohibit credit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
I’m also fighting to defend the hard-won victories enshrined in the Voting Rights Act and working towards prison reform for nonviolent offenders, an area with great bipartisan support that will save taxpayers money.
Protecting Medicare & Social Security
Our seniors shouldn’t have to worry that their Social Security checks, which they worked hard for, will always clear and that Medicare will be available to them. I’m fighting to protect and strengthen these essential programs for future generations and will always oppose any attempt to privatize them or cut benefits. In Congress, I’ve strongly opposed attempts to reduce the cost-of-living adjustment and access to Social Security, and voted against a budget plan that would have ended Medicare as we know it.
We also have to do more for our greatest generation and for our residents who are approaching retirement age. With my Three-Part Senior Security Strategy, my goal is to make it more affordable for seniors to stay in Jersey and enjoy their retirement here with their families. First, I’m working to cut taxes and help seniors save more of their hard-earned money during their golden years by co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to finally put an end to the double taxation of Social Security benefits. The second part of our plan is working to pass a bipartisan bill to prevent this income from being garnished by debt collectors. Third, I’m fighting to protect seniors’ pocketbooks against the onslaught of aggressive Medicare scammers. Social Security and Medicare are the foundation of our retirement security; they should be a guarantee – not a gamble or put at risk in any way.
Last but not least, I introduced the bipartisan Senior Housing Improvement and Retirement Accounts (IRA) Act, to give seniors the opportunity to save money so they can stay right here in New Jersey. My legislation cuts taxes for seniors if they sell their home and use a Roth IRA for retirement savings. New Jersey seniors are moving away because they cannot afford to stay, which is why I introduced this common-sense plan to help them save and stay in the Garden State.
Safeguarding our Children’s Drinking Water
Like all parents, I’m deeply concerned about the health and safety of our children. Yet, despite the quality of the education offered in our schools, we haven’t been so sure about the quality of the water that flows out of our school’s water fountains, faucets or pipes, many of them generations old. We’ve all see the headlines about elevated lead levels in the water at our schools – and no mother or father should have to worry about whether the water their child drinks contains lead or other toxic chemicals.
That’s why I announced a Clean Water for Kids Plan, urging the state to improve reporting about the testing being done at our kids’ schools and to make it accessible to the public so that parents know exactly what’s in the water their kids might drink. We can’t solve this problem if we don’t know exactly what it is. I’ve also called for the Governor to strengthen efforts to keep our water lead-free in a comprehensive plan to get to the bottom of this problem and protect our children’s health and safety.
If we’re going to get lead out of our school drinking water once and for all, our schools will need better resources for testing, remediation and reporting. Last year, I introduced The Lead-Free Schools Act – a bipartisan bill that requires testing for lead in our schools, empowers parents by improving transparency and creates a pilot program to help schools replace out-of-date infrastructure like lead-tainted water fountains. This bill will also claw back some of the federal tax dollars we are already sending to Washington to help secure the health and safety of our children. Under my bipartisan plan, parents have the transparency they want, schools can invest in lead-free water, and our kids will be safe.
Building Strong Families
We live in a time where three women currently sit on the Supreme Court, women occupy twenty percent of all congressional seats, and scores sit in America’s boardrooms. The sky should be the limit for all of our sons and our daughters.
As I said in my very first speech on the floor of Congress, I unequivocally fight any attempt to get between a woman and her doctor when it comes to making personal health care choices. I also believe women should have access to affordable health care services around the country.
We need to expand opportunities for women in business. Last year, I proudly cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.
We must also support families by providing new parents with sensible family leave and quality, affordable childcare. We should also invest in stem cell research and ensure that the National Institutes of Health continue to fund ground-breaking research in cancer, autism, and other diseases.
Invest in Education, STEM, College Affordability
Our District has the best K-12 schools in the country but we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball. We must aggressively push forward and ensure that our children are given every opportunity to succeed in the global, digital economy. At Microsoft, I saw first-hand how few engineers and computer programmers our country produces; we simply aren’t graduating enough of them. And, given our immigration policies, many of the engineers who graduate from our colleges can’t stay here. The result is a huge skills gap – one I’m fighting hard to close.
I support integrating education technology in the classroom and programs that greatly emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM), skills that are increasingly necessary for children who will enter the workforce in the coming decades. I am also exploring ways to help our local business community partner with our schools so that students get the training they need to build successful careers.
Providing our children with a STEAM education will make our District an attractive location for companies from the technology industry and position our children to compete for the high paying jobs of the future. Meanwhile, what we do now to help our technology industry grow is of critical importance when it comes to Northern New Jersey’s economic future. In fact, studies have shown that over time each high-tech job creates about five jobs outside of tech (two professional and three nonprofessional). In Congress, I supported the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, to boost the efficiency of the training programs that we already have on the books so they actually achieve their job training goals. I am working to claw back those resources to help in our District and state.
Beyond job training, we also must take steps to make college more affordable. The costs of college tuition have skyrocketed 80 percent in the last decade. Seven in ten college graduates have an average debt of more than $35,000, and only 59 percent of students seeking a bachelor’s degree actually finish. We need to incentivize college completion, for both students and colleges, better match college training with employer needs, and address the runaway costs.
I unequivocally support the strength, safety, and prosperity of Israel. I am working with Democrats and Republicans to strengthen the U.S.-Israel partnership as our strongest ally. Knowing of the challenges we both face, I want to enhance this alliance by working tirelessly towards greater economic, diplomatic, cultural, and defense exchanges between Israel and the United States.
Israel’s commitment to freedom of expression and religion, and democratic values is unprecedented across the globe, across history, and especially across the Middle East. This is precisely why Israel is, and must remain, our closest ally. It is also why I believe so strongly that Israel cannot be used as partisan football and instead must maintain strong, bipartisan support. In Congress, I am working for a stronger partnership to stop dangerous terrorist financing, invest in robust missile defense, and increase technology exchanges between Israel and the United States. I believe we must do everything in our power to support the strength, safety, and prosperity of Israel – including fight back against biased attacks and those who wish to harm our vital partner. That’s why, last year, I introduced a bipartisan bill to help state and local governments fight back against the politically-motivated boycott of Israel. That’s also why, since 2015, I’ve strongly opposed the Iran Deal that failed to permanently prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb or addressed the aggressive development of long-range ballistic missiles to carry these weapons.
There should be nothing partisan about protecting our national security and defending our vital ally, Israel.