The Week Just Past: Many Important Questions, Few Answers
"In Washington and in many households across the country this week, important questions were posed. It's clear to me that the American people are beginning to wonder about the direction of this government and who is accountable.
"First, there are new revelations that agents of the IRS were pursuing an outrageous, and possibly illegal, strategy of targeting and harassing conservative and other groups. The IRS has already admitted that this happened and those responsible should be fired and prosecuted!
"Next, we have plenty of doubt about the Justice Department's surveillance ofAssociated Press reporters. While a free and unfettered press is a foundation of our democracy, the government also has a duty to prosecute leaks and protect our security. We all should be following this investigation closely.
"On Benghazi, Congress has a responsibility to seek answers about why a remarkably able and effective ambassador was killed in a terrorist assault, along with those hired to protect him. Despite the President's declarations about "getting to the bottom' of this, no individuals or organizations have been held accountable or responsible in over six months! On this point, be assured that our enemies, and our friends, are watching and learning.
"A less-publicized outrage, in my view, is Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "soliciting' "donations' from outside groups, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, to promote and support ObamaCare. To me, this borders on extortion because many of these firms fall under her regulatory jurisdiction, raising many legal questions under federal ethics regulations.
"With that said, we have work to do in the House. In addition to promoting a healthy and growing economy that creates jobs, we're going to have to work restore the public's trust in government."
Committee Work: Focusing on Intolerable Military Sexual Assaults
In the wake of a widespread and unfolding crisis of sexual assault in the military, Rodney's Defense Appropriations Subcommittee summoned the leadership of the Secretary of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) for a briefing this morning.
"I am absolutely angry and disgusted with this epidemic of sexual assault that harms women serving their country and our great military," Rodney said. "Every year for the past several years I have nominated outstanding young women to our nation's military academies. When they graduate, they serve alongside many exceptional enlisted women. We can prepare all of them to face the enemy on the battlefield. But we cannot, nor will not, tolerate an enemy within their own ranks."
The Pentagon brass, social scientists and people who have worked with sexual assault victims all point to multiple reasons for this developing crisis - military culture, stress from a decade of war, the status of women as second-class warriors barred from combat and a military justice system dating to the Revolutionary War that gives commanders of accused servicemen significant power to decide guilt or innocence and the type of punishment troops receive, if any.
"No matter the cause or the causes, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines need to end this epidemic now," he said. "Each branch of the military prides itself as a "thinking organization.' Either they develop new approaches to military sexual assault and abuse to "fix' this shameful crisis or Congress will!"
Recommended Reading: Red Jahnke, writing in the Tuesday Wall Street Journal, "The Federal Revenue Surge Won't Last." Read it here.
Repealing the ObamaCare "Train Wreck"
In recent weeks, two prominent Senators who voted to establish the President's new controversial healthcare program, called implementation of the law a potential "train wreck."
The House passed H.R. 45 yesterday, a measure that would fully repeal the President's health care law, which is driving up costs, jeopardizing seniors' access to care, and making it harder for small businesses to hire.
While the goal is to repeal all of ObamaCare -- this is the third time the House has voted for full repeal since 2011 -- several major provisions have already been repealed and defunded.
Seven bills signed by President Obama have helped dismantle provisions of his health care law to protect our economy and save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. See the list here.
Of course, full repeal is needed to keep this law from doing more damage to our economy and running up costs on Americans. But the House has made some progress and will keep working to scrap the law in its entirety so we can focus on patient-centered reforms that lower health care costs and protect jobs.
Read Rodney's ideas for health care reform here.
Noted With Concern: The same IRS bureaucracy that targeted and harassed conservative organizations will be key to running ObamaCare. A politicized IRS is charged with implementing and enforcing key segments of the President's new healthcare program.
Homeland Security Funding Bill Advances
The House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, on which Rodney serves, completed work on its funding bill for the fiscal year that begins in October. The bill provides nearly $39 billion for operations of the Department of Homeland Security and prioritizes funding for frontline security operations.
Last month, the President sent Congress a flawed fiscal year 2014 budget request for DHS that included questionable reductions to vital operational programs for the Coast Guard, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), among others. The Subcommittee-approved bill rejected this approach and instead reduces DHS's overall budget while prioritizing funding for critical programs such as operations, FEMA's first responder grants, and bombing prevention programs.
Notably, the bill:
fully funds FEMA's stated requirement for disaster relief;
increases funding for Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) "threat-targeting" systems to fund needed improvements identified following the Boston Marathon attacks;
rejects the President's proposed 39% to cut to Bombing Prevention programs;
increases funding for cybersecurity operations;
provides money to pay 21,370 Border Patrol agents and nearly 22,800 CBP officers -- the largest totals in history;
denies the President's attempt to make steep, harmful cuts to many ICE programs, including efforts to combat human trafficking, child exploitation, cyber-crime, and drug smuggling;
fully funds E-Verify, a program that helps companies check if their employees may legally work in the United States, at $114.2 million;
continues a prohibition on funds to transfer or release detainees from Guantanamo Bay;
continues restriction on another "Fast and Furious" type program;
extensive reporting requirements for DHS's procurement and usage of ammunition.
The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the legislation next week.
Recommended Reading:Michael Gerson, writing in the Tuesday Washington Post, "Political corruption at the IRS." Read it here.
Rodney Opens Outreach Office in Nutley
In his ongoing efforts to provide convenient, accessible service offices to constituents in all corners of the 11th Congressional District, Rodney has established another "Outreach Office." His Congressional Constituent Service Staff will hold office hours each Thursday in Nutley:
9 AM to 4 PM
Mayor's Office, Public Safety Building, 2nd Floor
228 Chestnut Street, Nutley, NJ 07110
"As your Representative in Washington D.C., I am your direct point of contact with the federal government, its departments, agencies, and Congress and am always glad to help when residents are encountering difficulties with federal agencies," Rodney said. "I am maintaining my primary Constituent Service office in Morristown (973-984-0711), but to best serve residents, I am establishing walk-in Outreach Offices. Experienced staff will be on hand to listen and help.
"I have an excellent staff and all of us are here to serve our residents. I take "casework' -- resolving people's problems with federal agencies -- very seriously and work hard to get them the answers they deserve. Additionally, we assist constituents with their plans to visit Washington, D.C."
"I am grateful to Mayor Alphonse Petracco and the Nutley Commissioners for their assistance in allowing me to establish this enhanced service for Nutley residents and those of neighboring towns."
Rodney's staff is also holding weekly walk-in Outreach Offices in the Wayne Township Municipal Center on Wednesdays.
For the last election, a bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Commission drew new boundaries of the 11th District, adding 14 new towns in Passaic, Essex and Sussex counties.
Rodney is a "Transportation Advocate" for Hurricane Sandy Aid Bill
Each year during National Transportation Week, the Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP) and its Transportation Council honor distinguished leaders in transportation. By giving awards to outstanding leaders both in the headlines and behind the scenes, they emphasize that our region's transportation infrastructure is vital for our economic vitality. This year's Transportation Advocate Award went to local Congressmen Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9).
Rodney earned his honors through his leadership on Hurricane Sandy emergency assistance legislation, which ensured funding to rebuild New Jersey's damaged transportation infrastructure.
In his remarks, Rodney praised his colleague, Pascrell. "We may be from different parties but we come from the same part of our beloved home state. He's a real partner when it comes to fighting for New Jersey," he said. "Like me, he recognizes that we need investments in our region's infrastructure to facilitate the flow of commerce. And by investing in transportation, we are creating the jobs needed to build the infrastructure that will promote future economic growth."
Transportation Leadership Awards were presented to Flora Castillo, NJ Transit; Patty Clark, Port Authority of NY & NJ; Perry Frenzel, Meadowlink; Cliff Heath, NJ Alliance for Action; Laine Rankin, NJ Department of Transportation; and Ferreira Construction Company, Inc. and Crisdel Group Inc.
NRBPis Newark's leading broad-based business organization.
This Week's Salute: Roseland, Cedar Grove, Verona/Livingston
Mr. Charles J. Ehrhardt was honored as Roseland Citizen of the Year at a luncheon today!
Cedar Grove Emergency Medical Services will mark its 75th Anniversary tomorrow!
Founded in South Orange, the Children's Institute celebrates its 50th Anniversary on Saturday! TCI currently operates in Verona and Livingston.
Congratulations to these individuals and organizations who all make our communities stronger!
The Obama Administration in the News
Recommended Reading:Stories gleaned from the front page of the WednesdayWashington Post:
"Criminal Probe of IRS launched" by Juliet Eilperin and Zachary Goldfarb.
"Attorney General Eric Holder back in crossfire after Justice Dept. obtains AP phone records" by Sari Horowitz and Carol Leonning.
"Hagel orders retraining amid new sex-crime case" by Craig Whitlock
Honoring Those Who Protect and Serve
In addition, thousands of police officers from throughout New Jersey and the country visited Washington for National Police Week to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting our communities. Beginning with a Candlelight Vigil on Monday evening, events and memorial services have been held throughout the week for police officers, their families and the general public to pay their respects and offer their thanks.
"Over 16 years ago, Police Officer Patrick Montuore of Florham Park, now chief, and a remarkable band of fifty officers started their annual Police Unity Tour bike ride from New Jersey to Washington. Since those early days, it has been my honor and privilege to ride with them to salute their brother and sister law enforcement officers!"
This week, the Rodney voted in favor of the National Blue Alert Act of 2013, which seeks to improve interagency communications in the event of a law enforcement officer being seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. The House passed this bill, H.R. 140, on Monday.