I firmly believe every American is entitled to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. To obtain the American Dream and to close the wealth inequality gap, Americans need to be paid a living wage. I have been a lead advocate for the "Raise the Wage" campaign to raise the minimum wage in New Jersey, and I am committed to helping every American provide a decent life for their families. Recently, New Jersey legislators came to an agreement to raise the states' minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. Working and middle-class Americans deserve tax reforms that benefit them and assist them as they strive to improve their financial situations. That's why I introduced the Earned Income Tax Credit Modernization Act to increase financial stability for caregivers and students pursuing higher education and advanced degrees. I have also sponsored the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act which assists in the recovery of stolen wages and wage theft and prevents wage and hour violations. This has been an issue that I've worked to address to help ensure financial stability and equity within work places.
Since the burst of the housing bubble, housing markets have been unstable and foreclosures rates have risen. Homeowners expect their homes to be long-term investments, and to use the equity generated to help with education, retirement, and other large expenses. The loss of a family's home undermines the stability, health and economic vitality of neighborhoods. Foreclosures also result in abandonment and deterioration of property, which creates additional pressures on local governments and the federal government and depresses home values in the surrounding community. When I served in the New Jersey Legislature, I sponsored the New Jersey Stabilization Fund. These bills sought to shield homeowners from scams by foreclosure consultants and to generate funds to help with legal services costs faced by people in danger of losing their homes. I will continue to fight to create strong and healthy communities by helping Americans to stay in their homes.
Housing is a human right, and every unhoused American is a person whose country has failed them. As part of my fight for strong and healthy communities, I have cosponsored the Keep Your Home and Prevent Homelessness Act (H.R. 2292). This bill advocates for about $2 billion to be distributed to homeowners, renters, and individuals experiencing homelessness during the housing crisis. I have also put more efforts into affordable housing, cosponsoring the Affordable Housing and Area Media Income Fairness Act of 2022. This act is working to increase the supply of, and lower rents for, affordable housing and to assess calculations of area median income for purposes Federal low-income housing assistance, and for other purposes. This is all in efforts to ensure the equitable and accessible housing for all communities.
Modernizing our nation's infrastructure and emphasizing innovation are critical to getting our economy back on track. Government investment in infrastructure projects, such as updating transit systems and bridges, would help create jobs for thousands of Americans. I am actively supporting the Gateway Project to increase rail capacity between New York and New Jersey because it will bring thousands of jobs to New Jersey and ease traffic for commuters. To further improve employment across the country post-pandemic, I have cosponsored the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2022 (H.R. 7309). This gives more funding and expands programs revising workforce investments, vocational rehabilitation, employment, training, and literacy programs.
In addition to funding infrastructure, I support strongly investing in research and development. Spurring innovation in systems like healthcare, banking and telecommunications will incentivize the development of new technologies that could improve the lives of many Americans. To keep high-paying jobs in industries like trade and manufacturing in America, we must negotiate trade agreements that are fair to American workers and create tax codes that incentivize investment in our economy.
At the start of the 116th Congress, I was appointed to the Appropriations Committee to help set funding levels for federal departments, agencies, and programs. As the former Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee in the New Jersey General Assembly, I am honored to serve on this critical Committee. The decisions made in the Appropriations Committee are a direct representation of our national values. We put our values on display when we make decisions on where our resources go. What we find important becomes evident in the choice between purchasing more military equipment or adequately funding the EPA inspectors that ensure our communities have clean water and air, and whether we repair our roads and invest in infrastructure or pay for grants for oil and gas companies to find new ways to drill and damage our environment. In the 117th Congress, I will continue to fight for the values my constituents elected me to represent — the needs of working families, the protection of our environment, and policies that advance fair economic growth.
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