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U.S. Congress roundup: Gabe Amo, Rhode Island on national, international stages

Amo’s February legislative focus includes foreign affairs, R.I. infrastructure, preventing government shutdown

<p>Amo said he will not support the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act “in its current form.” The congressman cited “humanitarian aid to Gaza” and “support for Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific” as priorities that “must be included in a supplemental spending bill.”</p><p>Photo courtesy of Executive Office of the President of the United States/Wikimedia Commons</p>

Amo said he will not support the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act “in its current form.” The congressman cited “humanitarian aid to Gaza” and “support for Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific” as priorities that “must be included in a supplemental spending bill.”

Photo courtesy of Executive Office of the President of the United States/Wikimedia Commons

This month, Congressman Gabe Amo’s (D-R.I. 1) legislative agenda has included bills on foreign affairs, infrastructural funding and government shutdown prevention. The Herald reviewed legislation introduced, supported or discussed by Amo in February. 

Opposition to Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act

The Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, introduced to Congress Feb. 5 as H.R. 7217, would provide “supplemental appropriations to the Department of Defense and the Department of State for activities to respond to the attacks in Israel,” according to a Congress bill summary.

In a Feb. 7 joint statement from Amo and Congressman Seth Magaziner ’06 (D-R.I. 2), both congressmen rejected the bill “in its current form.”


The bill provides billions to the DOD for military personnel, equipment and support, among other provisions. The bill also provides appropriations to the State Department for diplomatic programs, the Office of Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Service and the Foreign Military Financing Program

The funding is to be used for “supporting current U.S. military operations in the region; replacing defense articles that were provided to Israel; reimbursing DOD for defense services and training provided to Israel; and procuring Israel's Iron Dome, David's Sling and Iron Beam defense systems to counter short-range rocket threats,” the act reads.

“We strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism, including the right to engage in targeted military action to free hostages and eliminate Hamas,” according Amo and Magaziner’s statement.

But “humanitarian aid to Gaza is vital to the long-term security of Israelis and Palestinians,” they wrote. “Support for Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific is essential to our cause of democracy around the world. These priorities must be included in a supplemental spending bill.”

Military aid in Azerbaijan

On Feb. 9, Amo introduced the Armenian Protection Act, H.R. 7288, along with three other congressmen, according to a press release from Amo’s office. The bill received bipartisan sponsorship.

The bill restricts the U.S. government from providing financial assistance to Azerbaijan in fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

“We must send a clear message to the government of Azerbaijan and our partners around the globe that the United States will not stand for unprovoked attacks on the Armenian people,” Amo said in the press statement. 

Last year, S. 3000 — a companion bill introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) — passed unanimously in the Senate on Nov. 15. The bill is likely to pass in the House.

Both bills come after a Sept. 19 “large-scale military offensive” by the Azeri government, which caused “more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians (to flee) to Armenia in fear of further persecution,” according to a press release from Peters’s office. 


Water-related infrastructure

On Feb. 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provisioned nearly $47.5 million to upgrade R.I.'s clean drinking water infrastructure. According to the EPA press release, the funds constitute a part of the approximately $50 billion apportioned for water infrastructure improvements nationwide as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2021.

“Repairing and investing in our state’s water systems will protect our public health and support our economy,” Amo said in a press release.

“Many cities and towns have aging water infrastructure — old, broken or lead pipes carrying drinking water and wastewater treatment plants in need of major upgrades,” according to the press release. “Some communities struggle to maintain adequate stormwater infrastructure to effectively manage flood impacts from climate change and others need to upgrade their water treatment to address emerging contaminants like PFAS.”

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On Nov. 1, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management released a draft report on the presence of PFAS within the state, The Herald previously reported. The substances have been linked to a series of health concerns, such as immunosuppression and cancer. 

Terry Gray, the director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, added that “the clean water infrastructure that will be enabled by this critical funding will (also) help build Rhode Island’s resilience for projected increases in storm intensities, rainfall amounts, and rising seas from climate change,” according to Amo’s press release. 

Expanding housing program funding for homeless veterans

Amo announced Feb. 20 that the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation and the North Providence Housing Authority will receive a total of $586,431 in federal funding to help veterans find permanent housing.

According to the press release from Amo’s office, the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, which is administered under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and commonly abbreviated as HUD-VASH, “combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.”

A report from the Housing Assistance Council identified “housing affordability (as) the greatest housing problem among veterans,” adding that about “18,471 Rhode Island veterans live in homes with one or more major problems of quality, crowding or cost.”

The Amo press release added that “the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has fallen by 11% since early 2020 — the most significant decline in more than five years.” The HUD-VASH vouchers will help mitigate veteran homelessness, according to HUD.

In the statement, Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said that the office would “continue to work with our local Veterans Affairs Medical Center partners at public housing agencies across the country so we can get veterans … and their families off the streets and into affordable housing.”

In favor of legislation to prevent government shutdown

On Feb. 29, Amo voted in favor of the Extension of Continuing Appropriations and Other Matters Act, introduced to Congress as H.R. 7463, according to a press statement. The bill would prevent “a government shutdown that would otherwise occur if the FY 2024 appropriations bills have not been enacted” when the bill expires. 

If passed, the bill would provide funding until March 8 for multiple government agencies, including those in agriculture, energy, defense and transportation. The bill would also extend funding to certain other agencies until March 22.

“I voted to avert an unnecessary partial shutdown that would have had a devastating impact on our economy, transportation services, nutrition assistance programs and veterans affairs assistance,” Amo said in the statement.

The bill also establishes new minimums in the calculation of student income for federal student aid purposes. If passed, “a student's available income shall not be less than -$1,500 for award year 2024-2025 and not less than $0 for (each succeeding) award year,” according to the text of the bill.

The bill also directs additional funding to Federal Pell Grants, which provide aid to low-income undergraduate students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the maximum award for the 2023-2024 award year was $7,395.

Avani Ghosh

Avani Ghosh is a Metro Editor covering politics & justice and community & activism. She is a sophomore from Ohio studying Health & Human Biology and International & Public Affairs. She is an avid earl grey enthusiast and can be found making tea in her free time.

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