- George Papayannis Joins NYC’s Cathedral School and Makes It the School to Watch
- Sister Nektaria of Calcutta: The “Mother Teresa” of Orthodoxy
- Philip Christopher on the upcoming Hellenic Issues Conference and the East Mediterranean Partnership
- Economic Outlook, April 2019
- AHI Hosts Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Gala
GRACE MENG (D-NY-06)
GRACE MENG (D-NY-06)
District: New York’s 6th which includes parts of Flushing, Forest Hill, Middle Village, Kew Gardens, Bayside, Murray Hill etc.
Committee/Leadership Assignments: House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, House Small Business Committee, Ranking Member of Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce.
Contact: 202-225-2601, 718-445-7860, 718-445-7861
Regarding the state of the US economy, what are the prospects for recovery, and how soon?
The economy is improving slowly but steadily. The private sector has proven resilient, as American companies are again outpacing their European and emerging market competitors. The government’s aggressive response to the financial crisis laid the foundation of the economic recovery.
What are some of the particular challenges that you are facing in your district?
There are several transportation issues that have burdened the lives of my constituents. For example, the FAA implemented new flight patterns without conducting an environmental review or reaching out to the community. We are thus working to ensure this doesn’t happen again by pushing for a better noise monitoring system – LGA has 4 noise monitors while San Francisco’s airport has 39 – and building a forum with the Port Authority for the community to come together. We also have constituents who are forced to deal with train activity at all hours of the night and pollutants from old diesel engines and odorous containers. I’m working with New York State and the train companies to find solutions to these problems.
As a member of the Small Business Committee, I’m concerned about the availability of capital for startup companies and businesses looking to expand. We are working to bring resources to the district through the Small Business Administration and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business program. There are a lot of resources out there, especially in New York, but the challenge for me is ensuring businesses are aware of the opportunities.
I am also authoring legislation to address an issue that has plagued many of the seniors in our district: spoofing. Spoofing is the scrambling of caller identification numbers, and is a tool often used to perpetuate fraud on unwitting recipients of phone calls. I am fighting for strong new laws that will reign in this dangerous activity.
What would you say is the state of our democracy in these challenging and unusually polarized times?
The polarization in Congress has made it hard to pass crucial pieces of legislation, such as those that would fund the government or would raise the debt ceiling, so we can responsibly pay the debts we have already incurred. The polarization in Congress reflects the polarization in our society, which is something Congressional leaders and the media must develop the courage to address.
In various polls conducted throughout the U.S. Congress hasn’t fared well with the American people. Why is that, in your opinion, and how do you address this issue as Congressman?
Members of Congress and the American people must seek compromise and understanding. Since joining Congress, I have joined a new caucus of freshmen, the United Solutions Caucus, where we are working constantly to find practical, bipartisan solutions to our country’s problems. I will continue working across the aisle whenever and wherever possible.
Would you encourage more active voter participation in your decision making as Congressman, using the advances of technology, like the Internet and other forms of communication?
I value and respect the views of my constituents a great deal, and I communicate regularly with them on Facebook and Twitter and over email. The challenge with new technologies is to embrace how they empower individuals while remembering that the vocal few do not always represent the views of the many.
How did you become interested in the Greek-American community, and who introduced you to them?
Having grown up in Queens, NY, I am fortunate to have many longtime friends and neighbors in the Greek-American community. As someone who represents a newer immigrant community, I have always admired the great success and contributions of the Greek-American community in New York and in our country.
What are your thoughts on the Cyprus issue and what are some of the things you’ve done to support settlement efforts?
As a Member of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I have diligently promoted negotiation and reunification efforts regarding Cyprus. But any solution must protect the sovereignty of the Greek Cypriots, and it must safeguard their human rights and their ability to develop and transport energy resources in territory that belongs to them. To this end, I have cosponsored two important resolutions, H. Res. 308 and H. Res. 187, regarding the reunification of Cyprus.
Do you consider Turkish provocations in the Aegean a threat to regional stability and international peace? Also, what actions have you taken or do you plan to take to encourage the US to take a stronger stance against this kind of irresponsible behavior?
I am deeply concerned about Turkish belligerence in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, and I do feel that it threatens regional stability and international peace. Members of Congress must therefore remain vigilant in support of Greece and resistant to Turkish provocations.
Are you aware of the state persecution against the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey and what have you done to address this issue in Congress?
My activism in opposition to the growing threats to religious freedom in Turkey predates my time in Congress. As a Member of the New York State Assembly in 2011, I coauthored a letter urging greater freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey. And in Congress, as a Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, I have cosponsored H.Res. 136, which urges Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Since the Bush Administration recognized FYROM as “Macedonia”, the country has become more intransigent when it comes to territorial and cultural irredentism against Greece who is a major financial supporter in the region. What kind of action on the part of the US would you promote in order for a mutually acceptable solution to be facilitated?
The US must be actively engaged in finding a resolution to this dispute. As we have seen in the past, irredentism and fervent nationalism can have very dangerous consequences in the region.
[sws_blue_box box_size=”610″]Neo Magazine and the public policy/lobbying firm of Manatos & Manatos in Washington, DC have come together to present a monthly profile of “Hellenic and Orthodox Champions in the US Congress.”[/sws_blue_box]