What we accomplished in 2019
Happy 2020! As the new year gets underway, I take time to reflect on everything that’s happened in the previous year and what we’ve accomplished - and what a year 2019 was!
Honored to Represent You
At the start of 2019, I had the honor of taking the oath of office to continue representing the people of New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District. I’m deeply humbled by the trust you have placed in me. It was an honor to be sworn in alongside the most diverse Congress in history with a historic number of women.
Joining the Powerful Energy and Commerce Committee
I was thrilled to be appointed to the Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C Committee) for the 116th Congress.The E&C Committee has wide jurisdiction over critical issues including health care, energy, climate change, the environment, broadband and internet policy, as well as interstate and foreign commerce. Granite Staters have told me about the importance of these issues to their everyday lives, and it’s truly an honor to advocate for these New Hampshire priorities.
Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs
|Discussing H.R. 3 earlier this month. Read more here.|
Last month, I was thrilled the House passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would help bring down the cost of prescription drugs and level the playing field for American patients by giving Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies. No one should have to choose between the prescriptions they need and other essentials like food or rent, and this bill will give Americans peace of mind in being able to afford their medications. In addition, I helped secure $10 billion in authorized funding in H.R. 3 to fight the opioid epidemic over the next five years.
I joined Granite State Progress earlier this month to discuss H.R. 3 as part of my health care listening tour, where I meet with patients and physicians from across New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District to identify policies that will expand access to quality, affordable health care. I look forward to my continued work with Granite State communities to fight this crisis together.
Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions
|Speaking about the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act. Watch here.|
In May, the House passed my bill the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act. This legislation would safeguard people living with preexisting conditions from efforts by the Trump Administration to promote junk health plans that don’t cover basic medical services. We cannot go back to a time when Americans with preexisting conditions can be charged more or denied care. My legislation serves as much-needed pushback against the Trump Administration’s repeated and ongoing sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and our health care system, and I urge the Senate to bring this bill to a vote. I will continue working to lower costs, expand access to care, and make sure that our health care system works better for all Americans.
Finding New Ways to Combat the Opioid Crisis
As the founder of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, I was proud to host several roundtable discussions in 2019 with my Republican Co-Chair, Brian Fitzpatrick, and my task force colleagues, to identify solutions to help curb the ongoing opioid crisis and support those who are struggling with addiction.
In November, the Task Force held a roundtable on the intersection of the opioid crisis and the criminal justice system. It is clear that serious reforms are needed to break the cycle of addiction and incarceration and that means expanding access to treatment and recovery services behind bars.
|With Representative Brian Fitzpatrick at the roundtable. Watch here.|
The Task Force hosted a bipartisan roundtable in July to talk about the threat posed by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and the efforts being taken to counter that threat. The proliferation of synthetic opioids across the United States has turned our nation’s heroin and opioid crisis into one of the worst public health emergencies in recent memory. It is critical that Congress understands the significance and potency of these drugs, which are less expensive and easier to sell than non-synthetic opioids. I’ll continue working to ensure our communities have the information and resources they need to combat the opioid epidemic.
|At the fentanyl roundtable in July. Watch here.|
In September, I joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Congressman Chris Pappas at the Boys and Girls Club of Souhegan Valley for a discussion on youth substance use. We heard from Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll, local students, school administrators, community leaders and youth advocates about the importance of the Club’s Drug Free Communities support program, which provides funding to prevent youth substance use. I appreciated the opportunity to hear directly from those who are leading this critical program, which we must protect. I look forward to continuing these conversations as we work to curb the opioid epidemic.
|With Rep. Pappas & Senators Shaheen & Hassan at the Boys and Girls Club|
Supporting Our Veterans
As a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee for my first six years in office and as the daughter and daughter-in-law of World War II veterans, I am proud to advocate for the courageous veterans, service members, and military families who have sacrificed so much for our country.
That’s why my office is participating in the Vietnam Veterans 50th Anniversary Pin Program. In November, I joined Vietnam War veterans and Veteran Service Officers to give remarks at a reception honoring and thanking veterans for their service and acknowledging recipients of these pins. Far too many Vietnam veterans didn’t receive the welcome home they deserved, and this pin program is an important way to remind our veterans that we have not forgotten them and are forever grateful for their service and unshakable devotion to our country and the American people.
|At the Vietnam Veterans Pin Recognition Event. Read more here.|
In October, I was deeply honored to present a Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medal to the family of Private First Class Lawrence Minnehan in my office. Lawrence was captured in battle in January 1945 and became a prisoner of war before escaping and reconnecting with allied troops. His story is truly incredible, and we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to him and all the men and women who serve our nation.
|With Lawrence Minnehan’s family and friends|
I voted in favor of H.R. 3224, the Deborah Sampson Act, in November. This legislation, which passed the House, would increase access to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care for women veterans and require the VA secretary to ensure that gender specific services are continuously available at every VA medical center and community based outpatient clinic. Women veterans deserve the same access to quality health care that male veterans deserve, and I urge the Senate to pass this common sense measure.
Ending the Cycle of Addiction, Incarceration, and Recidivism
Senator Cory Booker and I came together in August to reintroduce the Humane Correctional Health Care Act, which would repeal the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion (MIE). MIE strips health coverage from Medicaid enrollees who are involved in the criminal justice system, continuing a vicious cycle of addiction, incarceration and recidivism that devastates families and communities and drains state and local budgets while harming public health. This legislation would help break the cycle by investing in adequate treatment and give individuals who are incarcerated the opportunity to heal, recover, and make valuable contributions to our communities after leaving the system. I urge leadership in both the Senate and the House to consider this common sense measure. You can read the op-ed Senator Booker and I wrote for the Washington Post on our legislation here.
Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
In June, I introduced the Community Re-Entry through Addiction Treatment to Enhance (CREATE) Opportunities Act with Representatives Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Mike Turner and Jackie Walorski. This bipartisan legislation would help expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for incarcerated individuals. Too many incarcerated Americans in our jails suffer from untreated mental health and substance use disorder, and most lack access to the treatment they need. MAT has an important role to play in helping incarcerated individuals suffering from substance use disorder recover and reclaim their lives to become productive, contributing members of our society. The bipartisan CREATE Opportunities Act is common sense legislation to end the cycle between addiction and the criminal justice system.
|With Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester. Watch us discuss the bill here.|
Securing Resources to Fight the Opioid Crisis
I was proud to secure the inclusion of $5 billion in funding toward the opioid epidemic in the FY20 Federal Spending Bill signed into law in December. This funding includes investments to implement the SUPPORT Act, which I was proud to cosponsor, as well as $1.5 billion in flexible funding for the State Opioid Response grants. I will continue to work with my colleagues to advocate on behalf of New Hampshire and deliver real results for our state and nation.
Keeping Families Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
In September, the House unanimously passed the Zachary and Nicholas Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, which I introduced with Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA). This bipartisan legislation would create a new grant program to install carbon monoxide alarms in the homes of elderly and low-income individuals, as well as schools and other public facilities. As a mother, I know there is nothing more important than keeping our children and loved ones safe. This legislation will help save lives by combatting deadly yet entirely preventable carbon monoxide poisoning. The Senate should bring this bipartisan bill to a vote and protect our most vulnerable citizens.
|Speaking about the legislation. Watch here.|
Addressing the Humanitarian Crisis at Our Southern Border
I joined Representatives Jackie Speier, Vicente Gonzalez, Filemon Vela and 17 other Members of Congress at the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen and Brownsville Texas in July. I was pleased to see an improvement in the treatment of children and their parents compared to my visit in 2018 when families were being separated at the border; however, these conditions remain far from perfect. That’s why I voted last year in favor of legislation that provides emergency funding to address this humanitarian crisis at our border. The bill, which passed the House, provides $4.5 billion to bring food, sanitary items, medical services, and other essentials to immigrants, and would help relieve overcrowding. You can view the photos I took during my trip to the border here.
|Speaking about my visit to the border on WMUR. Watch here.|
Working to End Sexual Violence
In October, I joined my co-chairs on the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence -- Representatives Jackie Speier, David Joyce and John Katko -- to host a roundtable discussion on missing and murdered native women and sexual violence on tribal lands. The high murder and violence rates experienced by Native women is a national tragedy, and we must work to find solutions to reverse these heartbreaking trends. In April, the House passed a bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which I cosponsored. In 2020, it is imperative the Senate do the same to help prevent this violence from occurring and provide the support survivors need to heal.
|With my colleagues at the roundtable. Read more here.|
My co-chairs and I held a roundtable in July to discuss what the military is doing to combat the persistent problem of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and what Congress can do to help. Our servicemembers and veterans sacrifice so much to serve our country and they should never have to experience or endure sexual violence and harassment. The Task Force remains committed to working on bipartisan solutions to protect survivors, make it easier to report abuse, and prevent the occurrence of MST in the first place.
|With my colleagues at the MST Roundtable. Read more here.|
Delivering For the People
In the first year of our majority, House Democrats have made significant legislative progress by passing important bills to improve the lives of the American people. The legislation the House of Representatives passed includes:
-The Paycheck Fairness Act, which I was proud to co-sponsor. This legislation would require employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons, ban retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages, and improve enforcement of pay discrimination.
-H.R. 1, the For the People Act. In my role on the Democracy Reform Task Force, I helped develop this legislation, which will aid in getting dark money out of politics, increase accountability for elected officials, and protect access to the ballot for all Americans.
-H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act, which I introduced in February. This legislation would safeguard individuals with preexisting conditions from efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine their access to care.
-H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act of 2019, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publish a maximum contaminant level goal for PFAS and establish national drinking water safeguards for PFAS chemicals. This legislation includes the Protecting Communities from New PFAS Act, which I introduced in May. This bill would prevent new PFAS chemicals from being approved through the EPA’s premanufacture notice system.
-H.R. 4617, The Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act. This legislation would protect our elections from foreign interference and disinformation campaigns.
-H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act of 2019, which I was proud to co-sponsor. This legislation would restore net neutrality protections for internet users that were repealed by the Trump Administration in 2018. The bill would also enact authorities to support broadband access and adoption for rural communities and struggling Americans.
-H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. This legislation would require a federal background check for all gun sales, while allowing an exception for family members to gift or loan a firearm for hunting, target shooting or self-defense.
-H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act of 2019, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025, giving up to 33 million Americans a raise and lifting more than 1.3 million workers out of poverty.
Raise the Roof
I was certainly surprised to find myself featured as Annie “Raise the Roof” Kuster on Saturday Night Live (SNL) in February. Wearing white to honor the Suffragettes at last year’s State of the Union was a powerful visual message, but I didn’t imagine that my excitement would end up on SNL! You can watch a news clip about the segment here.
Here for You
My biggest responsibility is to serve you, the people of New Hampshire’s second congressional district. In 2020, I encourage you to continue making your voice heard. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my Concord office at 603-226-1002 or my Washington, DC office at 202-225-5206.
Thank you for everything you do to make our state such an amazing place to live, work, and raise a family. I hope you have a great 2020!