My First Year in Congress
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! One year ago, I was sworn in as your Representative for New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District. Here’s what I have been working on since then.
We’re Here to Help: Reaching Out to Granite Staters
In order to best serve the needs of communities across the district, we opened offices in Concord and Nashua, as well as our North Country office in Bethlehem. Throughout 2013, my staff also held mobile office hours in every region of the state, from Salem to Stratford, Peterborough to Plymouth.
My district staff has worked tirelessly throughout the last year to help constituents like you by recovering overdue benefits for veterans and seniors, assisting families with visas and immigration, and resolving other issues with federal agencies. Overall, my team closed 336 individual cases and secured $656,148.25 in benefits, refunds, and settlements from federal and state agencies and financial institutions for calendar year 2013 and retroactively.
In my sustained effort to maintain an open dialogue with all of my constituents, my staff and I have responded to 39,965 constituent inquires on a huge number of different issues. I also hosted a number of telephone town halls to discuss the cost of education, Social Security and Medicare, and Syria with 17,769 people from around New Hampshire. I encourage you to continue to share your thoughts with me on any issue that impacts your life or our state.
Advocating for New Hampshire Small Businesses: Congress at your Company
In January of 2013, I kicked off my Congress at Your Company series to interact with and learn from as many business owners as possible. Over the last year, I’ve held over 30 Congress at Your Company events and had the chance to visit businesses all across New Hampshire’s beautiful 2nd District. I had the chance to visit many diverse and fascinating businesses, including Airmar Technology Corporation in Milford, Burgess Biopower in Berlin, Hypertherm, Inc. in Lebanon, Innovative Foto in Salem, Knappe & Koester in Keene, W.H. Bagshaw Co., Inc. in Nashua, and others.
Each one of these companies has a different approach to business and area of expertise to share, reaffirming the incredible creativity and determination of entrepreneurs in the Granite State. At the beginning of my term, I had the privilege of being appointed to the House Small Business Committee (read more about it here). I’m proud to advocate on behalf of New Hampshire’s small businesses. These companies create many Second District jobs and are on the cutting-edge of 21st Century technology.
Fighting for New Hampshire Families: Congress in your Community
Connecting Workers and Employers in Nashua
In November, I hosted a Career and Opportunities Fair in Nashua. The fair featured more than two dozen employers and professional groups representing the manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and recreation industries, among others. We had a fantastic turnout, with nearly 300 Granite Staters attending the fair. As your Representative in Congress, my top priority is helping to create jobs and opportunities for the hard working middle class families in New Hampshire.
Pushing For A Head Start in Keene
In September, I also met with local parents, teachers, and administrators to discuss the across-the-board federal budget cuts that have forced the closing of two Head Start classrooms in the Monadnock Region. The so-called sequester has forced Southwestern Community Services to cut Head Start classrooms in Keene and Newport. During my visit, I received input and feedback from local parents, teachers, and other advocates, including officials from Southwestern Community Services, which runs seven Head Start programs throughout the region
Bringing People Together in Congress: Legislative Update
Recognizing Patty Clark’s Half-Century of Hard Work
On June 25, 2013, the House of Representatives voted to pass the first bill that I sponsored! Introduced with Representative Carol Shea-Porter, this legislation would designate the air route traffic control center in Nashua as the “Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center” in honor of Patty Clark, a fifty-year veteran employee of the center. Matching legislation introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Kelly Ayotte passed the Senate in March, and President Obama signed the bill into law on August 9, 2013.
Patty Clark is an exemplary federal employee whose commitment to serving her community is an inspiration to all Granite Staters. I am honored to have joined our entire congressional delegation in celebrating Patty’s 50 years of dedicated service. (Learn more about the bill here)
Protecting Military Sexual Assault Whistleblowers
In December, I was pleased to see the National Defense Authorization Act pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives. I’m proud that both chambers finally came together to pass this important legislation, which will help ensure that the courageous men and women of our Armed Forces have the resources they need to do their jobs and keep our country safe.
I am especially happy that this bill includes important reforms to help combat military sexual assault by better protecting whistleblowers and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. One such reform is an amendment based on legislation that I championed with my Republican colleague, Representative Jackie Walorski, and my Democratic colleague, Representative Loretta Sanchez, that passed the House unanimously with 110 bipartisan cosponsors. Because of our joint efforts working across the aisle, this is a great first step in protecting our men and women in uniform who take the extra heroic step of coming forward to blow the whistle on military sexual crimes. (Please watch the video here).
Advocating for Courageous Veterans
In October, the House of Representatives passed the Veterans Claims Efficiency Through Automation Act, another bipartisan bill I introduced to help eliminate the backlog of disability compensation claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). My legislation pushes the VA to make greater use of automation in the processing of veterans claims to help boost efficiency and free up resources to provide more timely services for veterans in New Hampshire and across the country. The bill passed as part of a comprehensive legislative package designed to help get veterans’ claims settled faster and more efficiently.
I am grateful that my legislation to help eliminate the VA claims backlog passed the House with strong, bipartisan support. It is simply unacceptable that so many of our heroic veterans are unable to get timely access to the care and services that they’ve earned. I will keep fighting to end the backlog until we finish the job.
Bringing Both Parties Together
In February, I joined with a group of Democratic and Republican colleagues to create the United Solutions Caucus. We’re a bipartisan coalition of new Members of Congress who share a commitment to working together to address our nation’s fiscal challenges. I am proud to be a founding member of this group and look forward to continuing our work to reduce the deficit, grow the economy, and help create jobs – while protecting seniors and middle class families.
Onward to 2014!
As we embark upon a new year, I am committed to working on behalf of the hardworking families and small businesses throughout New Hampshire. I will continue to work with people on both sides of the aisle to help create jobs, drive economic opportunity, and strengthen the middle class.
Please stay tuned for our weekly updates, and be sure to check out our Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Official webpage!
I look forward to continuing to hear from you, serving you, and working with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your concerns or questions, or if I or my office can help you in any way.
It is an honor to bring your voice to Washington. Thanks for everything you do to make New Hampshire such a wonderful place to live.