NH1: Kuster says veterans bill biggest achievement; talks 2016
WASHINGTON D.C. - Looking back at her first two years in Congress, Rep. Annie Kuster lists passing a veterans reform bill as among her biggest achievements.
"It's a major reform actually using some of the issues that we had resolved in New Hampshire working on access to health care for our veterans. It entails giving access through not just the Veterans Administration and hospitals and clinics but through private organizations and reimbursement. So I'm very proud, we did a pilot project in Concord Hospital with our veterans, and I'm very proud that this has been adapted across the country," said Kuster, a first-term Democrat who represents the Granite State's 2nd Congressional District, and who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
"Obviously we've got a lot to do in the Veterans Committee on oversight, making sure that we don't have another situation like the one out in Phoenix. But I'm also very excited that at we added two new veterans' health care clinics in my district, in Colebrook and in Berlin, and I'm going to continue to work very hard for our veterans," added Kuster, in an interview in her Capitol Hill office with NH1.
Kuster lists the gridlock in the nation's capital as her biggest disappointment.
"I think this has been described as one of the worst Congress sessions every because of the gridlock. There's a lot of work that needs to be done on creating jobs and moving our economy forward. I want to work on making college more affordable for our hard working middle class families in New Hampshire and I want to continue to support our veterans and our seniors. And what I worry about is that because of the gridlock, because of the partisanship, it's very difficult to move legislation forward," Kuster said.
Kuster is part of a group called United Solutions, which she says is "a bipartisan group of freshman, now we'll be sophomore members, and we'll be inviting the new members to join us, and hope to continue to build just good will and the ability to find common ground. I'm not abandoning my principles or my values but I do think we need to come together and create relationships across the aisle and look for common ground where we can find it to move the country forward."
Less gridlock in 2015?
Kuster, who helped create the group last year, hosted a year end meeting on Thursday. She hopes that there will be more bipartisan efforts next year.
"Look, I'm an optimist. I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't. I feel very very strongly that we can find common ground," Kuster added. "I'm hoping that we will be able to find common ground on bills like infrastructure development. The business community constantly comes to me and says we need better highways, better roads, and I'm going to be working on bringing rail to Nashua, New Hampshire. These are issues that we can all agree on. They're business issues, but they're jobs. Unions want these projects to go forward. People need high paying jobs and infrastructure is a great place to start. And frankly I think it's completely bipartisan."
Kuster won re-election last month, beating GOP challenger Marilinda Garcia, a state representative, by 10 percentage points. But New Hampshire's other House member, Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, narrowly lost to her Republican challenger, former congressman Frank Guinta.
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