The Sun Community News & Printing
December 20, 2017
By: Elise Stefanik
This year, we worked together on many important initiatives to help grow the North Country economy, help our veterans and military families, strengthen our local healthcare system and improve education.
As 2017 comes to a close, it’s an important time to review the results in Congress we have achieved working on your behalf.
This year, the House of Representatives has passed more than 470 bills and resolutions, 90 percent of which are bipartisan.
Since I was sworn in, I’ve made over 660 stops across the district at small businesses, farms, schools and more speaking with the hardworking families I’m proud to represent.
I’ve continued to focus on delivering results for our farmers, small businesses, seniors and veterans.
GROWING OUR ECONOMY
In Congress, I’ve been working on important legislation to help grow our local economy.
I recently introduced two bills that will help increase access to rural broadband and provide our North Country farmers with increased broadband access to help bring their production into the 21st century.
I also helped the House pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. This bipartisan legislation updates federal career and technical education policies to help more students gain the knowledge and skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs.
Additionally, I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation to boost North Country tourism by extending the time Canadian visitors can spend each year in the United States. I’ve also worked to pass legislation to develop EPA brownfields sites that encourage local job growth.
And this summer, I helped the House pass the Financial Choice Act that would end taxpayer funded bank bailouts and provide increased access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs by eliminating onerous regulations.
For the past three years, I’ve worked tirelessly to ensure our students have the educational opportunities to achieve their limitless potential.
In my first year in Congress, I introduced a bill to expand Pell grant access so that students in our district and across the nation can access this critical financial aid resource during summer months. I was pleased to see my initiative for year round Pell signed into law this past May, meaning students and families in our district now have another important tool to achieve their higher education dreams.
SUPPORTING OUR MILITARY FAMILIES
As the proud representative of Fort Drum and the Navy Nuclear Site at Kesselring, our district is home to thousands of military families that make incredible sacrifices serving our nation.
We owe all our military families our sincerest gratitude, and one of my priorities in Congress is to address their concerns.
This year, I was proud to have a bill I authored pass the House of Representatives to eliminate a loophole that requires military spouses to establish residency every time the service member receives a new assignment—adding undue stress and anxiety to military families already under the pressure of managing their relocation.
I also introduced two bills that were signed into law this month.
The Lift the Relocation Burden from Military Spouses Act increases license portability for military spouses by providing a reimbursement for licensing fees of up to $500 for each Permanent Change of Station.
This bill was endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the National Military Spouse Network, and the National Military Family Association.
And the Military Residency Choice Act will allow military spouses the choice to establish the same state of residency as their servicemember for voting and tax purposes.
SERVING OUR VETERANS
Our district is also the proud home of more veterans than any district in New York state.
My district offices have been hard at work on behalf of our veterans, helping to recover over $2.25 million in hard earned VA benefits for our heroes. Congress passed an expansion of GI Bill education benefits that lifts the expiration on when veterans can use these benefits, giving them more flexibility to attend higher education institutions and obtain new skills later in life.
And earlier this year, I helped Congress pass the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which President Trump signed into law.
This important legislation makes it easier to terminate failing VA employees and provides stronger protections to whistleblowers who raise the alarm over waitlists or medical malpractice. No veteran deserves to be denied care, and this legislation brings needed accountability to the VA.
Additionally, I co-introduced the Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2017, which will require the VA to cover health care for services performed at non-VA facilities for veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA facility capable of providing the necessary care.
HEALTH CARE SOLUTIONS
Health care is another issue I hear frequently about when I speak with families and businesses across our district, especially ensuring our rural communities have the access they need.
This year I introduced a bipartisan bill, the Community Health Investment, Modernization and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2017, to extend the Community Health Centers Fund for five years.
Federally Qualified Community Health Centers like Hudson Headwaters, North Country Family Health, and the Community Health Center of the North Country provide over 95,000 people in the North Country with critical healthcare and preventative services, and it’s important to the needs of our community that this funding be extended.
I’m pleased we have over 200 cosponsors for this bill; the overwhelming bipartisan support for CHIME was instrumental in passing legislation in the House in November to extend the Community Health Center Fund for two years.
I am continuing to work on a funding fix in the final year end spending package.
Additionally, I’ve been a strong supporter of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and voted to pass a five-year reauthorization in the House in November.
I’ve also cosponsored legislation, the Rural Hospital Access Act, that would secure funding for our Medicare Dependent hospitals, a critical issue to ensure our North Country seniors receive the care they need.
It’s been a busy year working hard on your behalf to grow our economy, increase access to education, serve our brave veterans and much more.
I’m honored to serve you in Congress and look forward to continuing to work my hardest on your behalf.