Being accessible to my constituents and fighting for their priorities in Washington is my first priority in Congress. Since taking office, I have worked hard to be as accessible as possible to the people I represent, through frequent office hours across the district, top-notch casework service and a steady schedule of local events.
In Washington, the needs and strengths of the 4th District guide my agenda. Whether it’s connecting local mayors with Consuls General from across the globe to spur business partnerships, bringing innovative companies like Etsy to the South Coast to discuss opportunities for local manufacturers, or visiting every vocational school in the district to discuss aligning our education system with local labor markets, helping facilitate economic growth across the 4th District continues to be my focus.
I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI) with Republican Congressman Tom Reed from New York, which creates a network of regional manufacturing institutes across the country to help communities like ours not just adapt to – but lead – the modern economy. After garnering widespread support on both sides of the aisle, RAMI was passed by the full House and Senate at the end of the 113th Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December of 2014. These institutes will tackle major challenges facing the manufacturing industry through public-private partnerships that include large and small businesses, community colleges and academia, and government.
Federal investments in education, transportation, workforce development, and R&D are key to our district’s continued success. In Congress, I have fought to prioritize funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Sciences Foundation (NSF), both critical drivers of the R&D at the heart of Massachusetts’ economy. As Honorary Chair of the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Council in Massachusetts, I have made STEM education and workforce training the centerpiece of my legislative efforts to date – working with my colleagues and introducing bills not just to improve our STEM programs but to expand access to these programs for women, minorities, and economically disadvantaged communities, all of which are dramatically underrepresented in STEM fields.
As our communities, universities and companies continue to grow and innovate and compete, I believe our government can be a partner, working to augment and accelerate their hard work. Transportation investments like South Coast Rail will give workers access to more job opportunities, and also will give each growing company access to a wider pool of employees, suppliers, and resources. Funding for important projects like the revitalization of Attleboro’s downtown and the development of Fall River’s waterfront will attract even more private investment in our district as new neighbors start businesses, buy homes, and raise families.
Besides fighting for local economic growth, I have worked hard to advocate for the citizens of the 4th Congressional District in Washington. When a local newspaper highlighted the alarming rate of cancer amongst former nuclear employees at an Attleboro Texas Instruments plant, I worked with the Department of Labor, Department of Energy and Texas Instruments to connect former employees with the health benefits available to them. As a result, $25 million in federal benefits have been paid out in the past 16 months alone, and the average wait time for claims processing has been reduced by 40 days.
As communities across the Metrowest and South Coast struggle to afford the back-breaking cost of compliance with new EPA regulations, I raised this issue with the EPA Administrator in Washington and the agency’s regional field offices in New England. My office continues to work with the agency as well as local stakeholders to brainstorm ways local communities can be both environmentally safe and economically secure.
When consumers across Massachusetts were slammed with skyrocketing energy bills in the face of another freezing New England winter, I led an effort, joined by Senator Markey and 14 other members from across New England, urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to fix the badly broken system by which energy rates are set across New England.
Finally, I’m proud to work in partnership with other members of the Massachusetts Delegation – as well as local leaders on the ground – to preserve critical federal funding for our cities and towns, from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Massachusetts’s 4th District boasts a long and proud tradition of leadership in manufacturing, innovation and education. Our challenge today is to carry this history forward and translate it into new economic opportunities.