Washington – Throughout 2019, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos continued to fight for Illinoisans, securing a number of significant victories. From helping Gold Star families and injured veterans, to increasing rural access to healthcare, to working to lower prescription drug costs, Congresswoman Bustos worked across the aisle to deliver commonsense solutions for Illinois families.
Highlights of this year’s accomplishments include the All-American Flag Act, introduced by Congresswoman Bustos, which would require that the government purchase flags that are American-made and manufactured, and was one of the first bills to pass the House in 2019. The Congresswoman secured significant local wins through her role on the powerful Appropriations Committee and worked to pass a strong United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) for labor, agricultural and manufacturing stakeholders.
GIVING THE DISTRICT A SEAT ON THE POWERFUL HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
In 2019, in addition to continuing to serve in Democratic House Leadership as Chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Congresswoman Bustos was appointed to serve on the powerful Appropriations Committee, giving the Heartland a seat at the decision-making table and a voice in critical federal funding investment.
In her role on the Appropriations Committee this year, Congresswoman Bustos delivered a number of local wins for Illinois as part of major funding packages to fully fund the federal government. The Congresswoman secured provisions that would address teacher recruitment and retention, extend the biodiesel tax credit until 2022, support federal workers in Thomson and Pekin and deliver state-of-the-art equipment for the 182nd Air National Guard in Peoria and more.
INCREASING ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LOWERING THE COSTS OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Beginning with helping to pass legislation to protect Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions, Congresswoman Bustos has worked tirelessly to increase access to healthcare for Illinoisans. In 2019, the Congresswoman secured millions in federal funding for rural health centers, such as in Henderson County and in Knox County. As part of a year-end spending bill, Congresswoman Bustos worked to include a permanent repeal of the “Cadillac Tax,” which would have placed a 40 percent excise tax on high cost health plans, that was included in the Affordable Care Act.
After convening roundtable discussions in Peoria and Rockford to engage community leaders, and bringing constituent stories to the Floor of the House, Congresswoman Bustos helped pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would rein in skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs and expand Medicare coverage.
FIGHTING FOR A STRONG TRADE DEAL FOR ALL
Illinois’ farmers and workers deserve the strongest trade deal possible – that is why, during USMCA negotiations, Congresswoman Bustos worked to create a path forward that would provide a seat at the table for labor and agricultural stakeholders, including convening a meeting between the Speaker of the House, the Illinois Farm Bureau and Farmers for Free Trade. The USMCA, passed this year, delivers real progress for labor, farmers and manufacturers.
DELIVERING FOR OUR RURAL AREAS
In August, Congresswoman Bustos introduced the Rural Green Partnership – a framework of principles and policies to combat climate change, spur economic growth and lift farmers’ voices in the conversation on climate – to the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The Rural Green Partnership details a set of policies that work with federal, local and state governments, producers, businesses, unions, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to lower greenhouse gas emissions in every economic sector of rural America.
SUPPORTING OUR VETERANS AND HONORING OUR HEROES
This year, Congresswoman Bustos was honored to hold two different ceremonies to rename our post offices after local heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation: the Alpha Post Office after Captain Joshua E. Steele and the Pekin Post Office after Lance Cpl. Jordan Bastean, and introduced a bill to rename the Galesburg Post Office after Senior Airman Daniel Miller. In addition, Congresswoman Bustos spearheaded support for Gold Star families and spouses of catastrophically injured servicemembers through her bipartisan, bicameral Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Leasing Relief Expansion Act, which was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
In a major military spending bill, the Congresswoman worked to include provisions that address significant barriers for veterans, such as transportation in rural areas, increased outreach to rural veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a lack of rural VA health providers and increased the use of telehealth and broadband access. As part of a year-end funding package, Congresswoman Bustos secured a $300 million investment in rural health initiatives at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
ENSURING THE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL’S SUCCESS FOR THE FUTURE
Congresswoman Bustos worked across the aisle to prioritize support for the Rock Island Arsenal’s success, including advocating for the Arsenal during key Appropriations Committee hearings and securing over $50 million in funding for much needed building repairs on the Island. As part of a major year-end funding package, Congresswoman Bustos included millions for the Rock Island Arsenal’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC), the conversion of Humvees into service trucks, and future projects. In addition to increased federal investment in the Arsenal, the Congresswoman joined her colleagues in the Senate to announce 50 new jobs at the site earlier this year.
SUPPORTING THE CHICAGO ROCKFORD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
With a long track record of supporting the Chicago Rockford International Airport, Congresswoman Bustos founded the Air Cargo Caucus this year to allow members of Congress and industry leaders the opportunity to collaborate, share ideas and foster relationships. In May, Congresswoman Bustos announced $9 million in federal funding for the airport, and later announced additional grant funding to rehabilitate the airport’s taxis and runways. Congresswoman Bustos also helped to secure $10 million for aviation workforce development grants for the aircraft pilot workforce and aviation maintenance workforce, in order to address the skills gap in the industry.
SUPPORTING THE QUAD CITIES RAIL ROUTE
Congresswoman Bustos believes in investing in public transportation infrastructure – that’s why earlier this year, she was proud to announce an extension for $177 million in Federal Railroad Administration funding for the Amtrak route between Chicago and Moline, through December 31, 2024. Support for this critical rail funding passed the House as part of a major funding package in December.
SAVING THE PEORIA AG LAB AND PEORIA AIR NATIONAL GUARD PROJECT
Congresswoman Bustos has spent this year tirelessly working to ensure the Peoria Ag Lab and Air National Guard Project’s successes. This year, the Congresswoman advocated for the Ag Lab to the Secretary of Agriculture and ensured that the President’s budget included funding for the program after it was proposed to be eliminated. A year-end legislative package included a requirement that the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service fill its vacant staff positions with permanent scientists, in order to help the Peoria Ag Lab fully staff up.
Congresswoman Bustos also worked to protect and secure funding for the Peoria Air National Guard Project through support for vital programs. In May, Congresswoman Bustos announced the award of a $7.8 million contract for the construction of a new Fire Crash Rescue Station at the Peoria Air National Guard, safeguarding funding for the project. In a year-end package, Congresswoman Bustos worked to include a $79 million for engine enhancement packages for C-130H aircraft, like those in operation at the 182nd Air National Guard squadron.
CLEANING UP CORRUPTION AND STRENGTHENING OUR DEMOCRACY
Earlier this year, Congresswoman Bustos helped introduce and pass H.R. 1 the For the People Act, which would take transformative steps to clean up corruption in Washington and make Congress more accountable to the people – strengthening ethics laws, ending the dominance of big money in our elections and making it easier for Americans to vote.
Additionally, she helped pass pieces of legislation to build on the For the People Act, protect the sanctity of our election process, strengthen our voting infrastructure and combat foreign interference in our elections. These bills include the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for A Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act and the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act of 2019.
BY THE NUMBERS
201 – Events in the district hosted or attended by Congresswoman Bustos, including 38 supermarket visits, 35 business and organization tours, 21 Cheri on Shifts, 19 roundtable discussions and 16 rural library visits, in addition to book donations. Congresswoman Bustos is proud to maintain strong outreach in Peoria, Rockford, and the Quad Cities.
605 – Constituent cases resolved this year. Congresswoman Bustos is fighting to make sure the government works for the people and is dedicated to helping Illinoisans cut through red tape at the VA, IRS and other federal agencies.
$319,593.90 – Money recovered from the Social Security Administration, the IRS and the VA, and returned to constituents in the district. Constituents having problems with any of these agencies are encouraged to reach out to one of our offices in Peoria, Rock Island or Rockford.
Nearly 10,000 – Miles that Congresswoman Bustos traveled throughout the district this year.