MEMO: Bustos Fighting for the Right Priorities During First Year in Office

During her first year in office, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos has fought hard for the priorities that matter most to the people of Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.  She’s made the economy of her region her top priority, led efforts to create more American manufacturing jobs, took action to protect Social Security and Medicare and has been an advocate for veterans.  She’s also made a concrete effort to work with both Democrats and Republicans on common sense solutions to our nation’s debt and deficit issues that put working families first.

As we head into the New Year, we wanted to highlight some of the ways Congresswoman Bustos has been a strong advocate for the people of her region:

Bustos Fighting for Illinois Jobs and Economy

During her first year in office, Congresswoman Bustos has made fighting for American jobs and manufacturing a top priority. 

As part of the House Democrats’ “Make it in America” initiative, in April, Bustos introduced the American Jobs Matter Act, a common sense bill that would increase American manufacturing and boost job creation at home by allowing the government to consider the creation of American jobs when accepting bids for taxpayer-funded federal contracts. 

In April, Bustos toured the seven community colleges that serve the region to meet with students, faculty, administrators, and businesspeople.  Following the tour, she introduced the Access to Education and Training Act which would allow students, many of whom are non-traditional, who receive Pell grants to take advantage of them year-round so they can complete their courses faster and get back into the workforce. 

Bustos has also launched “Partnering for Illinois’ Economic Future,” to help increase collaboration to create jobs and bolster the region’s economy.  As part of this on-going initiative, Bustos partnered with the University of Illinois to hold three regional economic meetings in August and a district-wide economic summit in November; she’s also solicited the public through a variety of ways to get input on how to best improve the region’s economic future.   

Due to the important role agriculture plays in her region’s economy, Bustos, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, has fought hard for a bipartisan five-year Farm Bill.  As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, she joined with Senators Durbin and Kirk and Republican Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) to introduce Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act (WIN P3 Act), which could help upgrade the aging locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers while also saving taxpayers money.  She has also fought to help ensure the job-creating Thomson Prison has the resources it needs to open.  

Additionally, Bustos has introduced or supported efforts to strengthen the “Buy America” requirements for transportation and infrastructure projects, eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, crack down on unfair currency manipulation from countries like China, fight against sequestration and furloughs and ensure that American flags are made right here in America.

Bustos also holds regular “Cheri on Shifts” where she meets with and shadows workers at their job site.  

Protecting Medicare and Social Security

Congresswoman Bustos has been a champion for Illinois seniors and has fought to protect Social Security benefits and the Medicare guarantee.

In March, Bustos held a telephone town hall with Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-08), the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, to discuss her opposition to the Republican Budget that would end Medicare as we know it by turning the program over to private insurance companies.  She was also honored by the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans for her strong support for both Medicare and Social Security and her opposition to switching to a so-called “chained CPI” system in calculating Social Security benefits.  

This fall, Bustos partnered with Max Richtman, the President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, on a telephone town hall and authored an op-ed to discuss her work to protect seniors.  She also joined with Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) to ensure that Medicare open enrollment was not affected by the reckless and irresponsible government shutdown in October. 

Most recently, Congresswoman Bustos called on the Budget Conference Committee to protect Social Security and Medicare in a budget deal.

Standing up for our Veterans

Since being sworn in, Congresswoman Bustos has made our nation’s veterans a top priority, has crisscrossed the region on veterans’ listening tours to hear their concerns and has relentlessly fought to protect the benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

Earlier this year, she joined with Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) to introduce the bipartisan Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act that would help put veterans back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels and rail lines.  And, with input from her “Standing up for our Veterans” tour, Bustos spearheaded a new effort to create jobs for our nation’s veterans by introducing the Jobs for Heroes Act.  This bill would not only extend, but also expand two expiring federal business tax credits designed to spur veteran employment. 

Bustos has also worked to cut down on the growing VA claims backlog, protect veterans education and job training programs, put an end to veterans’ homelessness and military sexual assault and led a group of 37 members of the House of Representative in calling for veterans to be protected during the government shutdown.

She also participates in the Library of Congress’ “Veterans History Project” that seeks to collect, preserve and make accessible personal accounts of veterans and frequently greets veteran Honor Flights both in Illinois and Washington, D.C.  

Working with Democrats and Republicans on Common Sense Efforts to Reduce the Deficit

Bustos has advocated strongly for bipartisan, common sense approaches to cutting unnecessary government spending and reducing the deficit in a balanced way that does not harm working families.

The first bill Bustos introduced as a Member of Congress was the Government Waste Reduction Act, which is a common sense bill that attacks billions of dollars in government waste and helps ensure government programs are more economical, efficient, and effective.  Building on that effort, she partnered with Illinois’ Republican Senator Mark Kirk in July to put forth the Government Transformation Act that would cut duplicative services and root out waste in government. This bill was incorporated into No Labels’ “Make Government Work” legislative package.

In November, Bustos led a common sense effort with Republican Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19) to stop paying tax dollars to deceased people.  Supported by more than 60 members of the House of Representatives, the Improper Payments Agency Cooperation Enhancement (IPACE) Act curbs improper payments to the deceased and could potentially save the government from wasting billions in taxpayer money.

Congresswoman Bustos is also recognized as a No Labels’ “Congressional Problem Solver” due to her dedication to working across the aisle to find reasonable solutions to our nation’s problems.  No Labels is a group of House and Senate Democrats and Republicans who meet on a regular basis to build trust across the aisle and to develop solutions for the American people.