YEAR IN REVIEW MEMO: Bustos Continues Fighting for the Right Priorities during Second Year in Office

SUBJ: Bustos Continues Fighting for the Right Priorities during Second Year in Office
DATE: December 19th, 2014

During her second year in office, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos fought hard for the issues that matter most to the people of Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. Building on her work from 2013, she continued to make the economy of our region her top priority and focused on bolstering American manufacturing to create local jobs. Bustos also stood strong to protect Social Security and Medicare, was a forceful advocate for our veterans, and worked with both Democrats and Republicans to find common sense solutions to our nation’s debt and deficit that prioritize the middle class.

As we head into the New Year, and a new session of Congress, here are some highlights of Bustos’ efforts as a champion for the people of her region:

Bustos Fighting for Illinois Jobs, Manufacturing and Economy

Bustos has continued her efforts to create good-paying American jobs that can’t be outsourced. 

In February, we celebrated the creation of a first-of-its-kind national Digital Manufacturing Lab in Illinois. After personally urging the President during a trip to Galesburg last year, Bustos helped lead the effort to bring this Manufacturing Lab to Illinois, including authoring a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Since then, Bustos has held information sessions around the region to discuss ways for local communities and businesses to get involved in and benefit from this job-creating facility that will help bring American manufacturing to the next level.

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Bustos fought hard to pass the first bipartisan long-term Farm Bill in years and welcomed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to a farm in Milan to discuss implementation and announce award of the ‘Conservation Innovation Grants’ it made possible. She also continued to fight for Illinois biofuels, and in January, led a bipartisan group of 30 Members of Congress in sending a letter to the EPA to express concern with their proposal to lower the amount of biofuels in our fuel blend. Bustos also met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and senior White House officials to personally share her concerns and protested the EPA proposal that could harm the region’s economy on the floor of the House of Representatives.

As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bustos joined with Senators Durbin and Kirk and Republican Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) to introduce the Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act (WIN P3 Act). Key provisions of their bill were signed into law by President Obama in June as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) and has the potential to spur upgrades to aging locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers while also saving taxpayer money. In April, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited the Quad Cities at the invitation of Bustos to discuss regional transportation priorities, including replacing the I-74 bridge.

Bustos fought hard to help ensure the job-creating Thomson prison remains on track to open, including leading the charge in June to thwart an attempt by a Congresswoman from Tennessee to deny critical funding for the project. In recognition of her leadership, the Village of Thomson unanimously passed a Resolution of Appreciation in support of Bustos. In August, she also helped announce the hiring of the prison’s warden and spoke with local business owners about growing their companies by contracting with the prison.  

Bustos continues to be a strong advocate for the Rock Island Arsenal and was honored to bring U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh to the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center in October. In June, she helped announce that the U.S. Army allocated $110 million in funding for the Arsenal to help ensure that the Arsenal remains competitive as it bids on additional workload through its partnerships with the private sector. She also fought to maintain a minimum workload that allows the Arsenal to maintain critical capabilities.

This year, Bustos continued to build on “Partnering for Illinois’ Economic Future,” her annual initiative to help increase collaboration to create jobs and bolster the region’s economy. Once again, she partnered with the University of Illinois to hold a district-wide economic summit  with this year’s focused on manufacturing, in September. Bustos also spent a week in advance of the summit traveling her region to discuss the “Make it in America” agenda, an effort she helps lead with Congressman Steny Hoyer, the House Minority Whip, who joined her to see first-hand how Illinois workers are the best in the world.

Bustos also continued her regular “Cheri on Shifts” across the region where she meets with and shadows workers at their job sites and hosted career fairs in Peoria and the Quad Cities to help connect local job seekers with job opportunities.

Protecting Medicare and Social Security

Bustos is a champion for Illinois seniors and fought time after time to protect Social Security benefits and the Medicare guarantee.

This fall, she toured her region to discuss with seniors the importance of preserving and protecting Medicare and Social Security and her opposition to the Ryan Budget, which would end the Medicare guarantee and force seniors to pay more out of pocket for their health care. And, her office continued to provide resources for Illinois seniors during the Medicare open enrollment period.

In July, Bustos led a successful effort to maintain benefit verification statement services at local Social Security Field Offices, and earlier this year she led a group of 117 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in successfully urging President Obama to rule out cuts to Social Security and veterans’ benefits in his upcoming budget proposal.

Standing up for our Veterans

Since day one, Bustos has made our nation’s veterans a top priority.

Just this week, her effort to name the Galesburg Community Based Outpatient Clinic after the late Congressman Lane Evans was signed into law.                                                                                        

Deeply troubled by the reported misconduct at VA health centers across the country, Bustos was pleased that U.S. Attorney General Holder heeded her call to open a criminal investigation of the agency. She made it a priority to get detailed personal briefings from each of the three VA hospital administrators that serve Illinois’ 17th District and made in person visits to all six VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics that serve her region, where she reviewed the scheduling procedures and heard first-hand from patients about their care.

She also supported the bipartisan Veteran Access to Care Act, which will expand veterans’ ability to seek care at non-VA facilities under certain conditions and strengthens Congress’ oversight of the VA after leading a group of 116 lawmakers calling on Congress to stay in session until this bill was passed.

Bustos participated in a bipartisan women’s Congressional delegation (CODEL) over Mother’s Day Weekend to Afghanistan. During the CODEL, she met with Illinois National Guard members and active-duty service members in addition to U.S. and Afghan military and diplomatic leaders. She also delivered Mother’s Day cards to the service members made by students at Andalusia Elementary School in Andalusia. 

She also authored the Taylor Morris Act with Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) to ensure that veterans who suffer multiple severe injuries while serving the United States in the line of duty are treated fairly upon their return home. This bill, named for a heroic quadruple amputee from the region who was injured in Afghanistan, would help ensure appropriate compensation to returning service members for the injuries they sustained.  

Additionally, every career fair Bustos hosted has granted veterans early admission and her office also organized a special veterans’ benefits workshop to help connect local veterans with the important resources in their communities.

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

Bustos continued her strong advocacy for bipartisan, common sense ways to cut unnecessary government spending, and reduce the deficit in a balanced way that prioritizes the middle class.

In September, the U.S. Senate passed the Improper Payments Agency Cooperation Enhancement Act (IPACE Act), the companion of Bustos’ bipartisan bill to curb improper government payments to the deceased.

Over the summer, in partnership with the non-partisan Concord Coalition, Bustos hosted an interactive budget workshop in Rockford to receive feedback from the people of her region on their federal budget priorities.

She also supported the bipartisan Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act, which  is now law, to require federal spending be posted to a website – This will add accountability to spending decisions made by government agencies by giving the American people easy access to track every dollar spent by the federal government.