Rep. Ann McLane Kuster: To get things done in Congress, you have to bring people together

  • U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster asks a question during a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee field hearing on VA hospitals and prescription drugs for veterans on May 20. AP file

For the Monitor
Published: 9/18/2016 12:10:14 AM

Here in New Hampshire we expect our elected officials to put politics aside for the benefit of our state and our nation. That’s what I have done, and what I will continue to do as your congresswoman. We face serious challenges, and the people of New Hampshire’s Second District deserve someone who will go to bat for them every single day no matter what their politics.

In Washington, it’s hard to get members of Congress to agree on anything, but to address our opioid crisis, I founded the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, bringing together 84 Republicans and Democrats to find solutions to this health crisis affecting every community in New Hampshire.

Together, we fought to pass 18 separate bills that will make a tangible difference in the fight against addiction. Our efforts were rewarded when those bills were included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). It was an honor to be appointed to the conference committee that negotiated the final version of CARA, and I’m pleased it’s been signed into law and will begin to help Granite Staters struggling with addiction.

More still needs to be done, which is why I’m fighting every day to bring more emergency funding to New Hampshire and pass additional legislation that would change the way opioids are labeled on prescription drugs.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done to benefit hard-working New Hampshire families. At a time when partisanship and gridlock has poisoned the legislative process, I’ve stayed focused on how we can achieve our shared goals and deliver real results across our state. As a lifelong Granite Stater, I know the issues that truly matter to folks in New Hampshire. We all want to be able to care for our loved ones, provide our kids with a good education and be secure in our retirement.

That’s why I support increasing the minimum wage and have worked to expand job-training programs so men and women can find good-paying jobs right here in New Hampshire. I’ve pushed hard for equal pay for equal work because when women are paid less than men, it doesn’t just hurt women, it hurts their families and our economy. And I’ve fought to cut waste, fraud and abuse to protect taxpayer dollars.

We need to make sure that our young people can get the education they need without being saddled by overwhelming debt. I fought to prevent a major rate hike on student loans. I successfully authored an amendment to the Farm Bill that increased investments in rural community colleges and allowed River Valley Community College to open a new campus in Lebanon, which is now serving hundreds of students.

Having cared for my mother as she struggled with Alzheimer’s, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges our seniors face on a day-to-day basis. I’ll always fight to protect Medicare and Social Security so that every Granite Stater can retire with dignity and peace of mind.

Supporting our veterans is an issue that is deeply personal for me. My father fought in World War II and was held as a POW for six months. I will always honor and defend the brave men and women who protect our freedom and way of life. As a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, some of my top priorities are improving veterans’ access to health care and funding housing for homeless veterans. As the ranking member of the committee charged with overseeing the VA, I helped launch investigations into mismanagement at VA health centers. Our findings helped lead to passage of a comprehensive bipartisan VA reform bill that is beginning to address the significant deficiencies in health care for veterans. I am committed to finishing this important work.

When I went to Congress, I said I would bring people together to find common ground, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. From securing a $200 million loan to complete critical infrastructure projects, like finishing the I-93 expansion and repairing roads and bridges, to working to address the threat climate change poses to our local economy and environment, I’ve always put New Hampshire first.

On Nov. 8, I’ll be asking for your vote. Together, we can build upon the progress we’ve made and continue to move New Hampshire forward.

(Annie Kuster, a Democrat from Hopkinton, currently represents New Hampshire’s Second District in Congress.)

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