Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) spoke on the House Floor about the important results achieved in Congress on behalf of New York’s 21st District in 2017. Click here for video of her speech; a full transcript is provided below.
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to take a moment today to highlight the real results we have achieved on behalf of North Country families in this Congress.
In 2017, we worked on many important initiatives to grow the North Country economy, support our veterans and military families, strengthen our local healthcare system, and improve education.
In fact, last year alone, the House of Representatives passed more than 470 bills and resolutions, 90 percent of which are bipartisan.
In Congress, I focused on important legislation to grow our local economy.
I recently introduced two bills that will increase access to rural broadband and help our North Country farmers bring their production into the 21st century.
I also helped the House pass legislation to strengthen Career and Technical Education programs.
This bipartisan bill updates federal career and technical education policies to help more students gain the skills they need to compete for in-demand jobs.
I’ve also introduced bipartisan legislation to boost North Country tourism by extending the time Canadian visitors can spend each year in the United States.
We’ve also made significant strides when it comes to education.
For the past three years I’ve worked to ensure that our students have the educational opportunities to achieve their limitless potential.
In my first year in Congress, I introduced a bill to expand Pell grant access so that students can access this critical financial aid resource during summer months.
I was pleased to see my initiative for year-round Pell signed into law this past May, meaning students and families in our district now have another important tool to achieve their higher education dreams.
As the proud representative of Fort Drum and the Navy Nuclear Site at Kesselring, my district is home to thousands of military families that make incredible sacrifices serving our nation.
In 2017, I was pleased to have a bill I authored pass the House to help military spouses.
This legislation eliminates a loophole that requires military spouses to establish residency every time their servicemember receives a new assignment.
I also introduced two bills to help military spouses that were signed into law in December.
The first is the Lift the Relocation Burden from Military Spouses Act which increases professional license portability.
This bill provides a reimbursement for licensing fees of up to $500 for each Permanent Change of Station.
And the second is the Military Residency Choice Act which allows spouses the choice to establish the same state of residency as their servicemember spouse for voting and tax purposes.
New York’s 21st district is the proud home of more veterans than any other district in New York State.
And my district offices have been hard at work on their behalf, helping to recover over $2.25 million in hard earned VA benefits for our veterans.
Congress also passed an expansion of the GI Bill education benefits that lifts the expiration on when they can be used, giving veterans more flexibility to attend higher education institutions.
And last summer, Congress passed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which President Trump signed into law.
This important law makes it easier to terminate failing VA employees and provides stronger protections to whistleblowers who raise the alarm over waitlists and medical malpractice.
No veteran deserves to be denied care, and this law brings needed accountability to the VA.
Healthcare is another issue that I hear about frequently when I speak with families and businesses across my district, especially ensuring our rural communities have the access that they need.
In September, I introduced the CHIME Act, a bipartisan bill to extend Community Health Center funding for five years.
Federally Qualified Community Health Centers like Hudson Headwaters, North Country Family Health, and the Community Health Center of the North Country provide over 95,000 people in my district with critical healthcare and preventative services.
I’m pleased that this bill has over 200 cosponsors.
And this overwhelming bipartisan support for the CHIME Act was instrumental in the House passing legislation to extend Community Health Center funding for two years.
I’ve also been a strong supporter of CHIP and voted to pass a five-year reauthorization in the House in November.
And while we work to have long-term solutions for these two programs signed into law, I was pleased to pass a critical extension of them in December.
Mr. Speaker, last year was a busy year working hard to grow our North Country economy, increase access to education, and serve our brave veterans and much more.
I’m honored every day to serve New York’s 21st District in Congress and look forward to continuing to work my hardest in 2018.
Thank you and I yield back.