Improving transportation for the 11th congressional district is one of my top priorities in Washington. Staten Islanders have the longest commute in the country and the residents of south Brooklyn don’t have it much better. After a long-fought battle, we worked in a bipartisan manner to pass the most comprehensive transit bill in years. The bill was a big victory for New York City with funding for many of the City’s top transit priorities, including stable mass transit dollars and more money for the Staten Island ferry. But our work is not done. I am continuing to fight for new transportation projects like the West Shore Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit.
The middle-class is getting squeezed. Washington’s out-of-control spending has driven taxes and the cost of living through the roof, and too many New Yorkers are still unemployed or underemployed. It’s time to start making the federal government more accountable. We need to cut taxes and reform the burdensome regulations that are killing jobs and economic growth. Reforming the tax code to make it flatter and simpler, peeling back excessive regulations and creating a balanced budget will spark the economy and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit.
The people of the 11th congressional district suffered catastrophic damage from Superstorm Sandy. Almost four years later, people are still not in their homes. This is simply unacceptable. When I got to Washington, the first bill I introduced was to reform FEMA. This signature legislation, the Flood Insurance Mitigation and Policyholder Protection Act (FIMPPA) addresses fraudulent engineering practices, flawed appeals process and overdue flood insurance reforms for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). I’m proud that this bill passed the House and now we’re working to get it through the Senate. This legislation will go a long way toward protecting homeowners in the event of a future storm so they never have to go through a broken process again.
Fifteen years after the worst attack on our nation, the threat of terrorism is just as real and New York City continues to be our enemies’ number one target. Earlier this year I was appointed to the influential position as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communication. In that role, I’m responsible for overseeing the federal government’s disaster response and instituting policies that keep our communities secure. When President Obama proposed drastic cuts to homeland security funding, I fought to get them successfully restored, ensuring New York City has the resources it needs to be protected. We must also secure our borders and enhance intelligence operations that are critical to tracking and preventing terrorist activity.
This is a volatile time for the world, particularly in the Middle East. ISIS is growing bolder, Iran is on a path to nuclear proliferation and Russian aggression is increasing. All of this is a huge threat to world safety. America must be a leader on the world stage. We need to maintain and strengthen our defense system and stand by our allies. We must listen to our military leaders to develop a real strategy to defeat ISIS once and for all.
Providing our children with a quality education–regardless of their zip code– is one of the most important things we can do to put them on a path to success. Unfortunately, too many kids are being failed by our education system. I support giving parents more school choice and repealing Common Core, which has been a disaster for both teachers and students. We can, and must improve standards, but there is a better way. I will also work to help our students facing the crushing cost of higher education. As someone who paid off my final student loan at 52, I understand how difficult the cost of college is for many families. We need to empower students and families to make informed decisions, streamline and improve student aid, and protect the 529 plan that helps parents save for their child’s higher education.
We need reform of our healthcare system that truly lowers costs and delivers better care. I believe that people should be able to choose their own doctors and a health care plan that works for their needs. Sadly, Obamacare did not accomplish that. Obamacare has caused premiums to go up an average of 5% for New Yorkers, while many people have lost their doctors and are paying more out-of-pocket. Obamacare also puts unnecessary burdens on small businesses, who are being forced to hire less people because of mandated costs. We should keep the positive aspects of the law, like prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, while reforming other parts like medical malpractice and increasing competition by allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines. These reforms would have a tremendous impact on actually lowering healthcare costs, while allowing people more choices for their healthcare needs.
We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the men and women in the armed services. Too often, the sacrifice they made on behalf of our nation is forgotten when they return home. The scandals that rocked the Veterans Administration are a stain on our nation. Our veterans deserve quality care near their home. I support the Veterans Healthcare Choice Improvement Act, which provides necessary funding to the VA to avert the potential for medical services cuts and hospital closures. The bill also provides up to $500 million for lifesaving Hepatitis C treatments for our veterans.
Just as I have as district attorney, I will fight relentlessly against cuts to law enforcement resources and take a strong stand for New York’s labor force. The NYPD and FDNY, along with other law enforcement agents and first responders are the finest in the nation. I will work to support fair and competitive wages, as well as fair work agreements, which protect our law enforcement agents, teachers, unions and their families. I have opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and voted against granting the President fast-track authority. I will continue to fight against any trade deals that harm American jobs.