Congressman Lipinski Reviews '09 and Eyes Economy (January 13, 2009)
As 2010 begins, most of us are hoping and praying it will be a much better year than 2009. Like you, I was saddened and sometimes outraged by what I saw happening last year. But amid the bailouts, bankruptcies, soaring unemployment and partisan acrimony, I remained dedicated to improving the everyday lives of the hard-working residents of the Third District.
Throughout 2009, the economy was my top priority. I called for ending the loophole-ridden Wall Street bailout, which I voted against three times. When it became clear the stimulus bill would not do enough to create jobs, I did not vote for it. To protect American workers and taxpayers, I introduced the Buy American Improvement Act and helped add a strong Buy American provision to the jobs bill the House recently passed.
In addition, I have pressed continuously for passage of a six-year, $500 billion transportation bill to create millions of jobs fixing our roads, rails and public transit. I continue to tell Washington that government should be working for middle-class Americans, not Wall Street barons.
As the financial crisis sent shockwaves around the globe, I continued to get things done in the Third District. I worked with state leaders to secure $60 million in the state capital bill for the long-awaited Central Avenue Bypass and $300 million for the CREATE rail modernization program to unclog our local transportation system.
I also obtained substantial federal funding for many other local projects, including a new library media center at St. Xavier University and police equipment for both Oak Lawn and Hickory Hills.
I was able to get Metra to start offering weekend service on the Southwest Service line in March. Having recently succeeded in establishing a long-awaited railroad quiet zone elsewhere in the district, I am working to establish another quiet zone in Oak Lawn to prevent trains from sounding their horns at all hours.
Health care reform remains a big, unresolved issue. I worked hard to play a leading role in improving the House version of the bill. I refused to back down from Democratic leaders and co-authored the amendment to prevent the use of taxpayer money to fund abortion. In addition, I helped add provisions to require hospitals to disclose the prices they charge; to eliminate the “doughnut hole” coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug program; and to allow the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices for seniors on Medicare.
However, I must emphasize that I still have significant concerns about the health care reform bill, and unless the final legislation is improved so that it does more to bring down skyrocketing health care costs and protect seniors on Medicare, I will not support it. And as I have said many times, the bill cannot add a penny to the deficit.
This past year, I also continued to work on behalf of our nation’s veterans. Along with supporting increases in funding for the VA, I was able to persuade the Department of Defense to send investigators to a remote Pacific island to look for the missing remains of 564 brave service members killed in the World War II Battle of Tarawa. I continue to work on this important effort.
Early in 2009, I was named chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee’s Research and Science Education Subcommittee. As a former educator and one of the few members of Congress trained as an engineer, I have focused on improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to make sure America maintains its leadership in today’s ultra-competitive global economy.
This has not been an easy time for most Americans, but our nation has never faltered in the face of adversity. I have no doubt that with hard work, courage and common sense, we can continue to build a better future.