At the end of each year, Americans typically take time to look back on the last 12 months, inventory the good, reflect on their work and set new goals to achieve in the new year. In the area of government, the elections are behind us. It is time we put politics aside, focus our priorities, and move toward providing solutions for the American people. As we have entered the 116th Congress, I intend to continue being part of the solution so the 18th District can continue to grow and prosper.
Over the last year, our office, our state and our country have seen numerous successes that have benefited the lives of hard-working families. As an office, we continued to make constituent service a priority so families and individuals can have accessible assistance in a timely manner.
In 2018, our office closed 1,206 cases and conducted 65 mobile office hours across the 19 counties of the district, helping individuals navigate federal bureaucracies more effectively and efficiently. When issues or questions arise—whether it’s regarding the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, Environmental Protection Agency or numerous other federal agencies—our office will always be a resource for those in need of assistance.
In addition to building upon our constituent service operation, I was pleased to host town hall meetings to hear directly from constituents on matters affecting our district. And just as I focus on work for constituents at home, I will continue my work in DC to advocate for legislation that has a direct impact across central and west-central Illinois.
In DC, the House has seen significant accomplishments over the last year, including but not limited to: comprehensive tax reform for the first time in more than 30 years; monumental criminal justice reform to reduce recidivism and help people land on their feet; the largest-ever pay increase for our service members; passage of a Farm Bill for our farming families; a GI education bill for veterans; as well as landmark bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid crisis. The latter included legislation I introduced requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to create an opioid action plan.
Looking ahead to the work in front of us, our roads and bridges are in much need of repair. In 2018, Congress missed an opportunity by failing to enact a comprehensive infrastructure plan. With the president and both houses of Congress in agreement that crumbling infrastructure needs to be fixed, resolving this issue should become a priority in 2019. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see this come to fruition.
Even with a divided Congress, we must find common ground on the challenges facing our country—or the successes we have seen in the last year will be hampered. Whether it’s expanding trade markets for producers and manufacturers, continuing to combat the opioid crisis, reforming our broken immigration system or working to make Congress more effective, Republicans and Democrats will need to come together.
We have much to be proud of, but our successes should not impede our drive to provide solutions for working families in Illinois and around the country. This Congress will no doubt confront challenges and hurdles over the next year. But with both parties working together, we can continue moving our country forward. iBi