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Tsongas Marks 10th Anniversary In Congress

Oct 29, 2017 05:23AM ● By Bill Gilman
(Editor's note: The following column first appeared in the monthly "Congress In Your Mailbox" mailing from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.)

Ten years ago this week, on October 18, 2007, I cast my first vote as a Member of Congress. My first vote was in support of expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). At the time, I said there was no better way to start my service in Washington than by expanding health coverage to ten million kids.

Now, ten years later, Congress is once again faced with a similar decision to reauthorize CHIP and just as I did on my first day, I stand in strong support of this vital program. I began my career in the House by helping to provide millions of children a chance at a healthy future and I will begin my last year of service working to maintain that effort. Speaker Ryan must bring clean legislation to reauthorize CHIP to the floor immediately before children across the country begin losing coverage.

Washington, D.C. has been a busy place in recent weeks, with ongoing discussions about how best to move forward on protecting and improving access to health care for millions of Americans, and urging Republican leaders to bring forward commonsense legislation to help prevent gun violence. But a lot of critical debates are also taking place at the Committee level.

During an Armed Services Committee hearing, I questioned the Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford about the need for Congress to re-examine the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, in Afghanistan. The 2001 AUMF authorized the United States to engage in military operations against organizations and groups that committed or aided in the September 11th terrorist attacks. I then questioned the witnesses about reports of Russian and Iranian support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and how those actions complicate U.S. efforts in the country.

Additionally, I was recently appointed by Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve as a conferee to the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Committee. The Conference Committee, comprised of appointees from both parties and both chambers, reconciles the differences between the two drafts and presents one reconciled piece of legislation for a vote.

Over on the Natural Resources Committee, I spoke in strong opposition to a Republican bill, the Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore Act or ASTRO Act, which would overturn reforms put in place after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and dramatically expand offshore drilling. I also spoke in support of the Antiquities Act.

Also in this week’s newsletter, you can read about my efforts to address sexual harassment within the National Park Service, as well as a federal grant received by the Lowell Police Department to create a mental health evaluation team.

Thank you for staying engaged and don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments or concerns.

As always, I look forward to your feedback via my website, or on Facebook and Twitter. Please follow along at those social media accounts, where you will find my most up-to-date statements and positions on recent happenings in Washington and the Third District.
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