On Jan. 18, I officially launched my 2016 re-election campaign to earn your vote and serve as your voice in Washington. The five-day, 16-county “Listening and Leading” tour made more than 35 stops, visiting thousands of residents throughout Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.
Across the district, whether speaking with veterans, agricultural producers, health care professionals, teachers or manufacturers, similar concerns over education, jobs and the economy, and national security remain at the forefront of discussion.
Listening to your thoughts and concerns, and leading with your homegrown solutions, we have been able to address some of the many challenges facing our nation. While gridlock in Washington dominates the 24-hour news cycle, we have been able to establish new traffic patterns, leading to significant successes over the past few years.
With regard to education, I was proud to serve on the leadership team to replace No Child Left Behind with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Engaging the community to receive feedback from parents, students, teachers, administrators and school board members was the foundation of bringing about historic reforms to elementary and secondary education. This new law restores authority to states and school districts, allows schools to disentangle from Common Core curriculum, and will equip our students with the tools they need to be successful in the 21st century.
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As a former local workforce investment board member, I witnessed the challenges facing job hunters and employers looking for qualified candidates. It is no secret that underemployment and the skills gap have hurt the job market and our local businesses. Taking many of the suggestions from those in our community, I was able to play a significant role in the development of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Today this law is helping train those who seek greater opportunity.
As chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, I was pleased to support reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This legislation ensures public access to recreation throughout our rivers, forests and communities. I am also proud of our work to produce a farm bill that ensures continued access to an affordable and safe food supply. This is especially important to Pennsylvania, where 1 in 7 jobs are tied to agriculture, the commonwealth’s No. 1 industry.
Families and small businesses have weighed in with the need for certainty in our tax code. In December, I supported bipartisan legislation to make more than 20 tax provisions permanent, ranging from research and development and business expensing to the earned income credit, college savings and child care. This will provide a foundation for a more comprehensive reform and simplification of our complex tax code.
Most recently, the attacks in France and California have raised concerns over national security. While we reformed the visa waiver program, now with increased scrutiny over individuals who have traveled to certain countries, we must continue to focus on security. We have a long-standing humanitarian tradition in this country, but this does not mean we should abandon common sense. We must halt these programs until we can assure comprehensive screenings can occur for those seeking our shores.
A robust military is the best deterrent to those who would seek to do us harm. We have been able to support our military without raising taxes and must continue to build an efficient fighting force. We must not abandon our troops, who have made sacrifices in service to our country. You can be proud of our homegrown solutions, which have expanded telemedicine and advanced legislation that have reduced the military suicide rate. This work is far from over, and my commitment for our troops is unwavering.
My vision moving forward is one of partnership. My commitment is to take your thoughts, concerns and solutions to Washington. Our homegrown solutions have made a difference for our friends, neighbors and the nation. In 2016, I respectfully request your support and continued partnership, to further our work together, and to tackle the many challenges ahead. I look forward to continuing my service to you, as I listen and lead.
Glenn Thompson represents Pennsylvania’s 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.