By Rep. Evan Jenkins
R-WV, 3rd District
U.S. House of Representatives
WASHINGTON, D.C . — Having taken the oath of office just more than 100 days ago, every day I have supported policies in Congress that will help West Virginia. In just four months, we have worked in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a number of bills that will grow our economy, balance our budget, keep our promises to our veterans, strengthen Medicare, and ensure access to health insurance for low-income children.
Since being sworn in, I have traveled across West Virginia, meeting with families, small business owners and community leaders to hear their stories and concerns. No matter where I travel across the Third Congressional District, I hear from West Virginians who are concerned about the impact the administration’s policies are having on our state’s economy and jobs.
One of my most memorable visits was to the Hunter Peerless mine near Whitesville, where I traveled two miles underground to watch our miners at work. Mining is hard work, and I have the deepest admiration for the men and women who mine coal to feed their families and power our nation. I believe strongly that this administration is waging a war on coal that threatens the jobs of West Virginia’s miners. This war on coal would decimate West Virginia’s economy, raise energy prices, and send thousands of breadwinners to the unemployment lines. I will never stop fighting for hardworking West Virginians and their ability to provide a better future for their families.
The first piece of legislation I introduced as a member of Congress calls on the House of Representatives to keep the promise to our hardworking coal miners and maintain their black lung benefits. As Congress works towards health care reform, it is imperative that the black lung benefits program is secured and our men, women and families continue to have access to these critical benefits. I also proudly cosponsored legislation that would guarantee these benefits should the Affordable Care Act be repealed.
One of my top priorities is ensuring that our nation keeps our promises to our veterans. I have traveled across the district to meet with veterans and visit Veterans Affairs medical centers and clinics. During the first weeks of Congress, I cosponsored and helped to pass the Hire More Heroes Act, which would allow small businesses to hire more veterans without being subjected to the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. We also passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans SAV Act, a measure to help prevent suicides among returning soldiers, which the president has since signed into law. Additionally, I cosponsored the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would extend benefits to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their service in Vietnam.
Within the first 100 days, I also worked to help strengthen Medicare access for millions of seniors and guaranteed patients access to doctors. I proudly helped pass a bill in the House, which the Senate has since passed and the president signed into law, that would repeal the sustainable growth rate. This rate, if implemented, would cause a drastic Medicare reimbursement cut, forcing many healthcare providers to stop caring for Medicare patients. This bill guarantees access to care for millions of rural citizens and also insurance for our children by reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Guaranteeing access to quality care for our seniors and our children must continue to be a priority.
Over the next few months, Congress will begin to turn its attention to the business of appropriations bills. On the House Appropriations Committee, we’ve already begun our work of reviewing the president’s budget request. I have participated in more than a dozen budget and oversight hearings on topics ranging from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to railroad safety. As we start to craft appropriations legislation – the 12 individual bills that fund the annual discretionary budget for federal departments and agencies – I will continue to advocate for the priorities of southern West Virginia.
One hundred days goes by fast – but there is still so much to be done to create a better future for West Virginia. I’m proud to call West Virginia my home and to serve its people. As Congress continues its work, I will continue to listen to West Virginians and support policies that will help bring more opportunities to our great state.