2015 was the first year that I had the great privilege to represent the “Fighting First.” It was a year that I was very proud to be able to deliver some important victories for our district, some of which include passing a five year, fully funded transportation bill that included my Safe Bridges Act proposal; securing a new veterans health care clinic at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Manorville and having Peconic Bay approved as a Veterans Choice Program under the VA; permanently reauthorizing the Zadroga Act; getting my common core amendment and the 21st Century Cures Act passed and signed into law; and halting the Medical Device Tax under Obamacare for two years. My staff was also able to successfully close over 2,000 cases in favor of our constituents.
Now we have entered 2016, the final year of President Obama’s time in office. Tonight, the president stood before a joint session of Congress and the American people for his final State of the Union address.
Many U.S. presidents, both Republican and Democratic, have taken great pride in securing landmark progress seeking common ground with a Congress led by the opposite party. In 2016 and beyond, the American people want to see their government working for them no matter who takes office following any given election day.
In 2016, Congress and the president should work together to grow our economy, reduce our cost of living in any way possible and improve the business climate to help create more good paying, private sector jobs. We must defeat ISIS and other terrorist threats, secure our homeland, and correct a deeply flawed Iran nuclear agreement. America’s foreign policy should be one that strengthens our relationships with our allies and treats our enemies as our enemies. We should take action to improve health care in America; whether we repeal Obamacare, replace it, defund it, delay it, or fix it, we must take action. Together, we should also work to roll back the excessive federally mandated testing in our schools to improve the quality of education for our children. Additionally, we must always seek ways to improve quality of life for our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country; as well as safeguard our environment, which includes an abundance of natural resources right here on Long Island.
Locally, I will begin work to secure a women’s veterans’ health clinic in Suffolk County; try to prevent a sale of Plum Island; and help launch several new infrastructure projects working with the Army Corps of Engineers. I will continue doing everything in my power to bring home more victories for our congressional district.
In tonight’s State of the Union Address, the president talked about some of the challenges that currently exist in America. Hopefully common ground can be obtained in 2016 and beyond to ensure our country is heading in the right direction. While there truly is so much to celebrate about being able to live our lives in the greatest country in the world, the reality is also that our debt is unsustainable; people are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet; the healthcare system is unraveling; and our veteran care is suffering. We also face many threats to our homeland, including the rise of ISIS. These are challenges which must all be confronted boldly and effectively.
This November, Americans will select a new president to lead our great country for at least the next 4 years. Whoever takes office in January 2017, I sincerely hope that our next president pursues a better path for America both tactically and strategically. In the meantime, I will continue to pursue victories for my constituents wherever they can be achieved. Many opportunities are presented on any given day to move us forward in a positive direction and it’s a great honor to be able to help lead that effort.
We are so blessed to live in the United States. Our freedoms and our liberties and the sacrifices made in its defense must always be remembered and valued. Tonight, I had the rare pleasure of securing three gallery tickets for the president’s final State of the Union address. My guests were the widow, Deborah, and parents Diana and Vincent, of recently deceased Staff Sergeant Louis M. Bonacasa of Coram, New York. SSgt Bonacasa and five other U.S. service members were killed by a suicide bomber just outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on December 21, 2015. A very grateful community and country would like to remind the Bonacasa family that we love them and want to honor them for all that has been sacrificed in our defense.
United, any challenge great or small can be overcome by American will. We are strong in so many ways, but taking our leadership role for granted, the ultimate sacrifices made for granted, or our bond with each other for granted, could serve to be our undoing. 2016 and beyond should be in pursuit of the path that unites us to move our community and country forward in a better direction. This is a goal that can and must be achieved for the sake of protecting and cherishing our Republic.