In today's world it might seem like nothing is happening, but in the 23rd District, that is not the case. Take a look at what Congressman Tom Reed has done.
It is his belief that, "One of the most important aspects of Congress is developing, making, and monitoring laws. New laws are created every week. As a Member of Congress, I am actively involved in sponsoring and drafting legislation about issues that are important to you." He has held more than 140 Town Hall Meetings.
In my conversations with Congressman Reed it is apparent that he is actively engaged in what is happening in Chautauqua County. "I'm committed to the long term." Reed has said. And his actions prove his words to be true.
When ConAgra announced they were closing the Fredonia plant, Tom immediately reached out to the leadership and advocated on behalf of the workers. He had an open meeting with the workers and has continued weekly correspondence with ConAgra since. He continues to work with our local and state agencies to find a new owner who will keep a viable business in the building and the people working. Additionally, there are two members of his staff dedicated to issues facing employees of ConAgra.
Promoting the growth of industry and business in Western New York is what Congressman Reed is all about. He has worked to secure grants for our waterfront improvement efforts and was successful in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to tour the area.
Knowing the concerns about the quality of our infrastructure and natural resources, he worked in a bi-partisan manner in the creation and passage of the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA). This bill has been signed into law by President Obama, and allocates $12 billion for water projects nationwide. Our area will be one of the beneficiaries of this bill.
Working in a bipartisan manner is not uncommon for Reed. One of the highlights of his efforts is the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act co-sponsored by Joe Kennedy. This bill, (mentioned in the State of the Union Address by the President) will create jobs and revive the manufacturing revolution in America
It is not just the north county that continues to be on Reed's radar, however. He recently worked with the department of energy and convinced them to make a $1.5 million purchase/contract with the RHI Monofrax in Falconer. Again, he didn't work alone. Reed has a habit of bringing people together who can make a positive difference in the economic growth and well being of our area.
Grapes and farms in our area are also of great concern to Congressman Reed. At a critical juncture during the negotiations of a Free Trade Agreement with Japan, the grape industry needed a timely effort for a reduction in tariffs. They called on Congressman Reed. He eagerly accepted the task and garnered bipartisan support. According to a spokesman familiar with the concord grape issues in our area, "Tom did a stellar job and really stepped up to the plate for Welch's and the grape industry overall."
It goes beyond grapes. Congressman Reed, along with Patrick E. Murphy (D-Fla.) recently introduced the Impaired Waters Improvement Act to assist local governments and farmers in improving water quality through water infrastructure upgrades and conservation practices. This is another example of staying in touch with what matters in our area. This program helps local governments and farmers implement methods to reduce nutrient runoff that can have a serious impact on waterways.
"Our farmers, our communities need help to improve runoff practices and community sewer and wastewater systems," Reed said. "With this common sense bill we can give communities at the local level opportunities to improve water quality and infrastructure at no cost to taxpayers. Farmers and communities working hard to meet water quality requirements fairly deserve this help. I'm proud to join with my friend from across the aisle, Rep. Patrick Murphy, on this bill to care for water quality."
Economic growth and industry are important, but so are our Veterans, "I'll never forget about them." Reed has said.
Congressman Reed viewed the Phoenix VA scandal as a disgrace. He immediately made personal calls to the local VA officials in Bath, Buffalo and Syracuse for assurance that nothing similar was happening in Western New York. But this was not a knee-jerk reaction nor political grandstanding.
In 2012, Tom created a Veterans Advisory Board, and has held meetings across the district inviting service officers, local vets and active duty soldiers and family members.
When one looks at what Congressman Reed has done and continues to do for our veterans, it can be exhausting. He has "in area staff support" dedicated to veterans and a designated Veterans Affairs staffer operating out of the Corning office. He's created the position of "Director of Veteran's Services" to handle veterans affairs and casework from local veterans experiencing issues with the VA, medical problems, claims or anything involving present and past service. Through these efforts, over 1500 cases serving active duty and retired veterans since 2010 have been opened. Veteran's casework is the highest concentration of any agencies (VA and DOD) dealt with for constituent service in the 23rd district.
Care for our Veterans is important to Reed. When the Veterans Access to Care Act came up for a vote, he proudly voted in favor. This Act is another example of his willingness to work across the aisle in the best interest of those he serves. This bill requires the VA to offer non-VA care to enrolled veterans who experience extensive wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility. Reed, a co-sponsor of the bill, said, "Regardless of where veterans live, they deserve timely care close to home."
When it comes to the 23rd District Tom says, "I still believe that the power of our nation is not in the government we create, but rather the honest individuals who show up day in and day out and work for a living. We must again become a nation of personal accountability one where our government does not guarantee success to everyone, but rather simply guarantees the individual is given the opportunity to succeed."
You bet'cha, Congressman Tom Reed is working for us.
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org