The year in review

Just over a year ago, Eastern Iowans sent me to Washington to represent them in Congress. I’m humbled by the trust placed in me by the voters, and I see it as my responsibility to report back on my efforts to serve the First District.

I told you during my campaign that if you like the status quo “business as usual” climate in Washington, vote for my opponent. But if you wanted a representative who thinks independently and has the courage to stand up to his OWN party – then I asked you to support me. You sent me – and I’ve worked hard to follow through on my promise to change Washington. Whether it was my very first vote against John Boehner for Speaker, my first bill that bans members of Congress from serving as lobbyists, my bipartisan legislation that would end taxpayer-funded first class flights and luxury car leases for Congress or my launch of the new bipartisan Term Limits Caucus, I’ve worked to shake up how things are done in Washington.

I’ve also focused my legislative efforts on getting our nation’s financial house in order and reigniting our economy so wages can rise for working families. I opposed suspending the debt ceiling in November and voted against the end of the year Omnibus Spending bill, which is full of corporate welfare and giveaways that pile more debt on our children and grandchildren. I pushed to allow hard working Iowans to keep more of their own money by backing the bipartisan Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act. I cosponsored the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act, a bill that would end taxes on Social Security payments for senior citizens. I’ve also worked on securing federal aid for the Cedar Rapids flood wall, introduced legislation to help cities like Waverly reclaim previously flooded land and worked with communities like Dubuque and the Cedar Valley to advocate for federal transportation issues.

Back here in the district – where I live and return home every chance I get – one of the top highlights has been getting to know so many of you in my travels. I’ve held over forty townhalls, toured countless businesses, the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, and numerous VA medical facilities and community organizations; volunteered with organizations like the Salvation Army and the NE Iowa Food Bank; and held events like our Veterans Job Fair and Women in Business Summit. In particular, I’ve enjoyed the chance to work alongside constituents as a mail carrier, cook, bank teller, grocery bagger, restaurant server, ambulance paramedic, UPS delivery man, and other jobs done daily by the amazing citizens across the district. Most Iowans feel career politicians in Washington have lost touch with the average American: that’s why I have made it a point to stay close to the people I represent.

As we look ahead to 2016, I’m excited by the chance Congress has to put forth a pro-growth agenda. I am looking forward to tackling big issues next year, including preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare, securing our borders, keeping us safe from threats like ISIS, reforming our complex and unfair tax code so our working families can get ahead, and fixing our broken welfare system to get Americans back to work.

By electing me, I think the people of Eastern Iowa sent a message that they were tired of career politicians who say one thing during the election and then do the opposite after they win. That’s not me. I’ll continue to do exactly what I said I’d do: fighting to change how business is done in Washington so we can restore the promise of America.

Congressman Rod Blum represents Iowa’s First Congressional District.