Moving forward in 2017
As I begin my second term as your representative in Congress I want to take this opportunity to review the progress we made the last two years — both in the First District of Iowa and in Washington — as well as discuss some of the opportunities we have in the upcoming session.
First and foremost I want to THANK YOU for sending me back to Congress. I’m honored and humbled to represent the great folks of eastern Iowa in our nation’s capital.
I am very proud of the work our district staff has done helping Iowans via constituent services, Senior Wellness Fairs, Veterans Care Fairs and Job Fairs — in addition to attending hundreds of community meetings and holding local office hours multiple times in all 20 counties of the First District. The hard work they completed on behalf of constituents led to some of the most rewarding moments in my time in Congress, such as delivering medals to veterans who had waited years to receive them or notifying proud parents and their child of acceptance to a military academy.
I’m also proud of the time I spent working alongside constituents bagging groceries at Hy-Vee, delivering packages with UPS and mail with the U.S. Postal Service, preparing and serving food as a cook/waiter, packaging food at local food banks, filling sandbags for flood prevention, serving seniors lunch at Hills & Dales, job shadowing in hospital emergency rooms, delivering food to seniors with Meals on Wheels, and riding along with police and fire departments. Too often politicians go to Washington and forget where they came from and the people who sent them there — I refuse to let that happen to me or my staff. We accomplished this while at the same time sending $100,000 from our budget back to taxpayers.
In Washington, I worked to pass two bills I authored in my first term. The first was to honor Army Sfc. Terryl Pasker’s ultimate sacrifice by renaming the Cedar Rapids Post Office in his name, and the second to protect whistleblowers uncovering corruption in government agencies by reauthorizing the Office of Special Counsel for the next five years. Working across the aisle I also formed the Term Limits Caucus with Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, and voted for strong bipartisan legislation like the 21st Century Cures Act (increases funding to cure diseases), the 2015 Highway bill, the Education bill that returns more control back to the states, and worked to include an amendment to the WRRDA bill to prioritize building the Cedar Rapids floodwall that recently passed. When necessary I stood against both parties: Introducing legislation to end first-class flights and luxury car leases for politicians, backing a Constitutional amendment for term limits, introducing a lifetime ban on lobbying for former members of Congress, and voting against the spending bills that irresponsibly broke the bipartisan spending caps as well as voting against bills that decreased the privacy rights of citizens.
Moving forward I am anxious to enact common sense reforms to the regulatory environment so American businesses can reignite the economy nationally, create more good paying jobs and finally see a substantial raise in workers’ take home pay. I will be focused on fixing our lengthy and burdensome tax code, repealing and replacing Obamacare, reforming welfare to incentivize Americans to work, finally securing our borders, allocating funding for the Cedar Rapids flood wall, and eliminating the backlogs and poor service at the VA. Iowa and the rest of the nation made it very clear in the 2016 elections that it wants a change of direction, and Congress must have the courage to deliver what America has asked for. I plan to be part of the change the next two years, and am honored to represent Eastern Iowa in doing so.
Rod Blum is the First District congressman of Iowa.