June 15, 2012
New England Council
On Tuesday I participated in the New England Council’s Congressional Roundtable. There is certainly a great deal to talk about when it comes to the issues facing Congress this summer and we covered a wide range of topics. Folks in attendance had questions about the status of the long overdue transportation reauthorization bill. The current extension expires at the end of this month, and I am not optimistic that House and Senate conferees will resolve their differences. I think we are looking at another extension which creates more funding uncertainty for states. We also talked about the looming federal budget battles, including what the upcoming budget sequestration will mean for Massachusetts. I thank the New England Council for the opportunity to participate in the roundtable.
I met this week with college students who will spend the summer canvassing for Environment Massachusetts. Organization members work to raise awareness of environmental issues such as alternative energy and clean water. I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and really enjoyed talking with them. I think that these young people are doing the most important job in politics working to gather support and change minds, one person at a time. Big media buys and countless emails can never take the place of face to face conversations. The students will work hard this summer setting forth ideas, countering objections and trying to find common ground. I congratulated them on their commitment and also told them not to get discouraged when they encounter people who may not agree with their message.
Even though this week was a district work period, I still found myself at Logan Airport. It wasn’t to catch a flight though. I joined acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Massport officials to announce additional funding for runway safety and anti-collision technology. Massport is receiving $10 million to complete the construction of a buffer zone for one of the airport’s runways. This will create an additional zone of safety if a plane is having trouble coming to a stop for any reason. The anti-collision technology will allow officials to track airport vehicles and share that information with all vehicle operators in an effort to prevent accidents, particularly at night and during inclement weather.
The Boston Home
Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry and I participated this week in a question and answer session with residents, staff and volunteers at Dorchester’s Boston Home. The Boston Home is a non-profit founded in 1881 as a residence for adults living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other neurological diseases. The facility also operates a daytime wellness program called B.Fit for nonresidents who are living with neurological diseases. Many folks in attendance were concerned about the impact that federal budget cuts will have on programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. We also talked about the lack of funding for transportation in Massachusetts as well as the debate over tax cuts taking place in Washington. I thank the Boston Home for the invitation. I enjoyed talking with staff and residents and learning more about the services offered.
East Boston Community Health Center
Yesterday I participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly expanded East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. As the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Community Health Centers Caucus, I have been working for years in Congress to make additional resources available for health centers. This includes added services as well as enhanced facilities. The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center will now be able to provide services to more patients and offer expanded programming. Center staff already does so much more than offer preventive care. Educational and fitness programming as well as nutrition assistance are offered to the community. I was very pleased to participate in this ribbon cutting.
On Thursday I joined Governor Patrick and officials at the Joslin Diabetes Center to celebrate the beginning of construction on Joslin’s Translational Center for the Cure of Diabetes. A $5 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will help fund the facility, which will create construction and research jobs. The expanded facility will allow for additional research and clinical studies which will hopefully lead to improved treatments and a greater understanding of diabetes.
I had the chance Monday to meet with the new 1st District Commander for the United States Coast Guard, Rear Admiral David Abel. We had a substantive talk about some of the issues facing the Coast Guard and the work they are doing to prepare for the busy summer season. I appreciated the Rear Admiral’s time, and I thanked him for all of the work that the Coast Guard does to keep our waterways safe.
This week communities across the country participated in “Resolutions Week” an effort to support a constitutional amendment to address the detrimental consequences of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. As you know, I have opposed the Court’s decision from the day it was handed down because it is absurd to think that corporations pumping massive amounts of money into our elections will not have a negative influence. Clearly the 2012 presidential race has already been heavily impacted. In the 8th Congressional District, Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville have all passed resolutions calling for a constitutional change to fix the situation. I commend these cities and the engaged citizens of Massachusetts for their hard work. You have my support in building a groundswell movement for change. A constitutional amendment, in concert with other approaches like my Shareholder Protection Act and greater disclosure of political spending, will only serve to better inform the public and hand elections back to the people.
What’s up Next Week
Next votes will take place on Monday, June 18th. A legislative schedule is not yet available.