Gabby was doing her job listening to her constituents. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about her this week, and I just wanted to take an opportunity to tell you about what may not have made the news: the quiet work she has done, day in and day out, to represent her district and help me along the way to better represent you.
Representing a district that lies along our southern border with Mexico, Gabby understands the importance of securing our borders and protecting our nation. I was proud to join her in the fight to bring additional funding to the U.S.-Mexico border and those that protect it. It’s important that as we work to better enforce our immigration laws, we fund the fight accordingly. Additional resources to hire more Border Patrol agents, crack down on illegal goods and drugs entering our country and help local law enforcement agencies work best in conjunction with our efforts is vital to protecting the American people.
Gabby’s intense focus on making sure that the U.S. is at the forefront of the growing solar energy movement has shown folks in Washington new ways to create jobs, make America more competitive in international markets, and secure our nation’s energy needs for the future. As we work to end our reliance on foreign oil, Gabby is leading the charge to make sure that job creation for American workers is at the heart of our pursuit of alternative energy solutions. As our nation turns to solar and wind power, Gabby believes that we can build solar panels and windmills right here in America, and do it better than any other nation on Earth. I share her belief in the American workforce and American ingenuity. As we know all too well, the rise in offshore manufacturing has hurt our economy, and it is crucial that we refocus our efforts on rebuilding domestic manufacturing. I’m honored to work with Gabby to make this a reality. Her focus on these important issues has been unwavering, and I will continue to advocate for all of these vital initiatives as we continue to work together in the 112th Congress.
Back in 2009, when the 111th Congress began, my first action was to join Gabby in cosponsoring Congressman Ron Paul’s bill to stop the automatic Congressional pay raise for Members of Congress. As this new Congress began two weeks ago, Gabby came to me to tell me about legislation she was working on to not only end the pay raise, but to reduce Member salaries. Gabby understands that while American families struggle to make ends meet, those in Congress should share in the sacrifice. In Gabby’s eyes, a pay cut is exactly what those in Washington need, and I agree with her. A week ago last Wednesday, on the morning we were sworn in to the 112th Congress, I was proud to join her in cosponsoring H.R. 204, the Congressional Pay Cut Act, and will work as hard as I can with her to bring it to the floor for a vote.
Gabby and I serve together on the Armed Services Committee. We have shared assignments to two important subcommittees, Readiness and Air and Land Forces. The work done on these committees is closely related to much of the military activity that goes on in our area, and the brave men and women who so proudly protect us. Arizona’s 8th District is home to many important military installations, including Fort Huachuca and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Here at home, the priorities of our own Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base are remarkably similar, and Gabby and I have joined together many times to make sure that our troops have all the support they need as they serve our nation.
Freedom is not an unfamiliar idea to Gabby Giffords. Representing a heavily military district along a foreign border, she knows that we must fight both here and abroad to provide a safe and prosperous way of life for all who we serve. She knows what it is like to represent a broad range of people from across the political spectrum, and to do so efficiently and effectively. That is what she was doing at the time of Saturday’s tragedy--listening to her constituents, hearing their concerns and taking note of what they expect from her in the new Congress.
North Carolina’s and Arizona’s 8th Districts share so many of the same challenges and opportunities. I am so honored to work with Gabby, and look forward to her return to Capitol Hill. As we’ve seen through her miraculous recovery thus far, she is a fighter. She also works to bring people together and sees the best in everyone, which is what we need more of in Washington. She and I share the belief that you don’t always have to agree on issues, but we do have to remember that there are good folks on both sides of the aisle and we all love our Country. Sometimes we just disagree on what is the best course to take. She will be missed until her return.
However, her district won’t be neglected during her recovery. She has a wonderful staff who even though they lost one of their own in the shooting, Gabe Zimmerman, and saw not only their boss, but two other staffers wounded, they still had their offices open for their constituents on Monday. They knew that is what Gabby would want-- for her constituents to have the help they need. That sort of dedication to service and perseverance in the face of tragedy and loss makes me very proud.
Serving as your Representative in Congress is an honor. One of the benefits for me while serving you has been to know Gabby and to work with her on the issues that face our district and our nation. As you see her picture on the news and hear more about the shootings, I hope you will think of the things you have in common with her and the people of her district and know she has fought for you. I’ll continue to pray for her speedy recovery, and look forward to having her back in Congress-- fighting for all of us.
Congressman Larry Kissell (D-N.C. -8) offices include Rockingham: 230 East Franklin St., Rockingham, NC 28379, Phone: 997-2070; Concord number (704) 786-1612; Fayetteville number (910) 920-2070; Washington office: 512 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; phone (202) 225-3715. Web site, kissell.house.gov.