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Bill Keating proudly represents Massachusetts’s 9th District. As the Chairman of Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment Subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he is a Congressional authority on terrorism and national security. As a resident of Cape Cod, he knows firsthand the urgency of providing communities with coastal resiliency resources and protecting environmental conservation efforts.
Bill was elected to U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, one of only nine new Democratic Members to be elected to the 112th Congress. He represents Massachusetts’ 9th Congressional District, which encompasses the state’s South Shore, South Coast, Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
In Congress, Bill has established himself as a hardworking civil servant and passionate advocate for the people of Massachusetts – a reputation he had earned since his days in the State’s legislature. Bill’s legislative priorities reflect a keen understanding of the issues facing his constituents and a commitment to addressing them: working to create jobs by supporting our small businesses and increasing educational opportunities; strengthening our middle class families; improving our domestic security; providing our senior population with the resources they need; ensuring our veterans receive the benefits they deserve; and protecting our unique ecosystems.
Congressman Keating is a senior member of the House, sitting on both the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees. He currently serves as Chairman of the Europe, Eurasia, Energy and Environment subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He also sits on the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism as well as the Armed Services subcommittees for Strategic Forces and Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities. Through his work, he has cemented his role as one of the lead national security and foreign policy experts in Congress.
Some notable Congressional achievements include renewing the national focus on perimeter security in our nation’s airports - an issue on which he is the leading voice, and introducing first-of its kind legislation aimed at curbing the growing prescription drug epidemic by requiring pharmaceutical companies to make these medicines tamper-resistant. Further, he worked to secure a new cybersecurity mission at Joint Base Cape Cod, not only creating local jobs and strengthening our district’s economy, but strengthening our national security as well. Bill has introduced legislation to make nuclear power plants safer by promptly removing waste into storage units and to protect fishing communities by establishing shore-side support services and provide funding for science and research. He has successfully secured federal funding for the district to aid workforce development, coastal resiliency, education, and public safety projects, among others.
Prior to being elected to the United States House of Representatives, Bill had already exemplified a life of public service and a commitment to the state of Massachusetts. Born in Norwood, he is the proud grandson of Irish immigrants and was instilled with the work ethic and principles inspired by them and his father, who served his community as a police officer and then as a veterans agent. Bill attended Boston College where he received his B.A. and Masters in Business Administration. To put himself through college and his graduate program, he worked as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service.
In 1977, at the age of 23, Bill was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. While serving in the State House, he entered Suffolk University Law School and became a member of the state bar in 1985. The same year, he began serving in the Massachusetts State Senate, where he served as Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, the Joint Committee on Public Safety, and the Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively. He also served as the Senate Chairman of the standing Committee on Steering and Policy.
Bill was then elected to be Norfolk District Attorney, a position he held from 1999 until his election to Congress. As a District Attorney, he pursued some of Massachusetts’ toughest cases. He was instrumental in programs targeted to increase community-based crime prevention, prevent senior abuse, reduce incidents of domestic violence, provide post-traumatic stress disorder services for veterans, stop bullying in our schools, and keep drugs off our streets.
Under his leadership, the Norfolk District Attorney’s office became the first in Massachusetts to win a murder conviction in a case that lacked a victim’s body. During this time, Bill also became one of the founding members of the Norfolk Advocates for Children, a public-private partnership whose mission is to aid abused children.
Bill and his wife, Tevis, reside in Bourne and are the proud parents of two children, Kristen and Patrick.
As a lifelong animal lover and the proud guardian of two dogs, Bill is a strong advocate for domestic and wild animals alike. He is an active member of the Animal Protection Caucus and has consistently earned a 100% rating from the Humane Society. Bill recognizes that protecting pets, farm animals, and wildlife is both a moral and economic imperative, and he is honored to stand up for those who do not have a voice.
PROTECTING DOMESTIC ANIMALS
Animal cruelty and the crime of animal fighting have no place in our society. Bill strongly supports the protection of domestic and farm animals, and encourages stringent enforcement of animal crimes. In 2014, he was recognized by the Humane Society for his steadfast support as one of only 44 Members of Congress to receive their top rating and was presented with their Legislative Leader Award.
Among the many animal protection initiatives that he has supported, Bill is proud to be a cosponsor of the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act. This legislation prohibits extreme acts of violence against animals when they occur in interstate or foreign commerce, including the puppy mill trade. By complementing existing legislation in all 50 states that makes malicious acts of cruelty against animals a felony, the PACT Act ensures that animals will also be protected on federal property and in interstate commerce.
As a proud dog guardian, Bill understands firsthand that pets are an irreplaceable member of the family. And so, he was proud to combine his work as a former District Attorney and his personal appreciation for pets’ roles within family units as a cosponsor of the Pets and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, which makes it harder for domestic abusers to prey on their battered partners and their pets. Specifically, this legislation responds to the situation of an estimated one-third of domestic violence victims who delay leaving an abuser out of fear for their pet’s safety by guaranteeing that restraining order protections for pets are upheld across state lines.
He has also cosponsored the Pet Safety and Protection Act, which serves to prevent stray animals – who may be lost family pets – from being sold to laboratories by placing restrictions on those sales.
Further, while research is critical to making medical advancements, Bill believes that testing cannot be conducted at risk of harming the animal. To this end, Bill cosponsored the Humane Cosmetics Act, which would phase out the testing of cosmetics on live animals and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. Tests conducted on rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and mice for assessing ingredients have been found to be unreliable predictors of human reactions, making this practice not only cruel but unnecessary.
Finally, Bill is concerned by the rate at which horses are subjected to extreme cruelty in order to further the economic engine of horse shows and racing. He is a cosponsor of the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which improves upon existing federal law to strengthen the enforcement of prohibitions on the cruel practice of “soring” in which trainers inflict pain on the hooves and legs of horses to gain an unfair advantage when showing, exhibiting, or selling the horse by forcing the horse to perform an unnaturally high-stepping gait. He has also cosponsored the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would protect horses and consumers from the dangers of slaughtering horses for human consumption by prohibiting the interstate transport and export of U.S. horses to slaughter.
COMBATTING GLOBAL POACHING AND ILLICIT WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING
Bill is committed to protecting all wild animals, especially those that are endangered or at risk of being listed as endangered. He has consistently opposed legislative measures that would erode protections for endangered species and is a strong supporter of the Endangered Species Act. Among these initiatives, he is proud to cosponsor the Big Cats Public Safety Act, which would address the public safety and animal welfare concerns associated with private ownership of big cats and other wild animals by banning private ownership. The legislation would also protect conservation efforts by ensuring that accredited zoos, qualified sanctuaries, and state universities can continue to care for and display them. He is an original cosponsor of the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act, which would responsibly phase out the captivity of killer whales.
Further, Bill believes that, in order to protect wildlife, such as rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and sharks, from poaching and illegal trafficking, it is critical to cut off their demand. In his role as Ranking Member on the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee, Bill has partnered with his colleague Ted Poe, Chairman of the Subcommittee, to push for a review of the United States’ efforts to combat international wildlife trafficking. They held a Subcommittee hearing on anti-wildlife trafficking with the three co-Chairs of the President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking from the Departments of State, the Interior, and Judiciary. Together, they then authored an amendment, which was included in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, that would require the Director of National Intelligence to produce a report on wildlife trafficking. This amendment and subsequent report will ensure that the intelligence community has the information it needs to effectively fight the threat of wildlife trafficking and understand the link between trafficking profits and terrorist organizations, like al Shabaab and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
Bill is also an original cosponsor of two important pieces of legislation to combat global poaching: the CECIL Act and the Global Anti-Poaching Act. The CECIL Act (Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act) would curb the sport killing of species that are proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Global Anti-Poaching Act would support anti-poaching efforts around the world by strengthening the capacity of partner countries to counter wildlife trafficking, and identifying those that have failed to prevent this devastating crime.
ECONOMY AND JOBS
From our historic agricultural traditions of fishing and cranberries to the region’s role as a hub of emerging industries, such as clean energy initiatives and bio-tech, Southeast Massachusetts has great opportunity for economic growth. Bill believes that the most effective and efficient way to create jobs and grow our local workforce while stimulating long-term economic growth is to invest directly in these industries, businesses, and public sector opportunities that support our regional economy.
Bill supported passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law in 2014. This law includes key provisions of the Workforce Investment Act, which would improve the nation’s workforce investment infrastructure, focusing on finding workers jobs and careers through strategic partnerships with in-demand sector employers, community colleges, labor organizations, and non-profits.
He is also committed to promoting and establishing training programs in emerging technologies for high school and college-age students, as well as focusing on the renewal of American manufacturing and innovation—in our region and around the country. Instead of tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, Bill has advocated for policies that reward companies that create jobs here in Massachusetts.
Bill is working to get Americans back to work through cosponsoring the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act— which would fund and create a bank that would direct public and private dollars toward infrastructure projects of national or regional significance.
He is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, an independent, non-political, self-sustaining agency that has been running for the past 81 years to help finance the export of American goods and services. In our district, $90 million in exports were supported by the Bank. For one local cranberry business, the Export-Import Bank financed over $6 million in 2015 to enable them to sell their cranberries and cranberry products to Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Asia. With nearly 60 other export credit agencies around the world trying to win jobs for their own countries, the Export-Import Bank helps level the playing field for American businesses and ensures that U.S. companies never lose out on a sale because of attractive financing from foreign governments.
Hand-in-hand with ensuring we have good jobs available and a skilled workforce to fill them is the need to make sure workers are earning a decent wage and able to support their families. Bill voted in favor of all attempts to extend unemployment insurance and supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10. He believes that if we pay workers appropriately for an honest day’s work, our economy will flourish.
Locally, Bill has secured millions in grant funding for workforce development, advanced manufacturing, and STEM education programs, including the largest grant that Cape Cod Community College has received, and over $1 million for YouthBuild’s alternative education program. He has also provided millions in community development funding – helping to build strong communities throughout Cape Cod, the South Shore, and South Coast.
Bill continues to look forward to opportunities to expand our regional economy. Some initiatives he supports include South Coast Rail, expansion of the marine sciences industry, and engaging with academic institutions to train students for jobs of the future.
Ensuring that America’s students receive a quality education has long been a top priority for Bill, who strongly supports robust federal funding for educational programs at all ages. A strong education system is essential to assuring that our students become part of a skilled workforce prepared to compete in our increasing global economy. It is also one of our most basic commitments to our communities. Similarly, it is critical that we recognize and respect the dedicated role of teachers in impacting our children’s growth.
Bill’s advocacy for our students and teachers has been a hallmark of his entire career. As a member of the Massachusetts state legislature, he sponsored the law that created drug-free school zones and enforced the requirement of sprinklers in school facilities. Then, as District Attorney of Norfolk County, he initiated an anti-bullying prevention program that was ahead of its time and is still being used in classrooms across the county.
In Congress, Bill is a member of multiple caucuses that work to strengthen our education system and empower our students, including the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Caucus, the Anti-Bullying Caucus, and the TRIO Caucus.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The most effective way to secure our nation’s future prosperity is by investing in our children’s education – especially in their earliest years. Bill has long supported maintaining funding for early childhood education through the Head Start program. Head Start is a research-based, comprehensive child development and early education program for both lower-income children and their families. Research has found that children who attend Head Start enter school better prepared than lower-income children who do not attend the program. Ensuring that all children, regardless of cultural or socioeconomic background, have access to the quality education they need to succeed in the twenty-first century remains one of Bill’s highest priorities.
Bill has worked with determination to provide public schools with the necessary resources to maintain high levels of educational excellence and prepare our children for the emerging technologies of the 21st century.
It is also critical that students have a safe space in which to learn. As a member of Congress, Bill has continued the anti-bullying work he did as Norfolk County District Attorney and helped introduce the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011, a bill that would prohibit public school students from being discriminated against because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Similarly, we need to ensure our schools are equipped to educate students of all abilities. Bill has cosponsored the IDEA Full Funding Act, which would ensure funding increases for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Enacted in 1975 by Congress, IDEA required the goal that each student would receive 40% of the average per student spending for special education. However, that goal has never been met, and current funding is at just 16.1%.
As someone who has heard directly from students and parents about the challenges of paying for a college degree, Bill believes that investments in education are essential to rebuilding our economy, and has always been a strong advocate for our middle class families and their children. Due to rising tuition costs and a still-recovering economy, students and families in the Commonwealth are forced to borrow more than ever to finance their college education.
Access to Pell grants and other forms of federal financial aid are often the deciding factor in a student’s ability to further their education. The Pell Grant Program, which is considered the backbone of federal aid for students, grants financial aid to lower- and moderate-income students based on a formula that considers annual income and school cost, among other factors. This critical funding preserves financial aid for 9.7 million low- and moderate-income students whose ability to attain a higher education would otherwise be threatened. Bill strongly supports full funding of Pell grants as well as efforts to work with our local community colleges and four-year institutions to assist students in getting the resources that can help them transition to the job market.
To this end, he voted in favor and helped ensure passage of the Senate’s version of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, which offers an improved approach for maintaining reasonable student loan interest rates. This bill immediately reduced interest rates for 11 million new borrowers in 2013 and provided students with up to $25 billion in debt relief over the next five years versus current law. By tying interest rates to 10-year Treasury note performance, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act affords students lower rates when the economy is underperforming. This legislation also provides economic certainty to students by guaranteeing a uniform interest rate and cap over the lifetime of their loan.
Bill also cosponsored numerous pieces of critical education legislation that address the rising cost of higher education, such as the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act of 2015, America’s College Promise Act of 2015, the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act, and the Empowering Students Through Educated Financial Counseling Act.
The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act of 2015 would allow borrowers struggling with high interest rates to refinance existing student loans in both the public and private markets to lower interest rates. This legislation provides borrowers the ability to refinance undergraduate student loans to an interest rate of 3.86 percent. Today, some student borrowers are locked into interest rates as high as 8 percent on their existing loans.
The America’s College Promise Act of 2015 makes two years of community college free and offers low-income students an affordable opportunity to earn a four-year college degree. Under the legislation, access to affordable higher education will give students the 21st century skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this economy.
The Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act allows students to use family income data from two years prior to the date of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. This process will help students apply for financial aid earlier so they can better prepare for their college costs. In September 2015, President Obama issued an Executive Order that students and families can use prior-prior year tax data when filling out the FAFSA. Beginning with the 2016-2017 FAFSA, students can apply three months earlier for federal college aid and use an older tax form (prior-prior year) for the purposes of calculating their student aid eligibility.
The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act promotes financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients (students and parents) of federal financial aid, including Pell Grants that reflects their individual borrowing situation before they accept their loan.
It is estimated that nearly one-fifth of children live in a household without enough food for their family to eat. Additionally, families that struggle to have enough food often have difficulty accessing healthy foods. Today, more than one-third of all children are overweight or obese.
More than ever, we must recognize the importance of providing children with nutritious meals at an early age in order to promote healthy eating habits for life. Bill is a strong supporter of federal child nutrition programs help to address this need by providing 32 million children with access to nutritious food.
He has consistently opposed efforts to undermine the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, which supports 46 million low-income Americans each month. SNAP provides children, senior citizens, and working adults alike with access to affordable and nutritious meals. In 2014 alone, the SNAP program is credited with raising more than 4.7 million people, including 2.1 million children, out of poverty.
Bill strongly supports energy policies that increase the use of clean, renewable sources, such as solar and wind; decrease our reliance on fossil fuels; create hundreds of clean energy jobs throughout Massachusetts; and lead to important cost-savings for our local municipalities. He believes that investments in these sources are critical to our global responsibility to combat the threats of climate change and preserve our community for future generations.
For five years in a row, the Commonwealth has been recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy as the most energy efficient state in the country. The Ninth Congressional District, in particular, is the center of renewable energy initiatives both on and offshore, from solar electricity to wind energy. This directly translates into new jobs at home; already, over 98,000 workers are employed in the clean energy industry in our state. These are well-paying, stable jobs that support 1 gigawatt of overall installed renewable capacity.
Clean energy is critical to the future of our country – economically and environmentally. One of Bill’s first actions in Congress was to introduce an amendment to end subsidies for large oil companies, which are some of the most profitable in the world. Big Oil does not need subsidies; instead Bill believes we should continue to invest in our renewables by eliminating barriers to capital and promoting incentives for small- and large-scale use by residents and commercial facilities.
Bill also understands that the possibilities of clean energy production are endless when invested in by public-private partnerships and federal funding. He has strongly supported the extension of federal tax incentives that will allow renewable energy industries on- and off-shore to grow. The construction of future offshore renewable energy projects will catapult Massachusetts – and the United States - toward reaching and surpassing our aggressive renewable energy goals. Our country should be striving to be a leader in the field of innovation and technology in this sector; currently we are lagging behind international competitions such as China.
Bill believes that hand-in-hand with an increased investment in renewable energy, our country needs a unified, dramatic approach to climate change. This is indisputably one of the most urgent challenges of our generation. Already, we are seeing the consequences of unprecedented and unpredictable weather patterns, ocean acidification, and warming sea temperatures. In a coastal community like Southeastern Massachusetts, the full impacts of these changes will be devastating. It is critical that we invest in the science and research to better understand the extent of these consequences on our communities and ways of life, as well as to best plan and adapt for the years to come.
Locally, Bill is closely monitoring the future decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. As a resident of Bourne who lives only 17 miles from the plant, Bill understands firsthand the safety concerns surrounding Pilgrim. To this end, he introduced the Dry Cask Storage Act, which would make nuclear plants safer by requiring dangerous radioactive waste be promptly moved into storage units known to be less vulnerable to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and system breakdowns.
Following Entergy’s decommissioning announcement, Bill united a bipartisan group of Members in similarly affected districts to advocate for local communities and ensure that they play a front-and-center role in engaging directly with both Entergy and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Bill is an active member of the Sustainable Energy AND Environment Caucus and House Renewable Energy Caucus.
Bill has long been a champion for environmental conservation. In the face of a changing climate, he believes is critical to invest in both conservation and coastal restoration initiatives.
While serving in the Massachusetts legislature, Bill wrote and passed safe water legislation that continues to protect our state’s fragile lakes, streams, and wetlands from chemical pollution. He is committed to protecting the diverse ecosystems of Massachusetts’s Ninth Congressional District with the same passion. By permanently addressing key sources of pollution and encouraging ‘green’ habits, like recycling, we will be able to reduce our carbon footprint. For a coastal district like ours where one of our main economic engines is tourism, this is critical.
Wastewater management, specifically on Cape Cod, remains a crucial concern. The Cape’s ongoing fight continues against the presence of nitrogen and other toxic agents that filter into the aquifer from septic systems, wastewater treatment facilities, and storm water drains and out into the estuaries, wetlands, and waters. We see the results of high nitrogen levels in large algal blooms, known as Red tide; strong odors; and depletions in fish and other marine life populations.
In order to address these challenges, Bill helped establish a new initiative, the Southern New England Estuary Program, to provide assistance and resources to municipalities, organizations, and communities in tackling these issues. Together with his regional colleagues, he was proud to secure millions in federal funding for this essential program.
He is also a staunch supporter of the federal Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which help finance much-needed improvements to wastewater treatment systems, combat stormwater runoff, and improving drinking water. In 2015, Massachusetts received over $47 million and $16 million in Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, respectively. Annually, the Commonwealth leverages this funding up to $400 million in water quality improvements state-wide.
The Ninth Congressional District is one of the largest coastal districts in the United States. It is vital that we protect our coastlines and the Cape Cod National Seashore from both environmental and manmade disasters, like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As a member of the Sustainable Energy AND Environment Caucus and House Oceans Caucus, Bill opposes offshore drilling and supports legislative initiatives that ensure both government and private industry preparedness in the face of a future environmental disaster. He also supports raising the liability cap on oil companies so that if disaster were to strike again, the federal taxpayer wouldn’t be left holding the bag.
Bill has successfully secured millions of federal financing to preserve coastal wetlands on Cape Cod, the South Shore, and South Coast, and to restore waterways in the district. Each year, he leads the fight to preserve funding for critical federal conservation programs to protect coastal and marine habitats through locally-drive projects, as well as to preserve coastal wetland buffer zones, which keep communities resilient and benefit fish and wildlife. Because of his leadership on coastal restoration efforts and support for the federal conservation programs, Bill received a leadership award from Restore America’s Estuaries.
Further, Bill is a strong supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has helped state agencies and local communities acquire land, develop project sites in popular recreational areas, and protect national forests and wildlife areas. And, he recognizes the many advancements made due to the groundbreaking work of Southeastern Massachusetts’ academic community. Bill has continually supported our scientific community in their efforts to investigate and find solutions to our local challenges. In particular, he has consistently fought for funding to research and combat the cause and consequences of harmful algal blooms and hypoxia, including through legislation and grant applications.
Finally, Bill recognizes the direct link between the health of the Commonwealth’s ecosystems and environment and the health of our economy. There are 15 national parks in Massachusetts that attract millions of tourists each year –and account for millions in generated revenue. Bill is a strong supporter of the National Park Service, which includes the Cape Cod National Seashore and the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Park. With over four million visitors a year, the Cape Cod National Seashore is one of the most heavily visited units in the National Park system.
The fishing industry remains one of the most historic and economically important industries in all of New England. Yet the challenges facing Massachusetts’s fishermen are as complex and dynamic as the marine ecosystems on which the industry depends.
The first piece of legislation Bill introduced when he was elected to Congress was the Strengthen Fisheries Management in New England Act, which would improve fisheries management and promote scientific research and stock assessments. He also founded a Federal Fishing Task Force to assist commercial fishermen in communicating with each other and other industry stakeholders. This Task Force allows our fishermen to better organize together.
Bill has urged the Department of Commerce to send economic assessment teams to survey the impact of new fishing regulations and the recent recession on the profitability of our fishing industry.
The Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery was issued a disaster declaration by then-Secretary Rebecca Blank of the Department of Commerce in September 2012. After repeated individual, regional, and bipartisan efforts by impacted offices and states, $75 million in financial disaster assistance was appropriated for fisheries disasters nationwide. Bill worked diligently to ensure that Massachusetts’s fishermen receive financial assistance, including by offering budget neutral amendments to the Hurricane Sandy Emergency Supplemental, appropriations process, Farm Bill, and, finally, the FY2014 Omnibus.
In the 114th Congress, Bill continued his work on behalf of Massachusetts’s fishermen by introducing legislation to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary federal law governing fisheries, to authorize competitive grants to support programs that address the needs of fishing communities. Recognizing that the economic impact of low stocks extends beyond fishermen on the water to their families and regional communities, this legislation would provide resources for shore side businesses, such as health promotion and disease preventative services, financial planning education, and workforce development training.
Further, Bill successfully authored an amendment to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that would enhance fishery research and stock assessments by authorizing boarder use of Asset Forfeiture Funds for (1) enhancing fishery research and stock assessments; (2) covering at-sea and shoreside monitoring; (3) advancing conservation gear engineering; (4) assisting with additional research for fishery impact statements; and (5) assisting with funding priorities of the regional fishery management councils.
He is also the lead Democrat of the Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act, which would amend the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act to provide grants to regional fishery management councils for local investment priorities. These councils would work with area fishermen to identify projects, such improving shore side infrastructure and seafood promotion, that are important for the region and to which the funds should be directed.
Bill remains committed to helping our fishermen adapt to strong, modern business models based on accurate and up-to-date scientific data.
As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Bill works to review and shape U.S. foreign policy on a wide variety of issues, including the conflicts in the Middle East, international economic policy, and relations with European Union member states. On the Committee, he serves as the Chairman of the Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber subcommittee. His work there, as well as being a lead investigator into the Boston Marathon Bombings, has led to his emergence as an expert in Congress on terrorist organizations, such as ISIL and al Qaeda, and evolving national security threats. In fact, Bill traveled to the Middle East in the first Congressional trip to Pakistan following the death of Osama bin Laden.
ISIL has escalated the risk of violent attacks – whether coordinated or single-cell - with sophisticated social networking and recruitment tactics. Their recent attacks have occurred on multiple continents and reveal another game-changing, imminent threat. Prior to these attacks, al Qaeda groups represented our primary external terrorist threat in the homeland. Now, however, the emerging threat from ISIL is further being escalated by the threat of foreign terrorist fighters who have left their country and returned home after obtaining military training and battlefield experience.
In 2015, Bill helped lead a Congressional group to the Middle East and Paris in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January, 2015. The purpose of this trip was to gather information about foreign fighters and the increasing role they are playing in this global war of terror. Bill learned firsthand that because of the porous security in many European countries, foreign fighters are able to travel abroad and return home to their Western country with relative ease.
Bill has been working with our European allies to move quickly to identify airline travelers with a passenger record. This is something we do routinely in America; it ensures travelers are crosschecked against a terrorist watch list. He has also submitted multiple amendments to major defense legislation to increase our knowledge and watch of foreign fighters, holding both our security agencies and those of our allies in Europe accountable for tracking those who have been radicalized and travel abroad.
In addition to working with our European allies to strengthen our security, Bill has also been working to strengthen our economic ties. He is one of the lead advocates for a transatlantic alliance and on providing a unified front against aggression in Eastern Europe. He has established the Congressional Transatlantic Trade and Investment (TTIP) Caucus, as well as various channels of communication between European lawmakers and the US, to promote economic development. While Bill opposed trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea, he believes that a trade agreement with Europe presents an opportunity for the U.S. to raise product safety and worker standards and increase environmental protections.
Further, Bill has been proud to strengthen protections of Israel, including successfully authoring a bipartisan amendment in the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act to require designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and calling for the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Bill has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work to highlight foreign issues and strengthen US foreign policy. He was a leader in Congress in supporting the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people and received the Ukrainian National Information Service Award for highlighting the importance of this issue in the US Congress. On behalf of the German-American Business Council, which represents constituent companies in MA-09, Bill was awarded their 2014 Leadership Award for his work to promote greater ties and communication between industry in the US and Germany.
There remains urgency in the world for international humanitarian assistance to peoples in need, and the US is in a position to be a global leader by helping those who are less fortunate help themselves. Following the guiding policies of President John F. Kennedy, who pledged to assist those “across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery,” Bill believes that foreign aid has a role to play in opening up global markets to US businesses and boosting our national security by demonstrating global leadership. He is also a staunch advocate of human rights and freedom of expression and press.
Throughout his entire career – from time as a member of the Massachusetts legislature to Norfolk County District Attorney to now in Congress – Bill has supported responsible gun control legislation. He supports background checks before all gun purchases, in addition to stemming illegal possession or transfer of firearms and improving safety technologies like personalized weapons and trigger locks.
Bill strongly opposes the legal availability of high-capacity, military-grade firearms, which are strictly weapons of war. He is an active member of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which was formed in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The Task Force seeks ways of reducing and preventing gun violence.
He has cosponsored numerous pieces of legislation that would institute common-sense gun laws, including the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, the Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act,the Fix Gun Checks Act, and the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act.The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act prohibits the trade and manufacture of dangerous, high-capacity ammunition like that which was used in the horrifying attacks in Newtown, Connecticut, Tuscon, Arizona, and Aurora, Colorado. The Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act aims to close the so-called “Fire Sale Loophole” in gun sales by preventing anyone whose firearms license has been revoked or denied from transferring firearms into a personal collection or to an employee. The Fix Gun Checks Act would ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale. And the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act would criminalize the transfer of firearms to individuals prohibited from possessing a firearm or providing false or misleading information on an ATF transaction form.
As Ranking Member of the Terrorism Subcommittee, Bill has strongly advocated for the passage of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015, which would prevent a known or suspected terrorist from purchasing a firearm or explosives.
Bill is also a supporter of innovative ways to make legal gun use safer. The Personalized Handgun Safety Act provides funding for research into the technology to produce personalized handguns which may only be operated by the authorized user.
Mass shootings occur at a rate of more than once a day in this country. Bill firmly believes that this is an epidemic that needs to be addressed immediately.
Bill believes that access to high-quality, affordable healthcare is a basic human right. While he was not in Congress when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was voted on in 2009, he is a strong proponent of health care reform as originated in Massachusetts, which has been an unrivaled success. Today, more than 96.9% of the Commonwealth’s total population is insured, and less than 2 percent of children lack coverage.
Tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents have already benefited from the law’s provisions - such as tax credits for small businesses; coverage for young adults up to age 26 on their parents’ policies; patient protections; free coverage for preventive services; and lower prescription drug costs for seniors. Nationwide, 137 million Americans in private plans have received one or more free preventive services, and up to 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage.
Bill has fought to prioritize patients’ access to healthcare above partisan disputes. When the House majority allowed the federal government to shutdown in 2013, critical health services, such as National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trials, were suspended along with the more widely-publicized closure of national parks and furloughing of thousands of federal employees. When Bill was alerted to this fatal circumstance by constituents in his district awaiting clinical trials, he worked with directors at NIH to establish these trials as “essential” – something that would exempt them from the shutdown – and allowed the clinical trials to be restarted. Bill’s action not only benefited his constituents but thousands of patients waiting for life-saving medical treatment across the country.
Needless to say, Bill is an ardent supporter of the NIH and the critical research they do there, and continuously fights to provide funding for medical research and care initiatives that promote the health and wellness of all Americans. He has fought for increased funding for NIH - the largest source of financial support for medical research in the world and funding source for thousands of scientists in research institutions and universities in every state across America. It is estimated that the return on investment for every dollar of NIH funding is more than doubled in local economic growth. In 2012, NIH-funded research was found to support an over 400,000 jobs across the United States, including thousands in Massachusetts.
Bill was also proud to cosponsor the 21st Century Cures Act, which would reauthorize and increase funding for NIH to $8.75 billion over five years, allowing NIH researchers to continue working on modernizing and finding new treatments for diseases, like cancer, diabetes, ALS, Down syndrome, and Alzheimer’s, among others. Further, the NIH will have the flexibility to direct research to unmet needs, cultivate young scientists, and promote greater collaboration between researchers, grant recipients, and institutions.
He also strongly supports our community health centers, which provide health care to 23 million people, including almost 600,000 across Massachusetts. Bill believes vibrant, local health centers are a critical part of an efficient, sustainable health care system and is a member of the Congressional Community Health Center Caucus. For his work, Bill was awarded the National Association of Community Health Centers, 2015 Distinguished Community Health Defender Award. In 2013, he was named a Distinguished Community Health Advocate.
Of specific health care concern to our district, in particular on Cape Cod, is the increase of tickborne illnesses. As a member of the Congressional Lyme Disease Caucus, Bill secured $5 million for the Department of Defense’s Tickborne Disease Research Program – the first time this program has been funded.
Other healthcare related Caucuses of which Bill is a member include the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease, the Arthritis Caucus, the Assisted Caregiving Caucus, the Crohn’s and Colitis Caucus, the Cystic Fibrosis Caucus, the Deadliest Cancers Caucus, the Diabetes Caucus, the Fragile X Caucus, the Kidney Caucus, and the Rare Diseases Caucus.
JUDICIARY AND CIVIL RIGHTS
As a strong advocate for equal rights, Bill has always worked to oppose discrimination of all forms. He has co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996. Repealing DOMA would prevent legally recognized gay and lesbian domestic partners from being denied federal protections, such as Social Security survivors’ benefits and family and medical leave.
Bill is a strong advocate for organized labor and credits unions with support for our country’s middle class and workplace protections. Workers who are unionized are often paid more than their nonunion counterparts and are covered by workplace-related health insurance. Strong unions translate into fairer treatment for workers, including hours, pay, and leave time.
Recently, we have seen attacks on unions and collective bargaining across the country – from the visible attacks spearheaded by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to attempts by Republicans in Congress to strip labor of these protections. Collective bargaining agreements establish the terms of employment for workers on certain projects and often promote efficient completion of that project. President Obama has lifted a previous restriction prohibiting federal agencies to use collective bargaining agreements on federal projects. Bill has consistently opposed any attempts to limit collective bargaining agreements.
He has also opposed free trade agreements with countries that violate international labor standard. Often those agreements decrease worker protections, erode environmental standards, and promote currency manipulation.
Bill supports an expansion of our public infrastructure – which will create well-paying jobs and increase accessibility to urban and rural areas. Bill opposes privatizing our transportation workers and believes that this would lead to not only a decreased level of service but compromised working conditions. Concurrently, Bill believes that when we pay our workers fairly, our economy flourishes. He strongly supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10.
Bill is a strong supporter of equal rights for all, and believes that discrimination has no place in American society. For that reason, he has continually supported LGBTQ rights throughout his time in Congress.
As a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Bill has long been a vocal advocate for marriage equality, and supported the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). To that end, Bill was highly supportive of the landmark decisions in United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry in June 2013, which declared DOMA unconstitutional and upheld the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that California’s infamous Proposition 8 was unconstitutional as well.
More recently, Bill was supportive of the petitioners in the landmark Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court held that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Before the Court heard the oral arguments in this case, Bill joined many of his colleagues in submitting an amicus brief in support of the petitioners to the Court.
Bill was an original cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which provides basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He firmly believes that no American should be denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
He was also one of the first Members of Congress to participate in the NOH8 Campaign, which promotes LGBT equality.
Further, Bill has strongly supported universal LGBT rights and has urged foreign leaders to protect their LGBT communities from discrimination, persecution, and violence.
As a member of both the House Foreign Affairs and House Homeland Security Committee, Bill has direct oversight over our nation’s most urgent security concerns. He serves as the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, where he continues to monitor threats at home and abroad – from ISIS and the flow of foreign fighters to illicit terrorist financing.
Bill has traveled to Europe, Russia, and the Middle East on fact-finding missions and to see the complex situation on the ground firsthand. He participated in the prestigious Munich Security Conference and the Transatlantic Legislator’s Dialogue, in advance of the Ukraine Crisis and renewed Iraq conflict, to make educated decisions on various funding measures on these topics while also promoting our district’s value to European counterparts.
BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING
Bill watched in horror alongside the American public as the attacks unfolded at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. As the only member of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation on the Homeland Security Committee, he was uniquely situated to lead the investigation into the attack and assess the response that followed.
In addition to two fact-finding trips to Russia, Bill has taken numerous steps and introduced legislative provisions to improve information-sharing lapses discovered in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing. He has also traveled to the Middle East and Europe and met with his foreign counterparts in his attempt to have EU countries strengthen their information sharing, something that has a direct impact on American security.
Bill has had a three-prong legislative approach to strengthening our national security. First, he investigated lapses in information-sharing. Through legislation and a series of Congressional Hearings held by the Homeland Security Committee, a Congressional report was produced highlighting challenges to be addressed and changes to be made. The second phase involved oversight of federal agencies as they made changes recommended in the official report. The last phase is ensuring that these changes become permanent requirements.
He began implementing the necessary changes to our homeland security last year. Bill’s first marathon provision, the Keating MOU Provision, was included in the FY2015 Intelligence Authorization, which was signed into law, and compelled the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to conduct a thorough assessment on the Memoranda of Understanding signed between federal, state, and local law enforcement entities, including fusion centers.
The second provision, the Keating Progress Provision, was successfully included in the FY2016 Intelligence Authorization and restores a reporting requirement on the progress of the FBI in implementing information-sharing principles.
In November 2015, the House passed the Fusion Center Enhancement Act of 2015 to provide direction and coordination to the National Network of Fusion Centers, including a Keating amendment codifying the Homeland Security Committee’s recommendations. His third provision,the Keating Fusion Center Provision, strengthens information-sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local governments.
The FY2016 Intelligence Authorization also includes a Keating provision that will produce critical understanding of the flow of foreign fighters to and from Iraq, Syria, and the European Union and NATO countries. Right now, every country is conducting their own investigations into foreign fighters. The Keating Foreign Fighters Provision aims to uncover lapses to our coordinated effort to track foreign fighters.
Bill authored the Prevent Trafficking in Cultural Property Act, which would improve U.S. enforcement against illegal trade in cultural property and, as a result, would help prevent terrorists such as ISIL from profiting from the looting and trafficking of antiquities. This bipartisan bill would enhance coordination between Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in stopping stolen antiquities and other illegally imported cultural objects from entering the United States, and investigating and supporting the prosecution of persons engaged in this trafficking. We know that groups like ISIL are looting and selling cultural properties – in particular from areas such as Iraq and Syria – to fund their terrorist activities. Bill believes that by preventing stolen antiquities from being sold on the black market, we will be hitting ISIL where it hurts the most – their pockets.
With the emergence of sophisticated encryption software and the increasing use of social media to radicalize people around the world, Bill believes our cybersecurity must be strengthened so that American businesses and citizens do not fall victim to cyber threats.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE
Prescription drug abuse is a uniquely American problem that is not limited to geography or demographic. Our country accounts for less than five percent of the world’s population but consumes over 80 percent of the world’s opioids and 99 percent of its hydrocodone. That translates into 46 people a day dying from a prescription drug overdose.
In Massachusetts, nearly 2 people a day are dying of opiate overdoses, and two counties in our district – Bristol and Barnstable – have the highest per capita overdose rates in the Commonwealth, respectively.
Since coming to Congress, Bill has been calling for an across-the-board policy on the use of abuse-deterrent technologies in prescription painkillers. Abuse-deterrent technology is a critical component in prevention that includes both physical barriers to prevent misuse, like crush-resistance and increased heat tolerance, and pharmacological barriers to bring down the potency of these drugs when too much is consumed.
That is why Bill authored the Stop the Tampering of Prescription Pills (STOPP) Act, which is first-of-its-kind federal legislation requiring the use of abuse-deterrent technologies in prescription painkillers. This bipartisan legislation directs pharmaceutical manufacturers to invest in research and production to formulate abuse deterrent drugs in order to compete with drugs of a similar nature that already employ abuse deterrent technologies.
He is a member of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus; Rx Drug Abuse Caucus; and the Youth Drug Prevention Caucus. These organizations work a multi-pronged approach to battle drug addiction on the federal level. He has also been a keynote speaker for the past three years at the National Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta.
Bill believes it is imperative that we stem the rising rates of addiction by investing directly in communities so that they may target and address the rising epidemic. This includes funding to further expand prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in every state, as well as funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), which supports community and faith-based initiatives, along with grants to encourage Drug-Free Communities (DFC) and school zones. Furthermore, increased funding for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) would allow coordination between federal, state and local drug task forces to disrupt or dismantle drug trafficking organizations in HIDTA identified counties.
Addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic is not only a public health priority, but an economic concern as well. The societal costs associated with prescription drug abuse are debilitating. In addition to disrupting the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities, the collective cost of prescription drug abuse is estimated to surpass $55 billion annually. As a former District Attorney, Bill has witnessed the power of a multi-pronged approach to addressing prescription drug abuse. There is no one solution to fighting this epidemic but we benefit from the inclusion of patients, educators, law enforcement and government officials, prescribers, community, and faith-based leaders.
Bill believes it is important that community leaders are engaged in the larger fight against abuse and addiction. For this reason, he has begun organizing faith based group roundtables with participants who are active within their communities. He has already held three in the district with great success.
As former District Attorney of Norfolk County, Bill understands the vital role that our police, firefighters, and emergency responders play in keeping our community safe. He has continually supported our local public safety departments throughout his time in Congress.
In response to a disturbing 2015 exposé by the Boston Globe, Bill introduced the Prevent Repeat Offenders Act of 2015. This legislation seeks to remedy a loophole that allows the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release convicted sex offenders from their custody without registering them in accordance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Bill’s legislation remedies this loophole and requires ICE to handle and register convicted sex offenders in the same manner as required by the federal Bureau of Prisons, including notifying local authorities.
Bill has secured federal funding through Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG), run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The purpose of the AFG program is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. AFG grants often help local emergency response units to obtain critically needed supplies, resources, and equipment, such as emergency vehicles, protective gear, and staff training opportunities. In 2014, towns within the Ninth District received well over $1 million in AFG funding.
Bill has also worked with many towns throughout the district in order to obtain Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants. SAFER grants are designed to provide funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters available within the community. This funding was especially critical to Fall River, who received over $2 million to maintain a fully functioning department.
Since coming to Congress in 2011, Bill has been ringing the alarm bell with respect to airport perimeter security. He led a field hearing in September 2011 at Logan Airport, where TSA officials, airport security experts, and GAO officials discussed the importance of and what is lacking in airport security and has participated in field hearings on airport security in New York. He enlisted Democratic leaders on the Homeland Security Committee to support a request to update all reports on perimeter security at airports. GAO is conducting this study. As the leader in Congress on perimeter security issues, Bill is now working with newly-confirmed TSA Administrator Neffenger, who has ordered a top-to-bottom review of our airports’ perimeters.
Bill was the first Member of Congress to hold FEMA accountable for inaccurate implementation of new flood maps for Massachusetts – an error that would cost policy holders’ rates to skyrocket. Recognizing that something was amiss with the recently released flood maps, Bill requested an independent review of the maps by a scientist and engineer affiliated with UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology and Applied Coastal Research and Engineering, respectively. Their findings, detailed in the Keating White Paper, indicated that FEMA applied an inappropriate methodology for our region when establishing the new flood zone maps.
The error uncovered by the Keating White Paper was cited as evidence by local towns and homeowners against FEMA, and assisted with the successful delay in implementing the maps in Plymouth County.
Recognizing the devastating affect a dramatic increase in flood insure would be to home owners, small business owners, and our housing market, Bill continued working to ensure that incorrect data and maps would not be a problem for communities in the future. In March 2014, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was signed into law, including the Keating Provision requiring FEMA to notify communities and Members of Congress of remapping, mandating FEMA work with communities on appropriate data and models, and requiring FEMA to certify that future flood zone maps are drawn using the most up-to-date, accurate science available.
After decades of hard work, saving, and planning, many seniors are not enjoying the stable, safe retirement they deserve. In 2013, almost half of all adults aged 65 and older were living below the poverty level. Worse, many of the benefits that our elder population relies on – such as Social Security and Medicare – are constantly being threatened. As Representative to the district with the largest senior population in the Commonwealth and as a Member of the Congressional Seniors Task Force, ensuring our senior citizens receive the support they deserve is one of Bill’s top priorities.
Many items used largely by seniors, such as specific foods, prescription drugs, and other health care products, are increasing in price. Instead of using the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) to lower COLA increases, Bill believes we need a more accurate measure of how inflation actually affects seniors.
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are among the most important programs ever created by our government. Our seniors have worked hard and made sacrifices to ensure a better, stronger country for future generations. They deserve a secure, healthy environment with stable support networks.
Bill is an original cosponsor of the Social Security 2100 Act, which would comprehensively strengthen benefits for current and future Social Security beneficiaries. It is fully paid for and is estimated to keep the system solvent beyond the next 75 years. It would do this by requiring those earning above $400,000 to pay their fair share of Social Security taxes, just like everyone else, and by asking workers on average to contribute the equivalent of just an additional 50 cents per week each year. This is a smart, simple way to strengthen Social Security without doing it on the backs of our current seniors and most vulnerable populations.
Like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have played an integral role in the lives of countless Americans. Medicare provides a stabilizing benefit to seniors who are being burdened by increased healthcare costs. It is currently the largest health insurance program in the country, insuring people age 65 and over, those under age 65 but who suffer from qualifying disabilities, and any individual with permanent kidney failure.
Medicaid has provided health coverage for seniors, children, parents, pregnant women, and individuals with disabilities since its inception in 1965. As this vital program protects nearly 1,600,000 enrollees in Massachusetts alone, Bill understands the importance of keeping Medicaid solvent and available to those who need it.
Medicare and Medicaid fraud is pervasive problem. Estimates of the extent of waste, fraud, and abuse in our health care system vary, but the lowest estimates exceed 20% of total health care expenditures in just six categories – overtreatment, failures of care coordination, failures in execution of care processes, administrative complexity, pricing failures, and fraud and abuse. For this reason, Bill introduced the Fighting Medicare Fraud Act of 2014, which would address this abuse and establish stiffer penalties on people who commit identity theft and Medicare fraud, ultimately saving money for seniors. It’s reported that each year 1.5 million people are victims of medical identity theft and $50 billion is lost in the system annually due to Medicare fraud. This legislation aims to curb that and is supported by the Alliance for Retired Americans.
Bill strongly opposes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid as part of any deficit or spending reduction plan. He also opposes any cuts to LIHEAP, the program that provides heating assistance for seniors and low-income families. Bill has been a vocal and committed advocate for increased LIHEAP funding to help seniors and families throughout Massachusetts stay warm.
Since coming to Congress, Bill has continuously fought for men and women engaged in traditional and emerging industries throughout Massachusetts.
The Ninth Congressional District is home to the continental United States’ highest grossing commercial fishing port, New Bedford, and the historic fishing communities of the South Shore, Cape Cod, and Islands. Bill has been proud to support the remaining small and family-owned businesses that call Southeastern Massachusetts home. After pushing the Obama Administration to issue a disaster declaration for the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery in September 2012, Bill secured $75 million in disaster assistance for fishing communities across the country, with the largest share - $26 million – going to Massachusetts. The Commonwealth accounts for approximately 90% of all groundfish landings in New England.
Massachusetts is also home to one of the largest cranberry industries in the country. As the founder of the bipartisan and bicameral Cranberry Caucus, Bill had sought to protect cranberry growers and expand market access. To assist local farmers, Bill has repeatedly secured purchases of surplus cranberries and cranberry products by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), including $28 million for surplus cranberry crops to benefit low-income families. He has also worked to promote the industry’s entrance into new markets by using his position on the Foreign Affairs Committee to promote the product in the European Union and Turkey, where cranberries face high excise taxes. Bill recently directed thousands of dollars of USDA Specialty Block Grant funding for projects in Massachusetts, including a partnership with the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee, Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism to increase demand for cranberries abroad. In total, through his efforts to reauthorize the US Export-Import Bank and his promotion of the cranberry industry, Bill has brought in well over $25 million to this local industry.
With an eye on emerging industries, Bill has successfully fought to preserve merit-based funding in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Massachusetts is second only to California in the number of SBIR grants and total dollar value of the awards, so protecting these grants is imperative to aiding our local businesses; ensuring their continued investments in research and development; and strengthening and modernizing our regional economy.
Further, a critical issue facing small business owners in our district is the challenges posed by seasonal industries, such as tourism. Many employers, particularly in the hospitality and service industries, rely on trusted and trained seasonal employees. Bill remains a staunch advocate for the seasonal workforce employed across Southeastern Massachusetts. In order to prioritize returning seasonal workers, he introduced the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act, and he has continually helped small businesses navigate the federal sponsorship process and mitigate processing delays.
Bill is balanced in his support for comprehensive healthcare coverage and his understanding of the need for small businesses to adjust to the transition from the Massachusetts system to the federal system. He worked to grant small businesses in Massachusetts a much-needed grace period to comply with the insurance market rating rules under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This one year extension allowed for a concise and accurate evaluation of rating factors affecting small business insurance rates. This example is only one of many where Bill crossed the aisle to help clarify or tighten provisions within the ACA for small business owners. He voted for the successful repeal of onerous 1099 forms for small businesses on all purchases of goods and services over $600 annually, and he has consistently voted to repeal the medical device tax while offering alternatives, like closing loopholes for Big Oil, to help pay for the much-needed health care services provided in the ACA.
VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES
The service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families must not be overlooked. As President Lincoln said in his second Inaugural address, “…to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Bill believes this is our obligation to all those who have bravely served our country.
As the grandson of a Gold Star Mother and the son of a veterans agent, Bill learned at an early age that the best way to honor our veterans is to fight for them at home. He saw firsthand on a daily basis just how vital our many veterans’ services are to the men and women who have risked everything to ensure our freedom.
Bill has made assisting our veterans and their families one of the hallmarks of his service in Congress. While only in office a few months, he formed a Veterans Advisory Board, made up of veterans and their advocates in the Ninth District of Massachusetts, in order to ensure that the voices of these men and women are heard.
He is also a member of numerous Congressional organizations aiming to help service members, veterans, and their families, including: the Invisible Wounds Caucus, the Military Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Caucus, the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, and the Veterans Jobs Caucus, among others.
Bill supports increasing the veterans COLA, strengthening TRICARE, and ensuring that the spouses and children of service members receive all the benefits they deserve. He has also been an outspoken advocate for expanded access to much-needed mental health care at the VA that is critical to combating this unacceptably high number of veteran suicides and suicide attempts.
GOLD STAR FAMILIES
Bill introduced the Gold Star Families Equality Act, which will provide Gold Star parents with access to retail and commissary benefits currently only available to spouses and children. Granting Gold Star parents access to retail and commissary benefits will serve as a symbol of our Nation’s commitment to honoring all those who have selflessly devoted themselves to protecting our freedom.
A provision of the Gold Star Families Equality Act involved creating a Gold Star Family Card, whichwould be a new form of identification and serve as credentials for Gold Star Families.Through discussions with Gold Star parents, it came to light that while certain admirable companies and businesses give discounts to Gold Star families, these parents, spouses, and children have had difficulties and feel uncomfortable having to explain their Gold Star status to access these discounts. Having a Gold Star Family Card would provide survivors with the respect and recognition they deserve without any explanation needed. These cards will be modeled after a currently existing Army program, but would extend across all branches of the Armed Forces. The Gold Star Family Card also provides entry to military installations for services, events and memorials.
To further fight for the creation of a Gold Star Family Card, Bill authored a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House of Representatives.
Veterans Affairs outreach clinics are important resources that our veterans use every day, and for that reason Bill has consistently supported funding these clinics to serve our veterans. In 2012, Bill helped establish a new outreach clinic in the Ninth District, located on Long Pond Road in Plymouth. This clinic offers primary care services and access to specialty care to veterans residing throughout our local region, and it has been extremely successful in serving the men and women who have fought in uniform. He will continue to support measures to expand and enhance veteran outreach services.
Due to past allegations of systemic fraud at dozens of VA facilities, the VA launched an investigation into these allegations of misconduct, and while this is an important first step, we must ensure that our veterans receive the high-quality health care to which their service and sacrifice entitle them. As such, Bill supported the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, which incorporates a Veteran’s Choice Program (VCP) option earlier in the referral hierarchy when care is not available within the VA system.
KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL
Bill authored a provision in the National Korea Defense Service Memorial Bill of 2015 to establish a memorial at Arlington National Cemetery for all Members of the Armed Forces who have served and died on the Korean Peninsula post the Korean War. This resolution will not cost any taxpayer dollars but instead be funded by private donations, and is supported by various local and national veterans groups.
In 2013, Bill was awarded the United States Charles Dick Medal of Merit to recognize his contributions to the National Guard.
Bill Keating is pro-choice and proud to have consistently received a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Consistently, Bill has fought for the rights of women, both domestically on the House floor and internationally on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. One of his first acts as a newly-elected Member of Congress was to form a local Women’s Advisory Board. Comprised of female professionals, public servants, community leaders, and small businesswomen from across the Ninth District, its goal was to provide insight on how to best serve the female population of the South Shore, South Coast, Cape, and Islands.
Additionally, Bill strongly supports preserving Title X funding. Title X of the Public Health Service Act supports approximately 4,500 health centers nationwide. These centers are often the only access to preventive care like cancer screenings and HIV testing, as well as to family planning services, for low-income and uninsured individuals. It is one of the most cost-effective public health programs, saving nearly $4 in Medicaid-related costs for every $1 invested. Reversing recent cuts and restoring funding is needed to meet the increasing demand for care and to ensure that the safety net remains in place.
Bill is supportive of making preventative care available to health insurance plan holders without a copay, including women’s health services. He disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which held that closely-held for-profit corporations may be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interest. Bill firmly believes that all health care decisions should be left to the individual and her doctor, and that a person’s employer has no place in such personal health care choices.
He is a proud cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which increases penalties for employers who fail to pay equal wages to men and women performing the same work. It would also create programs for training, research, technical assistance, and pay equity employer recognition awards. Furthermore, this legislation would make it more difficult for employers to avoid liability under the Fair Pay Act and would make sure that employees are protected from retaliation from their employers.
Bill believes that American workers should have paid family and sick, and understands how this issue often impacts women in a disproportionate way. For that reason, he is a strong supporter of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and is a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act, which would provide workers the right to earn up to seven paid sick days each year. As nearly half of America’s private sector workers and over three-quarters of America’s food and public accommodations workers are denied even a single paid sick day per year, this legislation would go a long way to protect the health and job security of millions of working parents and caregivers.
An advocate for victims of domestic violence since his time as Norfolk County District Attorney and a long time White Ribbon Ambassador, Bill strongly supported the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization in 2013. Since the legislation was first passed, VAWA has helped combat domestic and sexual violence by ensuring protective orders are enforced, holding rapists accountable with stronger penalties, and helping victims get access to resources and support. The 2013 VAWA reauthorization expands federal protections to previously marginalized groups, such as the LGBT community, and permits Native American women assaulted on tribal lands to seek recourse through the tribal-court system.
In addition to opposing legislation that seeks to curb women’s rights, Bill has strongly supported bills that uphold women’s causes at home and abroad. Often, women and girls are at a social and economic disadvantage, being born into societies that enable gender-based discrimination and increase their vulnerability to poverty, violence, and limited access to an education.
As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Bill has consistently advocated for the expansion of access to maternal and prenatal care for women and children abroad, including countering attempts to prohibit financing for the United Nations Population Fund. He led a first-of-its-kind hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee on women’s access to education and role in promoting security.
Additionally, he is a cosponsor of the Global Democracy Promotion Act, which would repeal the global gag rule and the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2013, which would promote sexual and reproductive health for individuals and couples in developing countries.
Bill believes that empowering and educating women by preserving their access to these basic human rights is a critical component of U.S. foreign policy and contributes to our own safety at home, because when you invest in women, they in turn can provide opportunities for future generations.