It has been an honor to serve as your congressman over the last 100 days and I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given. When I ran for Congress, I promised to fight for the Lowcountry and break through the political tribalism and gridlock that defines Washington. I committed to working with both parties and our president to get things done. Over the last 100 days, I have found ample room to work across the aisle. Of the 25 bills I have cosponsored, 17 have been bipartisan.
Since I was sworn in on Jan. 3, I have introduced bills to ban offshore drilling, close the Charleston loophole, ensure carbon monoxide detectors in public housing units, and improve veterans’ access to podiatric care. I’m proud to be a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers’ caucus, a group of Democrats and Republicans who meet weekly to discuss common-sense policies and issues on which we can work together. Recently, the publication Congressional Quarterly ranked me as the most independent member of Congress.
During the 2018 campaign, I promised to do everything I could to protect our coastline from offshore oil exploration. So, on my fourth day in office, I introduced bipartisan legislation to bring back the ban on offshore drilling. I am thankful for the continued support of the Lowcountry’s coastal mayors and legislators in this pursuit.
In an era of divided government and dysfunction, the House has managed to pass meaningful legislation that solve problems on which I campaigned. One of the bills of which I am most proud is H.R. 1, the For the People Act — once in a lifetime reform legislation that combats the culture of corruption in D.C. and ensures Washington serves the people. H.R. 1 promotes clean and fair elections, ends partisan gerrymandering, reins-in the influence of special interests, and takes dark money out of our political system. We also passed the bipartisan Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure equal pay for equal work.
In the last 100 days, we also passed the first pieces of commonsense gun safety legislation in over 25 years. Alongside Majority Whip Clyburn and Republican Rep. Peter King, I introduced a bill that would close the Charleston loophole and give law enforcement adequate time to conduct a background check. Passing this bipartisan legislation as Jennifer Pinckney — the widow of Mother Emanuel Pastor Clementa Pinckney — and her young daughters looked on from the House Gallery was one of the most humbling moments of my life. We also passed a historic and bipartisan public lands package, which included the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and created the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park in Beaufort.
There is still so much to do.
We need to address the rising costs of health care and prescription drugs, and continue to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. I stand ready to work with both parties, including President Trump, to make a serious investment in the Lowcountry’s ailing infrastructure. We need to finally get serious about tackling our national debt, which both Democrats and Republicans have allowed to spiral out of control. The national debt just hit a record $22 trillion, equaling about $67,000 for every man, woman and child in the Lowcountry. One of my very first votes in Congress was to reinstate pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules to offset any new spending. I also support a Balanced Budget Amendment to prohibit the government from spending more than it receives, and recently voted against a Democratic spending plan that I believe was fiscally irresponsible.
Over the remainder of my term, I will continue to work with members of both parties and our President to make sure Washington works for you. I will continue to proudly serve the Lowcountry and will never forget that it was you who sent me here.
Joe Cunningham represents the 1st Congressional District of South Carolina in the United States House of Representatives.