On January 20, 2017, as Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, the Washington Post waited a full 19 minutes before declaring ‘The campaign to Impeach President Trump has begun.’ Many Democrats publicly called for the president’s impeachment and removal long before the articles of impeachment were rushed to a vote days before Christmas, and their obsession has hindered their ability to accomplish virtually anything else. As the Democrats paraded their “overwhelming evidence” around Washington that ultimately proved they’d just wasted America’s time, my Republican colleagues and I were hard at work producing legislation that tackled the problems our constituents sent us to Washington to solve. Before you lose faith in Congress entirely, here’s a little bit more on what I’ve been working on for you in our nation’s capital.
Many communities in Southwest Missouri are still struggling to gain access to reliable highspeed internet, which is why I have been working on several bills that improve broadband access such as the Internet Exchange Act, Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (Broadband DATA), and the MAPS Act. In order to lessen the digital divide, we must be able to accurately identify where broadband is and isn’t as we build and improve the infrastructure necessary to facilitate internet access. The Broadband DATA Act and MAPS Act will allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to create an accurate and updated broadband map. The Internet Exchange Act increases the number of internet exchanges, the physical location where networks come together, to improve the speed and efficiency of networks, particularly for communities at the end of the line (usually rural communities). It is my hope that these bills will help lessen this internet disparity.
On a local level, I’ve assisted in identifying and obtaining available federal grants for local projects. I was able to help the City of Springfield receive a $21 million grant for the Grant Avenue Parkway Project, bolstering economic growth and tourism in the downtown area. Most recently, I was able to help Springfield-Branson National Airport with a grant that will result in a resurfacing of the runways at SGF.
I have also been working to better protect energy consumers, most notably through the Protecting Natural Gas Consumers from Overcharges Act and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. Under current law, natural gas providers are exempt from issuing refunds to consumers in the event that they have been overcharged; the Protecting Natural Gas Consumers from Overcharges Act gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the ability to order gas companies to issue these refunds, ultimately benefiting the consumer and creating an equal playing field across the market. I also was successful in passing the Diesel Emissions Reductions Act, which provides grants to help communities reduce harmful diesel emissions in an effort to improve air quality and public health across the country.
The Cady Housh and Geshma Thomas Suicide Prevention Act is another piece of legislation I’ve been working on. In Missouri alone, one person takes their own life every eight hours. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10 through 24, and school personnel is on the front lines working with students on their emotional wellbeing and mental health. This bill provides the necessary resources and tools to elementary and middle schools to receive proper youth suicide early prevention and intervention training that could help save lives.
As the Democrats continued to run on their impeachment hamster wheel, I’ve continued to work for the people who elected me to this position. I am proud to represent Missouri’s southwest Missouri and have never lost sight of the real reason why I’m here: to improve the lives of the people I represent.
For more information on my activities in our district and in Washington, I encourage you to follow my Facebook page at facebook.com/Rep.Billy.Long and my Twitter page at twitter.com/USRepLong. You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter, "Long's Short Report," by visiting https://long.house.gov/forms/emailsignup/