Guest Column: Bipartisan efforts in Washington reaping results for Arizona

2013-05-22T00:00:00Z Guest Column: Bipartisan efforts in Washington reaping results for ArizonaU.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

That noise. It keeps getting louder and louder.

It's Washington, D.C., which thrives on a 24/7 chorus of arguing lawmakers and TV pundits.

But here in Arizona, we thrive on common sense. Folks here know what really matters.

So I want to alert you about a few not-so-noisy things that matter: bipartisan efforts that are getting results for Arizona.

Yes, I said "bipartisan" efforts. You might not hear as much about them, so here are a few highlights:

• Standing up for veterans: There's a massive claims backlog at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and it demands action. Our congressional district has nearly 70,000 veterans, and, unfortunately, many Arizona veterans have been stuck in this backlog for years.

This is why I recently introduced legislation to help tackle the backlog, and it's co-sponsored by the Republican chairman of my Veterans Affairs subcommittee, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado.

My bill is called the VA Claims, Operations and Records Efficiency Act, or VA CORE. It directs the Defense Department to enact an efficient, electronic transfer of veterans' records instead of the outdated paperwork process that is currently used.

The national American Legion and other veterans' groups are writing letters in support of our bill, and we hope it continues to gain steam.

Rep. Coffman and I know that helping veterans is not a partisan issue - it's a national responsibility.

• Creating good jobs: Shortly after taking office, I joined my Republican colleague, Rep. Paul Gosar, to introduce the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act. This legislation would help our Copper Corridor region create thousands of jobs and build a more diversified, stable economy.

Our bipartisan bill recently passed the House Natural Resources Committee and may be headed for a full vote on the House floor.

Some folks may not realize this, but Congressman Gosar is the gentleman who defeated me in 2010 after my first term in Congress. Today, we are working together on behalf of all Arizonans.

• Protecting women and families: I was proud to co-sponsor the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. And I was especially pleased to see it pass the Senate and House with strong bipartisan support. It was signed into law March 7 and strengthens our ability to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

This was an important moment for women everywhere, and particularly for Native American women who suffer from much higher rates of domestic violence. Our congressional district is 23 percent Native American, so this was a victory for our tribal communities.

Again, this effort was not about partisanship. It was about protecting women and families.

• Putting the district first: The National Journal recently listed me among the top 10 most independent (or as the story puts it, "the most nonconformist") House Democrats.

That's because I won't hesitate to oppose my own party or the president when it's right for my district. In fact, I recently spoke out against proposed cuts to Social Security in the president's 2014 budget.

That budget's so-called "chained CPI" formula would harm seniors, veterans and working families in District 1. It recalculates the cost of living and it would not keep up with inflation. So let's call this formula what it really is: a shrinking Social Security check for the people who need it most.

The folks in District 1 sent me to Congress to get results, not to pick fights. They've told me this in Pima County and throughout our district.

And I hear them, loud and clear.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is a Democrat representing Congressional District 1, a large, mostly rural district that includes portions of Pima and Pinal counties in Southern Arizona.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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