On November 8th, I became the first Democrat elected to represent Illinois’ 13th Congressional District in more than a century. As I reach 100 days serving in Congress, I’ve been reflecting on why I ran for office, my mission, and the work that Democratic freshmen have already accomplished so far.
I was able to flip my seat from red to blue because I ran a campaign focused on reaching across the aisle to find common-sense solutions to the issues facing working families. When I came to Congress, I was glad to find like-minded colleagues in the New Democrat Coalition (New Dems), a caucus with nearly 100 center-left members who share a mission to break through the gridlock and get results for the American people.
New Dems are dedicated to working in good faith with our colleagues across the aisle. Our coalition members have already outlined a comprehensive policy agenda and launched nine policy task forces focused on critical issues where there are opportunities for bipartisan agreement.
The New Dem policy task forces focus on climate change and clean energy; health care, substance use, and mental health; immigration and border security; the Farm Bill; and more. These issues are affecting Americans now, and they don’t discriminate between party or ideology. If we work pragmatically together, I believe we can make progress.
I’m honored to serve on the New Dem leadership team as the Freshman Leadership Representative to elevate the voices of the 18 freshman members of our coalition. Through conversations with my new colleagues over the past few months, I’ve learned that we all share a commitment to finding common-sense solutions and actually delivering for our communities. From expanding economic opportunity to ensuring our nation’s security, we believe there is room to make progress on critical issues while standing firm against attacks on our fundamental freedoms by extreme politicians.
In the first 100 days, I’ve tried to stay true to this commitment—developing strong relationships with Republicans, introducing bipartisan bills to support workforce development, lower fuel prices with biofuels, and expand health care access in rural communities. I’ve also taken action to address our mental health crisis and fight back against trade restrictions that could hurt family farmers.
And if you look at what my fellow New Dem colleagues are doing, you will see they are making good on their promise to make government work and address pressing issues within their districts. For example, Rep. Yadira Caraveo, M.D. of Colorado introduced legislation to address the substance use disorder crisis, and Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida introduced legislation to bolster school safety. These bills could help save lives.
My New Dem colleagues and I are doing our part to pave a bipartisan path forward and serve our districts, and we call on House Republican leadership to join us in passing meaningful legislation. In the next 600 days, I urge my colleagues in Republican leadership to come to the table and take action on serious bipartisan legislation that can pass in a divided Congress.
I’m ready to make progress on Farm Bill negotiations, tackle comprehensive immigration reform, support growing our economy, take action on our gun violence epidemic, and more. The stakes are too high for inaction—and Americans, from my home in Springfield, Illinois, to communities around the country, are counting on us to deliver.
Rep. Nikki Budzinski is the U.S. representative from Illinois’ 13th congressional district.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.