Issues

Budget

As Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Rosa is committed to ensuring that we do not balance the budget at the expense of America’s most vulnerable, including working families, children, and seniors. Rosa continues to fight to ensure that we are making smart investments in our future, and that our budget reflects our values. This year’s Labor-HHS-Education funding bill—the People’s Bill—makes historic investments in programs that provide opportunities for millions of people, making sure every child gets a good education by increasing funding for early childhood education, child care, public schools, and higher education programs like Pell Grants and the Federal Work Study program. The People’s Bill also protect our nation’s workers and help ensure access to good jobs through increased funding for workforce training, apprenticeship programs, and worker protection programs at the Wage and Hour Division and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Finally, it invests in people’s health through groundbreaking medical research at The National Institutes of Health, our public health and food safety infrastructure at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and women’s health. Through billions in smart, increased investments, this bill will help people across the country at every stage of their life.

Consumer Advocacy

Rosa has long been an advocate for improved consumer safety. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that deals with these issues, Rosa has made enormous progress in improving food and drug safety and the safety of consumer products. In addition, she has worked to protect Connecticut consumers from the dangerous practices of banks and mortgage lenders in today’s economy.

Rosa believes that no Connecticut family should have to worry about the availability of safe, healthy food, which is why she has worked to increase access to safe, healthy food for all Connecticut families, particularly for school children and for our neediest families. She has been a leader in calling for the expansion of programs that provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schools, and in ensuring that food served in schools is completely safe. Rosa has held oversight hearings to examine whether the USDA can do more to prevent unsafe food from entering the school lunch program. She has also introduced legislation to increase inspections of food plants with products at higher risk of contamination, and to ensure that imported food is subject to the same regulations as domestically produced food, to eliminate the public health threat presented by contaminated food.

To Rosa, safety as a consumer means not only protection against unsafe products, but also protection against the practices of corporations and banks that have exacerbated the economic downturn and hurt Connecticut families. She is committed to holding Wall Street executives accountable for their role in the financial crisis, and she will continue to fight against banks and corporations who spend taxpayers’ money recklessly even as Connecticut families struggle. Rosa believes that it is critical to treat the root causes of the economic downturn, enacting policies that will allow for oversight and prevent similar financial calamities in the future.

Education

Rosa has fought to increase funding for Head Start, the most effective early childhood development program ever developed. Head Start has provided comprehensive development, literacy, and family services to more than 20 million pre-schoolers from working families. She has also worked to promote an early learning focus in the Race to the Top program and has established the bi-partisan Congressional Baby Caucus to focus public policy on the healthy development of infants and toddlers.

Rosa believes that educating the whole child means more than teaching to meet the requirements of a test. She fought to reform the No Child Left Behind Act to provide states with more flexibility in measuring student achievement and last year voted to enact the Every Student Succeeds Act to help our students in greatest need of support. Rosa strongly supports teachers, which includes providing teachers with strong preparation and professional development and valuing the work that they do each day.

To make college more affordable, Rosa has fought to raise the maximum Pell Grant award. Due to increases in tuition and fees, Pell Grants do not cover as many credit hours as they did previously. Rosa has also worked to curb the rise in student debt by calling on Congress to keep student loan interest rates low and close financial aid loopholes being exploited by for-profit institutions.

Energy

Rosa believes that an environmentally sound economy can also be a robust economy. That is why she is committed to increasing access to alternative energy sources and more efficient cars and to increasing opportunities for green job creation within the state of Connecticut. In addition, Rosa believes that as stewards of this country for our children and grandchildren, we have an obligation to protect our valuable natural resources.

Rosa recognizes that we need a new energy policy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and lower energy costs for Connecticut families. She has called for a rapid move toward investment in biofuels and new technologies that harness clean energy sources such as wind and solar power. In the short term, Rosa supports addressing escalating energy costs by cracking down on price gouging and manipulation of the energy futures market, and by releasing oil from reserves and drilling on previously designated land.

Through her work on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Rosa has helped to boost homegrown biofuel production and has helped to bring increased oversight to our energy and agriculture futures markets to prevent the speculation and manipulation that drive up prices.

Rosa’s work on the appropriations committee has also helped to double the funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps many of Connecticut’s most vulnerable families to keep the heat on in the winter and provide cooling during the hottest summer months. Rosa is proud that, because of this program, thousands of Connecticut families will not have to make the impossible choice between food and heat each winter.

Rosa believes that we must treasure and protect our local national resources. She has been a leader in strengthening important environmental laws — particularly those that protect our waterways. She was an original co-sponsor of multiple critical pieces of legislation to prevent water pollution.

Healthcare

No one should have to choose between health care coverage and financial security. Rosa knows that health care reform is a smart investment, not just for our health, but for our economic well-being. She is proud to have supported the historic Affordable Care Act, and she is committed to continuing the fight to secure quality, affordable health care for every American. The Affordable Care Act is good for the middle class, for small businesses and for the economy, and we are a better and stronger country because of it. It ensures that Americans have access to quality, affordable health care while reducing the long-term costs of health coverage. The Affordable Care Act ended the power insurance companies yield over doctors and patients and over responsible and working Americans.  Middle class Americans no longer have to fear being dropped by their insurance companies when they need it most. Health care reform also improves Medicare and provides prescription drug coverage seniors need. These reforms extend the life of Medicare and begin to fill the doughnut hole in coverage that leaves so many seniors vulnerable.

Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. Rosa fought passionately to provide for the health needs of women in this health care reform, and all American women will gain from this fight. No longer are insurance companies allowed to treat having had a child or a c-section, or being the victim of domestic violence, as a “pre-existing condition,” nor can they continue to charge individual women up to 50 percent more for the same coverage

A 30-year survivor of ovarian cancer, Rosa is also a leading advocate for funding biomedical research, including studies supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  She works with colleagues to raise awareness of the need to invest in this work to save lives.  This research is also critical to job growth, as every $1 invested in the NIH has been found to result in an additional $2 of business activity. This includes research supported by the NIH, surveillance supported by the CDC, grants that support graduate and professional school education, and numerous other critical programs.

Jobs & The Economy

Many Americans have seen their wages stagnate and income fall over the past decades. As the top 1% of Americans have seen their incomes triple, 1 in 6 Americans are living in poverty. With unemployment rates still high in Connecticut and across the country, Rosa’s top priority is putting people back to work and creating good middle class jobs. Rosa believes in doing this while also investing in the infrastructure and in a green economy that will create jobs in the long-term and sustainable economic growth that allows us to compete in the global economy.

Rosa knows that the most important work she can do to strengthen our economy is to help create good jobs for Connecticut.

From supporting innovative small business and our manufacturing base to investments in education and scientific research, we must create good, sustainable middle class jobs that cannot be outsourced and will lead to long-term economic growth.

Rosa continues to fight to create good jobs for Connecticut now and well into the future. Her Job’s Plan aims to create jobs by supporting small business, innovative research and education while also preserving existing jobs and preventing unjust barriers for employment. Rosa’s Job’s Plan will also build the foundations for long-term growth by rebuilding our infrastructure and reviving the manufacturing sector and help working families to ensure they get the pay and benefits they deserve.

Rosa has always believed that investing in public works projects like roads, bridges, transit and schools is a crucial element in turning the economy around. Rebuilding our infrastructure creates good jobs that cannot be outsourced, spurs economic growth, and puts our nation on a better path, not just today but for the future.

Rosa believes that a good job allows workplace flexibility, so that employees do not have to choose between their paycheck and their health. She has advocated for legislation that would call for employers to provide paid sick days to their employees. “Paid sick days has always been a good, common-sense, and economically sound proposal for American workers and families,” says Rosa.  “We can no longer afford to wait to pass legislation that will give the 57 million Americans who cannot take time off work the crucial ability to stay home when they are sick. We need to get this done now.”

Military Families

It is our duty to provide for the military families who have sacrificed so much to protect us. And Rosa has helped to secure a landmark expansion of educational benefits for veterans, providing benefits to cover the cost of a four-year education, along with a stipend for housing, books and other expenses.

Recently, Rosa focused her efforts on measures to improve the ability of our Defense Department and Department of Veterans’ Affairs to support the wave of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health needs. She has introduced legislation to improve pre and post-deployment mental health screenings, increase access to mental health services for children and families of deployed soldiers and veterans and improve coordination between the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration.

The state of Connecticut has more than 400,000 veterans, including hundreds returning wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan. During the appropriations process, Rosa has helped to secure large increases in funding for Veterans Affairs, including new initiatives for mental health and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through the West Haven VA Hospital and the West Haven National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this funding is directly benefiting veterans and military families in the Third District.

Seniors

Year after year, Rosa has been successful in fighting for the interests of seniors. The current fiscal year budget includes billions of dollars for programs to increase nutrition and supportive services for seniors, and to pursue biomedical research relating to health issues affecting seniors. Rosa believes that we must protect the programs that provide necessary services for Connecticut’s senior citizens. She has pushed for cost-of-living increases to Social Security so that seniors receive the benefits they desperately need to pay increasing food, heating and medical costs. Rosa cosponsored legislation to provide financial support to seniors to fill the gap in Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in this difficult economy. In addition, she has called for policies that increase private retirement savings through opt-out workplace pension plans and pressuring companies to honor their pension obligations.

Rosa understands the difficulty that seniors and their families face in paying for necessary medical care. She was so proud to be able to vote for a comprehensive health reform package that does so much for seniors, including closing the “donut hole” in prescription drug coverage to ensure that seniors do not have to worry about affording essential medications.

Rosa has also been instrumental in securing reductions in energy prices that directly benefit our seniors. Through her work on the appropriations committee, Rosa was able to help double the funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps many seniors to keep the heat on in the winter and provide cooling during the hottest summer months. Rosa is proud that, because of this program, thousands of Connecticut seniors will not have to make the impossible choice between food and heat each winter.

Year after year, Rosa has been successful in fighting for the interests of seniors. The current fiscal year budget includes billions of dollars for programs to increase nutrition and supportive services for seniors, and to pursue biomedical research relating to health issues affecting seniors. Rosa believes that we must protect the programs that provide necessary services for Connecticut’s senior citizens. She has pushed for cost-of-living increases to Social Security so that seniors receive the benefits they desperately need to pay increasing food, heating and medical costs. Rosa cosponsored legislation to provide financial support to seniors to fill the gap in Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in this difficult economy. In addition, she has called for policies that increase private retirement savings through opt-out workplace pension plans and pressuring companies to honor their pension obligations.

Rosa understands the difficulty that seniors and their families face in paying for necessary medical care. She was so proud to be able to vote for a comprehensive health reform package that does so much for seniors, including closing the “donut hole” in prescription drug coverage to ensure that seniors do not have to worry about affording essential medications.

Rosa has also been instrumental in securing reductions in energy prices that directly benefit our seniors. Through her work on the appropriations committee, Rosa was able to help double the funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps many seniors to keep the heat on in the winter and provide cooling during the hottest summer months. Rosa is proud that, because of this program, thousands of Connecticut seniors will not have to make the impossible choice between food and heat each winter.

Women's Rights

American women have made great strides since the first women’s rights convention in 1848. Today, women are central to America’s workforce, in business small and large, in public service, and in our homes.  That is why Rosa has developed When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women & Families. Rosa also believes that we must work to increase women’s access to employment in the changing economy. She has sponsored legislation that would provide training and support to workers who support families, so that they may obtain high-tech jobs and participate in the new economy.

Rosa believes strongly in women getting equal pay for equal work. Achieving equal pay for women would increase wages for thousands of households and bring thousands of families out of poverty. In 2009, Rosa introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in the House of Representatives. The bill strengthens the laws against pay discrimination and closes loopholes through which employers can avoid liability for wage discrimination. Rosa will continue to fight for pay equity, as she has for her entire career in Congress.

Rosa recognizes the unique challenges that women face in obtaining access to the health care that they need. She has fought to protect women’s reproductive rights, consistently voting to maintain and increase access to safe medical care for pregnant women. In addition, she has introduced legislation focused on prevention of unwanted pregnancy, increasing access to contraceptives and expansion of family planning services to inform pregnant women and girls about all of their options.

Young People

Rosa believes that a secure future for our infants, children and youth means a secure future for Connecticut. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that Connecticut children grow up healthy and safe, and that they can access the education and programs they need to be successful in the changing economy.

Rosa sponsored legislation to create the Child Tax Credit, which relieves the burden placed on Connecticut’s working families and stimulates our economy. Economists have praised the Child Tax Credit as one of the best targeted poverty alleviation policies, and the one that provides the best economic stimulus. Rosa has also supported increases to the tax credit, and was successful in securing a substantial expansion of this tax credit in the Jobs Bill passed by Congress, which will benefit many families with children in this difficult economy.

In greater New Haven this year, Rosa helped secure $4.7 million in funding for the Healthy Start Program, which works tirelessly to help close the gap in infant mortality rates between white families and families of color. Rosa’s goal is to ensure that all of the children get the care they need, not just to survive, but to thrive.

As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees all food safety and nutrition programs, Rosa has worked to increase access to safe, healthy food for Connecticut school children. She has been a leader in calling for the expansion of programs that provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schools, and in ensuring that food served in schools is completely safe.

In addition, Rosa has fought to ensure the safety of consumer products designed for children. After a record number of lead-based toy recalls, she sponsored legislation to toughen the Consumer Product Safety Act and enhance the accountability measures for establishments—both in this country and abroad—that distribute unsafe toys and other products to American families. Rosa believes that the distribution of unsafe consumer products to families with children is both completely unacceptable and completely avoidable, and will continue to fight to ensure that no parent has to worry about the safety of the toys and other products that they purchase for their children.