“When I attempted suicide and I didn’t succeed,” Jill Jackson said, “I knew for the first time unconditional love—which God is. You are totally loved, totally accepted, just the way you are. In that moment I was not allowed to die, and something happened to me, which is very difficult to explain. I had an eternal moment of truth, in which I knew I was loved, and I knew I was here for a purpose.” Eleven years later she and her husband of six years Sy Miller penned the hymn “Let there be peace on earth.” It’s been playing on loop in my head this week in Washington – actually, just one line from it, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
During a committee hearing the late Congressman Morris Udall once said, “It is true that everything has been said, but not everyone has said it.” In this day and age, when not only do people lust for their 15 minutes of fame, more and more of them seek their 15 minutes 15 times a day. The key here is to get a sound bite of yourself saying something profound that you can use in your next campaign. And all you have to do is simply say something more outrageous than the Congressman that spoke just before you. May I remind you that during the four hours of debate this week on invoking the 25th Amendment and Impeachment – debates that included lots of screaming and name calling not one mind or vote was changed. This is standard fare in Congress. 99.99999% of the debates you watch on C-Span have zero effect on changing one mind or vote on the issue being discussed. But boy does it make for some good clips you can use in your next Campaign.
At the apartment I stay at while in Washington, I’ve become very adept with a microwave oven and a saucepan. I can heat up some mean Campbell soup in that saucepan. I like to see those first few bubbles before it breaks into a full boil. Those little bubbles mean it’s good and hot. However, if Investigation Discovery has distracted me and I go back to find my soup in a full boil I panic and turn the heat down. It’s time to turn down the heat in Washington and work on loving our neighbors and not hating them. ‘Let there be peace and let it begin with me’ – too aspirational probably but if I can be a little part of turning down the heat in Washington you’ve got my word, I will do just that. And in a tip of my hat to Mo Udall, if you see a quote from me, I was mis-quoted because I didn’t say anything. Now back to working on good bipartisan legislation, helping Mark with renewing his girlfriend’s passport, helping Jim cut through the red tape and get him into the Veterans Affairs Hospital before it’s too late and oh, yeah Craig’s client really needs for the Small Business Administration to decide on that case one way or the other.
‘And now watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.‘ A.K.A. What I’ll be working on in the 117th Congress. One of my top priorities in Congress has always been improving access to broadband in the more rural areas in my district. I constantly hear from frustrated folks who have extremely slow internet connectivity or no connection at all. In a time where Americans are working, attending school, shopping, and seeing their doctors from home, it is more important than ever to ensure everyone has access to adequate broadband services. During the last Congress, I worked across the aisle on legislation to improve the accuracy of broadband maps and hold telecommunications companies accountable if they purposefully fabricated those maps. The first step in ensuring rural communities have adequate broadband access is finding out who has no access at all. Now that we’ve worked to make broadband maps more accurate, we need to work hard to get access to these rural areas. I enjoy a very good reputation with my Democratic colleagues, and I look forward to working with them to pass legislation to improve rural broadband.
Lifting up rural communities that often feel left behind by the government is a crucial part of bridging the partisan divide. That is why many of my priorities strive to improve the quality of life in rural communities. Another legislative item that I was able to work across the aisle on last Congress was the Success for Rural Students and Communities Act. Language from this bill was included in the latest funding package and creates a grant program to promote postsecondary enrollment and completion rates for rural students. While rural students graduate high school at the same or higher rate than their urban counterparts, their college attendance rate is significantly lower. Legislation like this ensures individuals living in rural communities are on an equal playing field with the rest of the nation. It continues to be my goal to work on legislation similar to this, that would ensure rural communities are not left behind.
Another one of my priorities that I have been pushing for years that would improve the quality of life in both rural and urban communities is a bipartisan infrastructure package. If there is one thing that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s improving our nation’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, Democrats refused to work with Republicans on infrastructure during the Trump Administration but I’m hopeful that they will be more amenable to a compromise after January 20, 2021.
In order for our country to truly heal, Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to work together and pass bipartisan legislation that will benefit everyone. I can promise you that will not happen until we turn down the heat in Washington. I ran on bringing strong conservative principles to Congress and I will continue to fight to ensure those principles are represented in the legislation we pass.
For more information on my activities in our district and in Washington, I encourage you to follow my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rep.Billy.Long and my Twitter page at https://twitter.com/USRepLong. You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter, “Long’s Short Report,” by visiting https://longforms.house.gov/newsletter-and-email-updates-form.