Thank you all so much. I- you know I- I think this crown has gotten bigger even from the last time I was here, and this just really lifts me up. I'm so excited to see so many of you here, and let me just start by saying thank you. Thank you so much for your support in this last campaign and for your continued support of the work that we're doing in Washington on- on your behalf. I guess the last comment here was shortly after inauguration, and I think there's a Chinese proverb that says “may we live in interesting times.” I would- I'm still holding out as to whether or not that's a blessing or a curse, but certainly we are living in interesting times and I love to give you a little update about some of the things that we've been doing in Washington since I last saw you.
So many of you know in January I introduced a bill to remove the Steve Bannon from the NRC [Applause] and for me, as somebody who worked in the department of defense, who has been involved in the conversations that you have around national security, I know that our all-volunteer military force would just fall apart if they knew that the decisions that sent them into harm's way were made for the benefit of one person's political gain as opposed to for the safety and security of this nation. And so that bill, thanks to you all and your support and your continued advocacy for it, gained over 180 co-sponsors. It's probably one of the most co-sponsored bills in Congress this session, and it lit a fire across this country where people got behind it because they knew it was the right thing to do. That politics doesn't belong in national security, and I'm proud to say that last week they removed Steve Bannon from the … [applause]Definitely the right thing to do, but it happened because of you all and because of the effort that you put into championing what is right. So thank you for having my back on that issue and I think the outcome was the right one.
Another thing that we've been up to is about a couple weeks ago I had invited during the president's, not the State of the Union but the Joint Congressional Address, I invited Dr. Mark Levy, who is part of the surgical team at Orlando Health after the pulse nightclub shooting. I had invited him to be my guest as a way to make a point that it is well past time for to have common-sense gun safety measures… [Applause]
In recognizing the political environment that we're in the first bill that we pushed out there was one to remove what has become an essential banned from federal dollars being used in research for gun violence, but I think that you know we make the best decisions in the nation when they're well informed by data and by facts. You should never be afraid of them, and so for 20 years not to have the ability to apply federal research dollars towards an issue that is affecting our country significantly, it's something that we have to change. And it's one small step, but I think it's an important step in ensuring that we have the right information so that we can address the gun violence issue in this country. So that's being pushed out there right now. I'm looking for Republican co-sponsors. I've gotten a lot of Democratic co-sponsors and that's going to be something that will be working on.
The other thing is that since I last saw you I've been around the community trying to do as many listening sessions, meet and greet, and this week I'm just finished the third of six coffees. …it's come and have coffee with your Congresswoman. Yes, I'm lots of caffeine, so it’s good. But it's been an awesome opportunity for me to connect with people on a one-to-one basis or in a small group setting to really hear what’s top of mind for all of you, and I really believe that my responsibility to you all as your representative is to go beyond that title and actually listen to you and represent your ideas in Washington. So I would encourage you, we have three more in the community over the next week, if you haven't been already come and join us for coffee and let me know what's top of mind for you.
Let’s see, what else? I just- the other thing that is a huge issue that I hear during these sessions is the concern over our health care, and a couple weeks ago the Republicans pulled from the- you know- they pulled a vote for the American Health Care Act. It was an act that would have caused twenty four million people to lose access to health care. It would have raised the price of health care for people between the ages of 50 and 64, right at the time of their lives where they're about to go into a fixed income situation in the difference between 4,000 a year and 17,000 a year. It's going to make people have to make very difficult decisions, and it did nothing to lower premiums. So, I think we all dodged the bullet in the fact that the Republicans couldn't pull enough votes together to move that forward. I
think that you know, and I've always said that the Affordable Care Act has- has its flaws and that we need to make it better, and to ensure that more people have access to affordable health care, and that's what I'd like to get us working on. Unfortunately, the rumor has it and that the Republicans have yet another attempt at the health care bill. And unfortunately, I haven't seen what's in it and so they continue to build these this legislation in a dark closet somewhere without the input from the people or- or even engaging with Democrats. So that vote’s coming up here soon and you know you have my commitment I will continue to fight for affordable, accessible health care and I would love to be able to do it in a bipartisan way, but in the interim we're gonna push back on any attempt to undo… [applause]
I guess the last thing I would say is I hear all over this district you know “how- how are you doing?” But- but they're not asking me like “how are you?” the way you ask somebody casually like “how are you?” What I'm saying to folks here is that, you know it sounds like a lot of chaos, and the news cycle is- it can be very intense and very worrisome sometimes, but what I'm trying to do when I encourage my office to do is focus on Central Florida and be below the noise of the chaos of Congress and the administration. Be below that, and focus on what matters to folks here in Central Florida, and continue to represent those interests.
And so with that I would say it- you know reach out to our office. We are doing lots of great constituent work, helping people get their benefits, to navigate the bureaucracy, working through the integration process. There's just a lot of work that can be done on your behalf outside of the chaos of what's in Washington, and when we're in Washington, we're focused on issues that matter to you. So continue to communicate with my office. Let me know what you care about so that we can continue to represent you and I will do my best to keep my head underneath all of the churn and focus on what matters to you all here in Central Florida and doing my best to serve you.
And unfortunately for us, while I’m focused on doing a good job, um you know this is a two-year gig and so the next cycle has already begun. Anybody who has driven on I-4 and may have seen that, and you know we're going… I'm focused on doing a good job today but in ‘18 I'm going to need you all to have my back, and we'll be reaching out as if it's more appropriate and closer to that time, and in the interim you know please continue to communicate with my office. I love hearing from you all and thank you again for letting me be here tonight, and thank you for letting me cut in- in the middle to programming but thank you again.