When the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District sent me to Congress almost eight months ago, I promised to work to make their lives better by supporting policies that would keep our economy growing, help our veterans, and lower the cost of health care.
Importantly, on the day before the special election, I stood with President Donald Trump in Montoursville and promised to support his America-first agenda.
Over the last eight months, I am proud to say that our team here in the district and in Washington has done just that.
While in Congress, I have been an advocate for better jobs and workforce development through my work on the House Education and Labor Committee.
I have had the opportunity to sit down with economic development groups, job creators, workers, and chambers of commerce to discuss what we can do in Washington to help reduce student loan debt and incentivize job-training programs and career readiness.
I have also seen the great work being done by our district’s natural gas producers who have partnered with local educational institutions like Penn College of Technology and Lackawanna College to fund job-training and workforce development programs. These partnerships ensure that the industry can train and hire our residents. As policymakers debate ways to lower the cost of higher education, I will continue to advocate for career and technical education programs that prepare our students to find good-paying, in-demand jobs.
Not only is agriculture Pennsylvania’s top industry, but it is also the No. 1 industry in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. I have spent my time in the district talking with local farmers, dairy producers, and the next generation of agricultural leaders in FFA and 4-H programs about ways to support Pennsylvania agriculture.
The first two bills I co-sponsored in Congress, the Dairy Pride Act and the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act, would benefit our agricultural industry by bringing transparency to product labeling and expand access to flavored and unflavored whole milk in schools. I was also a vocal and leading advocate for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will greatly benefit 60,000 Pennsylvania agricultural and manufacturing jobs.
It is incumbent upon lawmakers to stand up for our active duty military and veterans. Our office has prioritized taking care of our veterans by employing two full-time veteran staff members devoted to veterans’ issues.
Additionally, I co-sponsored the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act, a bill that would fix an unintentional flaw in current law that penalizes Gold Star families by requiring them to pay a higher tax rate on military survivor benefits if the surviving spouse chooses to pass along the benefits to their children. I also co-sponsored legislation that expedites TSA screening for disabled veterans and have toured the Wilkes-Barre VA hospital to meet with administrators and patients as we seek ways to improve veterans’ health care.
Of course, I have been proud to recognize Korean War veterans across the district with Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal presentations. Our office takes pride in working with these veterans and their families to locate and secure medals earned through their military service.
Finally, ending veteran suicide remains one of my top priorities in Congress. An average of more than 20 veterans die by suicide each day, which is why I have been working to advance the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act, which would institute a new suicide prevention model centered on working with veteran service organizations and other local organizations who provide services to at-risk veterans. Those in their local communities know their veterans best and are thus best equipped to deliver services most effectively. We need to be doing everything possible to take care of our heroes who fought for our freedoms.
I have also spent time both in the district and in Washington working on practical solutions to lower the cost of healthcare while protecting those with preexisting conditions.
I am a co-sponsor of the Pre-existing Conditions Protection Act to ensure that any changes to our health care system protect the most vulnerable among us. I am also a co-sponsor of the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, which would lower prescription drug prices by bringing transparency and competition to the marketplace and make it easier for generic drugs to reach consumers. This legislation is informed by discussions I have had with health care providers in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District who I continually meet with to ensure that the policies we support in Washington reflect the needs of our district.
By prioritizing our economy, our veterans, and accessible and affordable healthcare, we are putting the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District first. When we put the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District first, we contribute to the president’s agenda to put America first.
I am proud to work with President Trump, my colleagues at the local, state, and federal levels, and the members of our community to keep America great by keeping Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District great. It is an honor and a privilege to represent you in Congress.
Congressman Fred Keller represents the 15 counties of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
He was elected to Congress in May 2019.