KOHL HONORED AS "BEST OF CONGRESS" FOR WORKING FAMILIES
Working Mother Magazine, Corporate Voices for Working Families Give Kohl Inaugural Award for Leadership in Senate
Working Mother magazine and Corporate Voices for Working Families today announced that U.S. Senator Herb Kohl has been named "Best of Congress" for working families. Kohl received the "Best of Congress" award after a review of his voting record, legislative record, advocacy for children and families, and office policies. Kohl is featured in the September issue of Working Mother magazine, published today, and will receive the award at a ceremony in Washington, DC on September 10th. This is the first "Best of Congress" award, a biannual award that will be presented to lawmakers who work to advance economically sound policies that support and create opportunities for working families.
"It's an enormous challenge to balance jobs and families, from growing kids to aging parents, and to manage a household budget when the costs of living keep rising. It's a privilege to serve in the Senate where I'm able to work to shape policies that can strengthen families, and I'm grateful for this recognition," Kohl said.
Kohl is the author of the "Child Care Infrastructure Act," a law to provide tax credits for private companies and institutions to build on- or near-site day care centers to encourage employers to meet the rapidly growing demand for child care. He is being honored for his work to reduce the costs of health care, support education, protect food safety, reduce energy costs, strengthen child support enforcement, defend retirement security, protect the elderly and help rural families.
"The recipients of the Best of Congress award serve as models for what can be accomplished through legislation and a personal commitment to policies that benefit working families," Donna Klein, president and founder of Corporate Voices for Working Families, said. "As our nation wrestles with a host of economic and other issues involving working families, these members of Congress deserve to be congratulated and recognized nationally for their leadership and support."
A bipartisan steering committee reviewed Kohl's record on behalf of working families including:
Reducing the Costs of Health Care
Kohl is the author of legislation to end the collusive arrangements between brand name and generic drug companies that keep lower priced drugs off the market. Kohl is also the sponsor of legislation to bring full disclosure to the practice of pharmaceutical, medical device and biologics manufacturers providing payments and gifts to doctors.
Kohl is a champion of education and has worked to fund a range of education initiatives, from early childhood education to after-school programs to job training to college. The Wisconsin Parent Teacher Association recognized Kohl for his advocacy on education issues with their Friend of Children award for 2007.
Protecting Food Safety
Kohl is Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations panel, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, two primary government agencies charged with keeping the food supply safe. He has provided substantial funding boosts for additional import and domestic food safety inspectors, and rapid response teams for immediate reaction in the event of a food disease outbreak.
Strengthening Child Support Enforcement
Kohl introduced bipartisan legislation to reverse harmful cuts to the successful federal child support enforcement program that helps states and localities collect child support payments to provide basic necessities for many families.
Reducing Energy Costs
Kohl is among the Senate's chief proponents of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps thousands of families and elderly Americans maintain home heating.
He is the sponsor of several initiatives to police the oil and gas companies to help lower gas prices for consumers. Kohl's bipartisan legislation, the Oil Industry Merger Antitrust Enforcement Act, will change current guidelines by demanding proof from merging oil companies that their transaction will not harm competition in the fuel marketplace and allow the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to block proposed mergers that do. Kohl is also the sponsor of the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act. The legislation will permit the Justice Department to bring actions against foreign states -- such as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries -- for collusive practices in setting the price or production of petroleum products.
Defending Retirement Security
As the Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Kohl is working to protect retirement security by cracking down on so-called "senior financial advisors" who prey on the retirement savings of older Americans, and by requiring the simple and clear disclosure of investment fees to the more than 50 million Americans with 401(k) plans.
Protecting Aging Parents
As the Chairman of the Aging Committee, Kohl is sponsoring bills to:
Push for a nationwide system of comprehensive background checks for all long-term care workers in order to keep those with a record of abuse or a criminal history from working close to vulnerable seniors in nursing homes.
Allow consumers timely access to accurate information on nursing homes, including the results of government inspections, the number of staff employed at a home, and information about the home's ownership.
Strengthen the government's system of enforcing nursing home quality standards and ensure that regulators are able to intervene quickly in order to protect the safety of residents.
Allow older Americans to continue working longer if they choose to.
Funding Nutrition for Children and Seniors
As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Panel, Senator Kohl championed funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which provides grants to states for supplemental food and nutrition services to pregnant women, babies and children under five. Kohl fought to increase funding over the Administration's budget request for WIC, which would have resulted in thousands of eligible participants being kicked out of the program.
Kohl worked to continue the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides a modest monthly box of grocery staples primarily to low-income elderly Americans. The Administration's budget proposal eliminated the program, which serves 440,000 senior citizens.
Kohl is also the sponsor of legislation to make the federal school breakfast program available in more schools across the country. Kohl established a school breakfast pilot program in Wisconsin, to help schools off-set the start-up costs of participating in the federal program.
Helping Rural Families
Kohl worked to provide $4.5 million for the Wisconsin/Minnesota farmer health care cooperative to increase access to affordable health insurance. The funds have been used as seed money to create a cooperative health care purchasing alliance for Wisconsin farmers and small businesses in the state's rural communities. Through his work on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Kohl has successfully sponsored initiatives to fund investments in technology for rural health and dental centers, and mental health services for farm families.
Recipients of the Best of Congress award are featured in the August/September 2008 issue of Working Mother magazine and at www.workingmother.com.