Montani Semper LiberiMountaneers are always freeand thank goodness. Surely a fine example of Mountaineer independence is voting for our President. Often times, in Presidential Campaigns, I have not supported the guy who won and was sworn in as our President, even though a majority of West Virginia's voters, at times, voted for him. But once they won, I worked with Presidents Reagan and the Bushes throughout their terms, when we agreed on what would most benefit West Virginians.
This time, the guy I supported won, and knowing the spirit of my fellow West Virginians, I know we will give him a fair chance to make change work and benefit our State. We have elected the 44th President of the United States to serve not only Democrats or only Republicans, but all Americans.
With change and the spirit of unity sweeping the Nation, I will return to Washington later this month, and in January, to continue working to advance an agenda built on West Virginia values that will honor our heritage as well as strengthen the foundation for economic development in our state.
The Economy, Energy, Transportation, Education, and Health Care will figure heavily in policy discussion and debates come January, but we will not forget the Americans fighting overseas as the new Administration and new Congress work together to improve our relationships abroad and bring our brave men and women home with honor.
The health and well-being of our military forces remains foremost in the hearts and minds of all West Virginians, and their well-being remains one of my highest priorities in Congress. Our troops, veterans, and military families represent the best of America. In keeping with our promises made, we will honor and recognize their service by providing them with the respect, benefits and services that they deserve.
I know that the state of our Nation's economy remains foremost in the minds of West Virginians today. I will continue working with my Colleagues in the House of Representatives to bolster our economic standing in the global economy, but especially here at home.
In this dawn of a new horizon for our federal government, we know the decisions we make affect not only our generation but those of our children and grandchildren. As Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, I will continue to advocate Energy policies that preserve the environment while utilizing all viable sources of energy at home, including that mainstay of our economy here in West Virginia: Clean Coal Technology.
As Vice Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will continue to oversee federal transportation policy. Next year, the Committee will work on the 2009 Federal Transportation Bill which is vital to the continued development of southern West Virginia and the Nation. It is important, however, that the State be a full partner with us in this effort and that our State Government devotes the full measure of funds to make our highways, bridges, and transportation facilities safe.
In these days of hope, it is important that we continue to invest in what many consider our greatest natural resource: our children. That is why I will work hard to see that Education remains a top priority in the new Congress. The No Child Left Behind legislation needs to be strengthened and adequately funded so that our schools and our teachers can guarantee that the students of southern West Virginia are given every opportunity to advance and succeed academically in the Mountain State. An investment in our children and their education is an investment in the future of West Virginia and the future of the United States of America.
I have long been an advocate for improving health care here at home and will remain so in the 111th Congress. I will continue this goal by working with my colleagues on Capitol Hill to secure Medicare and Medicaid funding and to work towards improving our Nation's health care system so those West Virginians in great need are no longer forced to decide between putting food on the table or getting the medication and treatment they need to remain healthy.
These are just a few examples of priorities I envision for West Virginia as I head back to Washington to continue my service to you as your Representative with which West Virginians have again honored me.
I look forward to joining so many dedicated, selfless leaders working throughout southern West Virginia and the Nation to help advance these initiatives. A spirit of optimism is flowing through the American people, and I am confident that greater things await us. To echo the words of our new President-Elect, I ask you to believe in the ability of each of us to bring real change to Washington and the World.
One closing thought, in these momentous days following the election of our first African-American President, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resonate in my mind: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."