McBath Aims for Bipartisanship on Major Issues

December 19, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Last week was a typical whirlwind week in the life of Rep. Lucy McBath.

In the space of five days, the Georgia Democrat, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, voted on impeachment, health care, trade and joined a bipartisan group of House and Senate members in introducing legislation to stop online child exploitation.

“It’s our duty as lawmakers to do all we can to protect our children and give parents and families peace of mind,” McBath said of the latter bill.

“I’m glad to join my colleagues in the House and Senate on this bill and make more resources available to law enforcement to stop child abuse and exploitation, hold perpetrators accountable, and protect families in Georgia and across the country,” she said.

It also highlighted that while it is sometimes inevitable in Washington that one must choose a side on a divisive issue, a true bipartisan will always return to the middle ground, looking to work constructively with anyone who will help her make meaningful strides for her constituents.

She set the tone for her first year in Congress at her very first district town hall in a church in her hometown of Marietta, Georgia.

“I represent Republicans. I represent Democrats. I represent independents. I represent you all,” she told the crowd, which immediately erupted in applause.

At another town hall, this one in a high school auditorium in Dunwoody, Georgia, she promised attendees, “I’m going to continue to reach across the aisle each and every day.”

“My goal is to be the Georgia congresswoman who has passed the most bipartisan legislation,” she said.

A two-time breast cancer survivor and retired Delta Air Lines flight attendant, McBath likely never would have ventured into politics it had not been for the fatal shooting of her son, Jordan Davis, in the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Florida convenience store.

Davis and three friends, all of them unarmed, were sitting in an SUV outside the store, when they were confronted by Michael Dunn, who objected to their loud music. The shooting made McBath a national figure at a time when the shooting deaths of unarmed black men were being hotly debated.

Eventually, McBath spoke in prime time at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, a prequel, many assumed to her running as a Democrat for the Georgia legislature.

Then, in February 2018, shots rang out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 people dead. With that, McBath set her sights on Congress, where she believed she’d be better able to address the gun issue.

The way forward wouldn’t be easy, as she was running in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which in recent decades has been represented by such conservatives as Newt Gingrich and Johnny Isakson. In the end, she won by fewer than 3,300 votes.

In her first month on Capitol Hill, McBath not only helped pass a measure requiring federal background checks for gun sales, but also a sweeping elections and ethics overhaul.

With that, McBath was off and running reaching across the aisle whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Early on in her term, McBath and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer joined a bipartisan group of state and local elected officials and transportation agency representatives for a roundtable discussion on Atlanta’s infrastructure needs.

McBath called the meeting “foundational” and said it was important to have a wide variety of viewpoints and ideas represented.

Throughout the year, she continued to cast a wide net, helping to put legislation on everything  from education and early childcare to veterans affairs and making sure hearing aids and services are available to seniors under Medicare Part B.

McBath said she became aware of the hearing aid issue when she was contacted by an Army veteran who had been exposed to tens of thousands of rounds of live rifle fire and was suffering from severe hearing loss.

The representative’s office worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure the veteran got an appointment and received hearing aids, but the experience opened McBath’s eyes to a larger problem.

“Forty-eight million Americans are affected by hearing loss, which if left untreated, can have serious social and medical consequences for older adults,” she said. “My bill would make hearing devices more accessible, providing coverage for hearing aids and services for seniors under Part B of the Medicare program. Medicare does not currently cover hearing aids, and they have an average price of about $2,300.”

Among the bipartisan bills her name is affixed to are the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which aims to ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job; the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need (HAVEN) Act, which amends the current bankruptcy law to support disabled veterans’ eligibility for relief during financial hardship; and the Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2019, which addresses barriers in completing background checks for childcare providers who receive federal funding.

McBath has also garnered widespread bipartisan support for her efforts regarding higher education, including the Campus Prevention and Recovery Services for Students Act of 2019, H.R. 3591, which strives to help colleges and universities prevent alcohol and substance misuse; the Relief for Defrauded Students Act of 2019, H.R. 3662, which provides options for loan-forgiveness for students who were defrauded by for-profit institutions; the Pell Grant Restoration Act, H.R.4298, which gives Pell Grant eligibility back to students who were misled by similar for-profit institutions, and the HOPE (Heightening Opportunities for Pathways to Education) for FAFSA Act, H.R. 4245, which simplifies the federal aid application process and allows more families the opportunity to receive financial aid.

McBath has also been at the forefront of expanding small businesses access to grants through the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, and expanding funding for emergency housing, counseling, and assistance to domestic violence victims in financial distress.

So successful have McBath’s efforts been, that national Democratic leaders seriously courted her to run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

But McBath demurred, saying she wanted to focus on keeping her House seat and continue the work she’s doing there.

“I am just starting my work in the House on these issues, and I believe the best way to advance them at this time is to focus fully on those efforts in the House,” the representative said in a statement.

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