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Kuster: Dems to focus on immigration reform, infrastructure

November 7, 2018
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Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster greets supporters with her sister, Robin, in Concord, N.H., on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Kuster won re-election after beating Republican state lawmaker Steve Negron. (Geoff Forester/The Concord Monitor via AP)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A day after winning her fourth term, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire said she was optimistic that bipartisan deals can be struck on immigration reform and infrastructure spending when her party takes control of the House next year.

But Kuster insisted Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that Democrats would not shy away from providing a check on President Donald Trump and his administration, insisting that increased oversight would not undermine efforts to pass meaningful legislation. In voting for Democrats, she said the American people want Democrats to play that watchdog role.

“The American people absolutely want the checks and balance that the founders envisioned in the Constitution. That is why they voted Democrat and turned out in such large numbers. Absolutely, there will be oversight,” said Kuster, who serves on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

“We haven’t had the oversight of this administration and we have some serious problems in the VA that have not been addressed,” she said. “Yes, we will have oversight, but I don’t think it will detract from making progress. I think (Trump’s) wrong to make that a binary choice and, frankly, that sounds like a threat that Congress won’t abide by.”

Kuster was first elected in 2012 to the 2nd Congressional District, which covers the northern and western parts of the state. Kuster, who has advocated for sexual assault victims, benefited from greater name recognition and raised more money than her opponent, Republican state lawmaker Steve Negron.

In the other New Hampshire House race, Democrat Chris Pappas defeated Republican Eddie Edwards. The seat being vacated by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter has flipped back and forth between the two parties in each of the last four elections.

Pappas, who becomes the state’s first openly gay member of Congress, echoed Kuster’s call to work across the aisle on issues ranging from the fight against opioid addiction to more affordable college education. During the campaign, Pappas promised to oppose efforts to cut reproductive health services, work on making health care affordable and to bolster training for young workers.

Pappas also joined Kuster in saying he would fight to prevent Republicans from cutting spending on Social Security and Medicare.

“Voters are clearly saying that it’s time to reject the division, deception, and partisanship of the past two years — and it’s time to put the focus back on making progress for Granite Staters who deserve better,” Pappas said in his victory speech.

Kuster agreed that voters on Tuesday night sent a message that they “are tired of the vitriol of the White House and that they want people to come together and get the job done.” That starts, she said, with a bipartisan proposal laying out a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country without legal permission and spending money on road, bridges, mass transit and other infrastructure projects in New Hampshire and across the country.

“The American people, they are tired of the president’s tweets. They want Congress to work together, come together get the legislation to the president’s desk,” she said. “I think you are going to see a lot of progress come January. I think the president will sign these bills into law. He may take all the credit for it but he wants to demonstrate progress as well.”

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