Richard Neal: Let's get to work
As he prepares to take the gavel of a powerful tax writing committee in the new Democrat-controlled House, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal urged his fellow Democrats yesterday to “focus on governing” rather than an intraparty leadership squabble that has dominated the post-midterm discussion.
House Democrats will caucus in Washington today to select a leadership team that will help guide the agenda in Congress for the next two years. Some members, including U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-6th) of Salem have been urging the party to turn the page from California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is on the precipice of a second stint as speaker, but the rebellion has seemed to sputter in recent days.
Neal (D-1st) doesn’t want to get bogged down in a Democratic power struggle because for the first time in his 30-year career on Capitol Hill he is poised to become a chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
“I want to put some quick wins on the board,” Neal told Boston business leaders in remarks to the New England Council at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
The Springfield Democrat said “one of the first things we’re going to do, if not the first” on the Ways and Means Committee is vote to protect health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a measure contained in the Affordable Care Act but still the subject of perpetual debate in Washington.
In addition to “enshrining” health care protections for pre-existing conditions, Neal said he is also interested in putting together a bipartisan infrastructure bill, encouraging retirement savings and preserving hospital Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Neal said that he recently spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about an infrastructure bill and believes the Trump administration has an interest. “They’re on board with infrastructure,” Neal said.
From his perch on Ways and Means, Neal in the next Congress will have jurisdiction over everything from taxes to trade and tariffs, Social Security, the tax-side of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and managing public debt.
Neal said protecting the retirement security of Americans has always been of interest to him, and, he said, “We need to build around Social Security and use the tax code to encourage more savings.”