This column was written by Rep. Michele Bachmann
At 12 years old, sitting in the back of my mother’s car as we drove north on Interstate 35 to our new home in Anoka, I could have never imagined what the future held.
Forty-six years later, I leave Congress and the incredible privilege of serving the wonderful people of the 6th District — the same place where I went to high school, started a small business and raised our family of five biological children and 23 foster children.
My first priority upon taking office was to provide the very best constituent services possible. We protected Social Security, Medicare and veterans benefits. We helped with immigration and adoption cases. We would even call U.S. Embassies at 4 a.m. on a Sunday to help with passport problems. In total, we completed more than 3,000 individual constituent cases.
While these untold stories didn’t dominate the headlines, they have been my favorite aspect of being your congresswoman.
I always sought your feedback from town halls, phone calls, letters, emails, and over coffee from Keys Cafe in Forest Lake to Copper Lantern in St. Cloud, plus many places in between. I listened to your concerns and gave them a voice.
After the auto bailout, Fury Dodge, a staple of our community in Lake Elmo, was put on the chopping block by Washington bureaucrats. I was proud to lead a rally as the community came together to keep the dealership open. Today, cars still roll off the Fury lot, and a family-owned business remains intact.
Nothing is more important to the continued growth and prosperity of Minnesota than transportation. Entering Congress, my top priorities were building the Stillwater bridge, adding lanes on either side of Interstate 94, increasing safety and mobility of U.S. Highway 10, and returning commercial air service to St. Cloud Regional Airport.
Working together with federal, state and local officials, we made tremendous progress on each.
After decades of delay, I helped bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass the St. Croix River Crossing legislation in 2012. Last year, this vital project began construction and is on time and under budget.
This summer, after years of work, we broke ground to expand Interstate 94 at the most congested portion of the corridor. The improvements to Highway 10 continue with the help of a federal grant to improve safety at the Highway 10/Armstrong Boulevard intersection.
In May, I was honored to be on the inaugural flight from Chicago to St. Cloud, a long-awaited goal for the community that took years of teamwork. This was the third connection after commercial air service returned to St. Cloud in 2012. I also helped keep the air traffic control towers open after the federal government threatened to shut them down last summer.
On the national stage, I never stopped fighting for Minnesota values — don’t spend more than you take in, reward hard work and innovation, and get government out of the way.
That’s why I voted against the costly Wall Street bailout, the automobile bailout, and the trillion dollar stimulus — all paid for with borrowed money leaving our children and grandchildren with a stack of unpaid bills.
I also led the charge against Obamacare’s government takeover of one-sixth of our economy, which has resulted in canceled plans, premium rate increases and the devastating medical device tax.
Instead, I advocated solutions so costs really would be lowered and more people would have access to the care they need and deserve. Last year, the House passed my bill to repeal Obamacare so we can begin anew with free market, patient-centered health care reforms.
As a member of the Financial Services Committee, I co-authored bipartisan credit card consumer protection legislation that was signed by President Bush in 2008.
As a foster mom, I was proud to help establish the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth. Along with my co-chairs, we championed the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, which granted social workers greater access to foster children’s educational records. It was signed by President Obama last year.
I also was privileged to co-chair the Congressional Caucus on Adoption and recently took a child welfare trip to Haiti.
As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I traveled to more than 30 countries and met with world leaders and ambassadors on the pressing issues of terrorism, national security and foreign policy.
But no one left the indelible mark on me as much as our brave men and women in the armed services. I helped bring additional health care options for veterans through the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Ramsey and enjoyed visiting our veterans at the St. Cloud VA.
Visiting with Minnesotans on the front lines during multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan remains a highlight of my tenure in Congress and it deepened my belief of our sacred obligation to our veterans. The promise of the American Dream comes at a cost, and we must never forget the sacrifices of those who put their lives on the line.
In my time in Congress I have fought to preserve this great nation and to tirelessly advocate for the dignified people who entrusted me to act as their representative in Washington. The district didn’t send me to Washington to be a defender of special interests but as a fighter for the people.
I may be leaving Congress, but I will continue the fight to leave a better future for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve you. It has been the honor of a lifetime.