COLUMN — Riggleman says farewell to Congress
Published 8:17 pm Friday, December 18, 2020
These last two years serving as your representative in Congress have been an honor of a lifetime.
As my time in Congress comes to an end, I reflect on the accomplishments of my office and am proud of the work we have done to help those in Virginia’s 5th District. This week, I went to the House floor, perhaps for the last time, to say goodbye and to acknowledge pressing issues that our country faces, while also highlighting some of the great work my office has done these last two years. I did so with humility and appreciation, because as an American, I was able to go from living on food stamps as a child to now serving as a U.S. Representative in Congress.
My journey has been a true testament to the American Dream, and I am so grateful to all the people who helped get me to where I am today.
My wife, Christine, is the backbone of our family. She has done an amazing job running our family business, and she has raised three wonderful daughters. My girls, Lauren, Abby and Lilly, have been steadfast, patient and loving through the last two years, and their support means the world to me. My family has always understood my commitment to service. From my time as an enlisted and commissioned airman in the U.S. Air Force to my years of service working with the intelligence community, they have stood by me every step of the way.
When I was elected in 2018, I came to Washington with one goal in mind: to represent the people of the 5th District faithfully and to leave this office better than when I began. While my time in Congress will be shorter than I may have hoped, I am confident that I have met my goal. Together we have accomplished many great things on behalf of our district, and our country.
One of my priorities was to address the devastating opioid addiction crisis which has plagued so many families around the country, including my own. I joined the Freshman Working Group on Addiction during my first year in Congress, and I am proud to say that two weeks ago, the House passed my bill, the State Opioid Grant Authorization Act of 2020. This legislation will provide federal funding for addiction prevention, treatment and recovery programs on the state level for the next five years.
I have also worked tirelessly to close the digital divide and bring broadband internet to rural areas. Ensuring that rural communities have access to reliable internet is critical for enhancing economic opportunity, telehealth services and education. I am proud to have helped secure millions of dollars in state funding to bridge the digital divide, in addition to being an original co-sponsor of the Ensuring Phone and Internet Access for SNAP Recipients Act of 2020, which would cover phone and internet bills for households that benefit from the SNAP program through the FCC Lifeline Program.
In addition, I have made it a priority to work across the aisle to advance meaningful bills that protect preexisting conditions, including my original bill, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA), which would close insurance loopholes and ensure that all health care plans cover reconstructive surgeries for congenital abnormalities.
As a former intelligence officer, I was proud to be named to the House China Task Force (CTF) to help address the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and to protect American economic and security interests. This year, I introduced the China Task Force Act alongside my CTF colleagues that provides over 100 bipartisan policy objectives to confront the CCP and hold them accountable for their malign behavior on the global stage.
Representing you in Congress has been one of the greatest opportunities and challenges of my lifetime. I never thought that I would have the chance to advocate for meaningful policy on behalf of the great people of Virginia, and I am so proud of what I have done for the 5th District. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in this great chamber, I will never forget it. I can only hope that my efforts have made a difference for you and your family.
I wish you all the best this holiday season.
Denver Riggleman represents Charlotte in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached by visiting https://riggleman.house.gov/ or by phone at (434) 973-9631.