As your congressman, I have worked hard for this region to strengthen its economy by creating good jobs. This agenda has been the “North Star” of my work in Connecticut and Washington because, in good times or bad, I believe that good jobs are the best economic protection for families and communities.
Before my election, thousands of layoffs at the EB shipyard – caused by an anemic production rate of one submarine per year – had severely weakened the state’s economy. Today, the Connecticut shipyard has grown to over 13,000 employees as a result of renewed support from Congress, which I have chaired. This didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen on autopilot. As a member of the US House of Representatives Seapower Subcommittee, which I now chair, I have worked with Democrats and Republicans to double and sustain production of the Virginia-class submarine program. This, combined with the new Columbia Class program, results in a one-time surge in new hires at the yard which has boosted the real estate market, added new rental housing and literally changed the yard’s skyline along the Thames.
To meet the need for a new skilled workforce, I have worked with our region’s employers, union leaders and workforce development experts to create the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline. Thanks to sustained federal funding and the expert curriculum that the pipeline offers, more than 2,700 people have learned the metalworking skills needed for manufacturing success. Most have started rewarding careers at Electric Boat as part of an exciting new generation of shipbuilders.
There are still challenges ahead. We’ve seen a lot of momentum, but US Navy budgets are decided by Congress at the end of the day, and it’s an extremely competitive process. As Chairman of House Seapower—the first member of the Connecticut House of Representatives to chair a Navy oversight body in over 150 years—I will continue to protect this engine of growth. And as a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I will work to pass bipartisan legislation to update our workforce training and education programs to ensure we can deliver the skilled workforce that will fuel our region’s growing economy will drive in the years to come .
I am proud that progress has been made on other priorities for this region over the last two years. I have helped pass new legislation to fulfill our commitment to veterans suffering from toxic exposures and in response to local veterans concerns, I have worked successfully to increase the size of the John J. McGuirk Veterans Hospital in New London to triple. For seniors on Medicare, a new law I helped pass—without a single Republican vote in Congress—finally empowers the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, cap insulin costs, and lower out-of-pocket expenses.
Much is at stake in this election, and the next two years will be momentous for our region and country. My focus remains on getting things done for the benefit and growth of Eastern Connecticut and I would be honored to have your vote on November 8th.
Rep. Joe Courtney is the Democratic incumbent in the 2nd Circuit.