Jan 11 2013
~Nearing 50 years of public service in West Virginia, Senator extends deep gratitude to state~
~Outlines priorities for the next two years~
Click here for video of the announcement
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – With heartfelt appreciation, Senator Jay Rockefeller today announced that he will not seek reelection to the U.S. Senate in 2014. His announcement comes as he nears 50 years of public service in West Virginia and 30 years in the Senate. Rockefeller was joined at the Culture Center in Charleston by his wife, Sharon, and their children and grandchildren, along with his sister and brother-in-law, friends and staff members.
“As I approach 50 years of public service in West Virginia, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the right moment for me to find new ways to fight for the causes I believe in and to spend more time with my incredible family. Serving West Virginia in the U.S. Senate is an abiding honor and privilege, and Sharon and I are so full of gratitude to our state and to the countless friends and supporters who have made my public service possible,” Rockefeller said. “For the next two years in the Senate, and well beyond, I will continue working tirelessly on behalf of all West Virginians. Championing those most in need has been my life’s calling, and I will never stop fighting to make a difference for the people who mean so much to me.”
Rockefeller has a lengthy record of achievements. Today in his remarks, he singled out some of his proudest accomplishments:
- Championing health care by authoring the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covered 40,000 West Virginia kids and 8 million children nationwide in 2011 alone, and pushing to enact the Affordable Care Act, which makes health insurance affordable for 32 million Americans and 300,000 West Virginians and stops abusive industry practices;
- Increasing educational opportunities by authoring the E-Rate program, which has increased the number of classrooms connected to the Internet from 14 to 92 percent;
- Providing financial support for working families by expanding and defending tax credits for children, low-wage work and tuition;
- Expanding and diversifying West Virginia’s economy, including his efforts to bring the Toyota plant to Buffalo, which has 1,200 current jobs and represents a total investment of $1.3 billion;
- Standing up for coal miners by engineering passage of the Coal Act of 1992, which helped avert a nationwide coal strike and preserved health benefits for 200,000 retired miners and their families; and,
- Fighting for veterans and the benefits they’ve earned by helping create a network of community clinics that now serve their health care needs through 10 locations across the state.
Rockefeller also noted that as part of his commitment to reaching West Virginians where they live, his staff has traveled well over one million miles across the state since 1985, and handled nearly a quarter of a million constituent cases ranging from Social Security issues to black lung claims and veterans’ benefits.
Rockefeller also signaled his priorities for the rest of his term. As a staunch defender of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, he will continue to defend these safety-net programs and the millions of Americans who rely on them from those seeking to undermine entitlement programs. The lack of a comprehensive long-term care system in this country is one of our greatest failures, and he will work on the new Commission on Long-term Care, which he succeeded in creating as part of a deficit deal.
As Chairman of the Commerce Committee, Rockefeller will use the next two years to secure the future of the E-Rate program, which has successfully connected over 92 percent of U.S. classrooms to the Internet - up from 14 percent when we started in 1996 - but it has to incorporate new technologies. He will continue his work on Internet privacy and security – from Do Not Track to data brokering to cyber security to cyber bullying, as he has established the Commerce Committee as a central player in the work to solve the problems we face as our entire lives and society move online. And, he will continue work in the Oversight and Investigations Unit, which he created, to focus on exposing consumer abuses and government waste and putting a stop to them.
Finally, the Finance Committee will be at the center of two other issues that greatly impact West Virginia families - tax fairness and pension reform. Tax reform is still expected to be part of a long-term deficit plan, and Rockefeller will continue to fight to close the historic income divide that has and continues to weigh heavily on this country and has unfairly burdened so many struggling West Virginia families. And he will work to address the real pension crisis in this country as too many companies are trying to renege on promised benefits and abuse the bankruptcy system to dump legacy costs, hurting retirees who need fair protections.
Rockefeller first came to West Virginia in 1964 as a VISTA worker in Emmons, where he found his calling for public service and a life-long passion to fight for the people of West Virginia. After his VISTA service in Emmons, Rockefeller served as a member of the state House of Delegates, Secretary of State, President of West Virginia Wesleyan College, Governor and U.S. Senator.
*MEDIA NOTES*: Please find a photo HERE for your use. Rockefeller’s full remarks from today are available HERE, a summary of his Senate record and biographical information are available HERE, and photos from throughout his public service career can be found on the Senator’s Flickr page HERE and are available for your use.
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