Auchincloss Looks Back on Productive Year in Congress
Congressman Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) recently made an on-air appearance on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight to wrap up the second year of his first term in the House of Representatives.
Auchincloss represents the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District, which covers Fall River and the western half of the SouthCoast, travels up to Attleboro, through parts of MetroWest, and settles in the Boston suburbs of Brookline and his hometown of Newton. He will continue to represent CD-4 after running unopposed for reelection in this year's cycle.
One of his key legislative accomplishments was leading the fight to remove a relatively obscure amendment from the National Defense Authorization Act that, according Auchincloss, would have put protectionist constraints on the available ships to construct offshore wind turbines.
He argued that this amendment would have made the industry unviable for up to a decade.
"We need to make sure that (offshore wind) has all of the regulatory pathways and funding mechanisms that it needs to flourish," Auchincloss said on SouthCoast Tonight. "Simultaneously, we need to be doing workforce and shipbuilding development so that we can create a whole cluster of an industry here. So I've done work on both fronts."
Auchincloss has been a leading advocate for offshore wind, a burgeoning industry in both his district and the Commonwealth. In July, President Joe Biden came to Auchincloss' district to deliver a nationally televised climate speech at Somerset's Brayton Point, a former coal plant and soon-to-be manufacturer for wind power.
Auchincloss explained that Massachusetts plays a pivotal role in Biden's "30 by '30 Goal" which aims to produce 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. According to Auchincloss, the Commonwealth could produce 10 of those gigawatts.
If this goal is reached, Auchincloss said it will lead to cheaper energy costs for home heating, allow for the United States energy supply to be less dependent on foreign countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, and create a new industry that will provide jobs and economic development in Southeastern Massachusetts.
On the foreign policy front, Auchincloss, a veteran who served in the Marine Corps, has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on supporting the Ukrainians' fight for independence from Russia, which included leading a letter addressed to the U.S. Department of the Treasury to implement a price cap on Russian oil purchases and coordinated insurance sanctions.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen eventually announced that the Treasury would adopt those measures.
"Ukraine is fighting on the front lines of the free world right now," Auchincloss said.
Auchincloss defined the conflict as not just a war between two countries but a broader fight between democracy and autocratic rule.
"To me it is the defining geopolitical struggle of our era," Auchincloss said. "We have to send a message to the authoritarian regime in the Kremlin as well as in Beijing and elsewhere that the United States is always going to stand on the side of freedom and democracy and that might does not make right."
In the domestic ideological battles, the Democrat Auchincloss has naturally called the GOP to task. However, he has also at times been a vocal critic of the left flank in his own party on matters such as foreign policy and crime, as well as accusing the left of being too critical of President Biden.
At the same time, he touts working with progressive leaders like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on EPA legislation and moderate Democrats like Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy on trade policy.
Auchincloss said, however, that he rejects the notion that he has to place himself within a particular ideological faction of the party.
"I approach each issue with an open mind and I look at: What are my districts values? What are my district priorities? And what does expert analysis suggest is the right path forward here? And I try to triangulate against those issues," he said.
Locally, Auchincloss' end-of-year memo highlights that he secured most earmarked funding dollars in the Massachusetts Congressional delegation. He said much of his focus on securing district earmarks has been surrounding improving water quality and critical transportation nodes.
"Not stuff you can cut ribbons for necessarily but things that really matter for long term public health and economic development for towns and the district and that are very expensive to do – usually beyond the budget of one town," he said.
Auchincloss also highlighted his office's success in the less glamorized but important area of constituent casework, having closed over 1,600 cases that included $2.2 million in tax refunds returned, 130 emergency passports secured, over 160 people assisted with obtaining Social Security benefits and over 250 people assisted in navigating the U.S. immigration system.
Auchincloss credits his experience in local government as a Newton City Councilor for giving him an insight into his constituents' needs and getting work done for his district.
"(Local elected officials) just understand their constituents desires. It's almost always less partisan, less ideologically potent than at the federal level," Auchincloss said. "It's a very refreshing set of conversations to have."
By: Marcus Ferro