Time and again Congresswoman Brown has brought back millions of dollars for the state in federal transportation funding, giving a tremendous boost to the state’s transportation and infrastructure system, and providing tens of thousands of well-paying jobs to Floridians across the state. One of her first accomplishments during her tenure as a Member of Congress was winning funding for the much-needed Fuller Warren Bridge in Jacksonville, which funnels Interstate 95 traffic away from the city. Shortly afterwards, she also secured a $100 million federal courthouse for Jacksonville, at a time when courthouse funding was scarce.
Moreover, in 1992, when the Congresswoman was first elected, the state of Florida was receiving 77 cents for every dollar of the gas tax sent to Washington. Yet after working steadfastly over the years to change the formula and make sure Florida was not paying out more than it was receiving, Florida was guaranteed a 95 cent return in the latest Surface Reauthorization Bill, resulting in billions of dollars to dedicate to the state’s transportation infrastructure!
During the 114th Congress I served as a conferee on House-Senate conference committee of the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act. The bill reauthorizes highway, bridge, transportation safety, and public transit projects for the next five years. The measure provides $281 billion in guaranteed funding for these programs over these five years, and also reauthorizes the critically important Export-Import Bank for four years, which helps American workers and businesses compete in the global economy. I personally pushed for additional funding for transit programs to improve local mobility, pedestrian safety programs because of the high rate of fatalities in major Florida cities, freight programs because of Florida’s critical freight network, a new Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program at the Federal Railroad Administration, and funds to help restore passenger rail service in the Gulf region.
In addition, Congresswoman Brown has served on the House Veterans Affairs Committee since first coming to Congress over twenty years ago, and has been fighting for the benefits that veterans were promised. When she first came to Washington, upon realizing the limited space for veterans’ burial in Florida and around the country, Brown introduced legislation to establish new National Cemeteries in South Florida and Jacksonville. Brown also introduced legislation to expand and improve the National Veteran’s Cemetery system. She championed legislation expanding the health and long-term care benefits that America’s veterans’ receive, improving veterans’ education benefits, and expediting claims processing. Most recently, Brown secured a new Veterans’ Outpatient Clinic for Jacksonville. This facility consolidated most of the veterans’ services that had been scattered around the city into one facility. In addition, the Gainesville VA Medical Center was completed with an additional $51.5 million included at her request, and the Orlando VA Medical Center nears completion. Under her watch, Congress passed the largest budget in the history of the VA and also passed two year funding for the VA, which ensures that veterans’ healthcare is not subject to the political winds of Washington.
One of Congresswoman Brown’s proudest moments came when she was able to obtain recognition for the first African American Marines who trained at Montford Point by passing a bill granting a Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines. Years before Jackie Robinson, and decades before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., these heroes joined the Marines to defend our great nation. Fighting racism both at home and in the armed forces, as well as enemies abroad, these men persevered and protected this nation when it mattered most.
In the area of civil rights, some of the key issues Congresswoman Brown has focused on include spearheading the battle against the terribly unfair ways in which “Stand Your Ground” laws have been applied in the state of Florida. The Congresswoman has fought against two horrible miscarriages of justice: the first is that of the murder of an innocent, 17 year old boy, Trayvon Martin, who was killed in Sanford, Florida by a self appointed vigilante, while the other legal battle is in defense of Marissa Alexander, a woman who was sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the air after she was attacked by her husband. Recently, she has also been closely involved in the Jordan Davis trial, wherein a 17 year old boy was shot at a gas station merely for listening to loud music. The Congresswoman also continues to serve as a leader on a national scale in her advocacy for fair voting rights laws.
Additionally, in response to the havoc the economic and foreclosure crisis brought to African American communities, Congresswoman Brown has held numerous housing fairs in various cities across her district, and has worked closely with her colleagues on Capitol Hill to advocate for fairer housing regulations and greater access to credit for underserved sectors of the population. The Congresswoman is also a tremendous health care advocate, and has fought for Obamacare, as well as full Medicare and Medicaid funding for her constituents and for citizens across the nation.
A graduate of Florida A&M University, Congresswoman Brown also has a Masters Degree (EdS) from the University of Florida. She is also the proud mother of her daughter, Shantrel Brown, who is an attorney.