MOLINE — Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) announced that, following a decade of service in Washington, she will not seek another term in Congress after completing her fifth term.
“My North Star has always been to serve my community, drive real results and build a better future. As I turn every corner on each decade of life, I take time to reflect and evaluate what my next chapter might bring. That’s how, 10 years ago, I decided to run for Congress. And it’s why, today, I am announcing I will not seek reelection after completing this term.
“It has been an honor to be a voice for our family farmers, working families, those struggling to afford healthcare and so many more. Each time I traveled to Washington, I brought those voices with me to elevate our region and bring real and lasting change.
“From helping Gold Star families and injured veterans get the help they needed after serving our nation, to increasing rural access to broadband, ensuring everyone has the resources needed to compete in our modern economy, to replacing toxic lead water pipes, I have always worked across the aisle to deliver solutions for Illinois families. It has been my profound honor to do this work, and I am proud of the progress we have made together.
“But know this—our work isn’t done. It’s not only happening in the halls of Congress, but also in the aisles of our small town grocery stores, on our factory floors and on family farms. While I won’t be in Congress after January 2023, I will be here advancing the needs for our communities for the remainder of my term.
“Thank you for your trust, support and friendship all these years.”
During her tenure, Congresswoman Bustos has worked across the aisle to deliver real results for Illinoisans. Nearly two-thirds of all legislation she introduced was bipartisan on Day 1. The Congresswoman has always stood with rural Americans, supported jobs and economic development, championed agriculture, expanded access to healthcare, acted as a government watchdog and cared for our servicemembers and veterans.
Congresswoman Bustos’ significant accomplishments include:
Navigating an Unprecedented Pandemic:
- Helped pass the most significant series of relief packages in American history to invest in health care: federal, state and local public health agencies, the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and personal protective equipment (PPE) and necessary medical supplies. These packages included the Coronavirus Supplemental Legislation, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, the CARES Act.
- Championed agriculture and biofuels support and worked to include aid for overlooked sectors in relief packages, including biofuels producers, PPP for farm workers and grants to help with supply chain disruptions.
- Helped pass the American Rescue Plan, a transformative package that aims to return children safely to the classroom, deliver vaccines to people, put dollars into Illinois families’ pockets, support our small businesses and rebuild our economy. The package delivered $7.25 billion for small businesses through the PPP. As of February of this year, 10,005 small businesses have applied for PPP loans and $613 million has been disbursed to support 85,000 jobs in Illinois’ 17th Congressional District. The 14 counties across Illinois’ 17th Congressional District will receive more than $400 million in support for towns and cities in need.
- Through the American Rescue Plan, helped to deliver $1,400 in direct relief, bringing total direct relief to Illinoisans up to $3,200 through individual payments.
- Worked virtually on-the-ground to bring resources and information directly to the people she serves, including hosting multiple tele-town halls with public health experts.
- Held virtual meetings with local stakeholders to help local communities navigating resources, including Farm Bureaus, postal workers, child care providers, public health experts, public health departments, hospital administrators, emergency management agencies, school superintendents, faith leaders and ministers, nursing homes and food banks.
Supporting Jobs and Economic Development:
- Introduced and passed the Access to Education and Training Act, which allows students, many of whom are non-traditional students, who receive Pell grants to take advantage of them year-round so they can complete their courses faster and get back into the workforce.
- Hosted regular Economic Summits, multiple webinars focused on delivering resources to help small businesses, as well as business roundtables focused on delivering resources for minority-owned businesses, to help stakeholders from industry, labor, educational institutions, local government, recent graduates and students from throughout the Congressional District.
- Worked to address teacher shortages through the Retaining Educators Takes Added Investment Now (RETAIN) Act, to help historically underserved communities.
- Led the charge fighting for federal funding and support to fully open Thomson prison to help alleviate overcrowding in the prison system and create more than 1,100 local jobs. This has been an economic shot in the arm to a region that has historically struggled with high unemployment.
Investing in Infrastructure
- Co-led and passed the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, which makes it easier for communities to create integrated plans for water infrastructure projects and encourages green infrastructure development, paving the way for cities like Peoria to address combined sewer overflow through investments in modern, environmentally-sound infrastructure.
- As a Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, helped pass three Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) bills while securing key priorities for inland waterways – particularly our locks and dams.
- As a Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, she helped to pass the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), the first long-term highway funding bill in more than a decade, to provide billions in infrastructure funding in Illinois and reauthorize the Export-Import bank.
Championing Rural and Agriculture Communities:
- Fought to support our biofuels producers – including securing federal support for biofuels producers through the USDA, working to ensure small refinery waivers were issued to truly small refineries and ensuring biofuels producers continue to have a seat at the climate change table.
- Instrumental in passing two bipartisan, long-term Farm Bills, including serving on the conference committee for the 2018 Farm Bill.
- Co-chaired the Crop Insurance Caucus, fought to protect the crop insurance program from devastating cuts and advocated for a robust crop insurance program in the future.
- Invested in waterways infrastructure and worked to make sure our region’s goods can continue to get to market efficiently by pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide the first funding in a decade for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP).
- Continuously advocated for the needs of our rural communities, including keeping health providers local through the Rural America Health Corps Act; fighting for increased access to high speed internet and rural broadband as a member of the House Task Force on Rural Broadband; and investing in rural child care programs to ensure that all families have the support they need.
- Ensured rural America and agriculture stakeholders have a seat at the climate change table by writing and introducing the Rural Green Partnership.
Expanding Access to Health Care:
- Secured a first-of-its-kind pilot program, modeled after the Congresswoman’s Social Determinants Accelerator Act, to empower local governments to build healthier communities by combating social factors that harm long-term health, such as health care provider shortages, food deserts, unsafe and insecure housing and other environmental factors. This would help communities that have been historically underserved by health care services.
- Introduced the Crisis Care Improvement and Suicide Prevention Act to help states upgrade crisis care programs and strategies, which was signed into law as part of FY21 omnibus spending package.
- Introduced and passed the Addiction Recovery for Rural Communities Act to help residents better leverage USDA Rural Development programs to combat opioid and heroin use.
Acting as a Government Watchdog:
- Introduced and passed bipartisan, bicameral legislation to save significant taxpayer dollars by cutting down on wasteful government payments to people who have passed away or are otherwise ineligible to continue receiving these benefits, saving American taxpayers an estimated $800 million each year.
- Helped secure funding to replace 2,000 toxic lead pipes to deliver clean water to local communities and introduced legislation that would give schools more resources to replace lead pipes and water fountains that put kids at risk.
- Introduced and passed the Check Before You Rent Act to ensure that space at our military bases and installations, such as the Rock Island Arsenal, are maximized before the military leases space elsewhere.
- Introduced and passed legislation requiring American flags be made in America.
Taking Care of our Servicemembers and Veterans:
- Introduced and passed the Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act, after learning about a Gold Star spouse confronted with costly lease cancelation fees when trying to return to Illinois after her husband died while serving in Afghanistan. Congresswoman Bustos’ law allows spouses to return to their families without worrying about paying outrageous fees. Congresswoman Bustos later worked to extend this to protect the spouses of catastrophically injured service members, to include automobile leases and to allow dependents the same protections.
- Worked to significantly reduce wait times and case backlogs at local Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics throughout the Congressional District.
- Called on the VA to presume Agent Orange exposure for veterans who served off the coast in Vietnam and the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Serving the Quad-Cities:
- Secured millions for the Rock Island Arsenal’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC) for the conversion of Humvees into service trucks and future projects. The Congresswoman also announced 50 new jobs at the Arsenal, and after the Congresswoman’s continued advocacy, 65 new human resources professionals were hired.
- Secured $177 million in Federal Railroad Administration funding for the Amtrak route between Chicago and Moline, through Dec. 31, 2024.
- Created a “Center of Excellence for Advanced and Additive Manufacturing” to support the Army’s ongoing efforts to integrate advanced manufacturing techniques into the processes at its arsenals and other industrial facilities.
- Helped secure the establishment of a Department of Defense Manufacturing Institute in the State of Illinois, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), now known as MxD. The Congresswoman also helped provide more than $12.5 million in funding for joint efforts between MxD and the Rock Island Arsenal.
- Created an online real estate Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for military real estate, similar to popular online real estate websites, like Zillow, to better market existing unused places to the Army, other federal agencies or private partners.
- Secured millions in funding for the development of 105mm and 155mm soft recoil Howitzer technologies, like those developed at Mandus in the Quad-Cities, which the Army has stated it plans to procure.
- Secured federal funding to help support the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (MetroLINK).
- Secured more than $83 million in federal funding for necessary airport projects and aviation workforce development, helping the Chicago Rockford International Airport add more than 500 jobs.
- Introduced and passed the bipartisan, bicameral Promoting Aviation Regulations for Technical training (PARTT) 147 Act to update the decades-old federal regulations for training aviation maintenance workers to make sure regulations accurately reflect work being done on the job to help aviation workers at the With her long track record of supporting the Rockford airport, Congresswoman Bustos founded the Air Cargo Caucus to create a platform to promote the Rockford Airport and the air cargo industry.
- Helped secure nearly $500,000 in federal grants from the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women to help establish the Rockford Family Peace Center to help individuals and families suffering from domestic and inter-personal violence.
- Secured more than $1 million in federal funding to help clean up Rockford brownfield sites, in order to redevelop abandoned and commercial properties to help spur local economic growth.
- Tirelessly worked to ensure the Peoria Ag Lab’s success, including advocating for the Ag Lab to the Secretary of Agriculture and protecting its funding after President Trump’s Budget proposed the Lab’s closure.
- Pushed for the United States Department of Agriculture to fully staff the Peoria Ag Lab and helped secure authorization to spur hiring, ending a years-long hiring freeze.
- Worked to protect and secure funding for the construction of a new fire station at the Peoria Air National Guard base after the funding was threatened.
- Secured $79 million for engine enhancement packages and authorization for continued propulsion and propeller upgrades for C-130H aircraft, such as those in operation at the 182nd Air National Guard squadron in Peoria.
- Secured millions for Greater Peoria Mass Transit District to invest in new, low-emission transit buses.
Serving Our Corner of Illinois:
- Created Build the Bench, a program to help Illinoisans and people from the Heartland run for office. Over 300 people have completed the program, two-thirds of whom are women and one-fourth of whom are people of color.
- Closed nearly 6,000 cases for our residents, helping to return taxpayer money, ensure VA benefits, deliver health care and Social Security and help the people she serves navigate a complicated federal bureaucracy.
- Completed more than 102 Cheri on Shifts, to walk a mile in the shoes of the people she serves and 102 Supermarket Saturdays to speak to folks about what they want to see done in Washington.
- Delivered 2,900 donated books from the Library of Congress to 58 local libraries.
- Traveled more than 76,000 miles throughout Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.
Bringing a Heartland Voice to Leadership:
- Served on the House Agriculture Committee, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
- During her tenure on the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Bustos has served on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Defense, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies and Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittees.
- In 2016, Congresswoman Bustos was elected by her colleagues to Co-Chair the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, where, together with co-Chairs Hakeem Jeffries and David Cicciline, she helped launch the For the People Agenda to return Democratic priorities to kitchen-table issues. This helped lead Democrats into the majority in the 2018 election cycle.
- After serving as Heartland Engagement Chair (2018 cycle), Recruitment Vice Chair and Red to Blue Co-Chair (2016 cycle), Congresswoman Bustos was elected to Chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for the 2020 cycle. Under her leadership, the committee regularly broke fundraising records, invested in voting rights litigation, built comprehensive voter protection and voter education programs, engaged a record number of minority-owned or -led campaign vendors, hired the most diverse staff in the history of the political arm of House Democrats and established new tools to combat online disinformation. Through these efforts, Democrats held onto their Majority in the House.
- In 2020, Congresswoman Bustos was appointed to Co-Chair the Steering and Policy Committee as a member of senior leadership; Chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management; and member of the House Task Force on Rural Broadband. She also served as Co-Chair of the Crop Insurance Caucus, Air Cargo Caucus, Depot, Arsenal and Military Industrial Facilities Caucus and Chemistry Caucus.
Whether it’s been showing up at the grocery store almost every weekend for her “Supermarket Saturdays” to ask working families what they want her to fight for in Congress, her leadership running the House Democrats’ $345 million organization to protect the House Majority or the time she spent with her grandfather on his hog farm in rural Illinois, Congresswoman Bustos has always understood the importance of showing up and working hard. As a senior member of House leadership, the Congresswoman has served as both an ambassador for the Heartland in Congress and a tireless champion in the work to restore a strong and thriving Democratic Party in small towns and rural communities across America.
Through all her work, Congresswoman Bustos has remained devoted to this: “We were born with two ears and one mouth. We should use them proportionately to listen more than we speak.” Congresswoman Bustos has always known that in order to keep hardworking families at the heart of its work, Washington needs to spend a lot more time listening to the Heartland. Through the thousands of cases she has resolved, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, and millions of dollars returned to constituents, Congresswoman Bustos has always put the Illinoisans she serves at the heart of everything she does.