Massachusetts' newest member of the U.S. House, Jake Auchincloss, gave an exclusive interview to NBC10 Boston on Saturday, one day before he will officially be sworn in as part of the 117th Congress in Washington.
The former Newton City Councilor heads into his new job, representing the Bay State's fourth Congressional district, with the coronavirus pandemic at the top of his agenda.
“COVID is my number one priority,” the Democrat told NBC10 Boston in an exclusive one-on-one interview. “My work here in district is going to be centered on expanding access to testing for K-12 public schools as well as for other areas of vulnerable populations.”
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Auchincloss said the process to distribute vaccines need to be sped up.
“The Federal Government has to put a plan into place to accelerate the distribution of this vaccine,” he said. “We need to create a public health infrastructure for cold supply chain and for distribution points that can reach the broader population.”
Congress just approved a $900 billion COVID relief bill which includes money for vaccine distribution and aid to families and small businesses, but Auchincloss said lawmakers will likely have to come back and do more.
“Congress certainly needs to ensure that state and local governments have the funding that they need to get through an even more challenging fiscal year coming up than the last one,” he said.
Asked if he would support another relief bill, Auchincloss said he would.
Congress will certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win on Wednesday, meaning Auchincloss will be there for one of the first big moments of the new legislative session.
But at least 140 House Republicans plan to object to Biden’s win, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced on Saturday a coalition of 11 senators who have been enlisted for Trump's effort to subvert the will of American voters.
“This is a shameful abuse of our Constitutional system,” Auchincloss said in response to what Republican members are planning on doing. “It is a black mark on our American democracy. I will be a strong and loud opponent of any efforts in the House of Representatives to disenfranchise Americans and overturn our legacy of a peaceful transition of power.”
Democrats will also vote for Speaker this week.
“I’m going to be proud to cast my ballot in favor of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House,” said Auchincloss. “She has helped save this Republic over the last four years.”
Auchincloss heads to Washington filling the seat of Joe Kennedy, who didn’t run for re-election after losing his bid for Ed Markey's Senate seat.
Auchincloss says he knows he has a big job ahead of him.
“It’s a tremendous honor to represent the people of the Massachusetts 4th,” he said. “They’ve given me this privilege and it’s incumbent on me to serve and represent them well.”