BCW Endows Star Power Scholarship in her name
Despite the turmoil sweeping the nation’s capital, bipartisanship is still alive and well in Washington. That was the upbeat message from veteran Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey as she addressed an audience of more than 150 business professionals at the Business Council of Westchester’s KeyBank Speaker Series program held January 17 at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown.
“We were able to negotiate a bipartisan fiscal year 2020 spending bill that really does make critical investments in our communities, whether it’s education, infrastructure, security, defense and biomedical research. It was a really good bill and I was very proud of that,” said Lowey, who serves as Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. “The news may be filled with all kinds of gossip but we continue to do our work and we have a lot more work to do,” she added.
Lowey, who is retiring at the end of this year after having served 32 years in Congress, listed a number of important bills that have recently passed in the House including: eliminating the cap on state and local tax deductions; reducing prescription drug prices by giving the federal government the power to negotiate directly with drug companies, and requiring universal background checks for gun purchases. However, she noted that these bills still need approval by the Republican controlled Senate.
Among the legislation she is most proud of include funding for construction of the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, funding for police, firefighters and EMT workers in the aftermath of September 11, funding for after-school programs and expansion of Pell Grants to help low-income students graduate from college with less debt.
“What an honor it has been to be in a position where in spite of a lot of the noise that goes on TV, we really do for the most part work together in a bipartisan way, especially on appropriations. I’ve always said there are legislators and there are appropriators. If we don’t work together and pass legislation then shame on all of us,” she said.
BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon noted that when Lowey started her career in the House the number of women in Congress was only 7 percent. In addition to being the first woman to chair the House Appropriations Committee, she is also the first woman to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “You are a role model for women’s leadership, and particularly government. Can you give us your advice to the women in this room who are interested in making a career in public service,” she said.
Lowey replied, “There are some people in life who see a problem and say I wish I could help you and just move on. I have always felt, and I think I learned this from my mother who was a real activist in the community, that when you see a problem you have a responsibility to do something about it. Sometimes you can do it just by yourself. Sometimes you have to organize a group. But the important thing is to know that you have a responsibility that is bigger than just yourself,” she said.
As a fitting tribute to Lowey’s many years of service in Congress, the BCW announced at the conclusion of the program the establishment of the Nita Lowey Scholarship seat in the BCW’s Star Power program. The scholarship will be given each year to a deserving not-for-profit professional. The inaugural award was presented to Victoria Baldini, Executive Assistant to the CEO of ANDRUS in Yonkers. Star Power is a professional development program designed to help build self-knowledge, relationship know-how and communication skills needed to launch and maintain a successful career.