Telling It like It Is – Will Congress Rise to Meet the Great Challenge of Creating an Economic Revival in 2014?
Many of the major issues facing America have remained unresolved in Congress. From overhauling the tax code to health care and entitlement reforms, to spending cuts and the debt reduction, to immigration and gun control, Congress will still be grappling with monumental and wide-ranging policy challenges in 2014. Meanwhile, American families and businesses continue to confront uncertainty resulting from Washington’s unwillingness to work together to solve major problems.
With more than three decades of policy experience and knowing how Washington does – and doesn’t – work, Senator Olympia Snowe has keen and contemporary insights on what Congressional initiatives to look for in the coming year.
What's Gone Wrong in Washington, and Why It Doesn't Have To Be This Way
Long respected internationally as a voice of reason and thoughtful, pragmatic legislating, Senator Olympia Snowe stunned political observers when she announced she wasn’t running for a fourth term in the Senate. The reaction was seismic and virtually universal, since few voluntarily relinquish one of just 100 seats in the United States Senate. Yet, she was giving up her life’s work, because the excessive political polarization in Washington was preventing solutions at a time of monumental challenges for our nation. Her statement that she no longer believed that government could be changed from the inside affirmed the feeling of millions of Americans that the system has gone seriously awry – and is at a tipping point for the very future of our country.
Having witnessed government’s greatest potential as well as its capacity for dysfunction, no one is more adept at explaining what’s gone wrong and illustrating why it doesn’t have to be this way. As a key participant in every major issue of the past decade and beyond, few can speak with greater firsthand knowledge as to how policy-making has virtually been abandoned as a matter of practice in our government, and has now devolved into a series of gotcha votes for political leverage. But as Senator Snowe made clear, she was not leaving the Senate because she ceased believing in its power, or because she no longer loved the institution -- but precisely because she does. Her powerful message, delivered now as an outsider with insider knowledge, centers on how we reached this point and why we do not have to accept polarized partisanship as the “new norm” by offering concrete ideas on how we can return the Congress to its past ability to reach consensus.
Anything is Possible: From a Tragic Childhood to the Pinnacle of Power – How to Overcome Obstacles and Make a Difference
Often saying she’s been a minority within a minority within a minority as a moderate Republican woman who’s served in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Senator Olympia Snowe recounts how she has been no stranger to challenges in life, both political and personal. She speaks of how, having lost both her parents before the age of 10, she realized early in life that there are two choices: either become overwhelmed by tragedies, or view them as temporary and not permanent. It’s a lesson that re-emerged in her mid-20’s when her first husband, who was serving in the Maine Legislature at the time, was killed in a car accident – and she came to the conclusion that she would run to fill his seat. And she relates how her loss also brought home the importance of women’s issues as she asked herself, “What do other women do, especially women with children?”
Drawing on a remarkable 34 years of experience in Washington, Senator Snowe offers audiences a rare glimpse into how she and other women in the House and Senate have been able to combine forces regardless of their party labels, to overcome hurdles and make a difference for women across America. She brings a unique perspective on how women can succeed and contribute even in one of the most exclusive, male-dominated institutions – and how their contributions and collaborations in Congress actually offer a template for making government work again. At the same time, her entire life’s story is an incredible and inspiring testament to the fact that any obstacle in any sphere of life can be overcome – and truly anything is possible.
With her election in 1994, Olympia J. Snowe became only the second woman Senator in history to represent Maine, following the late Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, who served from 1949 - 1973. In November 2006, she was re-elected to a third six-year term in the United States Senate with 74 percent of the vote.
Before her election to the Senate, Olympia Snowe represented Maine’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for sixteen years. Senator Snowe is only the fourth woman in history to be elected to both houses of Congress and the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress.
When first elected to Congress in 1978, at the age of 31, Olympia Snowe was the youngest Republican woman, and the first Greek-American woman, ever elected to Congress. She has won more federal elections in Maine than any other person since World War II.
Focusing her attention on efforts to build bipartisan consensus on key issues that matter to Maine and America, Snowe has built a reputation as one of the Congress’ leading moderates. In 1999, she was cited by Congressional Quarterly for her centrist leadership, and was co-chair with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) of a bipartisan, consensus building group in the Senate called the Common Ground Coalition - a forum for communication and cooperation between Senate Democrats and Republicans.
During her time in the Senate, Senator Snowe worked extensively on a number of issues, such as budget and fiscal responsibility; education, including student financial aid and education technology; national security; women’s issues; health care, including prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients; welfare reform; oceans and fisheries issues; and campaign finance reform.
During her tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, she co-chaired the Congressional Caucus on Women’s issues for ten years, and provided leadership in establishing the Office of Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health. She also served as a member of the House Budget Committee; of House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she was Ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on International Operations; and of former House Select Committee on Aging, where she was Ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on Human Services.
She served in both Houses of the Maine Legislature, first elected to the Maine House - representing her home town of Auburn - in 1973 to the seat left vacant by the death of her first husband, the late Peter Snowe, in an auto accident. She was re-elected in 1974, and was elected to the Maine Senate representing Androscoggin County in 1976.