GOFFSTOWN — U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte helped prevent another round of base closures, worked to ensure funding to educate students in science and math, and puts constituents and her country ahead of politics, which is why she was named New Englander of the Year by The New England Council.
Council President Jim Brett, who presented Ayotte with the award Friday at a breakfast receptions in her honor at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College, said Ayotte was part of the "Gang of 8" senators who came up with a bi-partisan solution to end the goverment shutdown last month, putting the best interests of the nation first.
And it was because of that very vote that Ayotte was unable to make the group's annual dinner in Boston last month when several other people were also honored with the award.
Brett said the Boston Globe in an editorial said it best: Ayotte and U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine seemed to have their priorities right, by showing they had a core commitment to the best interests of the country, not putting a higher loyalty to their party or their political principals.
Ayotte received a standing ovation from about 75 council members, made up of lobbyists, politicians and executives of companies that included PSNH, Velcro USA, AT&T and the healthcare industry, attending the event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. For more than a half-hour before the presentation, Ayotte spoke briefly with and posed for photographs with many of those attending the reception.
Ayotte, in accepting the award, noted that it was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A large black and white photograph of Kennedy sitting in a dog sled while on the 1960 presidential campaign in Nashua, was among the oversized campaign photos lining the walls of the room.
The Senator said she could not help but remember one of Kennedy's most famous comments: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."
She said it was his belief that we all had a "responsibility to this great country." She said in Washington today, though, partisan bickering is preventing finding solutions to serious challenges.
The shutdown was about some legislators trying to stop Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) from being instituted. Ayotte said while she voted against Obamacare and believes it is the wrong direction for the country, she believes in our constitutional form of government. The Supreme Court upheld the act.
Shutting down government was not going to prevent the ACA from being implemented, she said. "I thought the shutdown was dumb," she explained.
However, she said Obamacare is the number one issue consitituents talk to her about. Anthem New Hampshire is the only insurance provider for the state in the Obamacare exchange and, she said, it has excluded 10 hospitals from its coverage.
"When Concord Hospital is excluded from the exchange, that's a big deal in people's lives," she said.
It is time to revisit ACA and address some of its flaws, which she said, go deeper than the website.
The Senator also spoke out against the Democratically-controlled Senate voting to eliminate filibusters for most presidential nominations. She said the Senate normally sets rules at two-year intervals.
"What happened last night changed the rules mid-stream," she said. Where 60 percent of the Senate was needed to approve a presidential appointment for most nominations except the Supreme Court, now only 51 percent will be needed.
"I think it's a sad day for the institution," she said.