As newly elected Rep. Jen Kiggans reflects on first few months in Congress, here’s what she’s been up to

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After a tightly contested race last year, Virginia Beach Republican Jen Kiggans headed to Congress in January as one of several new legislators who helped flip control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We just celebrated our first 100 days,” said Kiggans, who represents the 2nd District. “We’ve hit the ground running and have been getting a lot of work done.”

The former state senator, who resigned from the Virginia General Assembly to head to Washington, said she’s been appointed to three House committees: Armed Services, Veterans’ Affairs, and Natural Resources.

She’s introduced legislation that would remove federal barriers for nurse practitioners and another measure that would update the IT system for the Veterans Health Administration.

She also voted in favor of a controversial bill that would ban transgender women from competing on women’s sports teams in schools.

Here’s a breakdown:

Nursing

Along with three other representatives, Kiggans recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to provide more services without physician oversight under Medicaid and Medicare programs — except in states that expressly have laws against it.

APRN’s have post-graduate education and training in nursing.

Kiggans said even APRN’s practicing in areas where state law grants them more autonomy can still face barriers from Medicaid and Medicare.

“I think non-physician providers, like nurse practitioners, are really able to be a complement to physicians,” said Kiggans, a geriatric nurse practitioner. “We have a physician shortage and we certainly know there are challenges to people receiving high quality healthcare.”

The bill is backed by several nursing associations: The American College of Nurse-Midwives, American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology, American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Association.

In a statement earlier this month, ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy said the bill will enable APRNs to practice to the “top of their education and clinical training.”

“The patients and communities being served by these nurses will get improved access to care from the provider of their choice,” she said. “This is especially true for those living in underserved communities who are often faced with a shortage of providers.”

IT system

Kiggans, a Navy veteran, introduced another bill that would authorize the purchase of a supply chain management IT system for the Veterans Health Administration.

“They don’t really have one that’s working well and we are seeing shortages in supplies that they need to be able to take care of patients,” she said.

Kiggans said the legislation would focus on inventory management and begin with a pilot program instead of replacing the entire system. She explained past efforts had failed because they took a large-scale approach.

Transgender athletes

Kiggans voted in favor of a controversial bill in mid-April that would prohibit transgender women from competing in school athletic programs for girls or women.

Explaining she’s a lifelong runner, and has daughters involved with sports, Kiggans said she’s passionate about the issue.

“I feel strongly, and I know there’s a large portion of Americans who feel strongly too, about keeping biological men out of women’s sports,” she said. “...There are biological differences. This wasn’t about discriminating against a certain group of people, it’s about respecting those differences and allowing women and girls to excel in those playing fields.”

As a state senator, Kiggans introduced a bill last year that would have enacted such a ban at the state level. It died in a Senate committee.

Del. Karen Greenhalgh, R-Virginia Beach, carried a similar bill in the House of Delegates this year. It passed the House but was later shot down in the Senate.

Those who supported the ban said it would ensure a level playing field. Critics, however, said it was unnecessary and argued that the real intent was to strip transgender athletes of their dignity and identity.

Debt ceiling

Kiggans also voted for a GOP-backed bill last week that would lift the debt limit while also restricting federal spending. It would set federal discretionary spending at $1.47 trillion during the next fiscal year and only permit a 1% annual increase after that.

The bill, which narrowly passed the House, is not expected to become law. But critics say the potential budget cuts would harm various programs for veterans.

In a news release, Kiggans acknowledged the bill “isn’t perfect” but she said it would serve as a starting point for negotiations.

“Families in Virginia’s Second District have been hit hard by inflation fueled by Washington’s wasteful spending,” she said. “(This bill would) would save taxpayers trillions of dollars over the next 10 years and curb the high inflation hurting my constituents.”

Katie King, katie.king@virginiamedia.com