I've been called many things in my time, but there's one in particular I find I'm most proud of: public servant. It's a title I've carried for most of my adult life, from fighting in Korea to serving as an assistant U.S. attorney and all the way through my 43 years in Congress. There's a lot of people out there who think I've served for too long, but I love my community, my city, my state and our great nation too much to quit now. These are critical last two years, and I'm not done fighting yet.
I was born and raised in Harlem and am proud to live a couple of blocks down the street from where I grew up. Our community has had its ups and downs over the years, but there's one thing that's never changed: We never walk away from a fight. Good times, bad times and everything in between -- if it's worth standing for, we do it tall. We've marched for civil rights, fought for better wages and affordable housing, worked to make our streets safer and never stopped raising hell to demand fairness and justice -- always together. When times got hard, we fought back harder, because that's what we do. And we don't walk away until it's finished.
Our nation today is facing some challenges. Our last president left us with a whole heap of problems, and Republicans in Congress now waste more time doing nothing and obstructing President Barack Obama's agenda to move America forward. This means we have to fight twice as hard to get things done. President Obama has ambitious plans to reform our broken immigration system, make eduction and health care more affordable, create more jobs and provide opportunities for everyone in America to succeed -- regardless of one's background. We can't let tea party Republicans stand in the way of progress, and we won't. Together we must fight them and win.
I'm proud to say that I've led some of these battles and helped us prevail. Hurricane Sandy devastated our city, and our do-nothing colleagues across the aisle tried to say no to relief in our time of great need. But as Dean of New York's congressional delegation, I banded us together and said yes. Thousands of New Yorkers received the assistance they needed to rebuild in the face of destruction. That's what we're supposed to do in America: lend a hand to help each other. Some in Congress seem to have forgotten that. It's our job to remind them, and we will, because there are lots of folks out there across America who need help.
The Affordable Care Act, President Obama's landmark legislation, which I proudly introduced as the primary sponsor, has been a resounding success despite persistent Republican attempts to derail it. They resisted positive change right from the beginning, as I was ushering it through the Ways and Means Committee. Under President Obama's leadership, we've survived more than 40 attacks on the law by House Republicans, and we will work to strengthen it with time. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 129 million non-elderly Americans who have some type of preexisting health condition, including 17.6 million children, can no longer be denied coverage by the insurance companies because of that preexisting condition. Republicans will continue to try to weaken the law, and we'll continue to stop them.
Nothing will come easy, but nothing worthwhile ever does. New Yorkers, though -- we're fighters. Over the years we've been throughout a lot together, faced many challenges and conquered every one. And there are more battles on the way. If there's one thing my time as a public servant has taught me, one thing above all else, it's that here, in our community, we're not quitters. That's why I know you'll join me one more time as we look to finish what we've started. Help me make our community a better place to live. To do that I need you to give this veteran one last fight.
Follow Rep. Charles Rangel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cbrangel