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It's Time for Both Parties to Reach Across the Aisle

 
Southwest News-Herald
January 10, 2011
By Congressman Dan Lipinski

As the 112th Congress gets underway, Republicans control the House, while Democrats hold the Senate and the White House. Now more than ever, getting things done for the good of our country will require members of both parties to cooperate.

I know that as Americans we are capable of coming together. Indeed, following last Saturday’s horrific shooting in Tucson we witnessed an outpouring of sympathy for the victims, and a rejection by many Americans of attempts to use the tragedy for political purposes. I hope that in the months ahead, a spirit of unity will continue to grow. I know Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from the Science and Technology Committee, and she is as hard-working and down-to-earth as anyone you will meet. I’ve been praying for her, and for all the other victims of that senseless, despicable attack.

Days before the shooting, I was sworn into office along with Gabby and the rest of my colleagues, pledging to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic.” The next day I participated in the bipartisan reading of the Constitution on the House floor. Sometimes we forget that despite all our differences, Americans are united by an undying respect for the basic principles of liberty and equality spelled out in the Constitution. Today, I think, we realize that.

This is not to say that we can agree on everything, or that vigorous debate should cease. But a more civil dialogue would undoubtedly make it easier to solve important problems.

As always, I will be working with members on both sides of the aisle in the new Congress. First and foremost, we must get people back to work. Already this year, I helped prevent the Defense Department from awarding a forklift contract to a Korean company because the action violated the Buy American Act. This will allow a local manufacturer, Hoist Liftruck of Bedford Park, to bid for the work, helping to preserve and grow jobs in the Third District. I plan to continue defending American jobs, especially in the hard-hit manufacturing sector, while working to pass a multi-year transportation bill that will invest in critical infrastructure projects and create countless much-needed jobs.

We also need to get our budget under control and reduce the federal debt. I am carefully scrutinizing a variety of proposals for saving taxpayer dollars. At the same time, we must make sure that seniors on Medicare or Social Security receive the benefits they have earned.

I attach great importance to improving our health care system and fixing the many problems with the new health care law, which I voted against. I strongly support passage of the Protect Life Act, which I helped introduce last year to prevent federal funding for abortion under the law. I also believe we should repeal the CLASS Act, a poorly designed part of the law that experts agree is fiscally unsustainable. Lowering health care costs for all Americans remains one of my top priorities, as does preventing the cuts the law made to Medicare, which threaten seniors’ access to care.

Nor can we neglect to pursue energy independence. High gas prices hurt hard-working families already suffering from the recession. For the sake of our economy and national security, we need to boost domestic energy supplies and clean sources of energy.

We also must continue to protect our environment. That is why one of the first bills I plan to introduce this year is the Great Lakes Water Protection Act, which imposes stiff fines on those who dump sewage into the Great Lakes and invests in water-quality improvements.

Once again, it is an honor to serve you in Congress. I look forward to trying to set a new tone in Washington and to continuing to defend the interests of Third District residents. If we work together, we will build an even greater America.