By DAVID JOYCE
A funny thing happened in Washington last week.
You probably didn’t hear about it, though, because it didn’t get much press. But the House of Representatives passed a jobs bill with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. The bill, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, didn’t have a catchy name, but it’s very important to our region. This is the kind of thing- a far cry from the partisan gridlock we’ve seen lately- that Americans sent us here to do. We must have more of its kind.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act, known as the water bill, will allow us to transport goods through the Great Lakes, boosting local jobs and the Northeast Ohio economy at the same time. It represents a big win for our region because waterways and ports support 21,000 Ohio jobs and directly contribute $3.1 billion to our state’s economy. Additionally, it cuts red tape, includes zero earmarks, and gets rid of $12 billion worth of backlogged projects. This bill also includes an important provision to fight the spread of invasive species, like Asian Carp, in the Great Lakes.
This is the sort of jobs-oriented, common-sense legislation that Congress should be focused on. It started with the goal of boosting American jobs and American-built infrastructure. It was earnestly debated and compromises were made. When brought to the House floor, it contained things that both Democrats and Republicans could agree on, and easily passed in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner, 417-3.
I was a strong supporter of the water bill for its jobs-component and, more importantly, because I’ve made it my focus to boost the health of the Great Lakes, which I consider Northeast Ohio’s greatest resource. The Great Lakes are directly connected to 1.5 million jobs, generating $62 billion in wages for American families. Earlier this year, I introduced a bill that would protect the Great Lakes not only for their environmental integrity, but also their economic might. It’s already received bipartisan support and I’m optimistic it will continue to gain momentum.
What happened last week is positive movement in the right direction, and an example of how things can and must operate in Washington. Now, I’m certainly not saying we should receive special praise or credit for this; it’s our job after all! What I am saying, though, is that this is the kind of jobs-oriented, bipartisan legislation that the American people deserve.
My dad was a WWII veteran, a small business owner, and a man who believed in just getting the job done. I’ve done my best to take that mantra to Washington by being a workhorse, not a show horse. Now, it’s time for the rest of Washington to just “get the job done” and focus on the kind of common-sense, job-creating legislation we passed last week. I urge those in Washington to turn the page on the partisan bickering, and get the job done on behalf of the American people.
Joyce is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 14th District. He represents Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake counties, and part of Cuyahoga County.