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Rebuilding economy and infrastructure after coronavirus are among New Year’s resolutions for Ohio’s Congress members

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 1/3/2021 Sabrina Eaton, cleveland.com
Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur standing in front of a building: Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, right, hopes that having Ohio's Rep. Marcia Fudge, left, in Joe Biden's cabinet will help channel more federal resources to Ohio in 2021. © Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com/TNS Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, right, hopes that having Ohio's Rep. Marcia Fudge, left, in Joe Biden's cabinet will help channel more federal resources to Ohio in 2021.

WASHINGTON, D. C. - Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur has ordered more than 400 copies of the December issue of National Geographic magazine to distribute to every one of her U.S. House of Representatives colleagues. The cover features an article titled “Saving the Great Lakes,” which also is the subject of much of Kaptur’s legislative agenda for 2021.

Along with other Ohio Congress members from both political parties, Kaptur has big plans for this new year. While she has long bemoaned the fact that Democratic party leaders from coastal states don’t focus on midwestern interests, she’s hopeful that President-elect Joe Biden’s addition of Warrensville Heights’ Rep. Marcia Fudge to his cabinet as housing secretary, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as energy secretary and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary will jump start rebuilding the economy and environment of Great Lake states.

If Kaptur gets her way, that will mean the environmental and infrastructure “build back better” campaign initiatives that Biden promised will help areas such as Ohio, “and not focus on places like Washington, D.C., or New York. She says the $300 million that’s allotted to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in a typical year is “tiddlywinks” compared to the kind of money she’d like to see devoted to the region, and feels she can help steer its way in her post as chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds energy and water projects. She says that the incoming chair of the full House Appropriations Committee, Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, pledged to be more sensitive to the needs of the Great Lakes region when Kaptur gave up her own bid for the job and threw her support to DeLauro.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Kaptur, who would like to modernize energy infrastructure in the Midwest to make its costs competitive with other parts of the country and to serve as incentives for industrial investment. She says she plans to put forward a bill that would establish a new federal office of manufacturing and industrial innovation. She’d also like to help modernize the Midwest’s air, land and sea transportation infrastructure, suggesting that widening the St. Lawrence Seaway could allow larger, ocean-going cargo ships in and out of the Great Lakes.

“That’s a big idea worth fighting for,” says Kaptur. “Seaborne is the least costly transportation for goods.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Democrat from the Niles area, said his top priority, and that of every other Congress members, should be “healing our country’s health and economic crisis.

“I will be fighting to provide the American people with direct economic impact payments of $2,000 per month until this crisis is over and working to ensure the vaccine distribution is run efficiently and effectively,” said a statement from Ryan.

In 2021, Ryan will become vice-chair of the appropriations subcommittee that funds defense projects, a post that will help him support local projects and bring money back to Ohio. He’ll also continue to chair the House Manufacturing Caucus, where he plans to prioritize manufacturing and innovation at the federal level. He said he plans to introduce legislation to “establish an office in the White House to shape manufacturing policies and to prepare our future workforce so they can learn the skills necessary to compete in our shifting 21st century economy.

“Finally, I plan to work across the aisle to create in infrastructure bill that will make good on years of promises and repair our crippling roads and bridges, clear out blight in our communities, and expand broadband so every American has access to highspeed internet,” Ryan continued.

Ohio Republicans in Congress, like Champaign County’s Jim Jordan and Holmes County’s Bob Gibbs, believe having Biden in the White House will shift the nation’s focus away from their favorite issues such as cutting taxes and government regulations.

Some of their ability to get things done will depend on the outcome of two runoff U.S. Senate elections in Georgia on Jan. 5. If Democrats win both races, they’ll have control of the Senate, as well as the presidency and House of Representatives. If Republicans win at least one of those Georgia seats, the GOP will continue to call the shots in the Senate, giving the party more say in shaping policy.

No matter who wins, Jordan anticipates using his post as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee to voice his concerns about Hunter Biden’s dealings with foreign companies while his father was vice president, probe the integrity of the 2020 election, examine the ramifications of calls to “defund” police, and express his dissatisfaction with coronavirus-related government restrictions on businesses and individuals.

“Hopefully Santa makes it through Ohio tonight by the 10 p.m. curfew,” Jordan said in a Christmas eve Twitter posting. “Fly fast, Rudolph. The #COVID19 agents will be on the look out.”

Some of Jordan’s other priorities will include fighting to secure the U.S. border, opposing abortion, protecting constitutional rights to own guns, keeping taxes low, and cutting government waste, his spokesman said. He’ll also oppose any efforts by Democrats to enact a “Green New Deal” or pack the U.S. Supreme Court by expanding the number of justices. A resolution he introduced in September said packing the court would “undermine our democratic institutions and destroy” the Supreme Court’s credibility.

Gibbs intends to keep pursuing regulatory reform and examining ways to ensure more secure elections and prevent voter fraud, such as tightening up voter ID laws, his spokesman said. Gibbs will also seek legislative term limits because he believes it would make Congress more responsive to voters. After its leaders spent months bickering over coronavirus relief legislation, Gibbs argued in a Washington Examiner column that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York should “retire of be fired.”

“I’ve come to understand and believe that limiting the time in which politicians can climb the ladder and become swamp creatures is one of the few ways to make Congress a more responsive and representative body of the people,” wrote Gibbs, who was first elected to Congress in 2010.

Mitigating the impact COVID-19 has had on the health and stability of Northeast Ohio families will be Bainbridge Township GOP Rep. Dave Joyce’s top priority in the next Congress, his spokesperson said. Joyce also will focus on legislation to fight human trafficking, combat the scourge of opioid addiction and expedite the processing of the hundreds of thousands of sexual assault kits that police departments across the country haven’t yet tested.

Like Kaptur, he’ll prioritize Great Lakes efforts like the Brandon Road project to keep invasive Asian Carp away from the lake system and the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study to recommend measures to bolster the coastline’s ability to withstand, recover from, and adapt to severe storms and rising water levels.

In addition to supporting Northeast Ohio jobs and rebuilding the local economy after coronavirus is defeated, Rocky River GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez plans to work with U.S. Sen Rob. Portman in 2021 to develop the next generation’s work force through job training programs in a JOBS Act bill that both support, as well as invigorating local communities through infrastructure investments, said a spokesman for Gonzalez.

Gonzalez also plans to continue his work to end online child exploitation, champion forward thinking policies to strengthen the U.S. health-care system, pursue legislation he’s introduced to give student athletes the right to make endorsement deals, and continue working to fight Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence in the United States.

“The CCP represents one of the greatest existential threats facing our nation today,” said a statement from Gonzalez. “Beyond their human rights violations and egregious mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, the CCP has continued to abuse international organizations, violate agreements, exploit developing nations through the harmful Belt and Road Initiative, and seek to expand malign influence inside the U.S. through our research and financial institutions. It is past time that the United States take action to recalibrate our relationship with the CCP and hold them accountable.”

Read more:

House votes to override Trump defense bill veto but approves a $2,000 pandemic relief payment he sought

Ohio’s Stephanie Tubbs Jones lodged the nation’s last electoral vote protest in Congress

Ohio’s Jim Jordan to participate in Jan. 6 congressional effort to question presidential election results

Years of work fighting for Northeast Ohio earn Marcia Fudge a seat at Biden’s Cabinet table

Marcia Fudge makes her public debut as a member of Joe Biden’s team

What Rep. Marcia Fudge hopes to accomplish as Housing and Urban Development Secretary: Q & A

Biden transition office officially announces Rep. Marcia Fudge will be HUD nominee

President-elect Joe Biden picks Rep. Marcia Fudge to be Housing and Urban Development secretary, report says

Rep. Jim Clyburn predicts Ohio’s Rep. Marcia Fudge will end up in Biden’s cabinet

U.S. House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana over opposition from all Ohio Republicans

Columbus Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty selected to chair the Congressional Black Caucus

Sen. Sherrod Brown predicts smooth confirmation for Rep. Marcia Fudge if she’s picked as Biden’s Agriculture Secretary

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