By Sarah Cwiek
Detroit Congressman Hansen Clarke says "time is of the essence" for his proposed Detroit Jobs Trust Fund Act.
That's legislation Clarke has proposed that would divert federal taxes collected in Detroit into a trust--about $2 billion annually over five years. That money would then be used to finance jobs and infrastructure projects.
But Clarke also proposed using that money to wipe out the city's debt. That's a more a critical element now that the city faces running out of cash by spring at the latest, ending the fiscal year $45 million in the red--and possibly under the control of a state emergency manager.
Clarke says he's trying to push the bill through as fast as he can.
"I'll be working on this over the holidays to get this initiative through," he says. "We'll likely be reaching out again to the White House and congressional leadership, to make sure we get the investment in Detroit. So we can preserve Detroiters' right to vote, and create jobs here."
But prospects for the bill are highly uncertain, especially given this week's collapse of the Congressional Super committee on deficit reduction.
However, Clarke insists he's "not concerned about the odds."
"I'm never concerned about the odds," Clarke says. "I've had to beat the odds my entire life. But I know that people in Detroit need jobs, and so do people in this country."
Clarke says he's also working on ways to secure other, more traditional aid for Detroit--though that money likely couldn't be used to keep the city solvent.