Saying he's working across party lines to fix a Washington, D.C. he describes as "broken," U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) emphasized his independent mien during a wide-ranging meeting with Pioneer Press editorial staff Friday.
Though a Republican who supports Gov. Mitt Romney's bid for the presidency, Dold pointed out his rating by The Washington Post, the Congressional Quarterly and others as "the most independent member of the U.S. Congress."
"I think that's a plus," said Dold, who is running in a redrawn 10th District against Democrat Brad Schneider in the November election. "I am asking them to come to the table to talk about solutions to the problems we face."
When he first went to Washington in January 2011 after defeating Democratic challenger Dan Seals, Dold said, "I knew things were bad. I didn't realize how bad they were."
His efforts were to "focus on areas of agreement, not areas of disagreement, in order to accomplish things," Dold said.
"Almost everything I've done has had bipartisan support," he said, including legislation for creating jobs, protecting the environment and on homeland security.
"Sense of fear'
While campaigning through the district that spans from Winthrop Harbor on the north to Park Ridge on the south and Lakemoor on the west, Dold said he noticed a sense of frustration among those he met.
"I saw almost a sense of fear," he said. "People are concerned about what tomorrow will bring. If they're sitting in job, they're not so sure that job is as secure as they once thought it was. They saw foreclosure rates tick up, they're concerned about how they'll pay for their children's education."
Dold said he would like another chance to fight for residents of the 10th District in Washington and pointed to a number of initiatives he has supported in that he said are for the betterment of residents and local businesses.
Besides voting for the bipartisan Jobs Act, Dold supports the Start-Up 2.0 Act that would allow foreigners who receive an education in the U.S. to stay and use their talent to create businesses and jobs for Americans.
His jobs agenda also includes increasing access to capital for small businesses, encouraging exports for local manufacturing -- an important point, he said, in the 10th Congressional District which is the second highest manufacturing output in the country -- as well as investing in infrastructure, STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) for all students -- which he calls a "critical component" -- and utilizing domestic energy resources.
Giving examples of how he's helped the 10th District during his one term in office, Dold pointed to three trade bills passed opening up import and export with South Korea, Panama and Columbia.
"We want to be able to export all over the world," he said, "if we want to level the playing field for the American worker."
Dold also has sponsored a Global Foreign Investment Bill to encourage more foreign companies like Takeda and Astellas in Deerfield to locate their world headquarters in the U.S. "to help create additional jobs for Americans here at home," he said.
Locally, Dold said he worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to make sure Waukegan Harbor was dredged this spring so it could reopen for shipping, has supported environmental cleanup there to begin in September and made sure the Waukegan and Muskegon U.S. Coast Guard facilities remained open when it was proposed that only the Traverse City, Mich. facility would serve Lake Michigan.
Dold also said he will continue his job fairs, with the fourth scheduled at Wheeling High School on July 23.
He also pointed to portions of the Affordable Care Act that he feels will benefit employees but wants to be sure that small businesses will still be able to grow.
"The President (Obama) talked about trying to cut red tape and regulation on small businesses," Dold said.
A small business owner himself, Dold agrees.
"Washington, and Springfield for that matter, needs to focus on creating an environment that enables the private sector entrepreneurs and innovators to be able to have the confidence and certainty about what tomorrow will bring and be able to invest back into their businesses so they can grow by a single job," he said.