It's great to be home in Nebraska for an extended period of time during the August break from DC. I try to come back every weekend when Congress is in session, but this gives me a chance to visit with more people, such as I did during the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at the Strategic Air and Space Museum between Lincoln and Omaha.
In a setting of vintage and historic aircraft where Nebraska's rich military heritage is preserved, several hundred of the state's top business leaders came together to discuss the economy and other issues that impact all of us. They do this every year and every year I am honored to speak with them about what's going on in our Nation's Capitol.
It's a shame that this Nebraska spirit of working together to find common ground and solve our problems doesn't exist in Washington where bitter partisanship has resulted in gridlock.
Undoubtedly, Chamber members gathered at this meeting have different opinions on various issues just as Nebraskans do and they are not all members of the same political party but they work together, find common ground and move forward. This is one of the reasons why Nebraska has weathered the economic storm better than many other states.
Return Bi-Partisanship to Washington
Imagine how it would be in Washington if bipartisanship returned to Congress. We would certainly work our way through problems that were left unsolved when Congress adjourned for the month. Those problems include passing a new five year farm bill, protecting our vital national data infrastructure from cyber attacks, deciding whether to let the Bush tax cuts expire, stopping an automatic across-the-board $110 billion defense and domestic spending cut, the future of the post office, and passing the appropriations bills.
As someone who has always tried to reach across party lines and work to bring all sides together, I know first-hand that the problems we face weren't created by one party, or one president, one Congress, or even one generation.
We need to meet our challenges in a non-partisan way. There are countless examples of non-partisan successes in Nebraska, local, state, and federal. So many that we often take them for granted.
Working Together Pays Off
One example of Nebraskans setting aside politics and working together for the benefit of the state and the nation is the new STRATCOM facility located at Offutt Air Force Base.
It's a $524 million project that began with a $10 million earmark and I like many Nebraskans am pleased the construction contract has been signed and that work will be underway soon. This project will create jobs and economic activity for Nebraska. It will strengthen the missions at STRATCOM and Offutt.
When it comes to securing the nation, the personnel I've worked with at STRATCOM and Offutt don't check party registrations when doing their jobs of protecting all Americans, regardless of party affiliation.
We need to meet our challenges in a non partisan way, putting the nation ahead of partisan agendas and the needs of the public ahead of political parties. That's what we've done in Nebraska. That is what needs to be done in Washington.