By Steve Sadin
When Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) wants an act of Congress, he looks for shared interest from a colleague, a Republican associate.
Schneider's most recent piece of legislation, the Israel Qualitative Military Edge Enhancement Act aimed to help Israel maintain the military edge he has over its neighbors, was introduced with Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).
In February, Schneider introduced the America Works Act with Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) to help stimulate job growth. The bill creates a certification which schools and other training programs can issue to signify to a potential employer the credential holder is ready to step into a specific job.
None of this is an accident. The night Schneider was elected he pledged to do what he could to end gridlock in Washington and he has worked to develop relationships with members of his freshman class and others on both sides of the aisle.
After his election, Schneider also sought and received committee appointments--Small Business and Foreign Relations--to use his areas of expertise to help him legislate. "These two (committee) assignments are priorities (because) they are important issues in the District," he said.
In the last few weeks, Schneider has been busy in the House Foreign Relations Committee with more than his own legislation. He is taking a role as the panel gives a closer look at sanctions against Iran to prevent that country from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"We need to increase the intensity of the sanctions and ratchet up the time they (Iran) must comply before the sanctions increase," Schneider said. "We want to reduce the time for reporting from 180 days to 60 days."
Should this legislation reach the Senate, Schneider need look no further than a few miles east of his Deerfield home for bipartisan support. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park) has long advocated tough sanction against Iran. He worked on the issue when he was still recovering from his stroke at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
"Congress must enact the toughest possible economic sanctions against Iran to prevent the regime from acquiring a nuclear breakout capability," a spokesperson for Kirk said. "(The Senator) is working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to further reduce Iranian oil revenues, block Iran's access to its foreign exchange reserves and blacklist additional sectors of Iran's economy."
Schneider's legislation to help Israel maintain its qualitative military advantage over other countries in the Middle East goes further than some measures which have been introduced in the past.
"Israel has always had a qualitative edge in conventional weaponry," Schneider said. With additional threats in the region, Schneider wants more. "It must extend to nonconventional," he added referring to cyber attacks. "Israel must always be in a position to defend itself by itself."
Again, Schneider has a potential ally in the Senate on the issue. Kirk has long been a proponent of helping Israel stay a step ahead of its neighbors. "Sen. Kirk is strongly committed to preserving Israel's qualitative military edge and enhancing Israel's capabilities to defend itself from existential threats," the spokesperson said.