WASHINGTON (WWLP) – The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce is in Washington, D.C. 22News reporter Kait Walsh was with business leaders Thursday as they heard from top national lawmakers in D.C.
Since 7 a.m. Thursday, we have been hearing from our Massachusetts Congressional Delegation as well as leaders of Congress, and they all have had the same message: We, as a country, need to unite.
We all live in the same house. The American house. The nation is divided, but there’s a desire among many congressional leaders to work together to pass bills and help their constituents, like the dozens of business leaders from the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Washington Symposium, hosted by our U.S Congressman Richard Neal.
“Common ground. That’s become more difficult. I think that’s for sure, but I think when you have opinion makers in the valley here it gives them a chance to hear and witness and ask questions of people who in fact they’ve elected or who are in fact decision makers in Washington,” said Neal.
The business leaders represented industries like healthcare, education and finance.
They had the rare opportunity to ask questions directly to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey among others and hear how their concerns about the opioid crisis, economy, and education are being addressed in the nation’s capital.
Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren talked about their push for a funding bill that would include more than one billion dollars to help fight the opioid epidemic, but it’s getting stalled in the Senate.
“The only way we’re going to do it successfully is if the Democrats work together with Republicans to find the funding,” said Markey.
Almost all the speakers talked about how their jobs would change under a new administration.
The presidential election is a polarizing topic for Americans, but with just over a month to voting day, it was a topic nearly a dozen congressional leaders talked about with business leaders from western Massachusetts.
Why? The outcome impacts their jobs and how they will need to lobby with state and federal government for business to thrive in our region.
“Elections are about two things. They’re about who you elect. Who takes the seat, but it’s also about the message that the people give the people that they elect. This is what is important to me,” said Pelosi.
Pelosi said Congress needs to do a better job compromising, without compromising their ideals.
That was the same message from Congressman Neal, as well as Congressman Mike Capuano, civil rights champion Congressman John Lewis, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey.
The business leaders were impressed by that message of unity as well as proof that congress can work together when Republican House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady spoke to 22News.
Pelosi stressed the importance of funding for new infrastructure projects like high speed rail.
Chamber members were impressed with Congressman Neal’s desire to work across the aisle.
“He’s listened to, that he articulates the things that I’m, that we’re concerned about, and so to actually see that side of things makes me realize that we’re on the map and that we have someone advocating for us,” said Jeff Trapani.
Everyone wanted to make it clear that while there is some division in Congress, they do work together more than we may think.