• ICYMI: Still bipartisan after all these years

    By LOUISE WREGE – HP Staff Writer
    U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said he has a strong record of creating jobs in Southwest Michigan and will continue to do so if re-elected for a 15th term to represent Michigan’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
    “My focus has always been on jobs,” said Upton, who was first elected in 1986. “I’m trying to provide the private sector with all the tools to create the jobs that we want.”
    Upton’s Democratic challenger in the Nov. 4 election is Paul Clements of Kalamazoo. Also challenging him are Libertarian Erwin Haas of Kentwood and Green Party candidate John Lawrence of Kalamazoo.
    Upton said he has brought jobs to Southwest Michigan by working with Republicans and Democrats.
    He said he worked with former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm to help bring the Harbor Shores Golf Club and the Inn at Harbor Shores to the area, which created jobs. The golf club opened in 2010. The inn opened in May.
    Upton said he worked for years with former Republican state Sen. Harry Gast to push the U.S. 31 project forward.
    “That provided a huge economic boost to help create jobs in Berrien County,” he said. “It will hook up with I-94 and I-196 soon.”
    The 9.5-mile section of freeway from old U.S. 31 north of Berrien Springs to Napier Avenue in Benton Township was finished in 2003. The section from Napier Avenue to the interstates still needs to be done.
    Upton said the Sept. 16 rupture of a gas pipeline in Berrien County underscored the importance of legislation he helped pass in 2012 with the help of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Democratic congressman from Dearborn.
    The “Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011” was signed into law in January 2012.
    He said he started working on that law after the Kalamazoo River oil spill occurred in 2010. He said the law upgrades safety standards for every new pipeline built.
    “I’ve been one to work with both sides of the aisle to get things done,” he said.
    He said he is working with U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., on 21st Century Cures. He said this initiative will expedite the process of discovering and delivering new medical treatments to patients, which will give hope to families.
    He is holding 20 to 25 hearings and round table discussions around the country to get ideas from all stakeholders on how this can be done, he said.
    “Our goal is not only to fund the research and see it happen, but if they do the research in this country, they’ll produce the goods in this country, and that will create jobs,” he said.
    Upton said a lot of jobs, including in the medical field, have moved overseas and this bill will help keep those jobs in America.
    He said they plan to introduce the bill in the spring of 2015.
    “It’s a huge initiative and will truly make a difference to people in this country,” he said.
    As chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he said he has gotten 74 bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives since 2012. He said 32 of those bills have become public laws and almost all of them were bipartisan.
    “We’ve had more hearings and more mark ups than any other committee in Congress,” he said.
    But he said he has been frustrated by the U.S. Senate, which has a Democratic Party majority. He said the U.S. Senate hasn’t even considered most of the 380 bills passed by the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives.
    Upton said most political analysts predict that the Republican Party will add more seats in the House of Representatives and that the U.S. Senate will be flipped from a Democratic majority to a Republican Party majority.
    “I look forward to the challenge of governing,” he said.

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