I would like to recognize Congressman Bobby Schilling for the great service which he performed for our country.|
Given the "noise" of the campaign, I think recognizing some of his accomplishments is appropriate.
Rep. Schilling, right after your election, there was a local gathering which to my surprise, you did not attend. I found out you had a good excuse. You were in Afghanistan, visiting with the troops and getting a first hand appreciation of the situation.
I know you tried hard to serve all the constituents in the 17th District, not just those who voted for you. When the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) was confronted with spending cuts, you worked with local Democrats as well as Republicans to build the strongest political front you could.
You called in not only federal level officials, but state, county and city as well. You also met with union leadership to get their input and ideas on how to respond. You rose above partisanship when national security and local jobs were on the line.
I know you were proud of your work for the RIA. I have heard that you and your staff visited the Arsenal more times than your previous two predecessors combined.
I know you worked and submitted legislation to insure a workload for the RIA, not just for jobs, but because you understood the role that the RIA had played in responding to terrorist attacks and saving the lives of hundreds of our men and women in uniform. Your efforts for the RIA resulted in a better National Defense Authorization Bill.
I know you tossed aside party politics when the votes concerned those who put their lives on the line to save the lives of others. Your votes in support of the military were constant and steadfast.
Likewise, in five votes involving firefighters, you sided with the firefighters five times.
You had members of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Agriculture Committee out to visit the district. House Ag Committee members had the chance to visit with local farmers and get their input on what a good farm bill should contain.
House Armed Services members met with Arsenal officials and also with local manufacturers who support the RIA.
They collected valuable information on how to simplify the contracting process and make it easier to do business with the government. To my memory, visits like these were unprecedented before you became the congressman.
There were times in your on-going efforts to advance the Interstate 74 bridge project and resolve the Thomson prison problem, where you had to deal with politically motivated machinations. However, through this, you remained determined to keep these projects on track.
While you were just one of 435 members, I am particularly proud of your efforts to put the brakes on the culture of spending which the previous congress had created. Your House did not initiate any "Cash for Clunkers" or "free golf carts" giveaway programs.
While deficits continued (largely due to a Senate leadership uninterested in any fiscal reform) the discussion was changed from "no need to budget" and "free-for-all borrow and spend" to earnest discussions on every spending bill and how they would be funded.
You did your job, but the Senate found itself unable to discuss, or even offer due process, to 90 percent of the legislation which was sent their way.
Congressman Schilling, you did your best to represent all the people and do what was right for the country.
I hope your replacement follows your example of leadership, fiscal responsibility, and being a true servant of the people.
William S. Bloom lives in Moline.
Orion, IL Details
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