When Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) became a member of Congress a year ago he hoped to make a difference in people’s lives and he believes he has done that on both an individual and larger scale.
Whether introducing legislation focused on what he considers the nation’s most important issue—jobs and the economy—or cutting government red tape to bring a son back from overseas to see a dying father, Schneider thinks he is accomplishing something.
“Finding a way to make a difference in people’s daily lives,” Schneider said when asked what he likes best about his job.
The son of a local man was in Iran while his father was gravely ill at home. The son was having trouble getting back to the northern suburbs for a final visit. Schneider’s staff got involved. “He arrived four hours before his father died,” Schneider said.
Another time a person thought her social security payments were not correct. Schneider’s staff investigated and it turned out she was entitled to $900 more. “That’s a life changing event for someone on a fixed income,” Schneider said.
With nearly 700,000 constituents, Schneider has to work on a macro level as well, He thinks he has used his passions for small business and foreign relations to introduce legislation that will help a larger number of people in both the District and the country.
“The number one issue is jobs and the economy,” Schneider said. “The first bill I introduced (the America Works Act) was designed to close the skills gap. In November I introduced the LEARN (Learning Education Achieving and Retraining for the Nation) Act to provide on the job training.”
Both bills were bipartisan efforts. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) joined Schneider authoring the America Works Act while Rep. Dave McKinley (R-WV) worked with Schneider putting together the LEARN Act.
The bipartisan method Schneider has worked with members of the freshman class of 2012—49 Democrats and 36 Republicans—is one way he is trying to make good on a campaign pledge to break the gridlock in Washington. “We’ve pledged to work with each other and respect each other,” he said.
The effort with his current classmates does not hide his frustration with the gridlock he feels still exists. The gridlock remains one of his major frustrations. He minces no words when it comes to casting blame.
“My frustration is the gridlock that came in with the Tea Party Congress in 2010 is still there,” Schneider said. Among other things, he blames that group for stalling an immigration reform bipartisan bill passed with 67 votes in the Senate.
“There are 12 to 15 million people living in the shadows,” Schneider said. “The Congressional Budget Office says that would cause a $130 billion deficit reduction,” he added referring to additional revenue from making many of those persons legal workers.
When it comes to his work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee the gridlock does not seem to be there. Another piece of bipartisan legislation Schneider introduced with Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) helping Israel maintain its qualitative military edge over its neighbors unanimously passed the House, 399-0.