Congressional campaigns are never really over. Rival candidates that battled for attention a few weeks ago have been replaced by government agencies that draw the ire of newly elected or re-elected politicians.
U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, is fighting to keep the Mississippi River open, and in a letter and press release last week he called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to reduce reservoir releases into the Missouri River. The drought already has reduced the Mississippi River levels enough that barges have been running light. Any further reduction could halt barge traffic entirely.
"The Mississippi River is a major artery of commerce for Illinois manufacturers and the agriculture community. As a vital gateway for American products to be shipped to markets throughout the U.S. and to ports around the globe, our economy can't afford any interruptions to this steady flow of commerce," Schock said.
"This is ultimately about saving businesses both large and small, and protecting American jobs. I'm calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to work with Congress on a commonsense solution to keep barge traffic flowing."
Schock and a number of other members of Congress wrote a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, expressing their concern.
It's a no-brainer for Schock, whose constituents rely on the river to transport grain, farm products, coal and other items. If river shipping on the lower Mississippi is halted as early as Dec. 10, it would be a big speed bump for the regional economy.
Jody Farhat, chief of the Water Management Division for the corps' Northwest Division, told the Associated Press there would be dire consequences for reservoirs along the Missouri River if the water releases are not halted. Levels at the Gravins Point Dam near Yankton, S.D., are down enough that recreation has been hampered, and hydropower will be affected if the drought persists next year. To people in South Dakota, the release of more water makes no sense.
Missouri energy project
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., don't agree on many issues. They were united, however, in support of a U.S. Department of Energy project to design and build a modular nuclear unit in Missouri.
When the DOE announced last week that $452 million in federal subsidies would go to a North Carolina company, the political leaders in Missouri were disappointed, but promised to keep supporting a partnership between Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse for a project in Callaway County.
"This project would be a tremendous opportunity for Missouri jobs and the American energy security. I plan to keep working with the folks at Ameren and Westinghouse to pursue new opportunities," McCaskill said.
Luetkemeyer, McCaskill and other members of the Missouri congressional delegation had signed a letter of support for the Callaway County project, and for a while the Missouri proposal was one of three in the running for the federal dollars.
Now that the attack ads have ceased, there may be more opportunities for members of Congress to focus on serving constituents, rather than dragging down opponents.