Bond promotes Midwest-China hub -- and predicts 'sea change' in Congress
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 20, 2010 - Everywhere he went in his hometown of Mexico, Mo., on Tuesday, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond said he was asked about the Massachusetts Senate election and how it was time for the Republicans to stop the impending passage of a health-care bill.
Now that Scott Brown has won a surprising, come-from-behind victory to capture the Senate seat long held by Democrat Ted Kennedy, Bond calls the vote -- and the Democrats' loss of its 60-vote majority -- "the mark of a sea change" that will have a big impact on health care and other issues.
"This shows that Massachusetts voters feel the same way that Missouri voters have told me they feel about the health-care bill," the GOP senator told reporters Wednesday. "It's time to stop it and go back and start over."
Bond said voters have shown they are tired of the backroom deals and the Democrats' attempt to have the government become too deeply involved in how health care is handled in the United States. The Massachusetts vote, he added, sends a strong message that no one can ignore.
"Anyone on the wrong side of this issue should reconsider," he said.
Asked whether he thought Democrats would try to rush a bill through before Brown could be seated, he replied:
"That may bring the revolution to the forefront and give us far greater gains than we have reason to expect, maybe even taking back the House and the Senate."
Bond met with reporters after briefing members of the Midwest-China Hub Commission on his recent trip to China, where he said he received assurances that the project designed to boost the St. Louis economy remains a priority with the Chinese.
The 11-day trip, which took Bond to Singapore, Jakarta and Hanoi as well as to Beijing and Shanghai, was designed to shore up support for the effort to boost trade between China and St. Louis. Bond said the effort would play a big role in helping to improve the economy for St. Louis specifically and Missouri in general.
"For the St. Louis region," he said, "I believe the Midwest-China Hub is key to ensuring that jobs will continue to be around for years or decades. With the world economy in a slump, now is exactly the right time to be expanding markets and opening up new opportunities for Missourians."
Bond noted that Missouri exported more than $1 billion in goods to China in 2007 alone. Now, he said, a feasibility study will be conducted over the next several months to convince the Chinese that doing business with the center of the country makes economic sense.
Sporting a bright red Chinese dragon tie -- "Five dollars each, two for nine dollars" -- Bond talked of meeting with the second-highest ranking official in China, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People's Congress and finding support for the project.
"The Chinese are all for it," he said. "The only question is whether it is commercially viable."
In the short term, Bond said, the hub would bring more construction to the Lambert Airport area, with jobs in transportation, distribution and freight handling. The longer-range goal, he added, would be to bring passenger traffic to the airport and re-establish it as a critical air hub. Last month, he managed to get $500,000 included in an omnibus spending bill to boost the project.
To get the deal done, he added, protectionist legislation has to be rethought.
"We've got to clear all of the barriers that regrettably have had a much larger negative impact than the benefits they are supposed to provide."
Bond has been named vice chairman of the U.S.-China Inter-Parliamentary Group, which is the Senate's highest-level delegation to China.