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Hoyer Swings Through Metro East To Promote Manufacturing Proposal

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House was in Granite City, Ill. on Wednesday to boost his longstanding focus on bolstering manufacturing jobs. 

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, joined U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, on a tour of Southwestern Illinois College’s Granite City campus. Hoyer – who serves as the House Minority Whip – was in the Metro East to promote his “Make It In America” plan, which, among other things, seeks to increase job training funds and promote a national manufacturing plan.

“Make It In America is not only about manufacturing and growing things in America and selling them here and around the world, but it’s about making it,” Hoyer said. “It’s about succeeding. It’s about acing the test or getting the job or winning the game. It’s about making it in America.”

This isn’t the first time Hoyer has come to the St. Louis area to promote the “Make It In America” agenda. Back in 2011, he came to a community collegein St. Louis to talk with then-U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, to discuss the proposal.

“Manufacturing creates more jobs and leverages more jobs than any other enterprise,” Hoyer said. “And therefore, we need to convince parents and students what manufacturers are already convinced of: They will be able to provide good jobs if the people that are available in the workforce have the skills that they need.”

Enyart – who is facing a competitive re-election bid against state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro – has focused in recent weeks on strengthening manufacturing throughout his Metro East-based 12th District. He convened a manufacturing summit earlier this summer with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

“These jobs start at $50,000 and $60,000 a year and run up from there,” Enyart said. “These are great careers. And I think we need to continue these kinds of training programs so that we have southern Illinoisans ready to enter the workforce.”

Hoyer had to leave before a question-and-answer session. When asked if any part of the “Make It In America” agenda had a chance of passing in a GOP-controlled U.S. House, Enyart replied that bolstering manufacturing was an issue that “reaches across the full breadth of the political spectrum.”

“I certainly believe, and I will certainly continue to work, to ensure that we do push this agenda forward because everybody agrees that this is what we need to do,” Enyart said.

Enyart: House will look at police “militarization”

Meanwhile, Enyart – the former adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard and a member of the House Armed Services Committee – said he expects a close examination at how the military transfers its equipment to local police departments.    

Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart with Hoyer in Granite City.

As St. Louis Public Radio reported earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is planning to hold hearings on the subject next week. It’s become a hot topic after officials primarily with the St. Louis County Police Department deployed sophisticated weaponry to combat the unrest in Ferguson.

“I think Congress will certainly take a look at it,” Enyart said. “Not all military equipment obviously is appropriate to go to police forces. Some military equipment certainly would be. But I think we’ll be taking a look to ensure that the only equipment that’s appropriate for police use is transferred from the military to police departments.”

Enyart said he hasn’t received word whether the Armed Services Committee will look into that issue, but added “it certainly would be appropriate for us to take it under our jurisdiction.”

He said the committee is holding hearings about major problems in shipping soldiers’ cars to or from overseas locations. “There’s been hundreds if not thousands of complaints about delayed and missing automobiles being shipped,” he said. “So, I know there will be some hearings conducted on that.”

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.