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U.S. Rep. Bost breaks down his first month on the job

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois' 12th congressional district talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Feb. 19, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Six weeks in office, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., said he’s getting his bearings in Washington, D.C., but he’s still happy for a trip home to southern Illinois.

“We did everything, from visit our community colleges and tech schools that were there, and some businesses and mayors, so we’re busy,” he told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh of his first Congressional break.

From his constituents, Bost said he’s hearing “the same thing that we heard during the campaign. We’ve got to make sure that we try to swing the door open for as many jobs as possible,” he said. “What we’ve been looking at are those agencies and burdensome regulations that bureaucratic agencies put on business and stop business growth.”

One of Bost’s first actions in the U.S. House of Representatives was to vote for the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“What it does for Wood River and all of the region across the river here is just tremendous,” Bost said. “What I’ve learned as a freshman, because you know from my legislative experience in the state of Illinois I know how to work with the Senate, no problem, but the rules in the Senate of the U.S. Congress are a little different than the rules in the House. It is amazing to me that we were able to pass the Keystone Pipeline bill in two hours and it took the Senate 28 days.”

The Keystone bill garnered bipartisan support, which Bost said is not uncommon in Congress.

“Unfortunately it’s not a breakdown between the Congress Republicans and Democrats, but a breakdown between Congress and the president,” he said. “If you’ll remember, Ronald Reagan, when he worked with Tip O’Neill, many things were got done under that scenario. Likewise, when Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich, many things got done. We have a president that stood up before us in the State of the Union address and four times mentioned that he would veto anything that came to him. Never in our history has ever a president, before even seeing a bill, claimed he’s going to veto. It isn’t a partisanship problem as much as it is a branch argument that’s going on now.”

Presidents, in fact, often threaten to veto bills before they have been delivered. In 2007, President George W. Bush or his aides threatened dozens of vetoes. In his 2008 State of the Union address, Bush issued two veto threats.

When he returns to Washington, Bost said he’s looking forward to attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress, an invitation that has been criticized by the White House because of the speech’s proximity to elections in Israel.

“I know of the controversy that they say and what’s protocol, but look, I think it’s very clear that we need to hear exactly from him on what he’s seen and the concerns he has,” Bost said. “We are a separate branch of government. We have the option to invite who we want to come and speak to us and address us.”

In other international affairs, Bost said he does not support open trade with Cuba. “It is very difficult for me to agree to support opening trade with them with that regime still in place and not to continue to have the sanctions against them,” he said.

Bost also said that while he doesn’t believe President Barack Obama needs Congress’ permission to use military force in the war against ISIS, now that he’s asked for it he needs to share strategy details.

“We probably should have never walked away from the situation in the first place,” Bost said. “The problem that Congress has right now as (Obama) moves forward is that if he is asking for us to support him in this, he needs to tell us what his actual strategy is. His people have told us what their goal is, but that’s pretty simple: defeat ISIS.”

Bost said he’s not yet sure if he would support deploying troops to fight ISIS.

“I have a unique situation. I’m a veteran Marine, but I also know what it’s like to watch my son go off one day,” he said. “So Mike Bost’s vote on this is going to be very, very weighed out, and I’m going to have to have a lot of information before I make that.”

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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