Last week I joined 264 of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in voting against a resolution to adjourn the House for the August district work period. Public service is about serving the people. While the House has acted to prevent tax increases on all Americans, expand energy production here at home, and reduce regulatory burdens on small businesses, our work for you is not done. We need the Senate to get moving on these priorities.
Friday we learned that unemployment in July rose to 8.3 percent, and has now been above 8 percent for a record 42 straight months. Too many folks are out of work and the Senate continues to sit on more than 30 House-passed jobs bills. We need to provide a stable tax rate and reduce regulations so our job creators feel a sense of certainty. Also, farmers and producers across the United States need a five-year Farm Bill that provides certainty, cuts spending, and gives them the tools they need to do what they do best: feed our country.
Another issue important to our region that remains unresolved is Thomson Prison. Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and I are working together to develop a bipartisan path to open Thomson Correctional Facility as a federal maximum security prison. This isn’t a new issue – it’s been around for 10 years. Neither Republicans nor Democrats were able to solve it when they held both the White House and Congress. Despite recent disappointing setbacks, we remain focused on the economic realities in Illinois and Iowa, and our constituents’ need for good jobs.
Back in 2009, President Barack Obama attempted to order the federal government to acquire Thomson to house Guantanamo detainees. However, it is the bipartisan position of Congress that Thomson not be used to house terrorist prisoners and the House Armed Services Committee, on which Congressman Loebsack and I both sit, has barred transfer of detainees to the United States. That debate doesn’t change the fact that the federal prison system is overburdened and that our region is missing out on what could be a significant job creation and economic development tool. Put simply, that debate should not stop the purchase of Thomson for use as a federal prison system for federal prisoners.
Opening Thomson as a federal maximum security prison could have a positive impact on our entire region. The operation of Thomson would bring good jobs to both Illinois and Iowa, potentially creating up to 1,100 jobs in our region. It would boost the surrounding economy with expenditures over $122 million per year, and is expected to bring approximately $19 million in labor income and $61 million in business sales locally. Total annual local economic impact, both direct and indirect, is expected to be at least $202 million. As it stands right now, Illinois taxpayer dollars are going towards maintaining an empty prison.
Do you support my legislation that seeks to keep Congress in Washington to tackle the big issues (budget, jobs, farm bill) before they are allowed to go home?
Do you agree that it's past time to get to work and open Thomson Prison?
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Member of Congress