Mayors to Congress: Pass the Jobs Act, Now!
By Ed Somers
October 3, 2011
A bi-partisan delegation of 50 mayors descended on Capitol Hill September 19-21 to push Congress to enact a comprehensive jobs bill to help put America back to work. The mayors specifically urged Congress to pass President Obama's American Jobs Act, which embraces many of the priorities set forth in The U.S. Conference of Mayors Common Sense Jobs Agenda.
In commenting on the mission to Washington, Conference President Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa said, “At a time here in Washington when those in the beltway bubble don't seem to be listening, we think it's important that they hear from America's cities. We want them (Congress) to do their job.”
Over the course of the three-day leadership meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, Villaraigosa led mayors during meetings on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and at mayors-only strategy sessions focused on addressing the ongoing economic crisis.
Move on Jobs Act
Villaraigosa and other mayors engaged key Congressional leaders of both parties throughout the Leadership Meeting to urge prompt action on new jobs legislation. Conference leaders took their message to Senators and Representatives including:
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV)
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY)
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA)
- Super Deficit Committee Chair Senator Patty Murray (WA)
- Super Deficit Committee Member Senator Pat Toomey (PA)
- Super Deficit Committee Members Representatives Jim Clyburn (SC), Chris Van Hollen (MD), and Xavier Becerra (CA)
- House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Norm Dicks (WA)
- Senate Appropriations Labor Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin (IA)
- House Appropriations Housing and Transportation Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham (IA)
- Senator Charles Grassley (IA)
- Representative Frank Pallone (NJ)
The mayors also went to the White House for meetings on the Administration's American Jobs Act with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and Senior Advisor David Plouffe. Drawing upon input of mayors from around the country, this Administration jobs package moves more funding directly to cities and metro areas. Specifically, the American Jobs Act invests in transportation, water, housing, and energy infrastructure, cuts taxes for small businesses, spurs hiring through targeted tax incentives, assists school improvements, prevents teacher layoffs, and keeps first responders on the job.
In addition to pressing for immediate action on a jobs bill, the mayors engaged with members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to urge that domestic investment priorities be maintained as the “Super Committee” seeks an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.
And, the mayors met with key members of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees on funding priorities for FY 2012, including CDBG, the Workforce Investment Act, transportation, and more.
It was clear from the many meetings that deep divides remain in Congress on how job creation and deficit reduction will be accomplished. On this subject, Mayor Villaraigosa said, “We want the President and our Congressional leaders to come to our cities, to see the state of our roads, our highways, our bridges, our airports and our ports, and to hear from our constituents that their number one concern is jobs, and their number two concern is jobs. In fact, they're overwhelmingly focused on jobs.”
Mayors Pledge Action on Jobs
As agreed at the Leadership Meeting, Mayor Villaraigosa is now calling upon all mayors “to make a commitment to highlight the need for job creation legislation on a weekly basis from now through Thanksgiving.”
At the Capitol Hill sessions, mayors were often reminded to bring the voices of their communities to bear on the debate in Washington in order to secure positive action on pending jobs legislation.
Suggested actions include:
- Organize mayors from your state to send a letter to your Congressional representatives urging them to pass comprehensive job creation legislation.
- Hold a press event showcasing how job creation legislation could benefit your community, especially by creating private'sector jobs, and how it would help rebuild your city's critical infrastructure including roads, transit, bridges, schools, and housing.
- Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs) to urge Congress to pass job creation legislation.
- Host a town hall or tele-town hall to discuss the importance of job creation legislation with residents and how it will benefit them.
- Write an op-ed stressing the importance of job creation legislation for your local media.