The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bergman spends quality time with Trump

 

May 5, 2018



By LARRY HOLCOMBE

lholcombe@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood — Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, went to Washington as a freshman Congressman a year ago in January, but nothing so far as been as productive as a recent limo ride with President Trump.

Bergman told the Daily Globe in an interview this week about how he was part of the party that met the President as he flew into Selfridge Air National Guard Base last Saturday on his way to a speaking engagement.

“We welcomed him off Air Force One. My fellow Congressmen John Moolenar (R-Midland) and Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden Township, Michigan’s Thumb region) were there and he said ‘Hop in the car with me,’” said Bergman. “We had 30 to 35 minutes, unfettered, uninterrupted, one-on-one time with the President. He started the conversation with: ‘What’s going on in Michigan? What are the issues? What do I need to know?’”

One of the first things they talked about was the need to update and expand the Locks at Sault Ste. Marie.

“We explained to him it’s been on the books for over 30 years — got authorized but never got funded; the need now and what’s been going on and the effort I’ve put behind it to work with the Army Corps to update the study to show the cost-benefit analysis for not only the economy, but for national security that wasn’t factored in before,” Bergman said. “We’ve got the Poe Lock, which is the bigger one, and then the smaller ones. So, if the Poe goes down, and it needs to go down every once in awhile for maintenance. So, we need to modernize the Poe Lock to get it up to speed and build another similar one, so we’ve got two.”

Price-tag? “Close to $1 billion, now. Originally, it was close to $475 million. But the longer you wait, the more it costs,” he said.

Bergman said it’s a great time for the President to come on board with the project. “The Army Corps is just finishing up their study, to have the President get involved and say this is important — he’s all about infrastructure.”

Bergman said it’s a matter of priorities. “People understand if the Soo Locks shut down that there are factories in Tennessee and ports in Texas that will eventually shut down, too, because of no flow of ore, no flow of goods.”

Bergman said the topics during the limo ride were wide-ranging and the President was engaged. “He pulled out a note card and started taking notes. The man has the ability to absorb an unbelievable amount of information and coalesce how that fits into a bigger picture.”

Trump spoke to a crowd of thousands in a large multi-purpose sports arena in Macomb County, mentioning the Locks.

Candidate Bergman

Bergman said he’s running for a second term and he hopes to build on what he’s learned and the relationships he’s built during his first term.

“It went fast. I went there with two priorities. Number 1: Represent the constituents of the First District, doesn’t make any difference who they are; and number 2: Build relationships with my colleagues — Democrat or Republican — to get to know people and bridge some of the differences between our districts, all in an effort to be able to understand where someone is coming from when working on some issue,” he said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Bergman hopes his experience will make him a more effective Congressman.

“As a freshman legislator, there’s a big learning curve, learning about how to introduce a bill and gain the support it needs to get it out of committee, onto the floor and get it passed,” he said. “So, the second term I will be much more efficient. And if you can be more efficient, you can be more effective.”

Bergman said he’s worked hard to help veterans and is excited about launching a pilot program with the VA hospital in Iron Mountain to work together with Dickinson County Memorial Hospital in Iron Mountain and possibly Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, “so that these veterans can get the care locally. If they can’t get it at one place, they can go to the other. The key is for the veterans to get the care and for the providers to get paid.”

He’s on the Veterans Affairs Committee and it will have a field hearing in Iron Mountain about the program in June.

He called the four-year-old Choice program for veterans health care a mess, adding it needs revamping.

Bergman said he’s learned that small pilot programs work best and good results there can then be transferred to a larger program.

Bergman is pleased with strides to improve broadband to rural areas, the re-authorization of the Essential Air Service program and how the Department of Interior is opening public lands for public use.

“When you have well-managed, utilized forests, everything is healthier and better,” he said. “We live here, we know how to manage our resources. We’re going to conserve our resources because we know they’re our lifeblood.”

Bergman supported the recent tax cuts. “I was very involved in that getting more money back into individuals and small businesses. One of my campaign things when I ran last time was ‘Get the federal government out of your business and out of your pocket book, where it doesn’t belong.’”

Bergman said he’ll run on his record.

“We are, in our district, pretty practical people — Democrats or Republicans. Either you perform or you don’t. And while we may be predisposed to one opinion or another, good people tend to get re-elected,” he said. “When the voters elected me the first time, they elected me on what they thought I brought to the table. Now they’ll vote for me on what I did during those first two years.”

 
 

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