3 congressmen say they'll team up



Ohio's delegation to the U.S. Congress is either the second or third strongest, said Rep. Steven C. LaTourette.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
AKRON -- Three Northeast Ohio congressmen -- two Democrats and a Republican -- say they plan to break down partisan walls and work together for the betterment of the area.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Niles Democrat; U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison Republican; and U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat, spoke Thursday about working in a bipartisan way to attract federal dollars to the state, particularly Northeast Ohio, for infrastructure work and other projects.
LaTourette, whose district includes northern Trumbull County, said the Ohio delegation in Congress has traditionally worked together for the betterment of the state. Several members of Congress from Ohio have found their way onto key committees, including three chairmen, putting the state in an enviable position, he said.
"The strength of the Ohio delegation is tied for second or maybe third behind California and maybe a little behind Texas," he said. "I can tell you that the Ohio delegation is unique. You find some delegations in Congress where the members don't like each other."
The three congressmen were addressing about 600 people at the Akron Roundtable at the Tangier Restaurant in Akron.
Reaching out
Ryan, a freshman congressman, said that while several Republican members of Congress from Ohio campaigned for Ann Womer Benjamin, his GOP opponent in the November election, they have since reached out to him.
"In my first week in Congress, they came up to me and said they were glad I was here and were looking forward to working together," he said. "That's a good sign."
Ryan and LaTourette made frequent jokes Thursday about the Republican congressman saying last week that Ryan was going to join him on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Ryan wants to get a seat on the committee, but no official decision from Democratic House leadership has been made. LaTourette has since said he misspoke.
"I thought he was a Democrat and appointed me a few days ago," Ryan said of LaTourette.
Economic development
Ryan said his main focus as a congressman will be to help create economic development in his district, which includes portions of Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage and Summit counties.
"I come from an area that is economically depressed," he said. "I don't have all the answers. I have a vision as to where I'd like to see Northeast Ohio in the next 10 years. I'd like to be a leader in making that happen."
Ryan said attention should be paid to restoring the urban centers of his district, including Youngstown and Warren, through funding for quality-of-life programs such as theaters and riverwalks.
President's policies
When it came to the president's proposed tax cut program and his policy on Iraq, the congressmen's opinions were strictly along party lines.
Ryan and Brown said the president is moving toward declaring war against Iraq when public sentiment is against that decision. LaTourette said Democrats are mistaken if they believe President Bush is moving toward war with Iraq without first trying other options.
Ryan and Brown said the president's $674 billion, 10-year tax cut program will primarily benefit the rich and should not be implemented. LaTourette said there are good parts of the president's plan, such as the elimination of the dividend tax, that should be combined with positive aspects of the Democrats' tax plan.
skolnick@vindy.com

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