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GUEST COMMENTARY: Recommit to language of unity

GUEST COMMENTARY: Recommit to language of unity

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Never did I believe that during my fourth day of fulfilling my newly assumed duties as the United States representative for the 1st Congressional District of Indiana that the U.S. Capitol building would be breached by an angry mob for the first time since the War of 1812.

This event has shown us the breadth of the challenges that confront our nation during this pivotal moment of a new beginning for the 117th Congress and the incoming administration.

It was a harrowing moment for everyone, including those of us who were on the House floor listening to the debate on the certification of the results of the Electoral College for the 2020 Presidential election.

While we will investigate and implement improved protocols to protect elected officials, staff and the public, I will forever be grateful and thankful to the members of the U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement officials. Their bravery and courage displayed to secure the Capitol complex allowed us to continue and complete our work that very same day.

Simply put, the pervasive rhetoric of hate has enabled this violent attempt of insurrection in our nation. It is a sad day when people who have differing opinions cannot find a way to move forward and work together, and instead resort to mob rule and the destruction of property.

We must be better than this, and constantly remember that our words matter and our actions towards our neighbors and fellow citizens matter.

It is also deeply regrettable that there is a double standard in the treatment of these rioters compared to the social unrest of this past summer, and we must acknowledge the role that race played in how the events of Wednesday transpired in the Capitol building.

Unity theme imperative

We cannot delay to use language that unites us, and use this time in the new Congress and the incoming administration to heal our nation and the great divisions that confront us.

I believe that one of the first actions we must take in the coming days is to ensure that we are doing everything possible to have a robust and rapid distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The current health pandemic has uprooted our sense of normalcy and added an unsettling degree of uncertainty to our economy, our education systems and our mental health. As we begin the 117th Congress, I will work to make sure that every step is taken to ensure that the vaccine distribution system is as transparent, rapid and efficient as possible.

Getting through this health crisis, ensuring that everyone has access to the vaccine, and promoting the mental and physical health and well-being of all individuals is something that I believe we can all agree upon and work on together so that we can better protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

Another shared goal that can bring the Region and nation together is the promotion of more good-paying job opportunities for everyone. We have made great progress in Northwest Indiana last week with the signing of the Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Double Track project for the South Shore Rail Line.

I commend Gov. Holcomb and all of our state, federal and regional leaders for working together to make transformational investments in our economy. We must build upon this step and ensure that this project is implemented as soon as possible and that the appropriate investments and business developments continue to occur around all South Shore Rail Line stops. As the co-chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, I will adamantly promote continued investments like this in our economic and transportation infrastructure that utilize strong Buy American requirements and American-made steel.

Panel, goals aligned

Further, I believe that another shared goal we can strive toward is the promotion of more fair and improved educational opportunities for all, as well as support for improved wages and protections for labor organizations. That is why I am grateful that I have been nominated to serve on the House Education and Labor Committee in the 117th Congress.

This committee will be at the forefront of defending organized labor, and I look forward to prioritizing the promotion of Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage requirements, project labor agreements and the fundamental right of workers to organize and collectively bargain. I also will continue to stand up for our teachers, students, and public schools.

COVID-19 has posed great academic challenges for educators and students, ranging from adjustments to online classroom-based curriculums and increased predators for children absent from educational support structures that help identify and assist victims. I look forward to being at the forefront of finding bipartisan solutions to support our teachers, schools and the health and safety of students.

In conclusion, the past seven days have been a formative and tumultuous week for myself, for Congress and for our nation and democracy. As President Abraham Lincoln noted in his second inaugural address, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.”

This juncture is our opportunity to recommit ourselves to the language of unity and find the shared goals and values that we can build upon to help heal our nation. It is past time that we achieve true equality in our nation and ensure that all individuals, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, or gender, have a seat at the table.

We cannot delay to begin the work that is truly necessary to overcome the health pandemic, grow our economy, promote educational opportunities and good-paying labor jobs for everyone, and create a more positive, collaborative and pragmatic way of governing

U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan was elected in 2020 and represents Indiana's 1st District. The opinions are the writer's.

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