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From the Executive Director: Giving Thanks Where It Is Truly Needed

By November 19, 2021November 29th, 2021No Comments

David Inoue

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it would be my custom to take the time to thank all who make JACL what it is and what it can be. Obviously, the staff play a key role, as does the board. JACL is dependent upon the hours of volunteer time from hundreds of people around the country who lead the local chapters and provide the diversity of who we are.

That diversity is unfortunately increasingly decreasing. Our organization is more reflective of the party segregation that is infecting politics, where it is more important that the political party be victorious in elections, than our country succeed.

When Donald Trump ran for president, he promised the biggest infrastructure package we had ever seen. Instead after four years, the only significant infrastructure was a divisive border wall that doesn’t actually protect the border but became a symbol of “I won, you’re a loser” politics.

Just this month, Congress finally overcame differences and passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by a 228-206 margin. With six democrats voting against because they were seeking further investments, the bill passed because of 13 Republican House members who went against their party’s general opposition to anything that benefits all Americans.

Don Young of Alaska
*Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
*Fred Upton of Michigan
Don Bacon of Nebraska
Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey
Chris Smith of New Jersey
Andrew Garbarino of New York
*John Katko of New York
Nicole Malliotakis of New York
Tom Reed of New York
*Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania
David McKinley of West Virginia

I would add to this list the additional Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Representatives who voted for both are asterisked above.

David Valadao, California
Tom Rice, South Carolina
Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington
Peter Meijer, Michigan
Dan Newhouse, Washington
Liz Cheney, Wyoming

These 19 members of Congress did stand up for what were votes for our country, not for party. While I personally would have liked to see a larger infrastructure package passed, I know that is a significant challenge because of the narrowly divided Senate. Sometimes, we need to take what we can get — it is rare we will get all that we want.

In many ways, this is a continuation of my last column, where I talked about the process by which legislation often changes as it works through Congress. What finally passed isn’t everything we need, but it does have significant investments in what one would expect in the area of transportation, rebuilding roads and bridges, supporting transit and a particularly notable investment in correcting the past damages by highways and roads toward minority communities.

The Act makes a large investment in building broadband access, the new infrastructure that we all realized how much we needed this past two years of Covid-forced working and schooling from home.

It will also invest in our public utility network, ensuring clean water and strengthening the power grid. We will especially need the improvements to our electric infrastructure as we transition to electric vehicles, also supported in the Act.

Ultimately, we do need to offer our thanks to the 19 Republicans who have risked, or in some cases, have ended their Congressional careers in large part because of these votes. Unfortunately, those who might replace them will not be likely to be willing to compromise, choosing party over progress.

So, thank you to all who value being American over being Democrat or Republican.

David Inoue is the executive director of the JACL. He is based in the organization’s Washington, D.C., office.