If Congress would pass a long-term highway funding bill, a new bridge over the Missouri River at Washington would be built.
That’s according to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill who was in Washington Thursday to film footage for a commercial for her re-election campaign.
The segment was shot at Joe’s Bakery and Delicatessen on Main Street. She said she filmed another segment earlier that day in St. Louis and was scheduled to do more filming at construction sites in rural Missouri on Friday.
“If it (the bridge) is No. 1 on MoDOT’s (priority) list, it is going to get built,” she said in an interview before filming. “I’m just confused why my colleagues in the House won’t put it on the floor for a vote. We passed a great bill with bipartisan support. More than half of the Republicans in the Senate supported it. It would give the green light to Missouri roads and bridges not to mention jobs. Hopefully we can get it passed before the end of the year.”
MoDOT officials have said a new Washington bridge is the next major bridge on the priority list after the Boone Bridge, which is slated for construction.
The two-year highway funding bill passed the Senate last month. It would provide approximately $1.6 billion for MoDOT operations. The bill is currently stalled in the House.
McCaskill said she picked Washington for the commercial because the directors were looking for a place that “feels” like Missouri.
“I said let’s go to Washington, it’s a great city and it’s not too long of a drive from St. Louis where I needed to be earlier in the day. Plus, the town and the bakery remind me of the places where I grew up in Lebanon and Houston.”
McCaskill campaigned hard in rural Missouri in 2006 during her first bid for the Senate. The former state auditor and legislator said she was going to employ the same strategy to get re-elected.
“I’m getting the RV wrapped right now,” she said. “It’s frustrating that I can’t get around here more often but I have to be in Washington (D.C.) to vote. I’ll be on the road more in the summer in all communities — big and small.
“I think it is important to be answerable and accountable to all Missourians. My political strength is not in rural Missouri but my constituents are. I believe in being accountable to all Missourians not just my political base. I felt that way in 2006 and that’s the way I am going to campaign this time.”
McCaskill captured 49.6 percent of the statewide vote in 2006 and narrowly defeated incumbent Jim Talent who received 47.3 percent of the vote total. Talent carried Franklin County with 19,746 votes or 52.2 percent to McCaskill’s 44.7 percent or 16,890 votes.
“I think we have a good story to tell in rural Missouri,” she added. “I’m working hard to save the Post Office. I’ve been successful in slowing down the efforts to reduce their operations from six days a week. I’ve worked hard to protect the services and benefits for rural Missouri veterans so they don’t have to drive so far to get what they deserve. I’m also going to talk about the agriculture successes we’ve had here in Missouri. We have enjoyed some of the very best years for farming and agriculture in terms of pricing for what they produce.”
McCaskill acknowledged that it wasn’t likely that much would get done in Congress prior to the presidential election but said there were a number of critical issues that will have to be addressed before the end of the year including extension of the Bush tax cuts, debt reduction and sequestration.
“It’s an opportunity to compromise to get things done on behalf of the American people. Some of my colleagues don’t want to sit at the table of compromise. I’m not one of them. I say let’s do a little on a lot of issues by compromising to find the sweet spot on debt reduction and spending and the tax code.
“I’m proud I am a moderate. I’m proud that I have been able to compromise in Congress. We need more of it. We need to come together to find the moderate middle,” she added.