When Larry Kissell and Kay Hagan are sworn into office with their colleagues Tuesday, the work will be just beginning for the 111th Congress.
Lawmakers return to the Capitol in an environment of economic turmoil and political uncertainty. Awaiting them are big national issues with tentacles throughout the Charlotte area.
“I think the economy is going to be front and center in all regards,” said Kissell, a Biscoe Democrat who beat five-term Rep. Robin Hayes in November for a seat in Congress. “It is a national issue, but will carry forward to a local level.”
One of the first things lawmakers are expected to tackle is an economic stimulus package being pulled together by President-elect Barack Obama. It's likely to extend unemployment and food stamp benefits. It's also expected to include a large infrastructure program to replace or fix road, water and sewer systems, among other projects.
Kissell said he wants to make sure some of any new jobs created find their way to his sprawling district, which includes parts of Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Union counties and stretches east to Fayetteville.
Some lawmakers have specific plans for stimulus money. “It's a very high priority if there is a stimulus package to try to get the I-85 bridge over the Yadkin River funded,” said Rep. Mel Watt, a Charlotte Democrat, who is making the $300 million replacement of the Rowan County bridge in his district his highest local priority for the coming year.
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