If there is one thing I have learned in my first year in Congress, it is how deeply divided and dysfunctional Congress truly is. Before coming to Washington, D.C., to represent Floridas 24th district, I spent eight years in the Florida House of Representatives where I worked with Members on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation that was in the best interests of all Floridians.
From the first moment in this job my swearing-in just more than a year ago I have been awed and inspired by the amazing opportunity to represent the people of Connecticut in the U.S. Senate. This sense of excitement and responsibility drives me to move our state and country forward despite deep, indeed destructive, partisan divisions.
When I decided to run for Congress in 2010, I began my campaign with the conviction that no issue was more important than putting men and women across Rhode Island back to work.
Two years ago, when I started my run for Congress, a friend asked me, Why would you want to run for Congress? It is the worst job in the world. You spend half your life away from your family, people who do not even know you attack your motives, your family has no private life and you work hard to accomplish little.
Americans rightly decry the political gridlock in Washington, D.C., but Id bet they curse the traffic gridlock across the country even more. I think federal lawmakers can and should address both.
All new arrivals in Washington, D.C., hear the phrase not long after they arrive: You will learn how things work in Washington. Then we go home and hear, Washington doesnt work.
My first year representing the beautiful 1st district of South Carolina has certainly been an interesting one. The House Republican freshman class, which I am proud to be a part of, has worked hard to change the culture of spending in Washington, D.C., and to restore a sense of fiscal sanity.
My first year in Congress was an amazing journey, full of battles that sometimes yielded victory and other times frustration. It was a year filled with political gridlock, triumphs for the 7th district of Alabama and unimaginable tragedy. However, I am optimistic for a 2012 where Members of Congress will make a better effort to work together, collaborate and make progress toward improving the lives of the American people.
I pledged to not serve more than three terms, and I came to Washington, D.C., to change the way this town does business. So, on Jan. 3, 2011, I jumped right into my new job with both feet. I quickly realized, however, that time is everything.
Since coming to Congress, my top priority has been to find ways to save and create jobs in our community and throughout the nation. It is clear that now is the time to work with the president to find solutions that will get our local governments back on track, fostering a sustained economic recovery.