Jobs that can support families are a big deal for neighboring Reps. Mark Pocan and Bryan Steil, but they take different approaches when it comes to jobs connected to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

As The Gazette previously reported, Steil has come out strongly and repeatedly against President Joe Biden’s executive order blocking work on the pipeline, which reverses former President Donald Trump’s order of last March.

The 1st District Republican said Biden’s order means hundreds of workers in Wisconsin and thousands nationwide are losing jobs they would have had building the pipeline.

Pocan said in an online news conference Wednesday that he has environmental concerns about the pipeline, which would transport Canadian tar-sands oil to the United States.

Pipeline opponents point to the oil’s contribution to global warming and the possibility of spills fouling water and harming wildlife.

Pocan said Democrats are working on a plan to improve roads, schools, bridges and rural broadband that would provide family-supporting jobs, including union jobs, which could make up for the loss of pipeline jobs “and then some.”

Another part of infrastructure is aging water-delivery systems, Pocan said, “And that’s the same trades, right now, that are doing the pipeline.”

Pocan predicted “more jobs than ever” coming out of the infrastructure spending package, but he said Congress needs to work on another COVID-19 spending package first.

The infrastructure spending should be done with an eye toward helping the environment through the use of solar, wind and biomass energy production, while creating sustainable jobs, Pocan said.

Pocan said a priority for him in this session will be creating incentives for Wisconsin manufacturing jobs, especially in rural areas of his 2nd Congressional District that lost such jobs decades ago.

On other topics, Pocan said he:

  • Strongly opposes the state Legislature’s moves to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate, adding that the Republican move is based on science fiction, not science.

Republicans on the state and national levels need to figure out what their party stands for, and the lack of resolution to that question could hold back legislative progress on key issues, he said.

At one point, Pocan said Republicans need to decide if they are conservatives, libertarians or a cult—this last barb apparently referring to Trump loyalists.

  • Remains on the Appropriations Committee and will serve on subcommittees on agriculture and financial services.
  • Will serve on the Education and Labor Committee, a new assignment.
  • Is no longer co-chairman of the House Progressive Caucus but remains active in it.
  • Has joined two newly formed caucuses, one on labor and one focused on reducing military spending.
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