One year in and heading into his second year, Congressman Bryan Steil sat down for an interview with the Milton Courier at his Janesville office, 20 S. Main St., Suite 10.
“Hyper-partisan” were words that the Republican serving Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District used to describe the environment in Washington.
In December, Steil voted against the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. He then issued a statement: “From the start, I have been opposed to impeachment. Although the Senate is now tied up with the impeachment trial, the House should get to work on issues impacting Americans: tackling the rising costs of health care, securing our border, and addressing our national debt.”
Yet, during a time of divided government, he said realistically bipartisan or nonpartisan ideas are the only ideas that will “make it across the finish line.”
When asked how he can focus on getting things done, he replied, “I bifurcate a lot of my work.”
There are things he calls “the big stuff.” He lists some of the reasons he ran for office: tackling the nation’s debt, securing Social Security and Medicare, and immigration.
“These things are going to be tough to get done in a short period of time,” he said, “and then impeachment makes it even more challenging to tackle the big stuff.”
Other issues he refers to as being “one below the radar,” which are not hyper-partisan.
He provided examples.
One was sponsoring of the bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. The act extends the presumption of herbicide exposure, such as Agent Orange, to Veterans who served in the offshore waters of the Republic of Vietnam between Jan. 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975.
He’s working on a bill to expose the financing of human trafficking and hold countries accountable for their involvement. Today bill has 49 co-sponsors.
Giving one more example, he said: “I have a series of bills that relates to changing the process with which we go through budgeting. We need to change to a biannual budget, budgeting every two years instead of every single year.”
Annual budgets slow things down, he said.
Call, write or email
In 2019, Steil did nine in-person town halls in all six of the Congressional district’s counties.
“I love getting people’s feedback,” he said.
The No. 1 issue that people contact him about is the rising cost of healthcare, he said.
“I have a series of bills that would address in particular the cost of prescription drugs,” he said.
Protecting Social Security and Medicare also are top concerns among constituents along with immigration, climate and work force-related issues.
“One thing I wanted to do when I came in is to make sure that I was accessible and available to people,” he said.
Constituent services is part of that.
“There is nothing more rewarding in my job than helping people who are tied up in the red tape for the federal government,” Steil said.
According to his Year One Report, more than 1,2000 people received assistance with federal agencies.
For instance, Steil’s office has helped a man in need of surgery obtain a Medicare card and he’s helped veterans obtain ceremonial rifles for military funeral honors.
“I pride myself and our team I think is exceptional at providing really, really good constituent services,” he said.
The team includes eight people in DC and eight people in the Congressional district.
“I encourage people to call, write email,” he said.
The Janesville Office is at 20 S. Main St., Suite 10, Janesville, WI 53545. The phone number is (608) 752-4050 and the website is Steil.House.gov.