The day after securing another term in Congress representing the 5th District, Rep. Glenn Thompson was looking ahead to the legislative session.
Thompson, who defeat Democratic challenger Charles Dumas by more than 70,000 votes to represent the sprawling 16-county district, laid out priorities for his new term Wednesday. He emphasized that the economy tops his list of concerns.
"First priority, obviously, is jobs," Thompson said. "To me it's unacceptable that around 25 million people are unemployed or under-employed. There's really not too many social issues that can't be fixed with a good-paying job."
Rep. Glenn Thompson
Thompson outlined his vision for how to create those jobs and speed recovery of an economy still struggling to come back from collapse in 2008.
"How do we get there?" Thompson asked. "Lifting burdens on small businesses is a start."
He pointed to simplifying the tax code, bringing down energy costs by "unleashing our domestic energy" and lifting regulation as possible components to a solution.
"I'm not talking about baseline health and safety regulations," Thompson said. "I'm talking about things that were put in place and, maybe, haven't been reviewed in years."
Thompson said education reform is also a priority and referred to "dramatically reforming No Child Left Behind, which, I feel, has left too many children behind."
Thompson is a co-chair of the Career and Technical Education Caucus. He has sponsored the All Children are Equal Act in an effort to ease education spending cuts enacted since the economic collapse of 2008. He also sponsored the Education for Tomorrow's Jobs Act which seeks to align education with workforce needs.
Thompson, who is also chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry, said he intends to work toward a compromise with the Senate on passing a reconciled version of the House's 2012 farm bill.
He said healthcare is also a priority in the coming term.
"We need to implement healthcare reform that actually reduces costs," Thompson, who is co-chair of the House Healthcare Caucus said.
"This is a time when our country faces a lot of challenges," Thompson said. "The only way to face them is through bold leadership."
Thompson added he doesn't see the hurdles to working across the aisle to be as severe as they're made out.
"I would argue that there hasn't been complete gridlock," Thompson said. "The talking heads like to talk about it, but it's just not true. The president signed the STEP Act, my piece of legislation, on New Year's Eve.
"I think there was a mandate in this election for both sides to work together to solve the problems facing this country."
Thompson said he hopes to see a compromise to avoid sequestration cuts set to begin taking effect at the beginning of 2013.
"I'm worried about defense cuts... these cuts could leave our country soft to terrorism," Thompson said. "I also have concerns regarding cuts elsewhere in the budget... some areas can't sustain more cuts... some places we can look and cut waste."
He cited education funding as an example, special education particularly.
"These are mandates the government has passed that have never been funded," Thompson said. "If we can save some money elsewhere, maybe we can afford to fund it."
When asked about his view of post-election Washington, Thompson expressed tentative hope.
"It's going to be up to the president. He's just gone through an election. He's learned from the experience. He's said he's learned from listening to the voters who voted for him and the voters who voted against him and I'm interested to see what he brings away from this," Thompson said. "On a member to member basis, we're going to continue to do some problem-solving, but the big issues are going to take leadership by the president."
Thompson also expressed gratitude for another term.
"Let me also say how appreciative I am to the voters of Warren County and the entire 5th District for allowing me to serve them again," Thompson said. "Charles Dumas conducted an issue-based campaign instead of one based on image, which unfortunately happens too much. I look forward to serving two new counties (Erie and Huntingdon)."