Congressman Mike Bost visited the O’Fallon Rotary Club on Monday, April 15, to discuss multiple challenges facing the state and nation – pointing particularly to a strained political climate and rancor over an immigration crisis.
He said that security at the border is a “very big problem.”
“I voted twice to fully fund the security at the border,” he said. “Not only the security as some form of structure, I don’t care if you call it a wall or a fence — but we have a problem.”
Bost said the wall will not stop people from coming into the nation, but rather that “it allows for control.”
“Immigration at the border is a crisis — it’s not a new crisis, but its a growing crisis,” he said.
Bost said the wall is a sensible, organized way to deal with the massive flow of immigrants trying to cross the border. He remarked that it was a positive thing that the U.S. is a nation that “people want to get into and not get out of.”
“Whenever someone says it’s just like the Berlin Wall — the Berlin Wall was to keep people in. This isn’t to keep people out, it’s to keep people organized on their way to getting in.”
Bost, a Republican from Murphysboro, said the committees he serves on do not create the kind of partisanship that dominates daily national headlines.
“Thank Heaven because we actually get things done,” Bost said.
Bost serves on three key committees: Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and Transportation & Infrastructure.
He also serves on the following subcommittees: Conservation and Forestry; and General Farm Commodities and Risk Management under Agriculture; Oversight and Investigations, and as Chairman of Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs under Veterans’ Affairs; and Highways and Transit; Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management; and Water Resources and Environment under Transportation and Infrastructure.
“We are in a time right now that our economy is booming,” Bost said. “Even in the state of Illinois when many times our state government does everything it can to chase business from the state, we still see expanding business and growth.”
He said the biggest concern he has seen is many employers in the state cannot find people to hire with with trade skills.
“Right now, the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years,” Bost said. “Things are good from that standpoint.”
Despite the booming economy, Bost said that anger on both sides of the political spectrum needs to improve.
“I believe in a bipartisan manner we can work together to really achieve a lot,” he said. “It can change.”
“The anger and frustration that’s been in the last year — it’s not ‘I disagree with you, it’s ‘I hate you,’” he said. “It’s very dangerous.”
“In my job, conflict is inevitable, combat is optional.”
Bost then referenced the shooting of Republican member of Congress Steve Scalise of Louisiana at a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. Scalise was shot by a left wing activist from Belleville, James Hodgkinson, and a citizen from Bost’s district.
“With a person in my district targeting my friends while they were playing baseball — it was horrible,” Bost said.
In spite of the many issues that divide the country, Bost said there also are a tremendous amount of people that want to work together.
He said it’s necessary for radicals on the right and the left to try and find common ground.
“When I first started running for state office I had someone come up to me and say ‘when you get there, don’t compromise,’” he said.
“I’m pro- life, that’s something I’m not going to change — but for the most part it was the idea of our fore-fathers that we would have all different ideas and we would find common ground,” he said. “The common ground would be the best place for the nation as a whole. We have to continue to try to work together.”
Prior to his election to the 12th Congressional District, Bost served for two decades in the Illinois House of Representatives, rising to the leadership position of House Republican caucus chair.