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Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017

Much to be thankful for in spite of problems in nation and its capital

Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012, at 2:26 PM

This is the time of year that traditionally seems to bring out the best in all of us. As I travelled through the cities, towns and villages throughout the new areas of Missouri's Fifth District in the last year, I was blessed to meet so many caring and wonderful people. People who strive to do their best and be their best all year round. These people I refer to are Republicans and Democrats alike.

As you may know, civility is something I wholeheartedly believe in, as a person and as a politician. I believe it is the basic foundation for being at our best. In our world, country, and own communities, we are surrounded by neighbors, friends, and strangers of many different faiths, cultures, and belief structures. It is in respecting those beliefs and in listening to one another that strengthens us. It is, in my opinion, our differences that should bring us together for the greater good, rather than rip us apart.

This is perhaps a strange message given the current climate that exists in Washington, DC.

I speak often about the dysfunction in our nation's capital. As I travel through my district, I hear, probably more than anything, "Why can't you guys find a way to work together?" It is a question I have often asked myself -- and an effort I have tried to further at each and every turn. That was one of my primary goals behind co- founding the Civility Caucus with my friend and colleague, Republican Shelly Moore Capito, the Republican Congresswoman from the 2nd Congressional District in West Virginia.

But my heart is heavy this holiday season. We need look no further than the unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut to remember how far we have to go as a nation.

It is always difficult to think of anyone facing pain and struggle. But certainly the reality of first graders dying in a hail of gunfire is beyond what most of us are equipped to emotionally handle. I am a strong believer in the Constitution and will continue to defend it. But there is a necessary and pressing conversation that must take place on what types of weapons, ammunitions and laws are necessary to work to prevent another Sandy Hook Elementary. And this conversation must take place with open hearts and level heads. Yes, there is much work ahead.

As we continue to debate the Fiscal Cliff in Washington, we must recognize this country must balance our budget while continuing to provide vital services. The budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the elderly, disabled, poor, or in the name of special interests. Hardworking middle class families, playing by the rules, and taking care of their families, should not face higher taxes. And the wealthiest in this country must pay their fair share. Indeed, there is much work ahead.

We still have not passed a Farm Bill. This is unacceptable. The Farm Bill expired on September 30th and still -- nothing. The lack of action on the part of legislators is putting our farmers, ranchers, rural communities and middle class families in jeopardy. The agriculture sector should not take a larger hit than its fair share of spending cuts. And I will fight any effort to do this. One of our first orders of business when we return for the 113th Congress should be to take action on the five-year extension of the federal farm bill. Indeed, there is much work ahead.

But with all of the challenges we will face together -- there is much to be thankful for this holiday season. It is a chance for us to remember all of the good in our lives and all of the kindness and generosity that surround us. The holidays are a chance to be with family and friends and recharge our batteries for the battles ahead, as we work to make this country a better place.

For a moment, let's just imagine what we could accomplish if we treated each day and each other with as much heart and good intention as we do this time of year.

Happy Holidays!

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Emanuel Cleaver II is now serving his fourth term representing Missouri's 5h Congressional District Having served for twelve years on the city council of Missouri's largest municipality, Kansas City, Cleaver was elected as the city's first African American mayor in 1991. During his eight year stint in the Office of the Mayor, Cleaver distinguished himself as an economic development activist and an redevelopment craftsman. Cleaver has received five honorary Doctoral Degrees augmented by a bachelor's degree from Prairie View A&M, of the University of Texas, and a master's degree from St. Paul Theology of Kansas City. Cleaver was unanimously elected the 20th chair of the Congressional Black Caucus of the 112th Congress. Cleaver, a native of Texas, is married to the former Dianne Donaldson. They have made Kansas City home for themselves and their four children.