ABC 2017: Lawmakers decry political polarization

WASHINGTON — The hyper-partisan climate in the nation has to change.
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WASHINGTON — The hyper-partisan climate in the nation has to change.

That’s according to U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who addressed the American Boating Congress on Wednesday.

“I’ve been very involved in health care,” MacArthur said. “I should not read Google alerts, but I get them every day. I read an article this morning that called me a murderer. It’s not the first. It called me a murderer because I introduced a MacArthur Amendment that moved our health care bill across the House floor.”

MacArthur recounted that his mother was a progressive Democrat and his father was a Republican.

“They fought like cats and dogs. But they loved and respected each other,” he said. “As a nation we’ve got to get back to a place where we can disagree passionately, where we respect each other, and the other person doesn’t become a murderer. Maybe this is where boating can help. One thing I’ve noticed is that boating gives me a whole new perspective.”

MacArthur recalled that it was on his friend’s boat that he decided to buy a small company many years ago. After successfully growing and selling his insurance business, he took up boating himself.

“I would suggest to this country that has become so divided, make like we’re floating on a boat … and realize life isn’t over because we disagree,” MacArthur said.

The partisan tone in Washington and across the nation was a theme many speakers touched upon during the speaker session on Wednesday.

“Welcome to Washington, where the temperature is getting hot in more than one way,” said U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) “It is always worth coming to Washington and getting up in the faces of elected officials. It really does move the needle. It really does make a difference.”

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) echoed that sentiment, albeit from a different perspective.

“I guess there are days I wish I was sitting in back of my home on the Sacramento River fishing for salmon,” Garamendi said. “Those days seem to be long gone. Welcome to chaos. There’s no other way to describe what’s going on.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Boating Caucus, spoke about a bipartisan bill she recently co-sponsored with U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) that would change a 109-year-old law.

Introduced as H.R. 2369, the bill seeks to change a law from 1908 that requires owners of foreign-flagged boats to pay an import fee before the boats are offered for sale to U.S. residents while in U.S. waters. The bill would not remove the tax on the sale of the boat, but would defer payment of it until after the boat is sold.

“Right now there’s a 100-year-old law to pay an estimated duty before the yacht’s sold, and if doesn’t get sold they only get 75 percent back,” Frankel said. “So we have a bill that we proposed — we don’t agree on anything except for this — plus we love Florida, but this is a bipartisan effort to have a fairer law.”

Read more about ABC in the July issue of Soundings Trade Only.

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