Michigan's top Democrats and Republicans team up to prevent another great recession
MACKINAC ISLAND (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - Experts say the United States could see another great recession if Michigan's Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie closes for an extended period of time.
That's because 75-percent of the Great Lakes steel production and nearly all North American automobiles, farm, and mining equipment production would halt if there was a closure of the large lock.
Roughly 8,000 freighters carry 80 million tons of materials through the Soo Locks.
On Thursday, Michigan's top congressional leaders put partisanship and politics aside for a proposed project they see as critical to national security and Michigan's economy: an additional Soo lock.
Michigan's top lawmakers point out there hasn't been a comprehensive improvement to the locks in more than 50 years.
"We are very concerned that we are on borrowed time," said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
That's why Democrat U.S. Sen. Stabenow and Republican Congressman Jack Bergman are joining forces to pass the "Soo Lock Modernization Act."
"It will authorize the necessary level of of funding to construct a second Poe Lock," said Sen. Stabenow.
Some say an additional lock could cost $1 billion.
"Now it's time for us to step up and make this critical investment." said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan.
"Michigan's congressional delegation is really working hard to overcome the conventional partisanship when our interests are at stake," said U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint. "I know something about what happens when the Michigan delegation comes together around a critical infrastructure question. We succeed. You know what happened in my hometown of Flint and it took all of us pulling in the same direction. We got a lot of help."
Rep. Kildee turned to Sen. Stabenow and said, "Thank you."
"It made a huge difference for the people I represent back home," said Rep. Kildee. "That was important to all of us, and we succeeded."
Republican Congressman Fred Upton says Michigan's large bi-partisan team of lawmakers will deliver on the funding.
"You can't get to the growth rates that we want in this nation without investing in the future. And this is going to do that," he said. "Without it, we are really in trouble."
Gov. Rick Snyder is asking the Trump Administration to make the Soo Locks a priority because he and and other state lawmakers say the Soo locks are the archeals heel to North American Industry.
"If the federal government was interested in a partnership, we would be more than happy to do that, however, this is a federal matter... this is a no brainer. Congress needs to fund it, put their money where there mouth is and get this done," said Rep. Lee Chatfield.
Sen. Stabenow says she and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman will fight to secure the federal dollars for an additional Soo Lock in President Donald Trump's expected infrastructure bill.