Cartwright Says His Bipartisanship Getting Things Done

By Borys Krawczeniuk

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright said he deserves re-election because he’s become a leading freshman congressman who got a couple of bills passed, introduced dozens of others and generally worked hard to represent his district in his first term in office.

In an interview Wednesday with the Times-Tribune editorial board, Mr. Cartwright, a Democrat, said he has worked across the aisle to get Republican co-sponsors for his bills.

The cooperative approach has made him the congressman with the second-most co-sponsors on his bills in the House. Of the 51 bills he has introduced, 27 have at least one Republican co-sponsor, he said.

“What I look for are things that everybody can get behind. Yes, we’ve got complete gridlock on the big-ticket items, but in the meantime we can get good things done,” Mr. Cartwright said. “I don’t reach across the aisle, I walk across the aisle.”

Mr. Cartwright, elected a co-president of the freshman class of congressmen last year, is in his first term as representative of the 17th Congressional District, which includes a boot-shaped part of Lackawanna County stretching from Carbondale through Scranton to Moosic and down to Thornhurst Twp., the Wilkes-Barre and Pittston areas and other parts of Luzerne County and all or parts of four other counties. He faces Republican Schuylkill County Coroner David Moylan in the Nov. 4 election.

Two bills of Mr. Cartwright’s passed as part of large appropriations bills. Each gave 1 percent raises to blue-collar workers at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, he said.

“They had not had a raise in four years of any kind,” the congressman said.

Mr. Cartwright said he got help on that by approaching a Republican Oklahoma congressman, Rep. Tom Cole, who has two military bases in his district.

His unpassed bills include one that aims to allow federal environmental regulators to force states to control pollution from water runoff caused by oil and natural gas extraction and another to undo a ban on classifying oil and gas extraction waste as hazardous.

The House also passed — by a voice vote in June — the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2014, which would require the Department of Energy to serve as a clearinghouse for information and federal aid that could help local schools develop renewable energy and energy-efficient projects to save money on energy usage.

While many Republicans doubt the reality of climate change, he said, they see the wisdom of local schools saving money on heating bills and hopes the Senate takes up the bill when Congress returns after the election.

Mr. Cartwright said he has worked hard to ensure the future of Tobyhanna, which saves the nation money by repairing military electronics equipment, but said he favors “modest decreases” in defense spending during peacetime.

On jobs, he claims he or his grant writers have played a role in bringing more than $107.3 million in federal dollars to the district, either by directly writing grants, writing letters in support of projects or simply monitoring grant applications. He did not have a breakdown of how much money is in each category.

Mr. Cartwright said he also favors promoting manufacturing and has authored a bill to promote energy-efficient manufacturing that creates jobs.

His long-term goal remains the restoration of passenger rail service between the region and New York City because that would create a much better climate for local economic development, he said.