02/03/11 — Butterfield says Congress is working to build bipartisan relationships

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Butterfield says Congress is working to build bipartisan relationships

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 3, 2011 1:46 PM

It was not by accident that Charlotte was chosen to host the 2012 National Democratic Convention, 1st District U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield said during a Wednesday morning stop in Wayne County.

"There is a purpose behind it, and it is not just economic development," Butterfield said. "It is about looking to the future."

It will boost the state's political clout and will focus more attention on the state, he said.

"People are wondering why the president came into Winston-Salem a few weeks ago," Butterfield said. "I can tell you (Democrats) have not given up on North Carolina. North Carolina is still a competitive state, and we realize that. We only won North Carolina by 14,000 votes. North Carolina has a potential of delivering for us and President Obama, and we will.

"I think the mayor of Charlotte who is a Democrat and (Republican) Thom Tillis, who is the new speaker of the (state) House, I think they said it best yesterday, 'This not a partisan issue, it is about economic development.' It is about creating an economic opportunity for North Carolina and it is going to bring $150 million into this state and that is a good thing for Democrats and Republicans."

Butterfield also is hopeful that there will be some movement in the "right direction" toward a bipartisan Congress.

"I cannot promise you that we are going to become a completely bipartisan institution, even though that would be desirable," he said. "I am not ready to say that is going to happen.

"The shooting in Tucson and the attitude of the American people -- I think we are going to be forced to work together and I think that is a good thing. I can't speak for the leadership. I can only speak for myself, and I have made a pledge that I am going to do everything within my power to look at issues in a bipartisan way."

Butterfield has just been elected as the ranking member of the Commerce Manufactur-ing and Trade Subcommittee. Mary Bono Mack of California is chairman.

"She is the lead Republican, and I am the lead Democrat," he said. "We have met. I gave my pledge to her and she to me that we are going to work in a bipartisan spirit. Time will tell, but I am going to do my part."

Speaking to employees at the AT&T Call Center during his visit, Butterfield said he wanted them to understand the enormity of what the county is facing.

"We go back to Washington next week and we have great challenges facing our country," he said. "I need not tell you that. We are operating a $3 trillion government on $2 trillion. That is like you operating your household if you have $60,000 in income and it is like you running your household at $80,000 or $90,000 level. It cannot be sustained.

"We are operating in a deficit and we have operated in a deficit for many years. We are facing a $14 trillion debt. This year we are going to be short $1.5 trillion -- we won't be able to pay our bills this year."

That means the county must borrow more money.

"The American people have said to us, and we have heard them, this must stop," he said. "So starting next week we are going to be making some very painful decisions about how we are going to begin the process of balancing the federal budget."

Butterfield said people ask him from time to time how he manages to get a good seat at the State of the Union.

"They want to know if I get there early in the morning and just camp out all day long," he said. "I certainly don't do all that. I am part of the leadership team, there are about 28 of us who get assigned seats. It is an electrifying moment when the proceedings begin. It is very exciting time."

The president had a team of about eight on an escort team including one member who was sitting on the aisle nest to Butterfield.

"So I simply stepped into her seat and when the president came in, of course he and I are friends, and we embraced, and it was a good moment."