BOSTON, APRIL 16, 2014…..Calling for a “mission to the mind” that harkens to the 1960s moon missions, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey called for increased scientific funding, said he would protect Bay State interests in an upcoming transportation bill, and said some Republicans in Washington D.C. have softened their stances after a stalemate led to a partial government shutdown last October.
“We have to tell families that we are going to find the cure for these diseases, so that children have to go to the history books to find that there ever was such a disease as autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,” Markey told the New England Council Wednesday. “You cannot do that by cutting the [National Institutes of Health] budget.”
A member of Congress since 1976 when he was first elected to the U.S. House, Markey put his D.C. longevity in perspective, noting that a once-futuristic piece of telecommunications technology had seen its dawn and dusk during his years in office.
“America had yet to invent a fax machine. There were no fax machines,” Markey said. “I’ve now been in Congress and around so long, today there are no fax machines. That’s how long I’ve been in Congress.”
During the 2013 special election for the Senate seat he now occupies, Republican opponent and political neophyte Gabriel Gomez made much of Markey’s nearly four decades in Washington, a theme that is being reprised this year. At the end of his abbreviated first term this year, Markey is facing a challenge from Hopkinton Selectman Brian Herr, a Republican who has pitched himself as an alternative to the Malden Democrat and noted he was only 13 years old when Markey was elected.
“A poll conducted earlier this year found just 30 percent of Massachusetts residents believe Ed Markey deserves to be elected. Only 30 percent. That leaves 70 percent of the residents of Massachusetts ready to vote for someone else. Seventy percent are ready to vote for someone else,” Herr told Republicans gathered for the nominating convention in March. “Ladies and gentleman, my name is ‘someone else’ and I’m going to the United States Senate to represent the people of Massachusetts and nobody else.”
Asked about the challenge he is facing, Markey told reporters Wednesday, “I just continue to do my job.”
Markey said his posting on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will allow him to look out for Massachusetts.
“I’m on the transportation committee. We’re going to be marking up a transportation bill this year. I’m going to make sure that Massachusetts is able to get the money for roads, for the transportation systems that we need,” Markey told the crowd of business people. “Once you get that all in place then you get out of the way and you watch innovation grow.’
Markey said the Bay State’s victory in a Supreme Court case laid the groundwork for the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate car fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, and warned that without investments the United States would slip in its world standing.
While gridlock and recrimination has been a defining feature of Capitol Hill, Markey said that the dispute that resulted in the temporary closure of national parks and other federal programs about six months ago was a reckoning for Republicans.
“I think there was a kind of revelation that some of these Republicans had, that they could not continue to do that,” Markey said, saying the months of greater cooperation have created a more predictable business environment. He said moderate Republicans appear to be in an “intramural fight” with “Tea Party extremists.”
Asked after his speech about Gov. Deval Patrick’s economic development proposal to do away with non-compete contracts, Markey said he wanted to look at it more.
On Patrick’s ban of the painkiller Zohydro, which was struck down with a preliminary injunction by a federal court, Markey said, “I think what he’s calling for is a larger debate about this whole issue.”
Markey said he believes General Motors knew there were defects in their automobiles and said, “Given the fact that the company is solvent only because of taxpayers, it is morally wrong for them to turn to them and say that they have no responsibility for the harm that was done to families all across the country.”
Copyright 2014 State House News Service