Bergman, Moolenaar bend Trump’s ear

THE ALPENA NEWS –

During President Donald Trump’s presidential rally in Michigan on Saturday, he pledged to find a way to repair the Soo Locks and to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to work toward building another.

Days after the event, it appears the issue was raised to the president by three Michigan congressmen who were able to get Trump’s ear on the way to the event.

Reps. Jack Bergman, Paul Mitchell and John Moolenaar met Trump at Selfridge Air Force Base when Air Force One landed. Bergman said each welcomed the president to Michigan and were prepared to fall back in the motorcade in a separate vehicle, but instead were invited to join Trump in the presidential limousine. During that 35 minute drive to the rally, the three congressmen had Trump to themselves and made the time count.

According to Bergman, Trump asked what some of the largest issues that needed to be addressed in the state were and he told him the future of the Soo Locks, especially the Poe Lock, which is the largest of them. He said he explained the importance of the Locks and the implications that would follow should there be a failure. According to Bergman, Trump was inquisitive about the matter and asked questions about what needed to be done.

“We had eyeball to eyeball discussions and he was just absorbing the information.He was asking questions and took notes in his notebook,” Bergman said. “He wanted to know why nothing has been done about this for 30 years and who was dragging their feet. We were very engaged for more than a half hour about that and other issues.”

During his speech at the rally, Trump vowed to move quickly on finding a solution to the locks issue and reach out to the Army Corps of Engineers for input and to get answers to questions he has. Bergman said Trump’s involvement is welcomed and he believes it increases the odds that action will be taken.

“His involvement is like the cherry on the top because we have been working with the Army Corps and now people at every level of government are engaged on this,” Bergman said. “I think we are close to the tipping point to being able to move forward after 30 long years and I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Moolenaar said he was surprised Trump insisted they ride in the limo, which he said Trump refers to as “The Beast.” He said there was a lot of discussion about the locks, but the issue of H2B visas also were discussed. Moolenaar said there is a need for foreign workers in Michigan, especially for seasonal business in the tourism and agriculture sectors. An H2B visa is a temporary work visa that allows a foreigner to enter the United States for an employment opportunity, but must leave after the work is complete. Trump also mentioned this during his speech and said he will try to expedite the process to help businesses that are unable to operate to their full potential because they are understaffed.

“We have a huge need for season workers. We had businesses in Mackinaw City and on the island that couldn’t open because they didn’t have employees,” Moolenaar said. “Having H2B visas would allow for these businesses to hire people seasonally to be able to capitalize on their busiest and most important time of the year.”

Moolenaar said there were Trump supporters who lined the streets waving banners and waving to the motorcade. He said Trump was gracious and focused on what he was being told. The thing Moolenaar said he noticed most was Trump’s ability to listen and process information.

“We always see him speak and know he does a good job with large audiences, but I don’t think many people know, or he doesn’t get enough credit for, is his ability to be a good listener,” he said. “I was very impressed with that.”

Moolenaar said he believes Trump will do his best to keep the promises he made in the limo and in front of the cameras while giving his speech. He said Trump is motivated to succeed on all of the promises he has made.

“I think he is showing he is a doer and stays on things until they get done,” Moolenaar said. “He is a builder and knows the importance of infrastructure and maintaining it properly so it lasts. I think he also knows the importance of the locks for manufacturing and the jobs they provide. Being able to talk directly to the president directly is definitely a high point for me and to be able to brief him on what is going on in Michigan was a real opportunity.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.

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