As a newly-elected member of Congress, I have had a lot to learn about House procedure, my committee assignments, the federal budget and how national issues impact Southern Illinois. But one thing I’ve known all along is what my constituents expect of me: hard work and a willingness to cut through the partisan bickering to grow American jobs.

Some people may consider this a daunting task in an environment like Washington, D.C. – where the gridlock is worse than on the Beltway surrounding it. In many respects, people have every right to question whether both parties can put aside their differences and work together. Fortunately, big things can happen if they are started with something as simple as a conversation.

Last week, I organized a Southern Illinois jobs tour that took me to every corner of the 12th Congressional District. Over five days, I toured factories and warehouses; discussed educational opportunities with local colleges and school administrators; visited the St. Louis VA medical center; and talked agriculture policy at Prairie Farms. We hosted an open house at our Belleville congressional office that brought on a packed house of local officials and engaged constituents.

To read entire op-ed, click here.

Read more here: