CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Mayor Kim McMillan was part of a select delegation of U.S Conference of Mayors leaders who visited Washington this week to discuss a way forward on key national topics with local implications, including healthcare, infrastructure and tax reform.
The mayors, representing cities across America, emphasized bipartisanship and stressed to lawmakers that policies emerging from Congress should put people first and hopefully will include consultation with mayors and governors.
Along with McMillan, Mayors in attendance Wednesday were Conference President Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans; Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin; Rochester Hills, Mich., Mayor Bryan Barnett; Mesa, Ariz., Mayor John Giles and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
“Mayors have to deal with people, not ideology and politics, to solve problems every day in their respective cities,” Mayor McMillan said after returning to Clarksville on Thursday. “That gives mayors a unique can-do perspective, and we wanted to share that message with national lawmakers.”
With the help of Mayor McMillan, the group met with Tennessee Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander and offered to partner with Senators on key priorities.
Sen. Alexander said the Mayors and Senators should work together on passing the Marketplace Fairness Act, which could bring billions in revenue to state and local governments from enforcement of sales tax on internet transactions.
“Good discussion this morning on infrastructure, health care and tax reform with @usmayors, including my friend Clarksville @MayorMcMillan,” Corker wrote in a Tweet after the meeting.
Earlier in the day, the mayors attended the annual Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, which for decades has hosted top policy maker. Questions were thrown at the mayors on subjects ranging from trade, budget cuts and policing.
Landrieu said the mayor’s Conference, which represents the 1,408 US cities with a population of 30,000 or more, searches for policy answers based on results.
“We want to model good behavior for how you get solutions for people on the ground,” Landrieu told the Monitor.
Mayor Barnett arranged a meeting with Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, and discussed the impact of the opioid epidemic on cities. Peters also expressed support for a strong infrastructure plan to meet the nation's needs.
The Mayors also met with The Washington Post Editorial Board. McMillan said the Mayors stressed the theme that Mayors offer a model of daily problem-solving that works in cities across America.
After the breakfast, the Mayors went to Capitol Hill and discussed infrastructure proposals with the staff of New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. Mayors said a balanced program, including direct funding and market-driven public-private infrastructure programs, would best meet the nation's infrastructure challenges.
In all of their meetings, Mayors urged Senators to preserve community-development block grants, and the tax-exemption on municipal bonds and the state and local tax deduction.
McMillan stressed the Mayors’ desire for consensus and moving forward on issues of importance to citizens.
“We carried an optimistic message of cooperation and collaboration to Washington,” McMillan said. “We are builders and doers, and our national leaders will find that Mayors want to engage with them in a constructive and thoughtful way.”
Mayor Kim McMillan and members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors met with Tennessee's U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander on Wedesday in Washington, D.C.