With the challenges of an enduring pandemic and an economy just starting to recover, America needs strong leadership more than ever.
Last week, we saw that leadership in action when the U.S. Senate approved the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. This bipartisan legislation will expand loan forgiveness and adds much-needed flexibility for the small businesses that have been hard hit by the economic shutdown.
Thankfully, Arizona is blessed to have two effective and principled leaders in the U.S. Senate who helped make this happen.
Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally may be freshmen, but they are quickly distinguishing themselves for their hard work and leadership. And though they hail from different parties, they are following in the footsteps of the late Sen. John McCain, who put Arizona’s and the country’s interests above partisan politics.
These accomplished women have a few things in common. Both have worked hard on COVID-19 relief legislation and implementation. Both support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is critical for Arizona’s economy. Both are deeply concerned about what job creators care about and work in close partnership with the business community.
Here is another commonality: Both were honored with new awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that seek to elevate the work of members of Congress who are committed to growing the economy and to working in a bipartisan manner.
The Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award recognizes those members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership critical to advancing policies that support American enterprise, while the Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship recognizes those members of Congress who have demonstrated a willingness to work across the aisle in support of common objectives.
Senator Sinema, elected in 2018, earned both awards. In fact, she was the only honoree to score 100% in both categories. She earned a 100% rating for her legislative record on jobs and the economy, as well as a perfect rating based on the number of bills — except those formally opposed by the U.S. Chamber — that are introduced by a member of the opposite party.
For instance, Senator Sinema led the charge to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which is critically important to Arizona’s manufacturing sector. This has helped Arizona businesses reach new customers around the globe. In the last six years, the Export-Import Bank has financed $2 billion in exports, 80% of them small businesses.
Senator McSally, whose leadership as the first female pilot to fly in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron has been well documented, was also awarded the Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award. Her support for a strong national and Arizona economy has been unwavering.
She has led efforts to ensure Arizona has the water resources needed to support the state’s population growth and economic development. Last year, Senator McSally successfully shepherded the Drought Contingency Plan through Congress to keep water flowing to Arizona. After two years of negotiations among the seven Colorado River Basin states, it took only six days for Congress to pass it. Much of this was due to Senator McSally’s leadership.
The public service excellence of Senator McSally and Senator Sinema goes beyond legislation. They both have dedicated, thoughtful, and resourceful staff who listen to constituents’ issues and help them find solutions. No problem is too big or too small – a posture that is especially important in helping the people and businesses of Arizona deal with the pandemic and economic crisis. That nitty-gritty, day-to-day effort doesn’t make newspaper headlines, but it means a lot to Arizonans.
The bipartisanship we’ve seen from Senators Sinema and McSally will be needed as our nation addresses inequality of opportunity through education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice reform.
These well-earned awards demonstrate the importance of leadership and hard work right now. At a time when American desperately needs a governing center, Arizona is fortunate that both of our senators are part of it.
Glenn Hamer is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Thomas J. Donohue is the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
This article was originally published here in the Arizona Capitol Times.