BRIDGEPORT - Just two days after voting "no" on "cap and trade" legislation pushed by Democratic House leadership, U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson told Belmont County Democrats Sunday that his arm hurt.
"It's from all the times over the past week that it was pulled behind my back and twisted," he said tongue and cheek, making reference to political stronghold placed on him to vote in favor of the legislation to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants over the next decade.
Wilson, D-Ohio, spoke during the annual Belmont County Democratic Party Picnic, which took place Sunday at the home of Bridgeport Mayor John Callarik at Kirkwood Heights.
Photo by Joselyn King
U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Ohio, speaks about his recent “no” vote against “cap and trade” legislation at the Belmont County Democratic Party Picnic Sunday.
And Wilson said he felt strongly about his vote against "cap and trade."
"The day before last, I cast the largest vote I'd ever cast in my history as congressman," Wilson said. "And you should know it is very controversial. I had a lot of pressure on me to vote 'yes' with my party.
"I don't work for my party. I work for you. I work for the people of this area," he said.
Wilson noted that the "number of coal and steel jobs at risk through this bill is frightening," and that the Senate now will take up the bill when Congress returns from recess July 7.
"When we get back, I will do all I can to get on the conference committee that will blend together the House and Senate cap and trade bills," he said. "My hope, my prayer, and my wish is that we will get a bill I can vote for that supports the working families of my district."
Wilson told the local Democrats that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., approached him Wednesday night and told him his support was needed on the bill.
"I told her I've been with you on the stimulus package, the budget ... children's health care ... everything you've asked me be with you on," he said. "This is a vote against the people I represent. I can't do it."
Wilson believes any hard feelings the White House and Democratic leadership harbors against him soon will dissipate as the House continues to tackle issues important to the country.
"It's a serious time, and we're living history right now," Wilson said. "President Obama is an accomplished and smart man, and I am honored to be able to work with him.
"But he is not happy with me today because of Friday's vote. And that's OK. I know he'll need my vote again. And I'm going to be there for him."
Wilson said he wants the Obama administration "to know where Belmont County is," and about the people he represents.
"I look forward to going back," he said. "Hopefully, we can forgive and forget and get back to what is right with our country.
"Even though I'm a congressman representing 12 counties, Belmont is where it started - and Belmont is where I win," he said.