Finally, a bill that bridges the partisan divide. A U.S. House vote Wednesday revealed near unanimity on Salem's place as birthplace of the National Guard.
The measure, sponsored by Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem, passed on a 413-6 vote. It now goes to the Senate, which will hopefully grant it quick passage.
Tierney told reporter Jesse Roman that he has fellow Democrat John Kerry's promise to help carry the ball in the upper chamber, and we presume it will also be a priority for the state's junior senator, Scott Brown, a Republican and National Guard member himself. It would then go to President Obama, who, as far as we know, has voiced no objections.
Indeed, unlike other branches of the service, history appears unequivocally on Salem's side in this matter.
According to the account Tierney provided his colleagues Wednesday, the East Regiment was one of three militia units authorized by the Massachusetts General Court in 1636 to provide security for residents of Salem and its environs. Its muster on Salem Common in 1637 was the first to occur anywhere in the 13 colonies. (The 375th anniversary of that event will be commemorated later this spring.)
Wednesday's vote came in the midst of what have been a good couple of weeks for the North Shore congressman, who has also taken a leadership role in the reauthorization of the law that provides funding for local workforce investment boards.
Even Tierney's Republican opponent, Richard Tisei, couldn't find much to criticize with the latter bill, noting that it's important to have agencies like the North Shore WIB working with community colleges and local companies to provide residents with needed job skills in this uncertain economy.
Regarding the National Guard bill, however, Tisei noted in a telephone interview that it would be the first stand-alone measure Tierney will have succeeded in getting passed in his 12 years on Capitol Hill. Guess bipartisanship only goes so far.