The federal budget deficit and health care reform dominated the discussion when U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp came to town.
Huelskamp visited Coldwater on Thursday as part of his listening tour of the First Congressional District, which covers western and central Kansas. The freshman congressman is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, who made the tour an annual tradition.
Huelskamp said Congressional Republicans are fulfilling their campaign pledges by cutting the federal deficit and working to repeal the new health care law.
"A lot of Washington is astonished because we're doing what we set out to do," he said.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that House Republicans want to slash domestic spending to levels that were in place before President Barack Obama took office. The Republican plan announced Thursday would cut $58 billion from domestic programs for the current budget year, but the GOP is hoping to cut spending by $100 billion altogether.
Huelskamp said House Republicans will put everything on the table in their quest to slash spending, and they will cut wherever they can.
"We promise every week on the House floor that we're up there, there's going to be a vote to cut some budget," he said. "Up or down, whether you like the program or not."
Huelskamp also criticized Obama's call for a five-year freeze on all discretionary government spending outside of national security, saying it was only a drop in the bucket.
"He's only talking about 17 percent of the budget," Huelskamp said. "The other 83 percent, he isn't talking about."
But the budget wasn't the only topic on Huelskamp's mind. He also touched on other issues, including the new health care law and immigration reform.
* On the health care law: The House voted last month to repeal the health care law, but the effort failed on a party-line defeat this week in the Senate.
Huelskamp said congressional Republicans will continue to push for repealing the law, but the effort will take a long time because of the complex issues involved.
He also said he would vote to defund the law, making it impossible to enforce.
"It comes back down to the money, particularly on health care issues," he said. "If (Health and Human Services Secretary) Kathleen Sebelius doesn't have the money, she can't implement the regulations."
* Immigration reform: Huelskamp said Congress will devote most of its attention this year to cutting the budget instead of overhauling the nation's immigration system. But he said Congress will likely look at strengthening existing immigration laws.
"I think there will be hearing on that, hearings on enforcement," he said.