By Lauren Riggs
New Martinsville Rotary members had the opportunity last week to meet with fellow Rotarian (Wheeling Rotary), United States Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., as he stopped by the club's weekly meeting March 27.
McKinley was on hand with his staff members Mike Hamilton and Brooke Fletcher.
McKinley began by stating that, in Washington, there is a lot of activity going on, politically. "The president has an agenda," he stated, describing that the president seeks control of all Congress. "Republicans are trying to keep the House under control," he said. "Thanks to the new group in Congress, we have control a bit," McKinley added, but lamented that any bill that is passed in the House is killed by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The main focus of McKinley's remarks centered around the government's "overspending problem," as well as some of the recent tactics the government has used to try to cut the budget and control America's $17 trillion debt, which he fears will be passed onto the youth. "Thirty-seven cents on every dollar America spends, we borrow," he stated, describing the debt as 64 miles of stacked $1,000 bills.
McKinley added that the government is using the current budget crisis, describing how they "love using words such as 'super-committee and 'sequestration.' He added that the White House is closed because of spending cuts due to the sequestration; this saves $18,000 a week. McKinley suggested that the government heed the advice of a previous Government Accountability Study, which states that $100 to $200 billion is being wasted on dduplicatefederal programs. Furthermore, he added that a report by the inspector general issued 16,000 recommendations that could save as much as $64 billion.
However, it appears that sequestration cuts appear to be the way to go in Washington, and these cuts are hurting Americans in a way that, as McKinley states, shows the "pettiness in Washington."
For instance, McKinley described how mandated federal spending cuts could affect the safety of children at the National Boy Scout Jamboree, which is being hosted in West Virginia, in Mount Hope, this summer. "We ought to be proud," McKinley stated of West Virginia hosting the event. He added that this could be the first time that some are seeing the Mountain State. However, he added that traditionally the National Guard has provided security for the event. However, he said he received an e-mail about two weeks ago that threatened to pull the plug on the National Guard because of the spending cuts. "This is not the time to do that," McKinley stated.
According to www.govtrack.us, McKinley recently introduced a bill, H.R. 1075, to a congressional committee. This bill is described as being created, "To amend title 10, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Defense to provide support for Boy Scout Jamborees." Cosponsors of the bill include Shelly Capito (R-WV) and Nick Rahall (D-WV).
Furthermore, McKinley cited the 149 air traffic control towers that are being shut down due to spending cuts. McKinley stated that "70 some" of these towers are located in Republican districts. As The Intelligencer previously reported on March 23, "The closures will not force any of the airports to shut down, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. Those procedures are familiar to all pilots."
Representative McKinley also spoke on protecting interests that are important to citizens in the Ohio Valley, specifically, protecting the valley's manufacturing base, as well as the valley's post offices. McKinley suggested the idea that when a company violates a trade agreement, the fine that they pay should go back to to the industry that the trade agreement is protecting. As for the former, McKinley also warned that there are elements that "want us to quit drilling for natural gas."
McKinley sympathized with the area and its decline in post offices, remembering when someone from bigger areas suggested that people in the smaller towns "just ride the bus" to the next post office. McKinley suggested that Washington doesn't understand rural America. "It's a lot about small towns verses big cities . . . Big cities are not our interests. America is little towns, not New York, Philadelphia... We've got to find a way to make rural America strong."