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By: Charlotte Smith

In his 5th month as the newly elected Congressman representing North Carolina’s 7th District, Congressman David Rouzer meet with local Bladen County leaders for breakfast this Tuesday morning. Rouzer announced the significant work that is being done by congress since he has taken office.

Budgets are very hot topics this time of year for elected officials. Rouzer said, “For the first time in a long time, both chambers have passed budgets by the end of March and the Congress’ budget balances in 10 years.”

He announced he was selected to sit on his top two choices of committees. The 7th District Congressman now represents our region on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has a spot on the Agriculture Committee. “Those two committees are highly competitive. I was the only freshman that got my top two choices. I’m very fortunate,” said Rouzer. He also has been selected as the Chairman of the Subcommittee of Livestock and Foreign Agricultural.

He continued by saying, “I tell people all the time, if you get it right in energy, infrastructure, and agricultural, we have everything we need here in this country to be very prosperous, which leads to being successful abroad.”

The Congressman made it clear that we have a very dire situation on our hands internationally. He said, “We are living in one of the most dangerous times we have ever lived in. We really have to turn this around.”

However, Rouzer offered hope. He said, “If we have the right leadership in place and the right policies in place we can do quite well. If you think of all the great challenges we have had in the past, we have always risen to the occasion. We still have that moral courage, integrity, and character.”

He continued, “If you can feed yourselves, and world, if you can cloth yourselves and the world, you have unlimited power. We have the opportunity in terms of energy with natural gas and oil productions that can make America a predominantly powerful player if we get our rules and regulations in place.”

Rouzer mentioned the countries that are relying on Russia for oil and natural gases. He said, “They would rather give that business to America.”

A highway re-authorization bill is coming up according to Rouzer. They are trying to find new ways to fund the highway fund. “These roads were built 50-60 years ago,” He said. They are in need of maintenance. The gas tax is at 18% at the federal level and the State of North Carolina is at about 25%. Informing those in attendance, Rouzer said, “Just to meet all the existing needs in this country we are approximately $75 million short, but the upgrading of our infrastructure is a key component in upgrading our commerce.”

In the business of our country’s $18 trillion debt, the Congressman reported that about 60% of our debt is Social Security, Medicare and the interest on the debt. “Numbers don’t lie,” Rouzer said. “If you look at the growth of spending and the growth of the debt, Medicare is the main driver of the debt.”

He reported the Chamber passed an entitlement reform about a month ago. The bill is a modification to the Sustainable Growth Rate, which makes cuts to Medicare reimbursements to help keep costs under control.

After the progress report the Congressman gave, it was time for questions from those in attendance. Mr. Carl deAndrade asked, “Why is Congress timid in raining back these executive orders?”

Rouzer responded by citing some views of the executive branch abusing and stretching the rules. He said, “A great example of that is when he passed the Immigration Reform. The only time that congress is a one to one match with the president is when they have the votes in agreement. The next step of action is with the judicial system. There is a court case coming soon to see if the House does have standing to sue the president for his executive actions in reference to Obama Care.”

Robin Summerlin asked, “Are we going to lift the export ban on crude oil produced in the US?”

Rouzer explained that House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton has been gauging the bipartisan support for the bill. He said, “It really goes back to the 70s. It’s one of those policies put into policy because of certain reasons where the reasons don’t exist anymore. However, right now there is not a lot of bipartisan support for it.”

Summerlin then followed with, “What about the Keystone XL pipeline?” Rouzer said, “Chairman Upton is working on that one.” Rouzer reported. It passed the Senate with 63 votes and in the house it had over 270 votes. But, then the president vetoed it. Rouzer said, “There was strong bipartisan support to pass that bill, but the president vetoed it.”

Dr. Darryl Page wanted to know what was the general attitude of Americans in the elected officials opinions.  “We are concerned about our standing internationally. There is a little uneasiness about where we are.” He explained, fire station, roads and local issues that needed to be fixed use to be the first thing people wanted to talk about, but now that isn’t the case. The first thing that is brought up now is, take care of the country. More people are thinking globally about the country as a whole.

After the breakfast was over folks were invited to stay to ask a few more questions if they would like to have the opportunity. When asked about the educational issues, Rouzer said, “The idea behind that is really very simple.” Rouzer suggests to send the states back the money they send in and to let the states distribute it. North Carolina would receive about $2 billion back if this policy was set into place. Rouzer mentioned the No Child Left Behind reauthorization coming back up so more discussion on the topic will be made.

The last question came from Ann Garrett about the veterans. Rouzer said “We want more choices for veterans. The VA has employees and doctors that are unionized. It’s a really hard challenge.”

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