Reps. Shimkus and DeGette
February 26, 1997
in this forum:
Should Congress deregulate the local power company? Can we enforce our current campaign laws? What are they hearing in their districts? Are debate and bipartisanship mutually exclusive? How bad is the DNC fundraising scandal? Will the balanced budget amendment work? Viewer Comments...
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A question from Lisa Johnston of Charlottesville, VA:
According to this background info, most member went home this last week. Did the two freshmen? What are their constituents saying about Washington? Was there a difference between what was being said in their district and what is the hot news "Inside the Beltway?"
Rep. John Shimkus responds:
Yes, I was home in the district last week. My family remained in Collinsville (Illinois), so I go home every weekend. This allows me to keep in touch with my constituents and their concerns.
One of the concerns most often mentioned by my constituents was that the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] fails to consider the economic impact of its regulations upon farmers, industry and small communities. There is a particular fear that the newly proposed particle emissions standards will have a disastrous impact upon these groups. Although the environment needs to be protected and these new standards, after review, may need to be imposed, the "Inside the Beltway" mentality of Washington does not even take into account the effect of these decisions upon local communities.
Another big concern is the Federal Budget Deficit. The people back home work hard, pay local, state and federal taxes, meet their rent and mortgage bill, put food on the table and clothes on their children and still find a way to balance their checkbook by prioritizing expenses. This is an idea which is totally alien to the Washington mentality. Inside the Beltway, legislators decide how much they want to spend and how many programs they want to establish, regardless of the cost, then they raise taxes or borrow to "pay" for them. If our citizens approached budget issues like the federal government, they would all be bankrupt.
Rep. Diana DeGette responds:
I did return to the district last week and met with a number of constituents and elected officials. My constituents told me that they want restrictions on funding for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) for legal immigrants to be lifted. The elected officials discussed with me a number of federal issues that affect local governments - everything from transportation construction to social issues.
Some of the issues reported "Inside the Beltway" were of interest to my constituents in Denver; other issues that received attention in the nation's capital were not. I heard about balancing the federal budget and welfare reform in Denver. The Washington focus on campaign contributions to the major political parties; the death of former Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping; and reporting about Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's trip abroad were stories not even whispered. Some issues are comprehensive in nature and others are geo-politically specific.