TOWN HALL: Congressman is guest at GOP meetingPublished 6:28pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013
With a 22-county district to cover and a hefty schedule in U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Walter Jones’ calendar is full, but when it comes to his constituents, he says, he rarely turns down an opportunity to connect.
Jones will appear at a town hall-style event tonight at the invitation of the Beaufort County Republican Club. In the main dining room of Blackbeard’s restaurant, dinner is on the agenda first at 6 p.m., followed by the meeting at 6:45 p.m. According to Beaufort County Commissioner Al Klemm, the meeting is open to the public.
“Our meetings are always open to the public,” Klemm said. “We welcome all and any guests — Democrat, Republican, nonaffiliated, whatever.”
Jones said he plans to discuss topics looming in the near future: the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling and sequestration, the automatic form of spending cutbacks that takes place if Congress cannot agree on ways to cut spending that exceeds budget goals.
“We’ve got a lot of tough issues over the next couple of months to deal with,” Jones said. “My biggest concern is sequestration — what that’s going to do to our military.”
According to the White House Budget Office, sequestration would mean an automatic 13 percent reduction for defense programs and 9 percent for other programs, with many far-reaching effects ranging from cuts to unemployment benefits to decreased numbers of security agents at U.S. borders, as well as to the facilities detaining illegal immigrants. Many elected officials, Republican and Democrat, see the March 1 sequester deadline as potentially devastating to the economy.
Another of Jones’ concerns that he will address is the continued presence of American troops in Afghanistan: “We’re spending $28 million in one day in Afghanistan. We don’t even spend $28 million a day in North Carolina.”
Jones said he views the town-hall environment as a way to explain his positions to the people and a chance for those in attendance to share their concerns in return.
Klemm believes “it pays to be informed” about the nation’s debt and changes coming on a national level.
“It’s complex,” Klemm said. “We’re at some sort of crossroads in the country and I have no idea where it’s going to go. … Nowadays, if you really want to hear what’s going on, it’s best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.”
Jones, who is serving his 10th term in Congress, is a member of the House Committee on Armed Services.