A handful of concerned constituents attended a town hall held by Rep. Tim Huelskamp Monday at the Hillsboro city building. Several asked questions pertaining to foreign debt, the farm bill, food stamps, minimum wage, and the federal budget.
Residents from Hillsboro, Lehigh, and surrounding communities posed questions about the budget and government programs such as food stamps.
“I see people in our community who live on food stamps and have two cars and drive their motorcycles around and don’t work, and it all leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” one woman from Lehigh said.
Huelskamp said in recent years laws have been passed to make getting government assistance from programs like food stamps easier. Huelskamp hopes that someday such programs will be operated by the states.
“We have to solve the problem,” Huelskamp said. “We can’t just continue to borrow money from ways to structure the program so they make food stamps. What happens when China calls in our debt, we can’t just keep increasing the debt ceiling.”
The federal budget was also a hot topic for constituents, who wondered if cuts would be made this legislative year to decrease the deficit.
Huelskamp said, like most things, Democrats and Republicans disagree on where the cuts should come from. He believes cuts need to be made across all aspects of the federal budget.
“The speaker of the house did make one promise that we would address all of the major aspects of the budget this year, but I doubt it,” he said. “But we’re pushing for that.”
When asked what the chances were for new leadership in the house, Huelskamp responded good, believing longtime house speaker John Boehner will retire in the very near future.
“There’s a lot of folks dissatisfied with the leadership,” he said. “He’s been there 24 years and things have changed a lot.”
Hillsboro Economic Development Director Clint Seibel asked how to get the Republican Party more united.
“You have a bunch of Republican Democrats that never get out of town, and they think they know everything,” Huelskamp said. “I think there are far too many people in Washington that are outsiders and it’s just not one party. They never come home and never do town halls.”
Huelskamp said it is important for him to come home as often as possible to talk to constituents about issues that directly affect them.
“There are good Republicans and Democrats and what they do is go home and listen,” he said. “If you want to actually get something done in the country you have to be willing to go home and talk to the people and explain to them.”
He said Congress needs to start doing things now, rather than waiting for January elections in order to make changes.
Like many constituents, Huelskamp said he was frustrated with the lack of work Congress has done this year.
“Last week we only voted on two or three things,” he said. “Why aren’t we doing more? If anyone has an idea why aren’t they sharing it and why aren’t we voting on it?”
For constituents with questions unable to attend town hall meetings, Huelskamp encourages them to call or e-mail his office with issues, concerns, or comments good or bad. He believes feedback is the most effective way for him to weigh his voting options while in Washington.