ELLIJAY, Ga. – Congressman Doug Collins made a brief stop at the Republican Women of Gilmer County meeting Thursday, Feb. 22. Collins has served as a U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District since 2013.
Collins spoke to the crowd concerning on a number of issues currently being addressed in Washington D.C. and took several questions from audience members on a wide variety of subjects.
“We came through a year, last year, where our biggest failure overall was, frankly, healthcare,” Collins stated, giving attendees an update on the happenings in our capital.
Feeling that the House did their job in trying to address some of the difficulties the nation faces when it comes to healthcare, Collins said that reform and change fell short due to the Senate.
“We did our job. We passed something to the Senate,” Collins explained. “The Senate is just marred and not moving.”
Collins has been a long time advocate to change rules that dictate the actions of the Senate. These regulations can and often do slow or completely stall progress from being made in our nation. In Congress, legislation can be passed by a simple majority vote.
The Senate, however, requires a supermajority of 60 votes for many pieces of legislation to pass rather than the 51 votes that would be required if the Senate went by simple majority vote.
“The 60 vote rule has got to go,” Collins spoke straightforward about his feelings on the issue, “at least on appropriations.”
According to Collins, the Senate currently has many pieces of legislation passed by Congress and has created a bottleneck in moving forward. Collins stated that of the bills currently sitting at the Senate waiting to be addressed, 85 to 90 percent of these bills were passed by Congress with fewer than five representatives voting against their moving forward.
In regards to healthcare, Collins said that there needs to be review and scrutiny of mandatory spending such as Medicaid. He stressed that he is not in favor of eliminating such programs but wants to slow the expansion.
“Medicaid was meant for the aged, blind, disabled and those who couldn’t take care of themselves,” Collins said, expressing his thoughts on this particular program. “You put a healthy able-bodied adult on Medicaid (and) what you do is you take healthcare away from the aged, blind, disabled and those who can’t take care of themselves.”
“That’s just wrong. That’s why we got to fix healthcare,” Collins added.
Several questions concerning gun control and safety in public schools were asked in the wake of another mass shooting that took place last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“This week was another tragedy of a very sick individual doing something very wrong and very twisted, using a gun,” Collins, a supporter of the Second Amendment, explained of his thoughts on how these situations should be approached on a federal level. “A gun did not walk into that school and kill anybody.”
Stressing the need for compassion for those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, Collins wants there to be meaningful discussion and meaningful answers to this problem. He fears that passing any “bumper sticker” legislation as a quick fix would only fail shortly after.
“Are there responsible ownership of guns? You better believe it. Do some people probably not need to own a gun? Yeah,” Collins stated, proposing a look at circumstances in a realistic fashion.
While Collins does feel that certain agencies dropped the ball and should have to answer for and be held accountable to their mistakes, he also feels that first as a nation we need to uphold the laws that are currently in place.
Collins expressed these thoughts: “Explain to me how I can pass a law, that if they are ignoring it now, how does passing another law make it better?”
Collins was optimistic about certain directions the country is currently heading: “Our country is being portrayed as strong again.”
“We are starting to see the economy start to take off again,” Collins said, addressing the recent passing of the Tax Reform Act and the need for more employees in the workforce.
“We are trying to move what we know as Welfare to Work,” Collins said, discussing current legislation being proposed in Congress. “We are trying to get people through bad times, you know when we need to help them, but it is now time to begin that transition off of the assistance programs into meaningful work.”
Audience member, Noraye Hinds, brought up a key issue that is of concern to Republicans in the upcoming 2018 election year: “Hate is a motivator, and that is what is going to get the Democrats out to vote.”
Collins agreed and said, “We’ve got a tough year coming.”
Collins explained that on average, there is a loss of 32 seats held by the majority in the House in a mid-term election following a presidential election. Furthering concern for the Republicans, 26 of the seats up for election this year are in districts that Hillary Clinton won majority vote.
“If we lose 24 (seats), we lose the majority,” Collins spoke frankly.
He spoke of specific seats that Democrats are targeting in Georgia. Representative Karen Handel of Georgia’s 6th District and Congressman Rob Woodall of Georgia’s 7th District could face tough elections as the demographics of their areas are changing.
Collins spoke exclusively with FetchYourNews (FYN) about concerns over losing control of the House.
In a controversial move Feb. 19, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a new map for the state’s U.S. House of Representatives districts. The new map, aimed at removing what some in the state considered Republican gerrymandering, now seems to favor Democrats.
Collins told FYN, “This is very concerning. You’re looking at worst case a 9-9 map. Best case a 10-8 map.”
According to Collins there is not much that can be done to overturn the changes made in Pennsylvania. In order to be challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court there must be proof of a violation of U.S. law, but since the state Supreme Court ruling was based on the Pennsylvania Constitution, it is unlikely that federal courts would get involved.
Collins told FYN, as of right now, there is not major concern that other states will follow suit in redistricting, and praised his home state of Georgia: “Georgia has some of the cleanest maps in the country.”
“What I view as a good map,” Collins said, further explaining his feelings on the district layout of Georgia, “Does it reflect the homogeneity of an area, does it reflect the population of an area and does it give everybody a chance? If it does that, then you’re meeting most of the test.”
Collins feels there are two key issues that might hurt Republicans in the upcoming elections. The first being that while Republicans have a good message, sometimes that message does not get portrayed clearly.
“Turn out is our problem,” Collins expressed of the second and potentially more damaging issue. Collins urged those in attendance to be active in not only voting themselves but in spreading the word about candidates in the state of Georgia.
Collins thanked constitutes for electing him to his position and spoke candidly about his job: “At the end of the day, it’s about helping people. It’s about realizing where you come from.”
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