ST. GEORGE — With the United States Senate currently in recess, Sen. Mike Lee has spent some of his time away from the nation’s capital hosting town hall meetings across the state, the fifth of 10 held on the Dixie State University campus Thursday where 465 attendees gathered in the Gardner Center Ballroom.
“I can’t think of another part in the state where there is more enthusiasm for our country,” Lee said.
While he cannot speak for his colleagues in the Senate, Lee said, these types of question-and-answer forums are important to maintain a relationship with the people.
“For me, it’s important to hear directly from my constituents and to meet with them face to face … so I know what’s on their mind,” Lee said.
On the mind of one of the audience members Thursday was health care for veterans, how may they go about receiving medical assistance? Lee referred to the “Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act” passed by Congress and signed by the president on Aug. 7. Both Lee and Sen. Hatch voted for the bill, as did all four of Utah’s representatives.
This bill, Lee said, allows for a “30-day, 40-mile rule.” It provides that a veteran who has requested medical care will be seen within 30-days maximum. Also, if a veteran in need of care lives more than 40 miles from a VA hospital — a hospital run by the Veterans Health Administration — that veteran would be able to receive treatment options within his or her local area.
Lee also spoke on the Second Amendment. In 2013, there was significant effort in the Senate to restrict the right-to-bear arms, he said.
“Sometimes when a tragedy occurs — when somebody does something really awful with a gun — the first impulse in Washington is to make another law,” Lee said.
Such laws, in his opinion, would have done little to help prevent future tragedies.
Security of the nation was among Lee’s concerns and a concern of the audience, specifically the power of the National Security Agency. When an excessive use of power is given to the hands of few, Lee said, eventually it is going to be abused.
Lee voted against the extension of points of the Patriot Act in 2011. The public’s privacy, he said, is part of their security. Being secure does not just mean being safe from foreign threats, but also from your own government.
There are different ways to combat a corrupt president or member of the executive branch, “tools,” Lee said, that include the power of impeachment and the cutting off of funds. Impeachment, he said, is not going to happen with the current president; however, the second option may be one that can be used.
“We do have the power to pull money back,” Lee said. “We do have the power to say, ‘we will not appropriate a dime, not a penny …;’ sometimes this needs to happen.”
While he, along with many others in Washington D.C., may not share many of the same views or opinions as President Obama, Lee said, it is important for people to remember that he remains his president regardless.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the President of the United States right now,” Lee said. “We need his leadership ….”
The subject of big-government involvement in local happenings was also a topic brought up frequently throughout the town hall meeting. Lee said it is his opinion that certain decisions being made by the federal government need to be made by state and local governments; especially when it comes to decisions involving public education.
“Those decisions need to be made by teachers and parents … ,” he said. “Those decisions should never be made from Washington D.C.”
As the meeting came to a close, Lee offered some words of encouragement to the crowd. There is no question we live in a time of great challenges, he said; but our best days are ahead of us.
“Join me in the cause for a good government, for a better government,” he said. “It’s time for us as Americans not to expect less, but to expect more.”
Those who did not have a chance to ask their questions, or may want more clarification regarding the topics discussed were invited to visit Lee’s website or contact his office by telephone.
- Senator Mike Lee | St. George Office Telephone: 435-628-5514
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