U.S. Rep. Tom Reed R-Corning met with constituents at the Potter Town Hall Jan. 26, and shared his thoughts on the top issues that have dominated a tumultuous last few weeks in Washington, D.C.
He opened the session with his comments about the recent partial government shutdown, temporarily resolved with a funding agreement that will expire Feb. 15.
“This whole process is frustrating... This is not how we’re supposed to run the train,” he said, referring to the conflicts in the nation’s capital which led to the partial government shutdown, adding, “It should not be the way to do business.” He later added, “The lunacy has to end.”
Although written questions were submitted for the session, the format quickly evolved into a conversational back and forth between the Congressman and constituents who challenged him with questions and comments on the polarized political atmosphere.
Much of the hour-long conversation centered on the shutdown resolution, immigration and border control issues, but he did address a few local issues, including improved rural broadband access, using public-private partnerships and federal funding through USDA, and access to mental health care for children.
Mental Health Care: Dr. John Cooley said the nearest place a youth can go for extended mental health care is Rochester or Syracuse. “And that care is a 10-minute interview after an 8-hour wait,” he said, explaining that changes in federal regulations have had an impact on the ability to offer such services locally. Reed said he feels changes should be made in the statute, which would prevent regulation adjustments.
Broadband: Noting the lack of internet and cell service in rural areas like Potter, Reed said he has been involved in discussions with a bipartisan group that is pushing for funding for 21st century broadband to be included in the next federal highway infrastructure bill.
In the meantime, he promises to work with local governments and private sector businesses to find solutions for rural communities.
Reed’s District Director, Alison Hunt, said she intends to reach out to Yates County Legislative Chairman Douglas Paddock.
Social Security: Reed also announced he has been humbled to be selected as the Republican leader for the Social Security subcommittee of the House’s Ways and Means Committee. While the leadership of the committee is in the hands of a Democrat — John Larson of Connecticut — Reed is optimistic the committee can come up with some solutions to backlogs in service for beneficiaries of Social Security Disability.
“I believe in the promise of Social Security, and am committed to looking for the long term solvency of Social Security,” he said.
He said this assignment will be a benefit for constituents who need access to the Social Security Administration.
Russian Investigation: Reed supports continued independent investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election, but he does not feel an open-ended investigation into every nuance of the election is appropriate. “I sense there’s more going on here with some of these oversight requests that are bigger and more politically motivated,” he said.
Reed also held town hall sessions in Veteran and Fayette Saturday.