By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — “If you don’t leave Washington, how do you know what’s going on?”
Rep. Chris Collins came to Medina Saturday for an informal meeting with local government, business and civic leaders. The freshman congressman spoke to a crowd of more than 30 at the Shirt Factory Cafe.
The give-and-take was one-sided with the crowd asking questions more about the goings on in the District of Columbia than the 27th District.
The former Erie County Executive didn’t appear to mind, weighing in with his views on national news and his visions for the future.
“The CEO is not doing his job.”
Collins, who will return to the village today for a tour of the Olde Pickle Factory and a talk on economic development, gave his strongest comments of the “Coffee with Chris” session when discussing the state of federal budget negotiations between Congress and President Barack Obama.
On Friday, $85 million in automatic cuts to the military and domestic spending kicked in, but Collins said the President’s “dire warnings” of disaster didn’t happen.
While he faulted Obama for setting up a sequester that dealt out pain across the board, Collins said he supported giving the President flexibility to make cuts in a less balanced way. That would give the military and cabinet officials the ability to make changes to spending programs that have been restricted through short-term budget deals.
Collins also pledged that he and his colleagues will present a budget this April.
“There’s an advantage to being in the majority — I’m in the room where they make the decisions.”
Collins, who will return to the village today for a tour of the Olde Pickle Factory and a talk on economic development, spoke at length about legislative strategies and his role in Congress.
Washington is in a state of gridlock, which Collins described as the natural order of a system designed to put more power in the hands of local governments.
Collins said he’d “play defense” in his role as chairman of a House Committee on Small Business sub-committee on health and technology. He plans to hold hearings on Obamacare’s affect on small business, and with repeal of the act not possible, seek a reclassification on some of the act’s provisions.
“If we agree on vision, let’s dig in on the policies.”
The question-and-answer session with the largely-Republican crowd didn’t always focus on partisan issues.
Collins, a member on the House Committee on Agriculture, said he’s optimistic about a full, five-year extension of the nation’s major agricultural legislation due to a bi-partisan consensus. The house’s bill will begin moving in earnest this May, Collins said, with agreements from last year’s un-passed bill forming the basis for this year’s bill.
Among them are provisions that would give visas to farms employing guest workers. Collins said a bill to reform in its immigration policies will go hand-in-glove with the farm bill, with both parties agreeing to take up the issue this year.