Federal legislation could impact Gates County – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

GATESVILLE – The vast reach of the federal government may be too complex for average Americans to fully understand.

Simplistically speaking, American citizens vote to elect their leaders to represent their values ​​and beliefs. But these individual wishes are too often blurred during the political conflict between the two major parties.

US Congressman GK Butterfield (D-NC 01) was invited to address citizens of Gates County last week at a special meeting of the County Council of Commissioners. Butterfield, who has been in power since 2004, spoke about the different political landscape in the nation’s capital and the changes that occur during election cycles that determine which party controls the House and Senate chambers.

“It’s really important to know who controls each branch of government,” he said. “Right now, the Democratic Party has a majority of votes in every chamber, which means it determines the leadership. But our goal remains to serve the American people, and that can be difficult due to the blame on both sides of the political aisle. But I can assure you that there is a critical mass of members of Congress who are at the center. I believe we can get things done.

One “thing” is President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill.

“We’ve been talking about infrastructure improvements since I arrived in Washington 17 years ago,” Butterfield noted. “Infrastructure is water, sewers, highways, bridges, airports, ports, schools. All of us 435 [in the US House] have a different interpretation of what infrastructure should be. Mine and yours are more the infrastructure that best suits a rural environment… clean water, good schools, sewers and a high speed broadband connection. “

Just a few weeks ago, Butterfield said a $ 1.1 trillion infrastructure bill passed the US Senate with a bipartisan vote. This law – which includes $ 110 billion for transportation projects; $ 66 billion for rail; $ 36 billion for federal / state partnership grants; and $ 65 billion for broadband – is currently being debated in the US House.

“I know everyone sitting in this courtroom understands the critical importance of broadband,” he said. “We will be voting on this infrastructure package no later than midnight on September 27. We are seeking bipartisan approval.”

The congressman added that while infrastructure legislation looks set to be passed, another, more controversial bill is waiting behind the scenes.

“The president’s plan to rebuild better is $ 3.5 trillion… that’s a lot of money, but when you look at the spending breakdown, I see the money is needed in rural America,” Butterfield said.

He touted child care for working families, free classes at community colleges, increased Pell grants, more investment in public housing, reduced carbon emissions and drought relief alike. important elements of the President’s bold initiative. Butterfield called it “human infrastructure” rather than “physical infrastructure”.

“We are now putting the pieces together to try to have a complete package that we will discuss, debate and hopefully vote on before the end of the month,” Butterfield said. “Right now, there is a lot of debate over the price of this proposed plan. I foresee some kind of compromise to achieve this.

The congressman also addressed the growing government deficit, which now stands at $ 28.5 trillion. Of that amount, $ 2.5 trillion has been added this year alone.

“In its simplest form, our government spends about $ 4.5 trillion each year, but two-thirds of that is entitlement spending… Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Veterans Benefits,” he said. underline. “We don’t vote on benefit expenses. The other third is discretionary spending, half of which goes to the military. What is left on the table is approximately $ 700 billion. This is the amount we fight for every year… we fight for education spending, health care, housing, etc.

The bottom line, however, is that the government spends more than it receives. This results in a deficit.

“Every president for the past 30 years, Democrat and Republican, didn’t have enough money to pay the bills, so they have to do what you do, go find the money to pay the bills,” he said. -he declares. “The only way the government can make it work is by borrowing money. And we borrowed, borrowed and borrowed.

However, even as this level of borrowing money continues to rise, Butterfield maintained that it had not yet reached a “serious level.”

“Now is not the time to raise a red flag and surrender,” he said. “You measure the debt in proportion to the national economy. We haven’t reached the level where we need to close and stop spending.

The congressman pointed out that the 2017 tax cut bill removed $ 1.5 trillion of money that could have been used for credits, and thus saved the nation from having to borrow. even more for operating expenses.

“This tax reduction was geared towards the top of the range [wage earners] and not the low end. I did not vote for this tax cut, ”he stressed.

Butterfield then asked this question: “Where do we go from here?”

“I need your sensible and rational suggestions to take back to Washington where we can talk about our problems,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers. I need to hear from you and everyone in my 15 county district.

One item Butterfield has promised to promote is improved infrastructure in Gates County and throughout its district.

“This will happen if we can exceed, intact, the $ 1.1 trillion for infrastructure,” he said. “Improvements in this regard will occur here. “

He also pledged to stand with this “mass in the middle” and work to “put aside the differences between the political parties which are now slowing down the legislative process and work on a compromise effort.” This effort will show itself in the coming weeks where I hope we find bipartite solutions. “

Butterfield’s visit also included a closed-door meeting with county commissioners. Dr Althea Riddick, chair of that council, said she was not free at this time to discuss what happened in this private session.

“I will say this particular meeting has been productive,” said Riddick.

She thanked Butterfield for explaining how things work in Congress and her willingness to solicit suggestions from the citizens of Gates County on how things can be improved for everyone.

“Times have changed; we are moving Gates County from its past to a bright future and we need to include our federal leaders in these discussions so they understand who we are and what our needs are,” Riddick noted. “These real people and we have real issues to deal with.

“We are grateful and grateful that he took the time to visit, and we must continue to engage our federal and state leaders to build a network where we exchange ideas on how to move Gates County forward. This council is engaged at all levels and our citizens are included in this engagement, ”concluded Riddick.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran in the newspaper industry, is editor-in-chief of Roanoke-Chowan, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index and Front Porch Living magazine.

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