Bergman spending break connecting with constituents

ALPNA –After hosting town hall meetings in Escanaba and Gaylord Congressman Jack Bergman visited Alpena Friday before heading to Presque Isle for the annual Lincoln Day Dinner. He said he is using his time in the district to reconnect with his constituents and update them on recent events.

Bergman said both town hall events were well attended. He said the crowd in Escanaba was very engaged and respectful, despite some political differences among some, but the event in Gaylord got a bit unruly. Nevertheless, he said, he intends to continue to meet with people, listen to their concerns and do what he can in Congress to address them.

“It’s an open forum, but unfortunately their goal was to disrupt, not to listen and it was counter productive,” Bergman said of the Gaylord meeting. “They were even disrupting their own people and their concerns. It was a challenge (Thursday), but I’m always excited to come back to the district to engage with the people.”

He said he hopes to hold a town hall meeting in Alpena in the future.

Bergman said when he returns to Washington it is likely another bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something else will happen soon afterward. He said he knows there is another plan being promoted in the House, but few congressman have been able to learn much about it because of the recess. Combing through it line by line will be his first task when he gets back to work.

“I will get my first glimpse of it and learn what is new in it,” Bergman said. “Unlike the bill from a few years ago, however, we are going to read it before we vote on it. I’ll tell you though, We are going to pass health care and do something with tax reform.”

Bergman said he also expects a spending bill to pass and a government shutdown be avoided.

“I think that is a bunch of smoke and mirrors and that it is never going to happen,” he said.

As tension mounts in the Middle East and between the United States and North Korea, some have accused President’s Trump of being too aggressive militarily. Others supported the strike on an airfield in Syria and against Islamic State in Afghanistan, but want the president to get congressional approval before taking further action. Bergman said he supports the president’s strikes and will do so for others if they are called for.

“The president is the commander in chief and it is his responsibility to maintain the security and safety of the country. Those strikes were appropriate and proportionate,” he said. “We’re being tested as a country and as a world. Those bombing were a signal that there is a new administration who will protect people.”

As the United States beefs up its military presence in and around South Korea. North Korea Leader Kim Jong-Un has continued to antagonize the United States, which is increasing the tension. Bergman said the president has done a good job of working with other nations to build a coalition, including China, and there should be a wait and see approach to see if a peaceful solution can be found which will stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“Our world has always been and always will be successful because of coalitions and alliances,” Bergman said. “I don’t think anyone wants to see North Korea have nuclear weapons and I think the people who are working together on this are high caliber.”

Bergman said there also are issues that could have an impact on the 1st Congressional District and he is speaking out about them. He said the proposed cuts to essential air service and to Great Lakes initiatives would not be good for the state. Bergman said he will continue to fight against the cuts, but said the budgets needs to be closely looked at because there have to be areas that can be cut.

“We need essential air service. We have eight … EAS airport in this district and it has huge ramifications on business and tourism,” he said. “There is a huge economic impact from having air service and I think once congress sees that, we’ll continue to get our subsidy.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.