President Donald Trump’s recent criticisms of the late Sen. John McCain are “unnecessary,” according to Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican who represents Virginia's 1st District.
“I have to be honest. I’ve never liked him very much,” Trump said in Ohio on March 20. The president has also blamed the late Arizona senator and former Republican presidential candidate for “a war in the Middle East that [he] pushed so hard” for, referring to the Iraq War, and the failure of Trump's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Wittman’s comment was in answer to a question posed during a March 20 town hall the congressman hosted at Patriot High School in Nokesville.
About 45 people attended the 90-minute session, during which attendees submitted questions for Wittman to answer. Since 2007, he has represented a district that includes parts of Fauquier and Prince William counties.
Wittman was quizzed on gun control, military spending, the border wall, health care, the budget and more.
Wittman views the current political climate this way: “You could make the argument that we are more divided as a nation. To be more effective we need to find common ground,” Wittman said.
Building relationships can help bridge the gap, he said. There are issues of mutual concern – infrastructure improvements and broadband expansion, for example – that can bring about solutions, Wittman said.
“Access to connectivity [through broadband] is key to the economy” and critical for students and to facilitate telemedicine, the remote delivery of health assessments and consultations, he said.
Wittman advocated a two-year federal budget cycle, instead of an annual one. The format could eliminate the need for passing a continuing resolution to keep government functions operating.
Wittman said he sees a need for greater transparency in how money is spent and for an increased effort to ferret out waste.
Regarding gun control, the congressman said he didn’t think House Bill 8 -- which bars firearms transactions unless a licensed gun dealer or manufacturer conducts a background check -- “is the way to go about it,” since it would bar sales or loans of firearms between people who know each other.
He said 77 percent of guns used to commit violence are stolen or purchased illegally. The current system needs to work better to prevent those illegal purchases and to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, he said.
Wittman voted against the Affordable Care Act, and has voted to repeal it since it became law. He said the ACA hasn’t reduced premiums, has left the insured with high deductibles and forced them to give up their preferred doctors. The congressman wants to increase choices and “put the power back in the hands of the patients and providers.”
Wittman voted for the American Health Care Act in 2017, which was the Republican solution to address the ACA. The AHCA passed the House but did not pass the Senate.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to note that Wittman voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, a failed measure backed by Republicans in 2017. Wittman did not vote for the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as "Obamacare."
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