U.S. Congressman Sam Graves
Graves meets Hannibal constituents
Promising the U.S. House of Representatives would not approve some of the issues pending in Washington, Congressman Sam Graves answered questions from the large crowd who attended his legislative update on Friday, Jan. 25, at Bleigh Ready-Mix in Hannibal, Mo.
Graves, of Tarkio, Mo., has been a U.S. representative in Congress from Missouri’s Sixth Congressional District since 2001. Due to redistricting, he now represents Hannibal as part the 36 counties in the Sixth District, which includes all of Northern Missouri. Graves promised to soon open a mobile office in Hannibal so that with his office in St. Joseph, he will have offices on the east and west ends of U.S. 36 (in Missouri).
In response to questions about the current weapons issue, he said one bill in the Senate “is not going anywhere in the House.” He expects the bill to be watered down but still does not “expect anything to get through the House.” He said he is offended by someone “telling me I don’t need” a particular gun.
Regarding mental health, Graves said the “federal government should become more involved in prosecuting the laws we already have.”
On the issue of unemployment in Missouri, Graves said, “the biggest problem is we continue to expand unemployment and businesses can’t afford it. ... It keeps people from working. When you are allowed to draw unemployment for 99 weeks, why would you work?”
Before fielding questions, Graves discussed the current budget problems, noting that the House had passed the No Budget/No Pay act, which requires both the House and Senate to pass budgets or not get paid.
When Congress was preventing going off the fiscal cliff, he said, the House, “was able to push through a deal that got 95 percent of what we (Republicans) wanted.”
However, uniting all Republicans in the House “is a challenge,” he said. “We have some members that see any compromise as giving in. .... We have so much diversity.” He added that “the president is making it easier to come together.”
Discussing the Farm Bill, Graves said 80 percent of the funding goes for nutrition programs and 20 percent for agricultural programs, such as rural development block grants. With pending cuts in spending, he said, some people are trying to cut agriculture out of the farm bill.
Graves noted the House is in the minority, “two to one, against the Senate and the administration.” He added the administration is “dong as much as it can through executive orders.”
Asked “What tools do Republicans have in the House?” Graves responded “right now we are very limited.”
Page 2 of 2 - In response to a question about current legislative issues, Graves - who serves as chairman of the Small Business Committee - responded “we are trying to make it so more small businesses can participate in government contracts,” small businesses cannot hire someone to seek these contracts and “small business has trouble competing with big business.”
Graves also serves on the Transportation Committee, and discussed the problem of earmarked funding. “The highways are paid by the highway trust fund. It pays for all roads and bridges, but we can’t write legislation” that dollars go to a particular highway, he said. “It all goes to the administration.”
Asked if there is any way to shield someone from Obamacare, he said “I don’t see any way. ... We have businesses cutting back to get below 50 employees and trying to decide (to be limited to 50 employees).
“Most with above 50 are dropping insurance and paying the penalty. Costs are continuing to rise. I don’t see any way to shield it. It’s going to be tough and very tough for businesses out there.”
Reporting he comes back to Missouri every weekend, Graves invited his constituents to call him in Washington at (202) 225-7041, in Kansas City at (816) 792-3976 or in St. Joseph at (816) 749-0800.
Graves also encouraged people to see the Small Business Committee website, smallbusiness.house.gov.