Congressman Barr Talks Tough on Drugs, Welfare, and Terrorism

Congressman BarrFrom left, State Representative Tipton, Mayor Goodlett, Congressman Barr, Judge Executive GrittonState Representative Tipton and Dave DisponettBryan Proctor and Congressman BarrMartin Harley and Lois Ann DisponettFrom left, City Clerk Robbie Hume, Judge Executive Gritton, City Fire Chief Bobby Hume

Andy Barr, our US Congressman, was at Tonya’s Hometown Buffet this morning to not only get feedback from citizens of Anderson County but also to talk about national topics that are affecting the area.  Congressman Barr opened with a talk on the recent terrorist attacks on Brussels and the story of Justin and Stephanie Shults who were killed in the attack.

Stephanie, a native of Lexington, was living in Brussels with her husband.  They were bringing her mother, Carolyn Moore, also a native of Lexington, to the Brussels airport to head back to the US after a visit when the bomb went off.

When Congressman Barr learned that one of his constituents were missing in the attack, he worked hard with the US State Department to try to help as much as possible.  Unfortunately, it was later confirmed both Justin and Stephanie perished in the attacks.

Congressman Barr took a strong stance against these terrorist attacks and pointed just how these far off tragedies can strike home.  “It goes to show that the fight against radical Islamic terrorism can hit home and hit home quickly,” Congressman Barr said.

He continued in saying what the US is doing right now is nowhere near enough to stop the threat.  As ISIS continues to evolve, he believes that it is now directly targeting western countries and will continue to grow and become like a cancer to humanity.  “This is a really toxic evil that we have to confront head on,” Congressman Barr said.

From his point of power, the congressman said that he is doing as much as possible to stop the threat from coming to America.  From cosponsoring a visa waiver reform bill, blocking the Syria refugee plan, opposing the Iran nuclear deal, and supporting the military, he feels that he is making strides in protecting the country.

Congressman Barr then discussed domestic issues especially with welfare reform.  He indicated, that with all the poverty programs meant to help poor Americans, there hasn’t been much of an improvement.  “Today you’re just as likely to remain in poverty if you were born in poverty as you were in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty,” he said.

He proposed a new system that would help encourage people to work but still receive assistance if needed.  He is working on an empowerment agenda where if you’re of working age, abled body, and don’t have dependents, you will be required to find some form of employment before you could receive any federal aid, including Medicaid and Section 8.

He continued on that without reform, welfare spending at the national level is going to create a major debt crisis in the future.  With all the entitlement spending, it will outpace and crowd out spending for other needed services that the government provides.

Afterwards, members of the audience asked both Congressman Barr and State Representative James Tipton, who was also at the meeting, about the increasing drug epidemic seen in the county.  County Clerk Jason Denny asked specifically what is being done at the state and national level to help as he is seeing over 87% of arrests in the county are related to drugs, an increasing jail budget, and hearing more reports that the drug problem is affecting all demographics.

Congressman Barr and State Representative Tipton both said that they are taking the issue seriously.  Congressman Barr specifically talked about a task force that he setup of experts from all areas including prevention, law enforcement, and treatment.  The goal of the task force is to help get all the experts to work together to create a comprehensive plan.

Although the task force is still working on the recommendations, he has said that they are saying that we can’t incarcerate everyone with the drug problem.  There needs to be alternative systems, drug court, recovery programs, and treatments, to give non-violent drug users a second chance.

But, the congressman was tough on the traffickers and repeat violent offenders.  Talking about Richmond Police Officer Daniel Ellis’s death which was caused by a repeat violent drug trafficker, he said the violent traffickers need to be locked up and there needs to be federal minimum sentencing. “I think we can make the distinction between the victims of those traffickers who deserve drug court and those peddling this toxic substance in our communities,” he said.

He then talked about current federal legislation meant to help alleviate the drug problem by authorizing prevention and treatment programs, strengthening prescription drug monitoring, and more.

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