Hear Nunnelee’s comments on YouTube.
By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – First District Congressman Alan Nunnelee visited Yalobusha County last week after returning from Washington from his first month in office.
Nunnelee visited with area residents for about an hour last Wednesday afternoon in the community room at Mechanics Bank. He said it was the first of many visits he hoped to make across the First District.
The House will be in session only 121 days in 2011 to give Representatives additional opportunities to be with their constituents. “It will allow me more time to meet with men and women all over north Mississippi and hear what’s on your minds.”
Nunnelee told the group that he was very much aware that walking on the floor of the House of Representatives is a great responsibility. “It is the highest honor that I have ever had in my life to be your voice and your representative in Congress.”
Nunnelee said that the American people sent a very strong message back in November. “Part of that message was they did not like the direction our country was headed and they wanted us to change direction.”
He added that Speaker John Boehner said there was even a louder message he heard. Quoting Boehner, Nunnelee said, “All of Washington, Democrats and Republicans both, have lost touch with America.”
Nunnelee said that the number one objective is to cut spending, create an environment for businesses to grow and create jobs. “We’re asking ourselves, if we’re involved in any activity that doesn’t involve that subject, why are we doing it?”
He then introduced Field Representative Walter Starr who will work out of the Desoto office. Starr will be concentrating on local governments and economic development in the western half of the district.
Nunnelee said that the very first day, the house decided that they wouldn’t vote on anything that had been out for public inspection, including on the Internet, for 72 hours before the vote. “If Congress decides to do something crazy, it will get reported.”
“We did something that had never, ever been done before,” he added. “We read the Constitution of the United States on the flour of the House of Representa-tives.”
He admitted it was mostly a symbolic gesture. “But, I think it was important symbolism. We enacted a Constitution that was designed to limit the role and perspective of government. All too often in the past several years, Washington has reached beyond the boundaries of that Constitution.”
The House followed up the symbolic gesture with a meaningful one, he added. “Every single piece of legislation, the day it is introduced, has to have attached to it, the specific part of the Constitution that allows the Congress to do whatever it is you want to do. We’re going to stick to that Constitution.”
“Then we began the process of appealing Obamacare,” he continued. “I think it is detrimental for what it does to healthcare. But, it is also detrimental as to what that piece of legislation does to job creation. It absolutely strangles business.”
“We may have to send it down there time and time again,” he said, referring to having the healthcare bill repeal go before the Senate. “We are going to do what we believe we were elected to do by the American people.”
“The final thing we have gone about the business of doing is cutting spending. Right now forty-one cents out of every dollar is borrowed money. We cannot allow it to continue.”
“It’s been a busy first month, but it has been a productive first month,” Nunnelee said about the first few days of his term.
Following Nunnelee’s comments, he took questions from the group. One query was about security following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson Jan. 8.
“I think what happened in Arizona is just the face of evil,” Nunnelee said.
He described the people of North Mississippi as his friends and neighbors. “I don’t feel a need to be protected from my friends and neighbors. That’s just not something I think about a lot.”
Nunnelee was asked if he had met with the President. He answered that the 97-member “freshman class” of Representatives was invited to the White House before the State of the Union Speech.
“I appreciated his gesture. To be invited and roam around the White House is pretty cool,” he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.
“I’ll be honest, I liked a lot of what I heard in the State of the Union. What I am watching for is not words, but actions. If he’ll back up what he said with those actions, I’m ready to work with him.”
Another questioner asked where he sat during the speech. Nunnelee answered that he sat on the Republican side between Senator Mark Begich of Alaska and Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.
Nunnelee said that McGovern asked, “Will you let a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts sit down by you?”
“Absolutely,” Nunnelee said, “I’ll visit with anybody.”
He added that during his 16 years in the state Senate he did his best to reach across party lines and find a way to work with Democrats.
Redistricting was the topic of another question. Nunnelee was asked how the average citizen could let legislators in Jackson know they are satisfied with their Representation.
Nunnelee said he is mindful that the State Legislature handles redistricting and not the individual Congressman. “I don’t get to draw my district.”
He explained that there are three groups of people who can be contacted with concerns. The first is your Representatives; the second group is the Legislative leaders; and third, other concerned people around the region.
Nunnelee continued that the First Congressional District has grown more rapidly than the other three. The Second Congressional District, represented by Congressman Bennie Thompson, has lost population.
“There are three counties that are on the line,” he said, adding that two others, Tate and Desoto probably won’t be moved. The three currently being considered are Yalobusha, Panola, and Grenada.
One of the final questions was asked about the rising cost of energy and what could be done to lower it. His answer was to get government out of the way and let American know-how find a solution.
“I have confidence in the ingenuity of the American people. We have come up with one invention after another and turned those inventions into things that have changed the world. I think what is holding us back is the policies of government.”