During luncheon, Congressman notes he opposed federal budget

Photo by Jordan W. Patterson Rep. Tom Reed participated in the The Chamber’s Annual Federal Congressional Lunch at the Chautauqua Suites located in Mayville with the county Chamber of Commerce.

MAYVILLE — Rep. Tom Reed finally joined the Chamber of Commerce in the Annual Federal Congressional Lunch after the first scheduled date was postponed due to inclement weather.

The congressman updated members of the Chamber of Commerce and many other gathered inside Chautauqua Suites in Mayville about current and upcoming polices, as well as addressing gun violence in schools.

“I truly believe to represent people you have to listen to people and have an exchange and we do it in a way that is respectful,” Reed said.

In attendance along with the Chamber of Commerce were George Borrello, county executive, and Assemblyman Andy Goodell. Todd Tranum, Chamber of Commerce president, moderated the Q&A, and people in attendance were able to submit comments that were asked to Reed.

Reed began by mentioning the effects of the recent tax reform which the congressman was heavily involved with. He noted that any changes to people’s tax returns won’t be seen until 2019 when the new code will be effective. While individuals won’t experience any increases until next year, Reed was confident those changes were in fact coming.

Regarding the current $1.3 trillion budget that President Donald Trump signed after threatening to veto, Reed stated he was in opposition of such a bill that added to the national debt.

“I did not support the budget,” he said. “I am very much concerned about our national debt and I am very concerned about where this debt is going.”

Reed called the spending “dangerous” and called for change in Washington, D.C. as it related to bills of this nature. While he understood the potential criticism of previously supporting tax reform that would add to the debt and then opposing a federal budget that would add to the debt as well. Reed said he believes there is a difference between the two because of the economic growth that he predicts will occur due to the recent tax reform.

“If you’re not concerned about the debt, you need to be,” Reed said.

While Reed said he did not support the budget, he maintained that there were many “victories” for Chautauqua County within the spending bill and other aspects of the bill that he continues to support. He noted that funding to the Community Development Block Grant and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was increased.

Borrello reiterated Reed’s concern of the national debt.

“I think when he starts talking about our national debt it’s incredibly important,” Borrello said. “(The debt) has been called the largest threat to our national security that we have and I agree with (that).”

Borrello said he was “proud” Reed opposed the bill because of the potential increase to the national debt and called the spending “unsustainable.”

Reed also addressed current drug abuse in the region. Recently, Borrello declared an opioid epidemic in Chautauqua County.

The congressman said he supported prioritizing funding for addressing the opioid crisis in the new budget.

“There are some very positive things coming down the pipeline,” he said.

During the congressional lunch, Reed was asked about gun violence in schools. He said he was willing to have the conversation about background checks and gun restrictions if people were willing to talk about the mental health side of the topic as well. He maintained he will continue to be a “firm believer” in the Second Amendment.

Reed referenced the new budget that Trump signed having provisions allowing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence.

The congressman also talked about NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico. He said at the start, Canada was “hesitant” to work with the United States regarding trade. He emphasized the importance of the countries involved with NAFTA and other trade allies coming together prior to going after China as it relates to trade. Reed called Japan and China “currency manipulators.”

“We better be united,” he said.

Reed described the current status of tariffs on trade and the economy as a “disruptive path,” but was optimistic that current policies will “even the playing field.”