Bergman talks shutdown, budget, campaign

Local government officials and business groups met with U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman on Oct. 27, 2017, at the Blue Fish Kitchen and Bar. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

Local government officials and business groups met with U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman on Oct. 27, 2017, at the Blue Fish Kitchen and Bar. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Despite a holdup due to hazardous winter weather, Michigan’s First Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, made his way to Michigan on Friday, to meet with several business, manufacturing and economic development groups.

Although his private business meeting in Manistee was put off for a later date due to unforeseen circumstances, Bergman is kicking off his campaign to run for re-election this year.

During his travels to Michigan, Bergman answered some questions via telephone for the News Advocate, regarding the recent government shutdown and his campaign.

SHUTDOWN

While most Americans were sleeping, the government entered another partial shutdown around midnight on Friday.

The House voted 240-186 to approve the bill just before dawn Eastern time, hours after the Senate had approved the measure on a 71-28 vote, according to the Associated Press.

This was the second partial government shutdown in three weeks; the House and Senate approved a bill to keep the government funded through March 23.

“In the end, the wisdom of passing this prevailed, and we’ve got a solid step forward,” said Bergman. “We are bringing the military back up to the strength and capability necessary, and at the same time, there were some increases in discretionary spending.

“It’s not a perfect budget and not a perfect plan, but it reflect the realistic needs of the country.”

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky stalled a vote due to his party’s willingness to bust the budget. Democrats were also divided, as the measure did not address “Dreamer” immigrants.

“I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits,” the Kentucky senator said. “Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits. I can’t in all honesty look the other way.”

The $400 billion budget deal is coupled with a six-week temporary funding bill, which will sustain governmental operations and provide time to implement the budget pact.

About three weeks ago, Senate Democrats pushed for a three-day partial government shutdown by staging a filibuster on a spending bill. Democrats hoped to break a deal on immigration for Dreamers.
Protection for the Dreamers, under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), will expire on March 5, with no current agreement to extend the program.

“The goal is to get the absolute best results possible,” Bergman said. “One of the things that’s gonna happen over the next month or so, is we will be debating on the DACA package, which is the first step toward the comprehensive immigration package.”

In the bill, both sides pushed for $89 billion for disaster relief, extending a host of health care provisions, and extending a slew of smaller tax breaks. There’s also $16 billion to renew expired tax breaks.

Bergman said the bill also provides significant increases in U.S. Department of Defense spending for the next two years. It also includes more than $300 billion worth of increases for the military and domestic programs, and $89 billion in overdue hurricane disaster aid for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

“That’s the key,” Bergman said. “This is a long-term funding; this is a two year budget for the U.S. Department of Defense, which is huge. It’s continuing resolutions for the long-term budgeting package for the (U.S.) Department of Defense.”

Although another shutdown is possible when March 23 approaches, Bergman said a government shutdown should be avoided at all costs.

“If we have not reached an agreement, the government could shut down again,” he said. “It does not make sense. People think that shutting down the government is the right answer, but 99 percent of the time it’s the wrong answer.”

CAMPAIGN

Within the past few weeks, Bergman also started campaigning for re-election in the Upper Peninsula, and plans to hold town-hall meetings in this area at some point in the future.

Congressman Bergman has been the representative for the first district since 2016.

“The feedback and the energy for my re-election has been very positive,” he said. “We have meetings scheduled right now with different businesses, economic development and manufacturing groups. I don’t have a time frame yet for our next community engagement events.”

Bergman will be running against the winner of the Democratic Primary. Those who have announced their candidacy include Dwight Brady, Dana Alan Ferguson and Matthew Morgan.

He also plans to schedule listening sessions with local officials that deal with the opioid epidemic in communities of Michigan’s first district.

“This is not a town-hall, but for local officials who deal with the realities of this serious addiction problem,” Bergman said. “I am going around listening to what groups have to say about this.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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