Touching on topics from immigration reform to the recent government shutdown, U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith made a stop Thursday in Hillsville to give an update to his constituents.
The Republican Congressman for Virginia’s 9th District, Griffith said Thursday’s stop was not a campaign visit for the upcoming election in November, but one to touch base with the district. In fact, he still has not officially announced if he will run for re-election in November, but said it is a pretty safe bet that he will.
On the issue of immigration reform, Griffith says something must be done. As it stands right now, he feels like he will be supportive of Republican Bob Goodlatte’s “Securing America’s Futures Act.” Goodlatte’s bill proposes to bolster the enforcement of existing immigration law, makes important reforms to legal immigration programs, secures the border, and provides a legislative solution for the current beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“I’ve got to finish reading it and give my two cents, but I think I will be supportive of that. I think most people feel like we ought to at least, the kids who didn’t come here knowing what was going on, we have to figure out something and we have to secure the borders,” Griffith said. “Some (congressmen) on the left don’t want to do that at all and some of them say they want to do it, but what they mean is they want to do like they did in the Reagan period when they said they were going to do it and they never did. Some Senators think, ‘Well okay, fund a little bit of the wall because when we get a new president we will just stop funding it and that will be the end of that.’ We want to build the wall but we’ve got to make some major reforms to the process.”
Griffith said 30 percent of illegal immigrants are overstays on Visas – work, student or even travel agencies. Those folks are not even being monitored, he said.
“It is crazy. We will do all kinds of crazy stuff to spend money on people who are here and we know about, they get a green card…but if you come into this country as a student and you just overstay your Visa, nothing,” Griffith said. “We know nothing about you. We have never kept track of you. We have never said if you are here on a year or two-year (Visa) that you have to check back in every six months, or even if you just let us know where you are, give us an address. We aren’t doing any of that. So these are the kinds of things we have to deal with in exchange for saying, ‘Okay we have a bunch of folks here who came here when they were six months to 12 years, they don’t know any better, and trying to figure out something for them.’ And I think most people would say they could live with that.”
But Griffith said the Democrats want to go further, especially in the Senate where they have been talking about continuing the “chain migration situation.”
“They would allow the parents of the dreamers to stay and to be guaranteed a path to citizenship. Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. So then if you are smart enough to sneak into the country and you bring a child with you, then you get to stay, too? That doesn’t seem right,” Griffith said. “And I am not trying to say we ought to kick out somebody who has a two-year-old child without their child, but the 27-year-old who found out when he was 18 that he wasn’t legal, we have got to figure something out. There has got to be a compromise and we have to change the system to protect our borders.”
After the recent government shutdown that lasted a couple of days in late January, the U.S. federal government faces another funding deadline of Feb. 8. The shutdown stemmed from a failure to fund government operations and agencies after disputes over DACA and the Mexico-U.S. border wall. Griffith doesn’t believe there will be another government shutdown in February.
“I don’t think you will see that happen again and here is the reason why. In the past when there shutdowns in the 90s and certainly in 2013, the Republican brand took it on the chin. Well, the democrats found this time, if you look at all the polling data, more people blame the Republicans. The problem is in the past it about 65 percent blamed the Republicans, this time it was pretty close to split and the Democrats didn’t know what to do with it because they had never experienced that before,” Griffith said. “It was like a two-point split instead of a 30-point split and so I think the Democrats will fight, they will rattle the sabre, they will give speeches, and (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell made them a promise that he would bring something to the floor in that time period and I think he should do so. I think you will see the Democrats shy away from another shutdown unless McConnell gives them a complete stiff-arm and doesn’t even talk to them.”
The Congressman said what most people don’t know is that negotiations were going on behind the scenes. President Donald Trump had said if a bill was brought to him, he would sign it, Griffith said.
“What you had was a couple of senators who decided they had a deal. That didn’t mean the senate had a deal, and nobody talked to the house people about it. They went to the White House without any house members being advised as to what they were up to,” Griffith said. “The White House, when they realized what was going on, grabbed Goodlatte and brought him into the room and the rest of us hadn’t been consulted at all. And in my understanding from a number of folks, huge numbers of the senators had no clue that they were presenting anything as a deal. What the president said was, ‘Bring me a deal and I will sign it’ because he knew the house is not going to do something as crazy as the senate will do. So that’s what the president is saying, knowing that if a bill came after a compromise in the house and senate, it would probably be something he could sign. But they made a big political to do out of it.”
Griffith also has been a strong supporter of moving toward simple majority votes versus super majority, particularly in issues where something as major as a government shutdown looms. In fact, the Congressman said he was literally within hours of being called to the White House to meet with Trump on the issue.
“There has been some interest expressed by the White House in having me come over and giving the president a tutorial on the history of the Modern Filibuster/cloture rule as I call it,” Griffith said. “I think if the senate hadn’t pretty much signaled Sunday night (Jan. 21) that they were going to get it worked out by Monday (Jan. 22) that I would have been at the White House on Monday. I want him to have the facts and history behind the modern rules so he can use the right terminology. I want to do my job to make sure he has the information. I can give it to him in 20 minutes and give him the lowdown on where the pinch points are – both politically and technically.”
As far as economic development, Griffith said he is hopeful more opportunities will be available now that the tax structure has changed so that companies will bring their money back to the U.S. He said it won’t always be the major conglomerates, but you do see some corporate giants already responding such as Amazon and Apple.
“We also know that other chemical companies are moving this way because the cost of natural gas is considerably cheaper in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, so we hope that the tax policy will help companies figure out, ‘Okay, not only is the gas cheaper, but now we have a tax policy that makes sense for us to come,’” Griffith said.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN