This is the first official district workweek of the 113th Congress. DeJarlais represents the redrawn 4th Congressional District. He shares Bradley County with Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of the 3rd District.
About 30 business and political leaders listened as he spoke on a variety of issues, including the Second Amendment.
“So far this week, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the Second Amendment, a little bit about immigration and an awful lot about debt, debt ceiling, spending and the economy,” at other public meetings in the district, he said.
The congressman announced the opening of his district office at 301 Keith Street S.W., in the Village Green where FSG Bank is located. He will also continue tele-town hall meetings as a communications device.
Dan Rawls asked about having to sacrifice principles to allow immigration to come forward. He said Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because the Republican nominee was too moderate and the “huge amount of voter fraud no one talks about.”
He said the media has twisted the immigration and gun control narratives “to make it appear like you have to do this. You don’t ever have to do anything to sacrifice your principles. … We’re being lied to and allowing the media to control the narrative. I would just like to see the Republican House hold the line on both of these issues and not allow themselves to be pushed around.”
DesJarlais said neither the Senate nor the House was going to push the issues very far. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has authored legislation that will not make it out of the Senate, he said.
“I know it won’t make it out of the House. I worry that it’s so over the top that it may be kind of a good cop/bad cop where the president comes in with some kind of executive order that seems less onerous,” he said. “We as a nation have a very unique right in the Second Amendment and it’s very important to us and that certainly resonates all across the Fourth District. There’s no question where the majority of my constituents stand on the Second Amendment and I stand right there with them.”
The congressman said President Barack Obama would not be allowed to circumvent the Constitution by executive order. “We’ll do everything legally and legislatively to stop that, even if he has to be brought up for impeachment, you don’t mess with the Constitution through an executive order.”
He does agree with the president on the issue of mental illness, “because behind all of these shootings, there is usually a mentally ill person.”
There is a disincentive for medical doctors to treat mental illness because if doctors document depression, that automatically decreases reimbursements to physicians.
Concerning the budget, he said, “if you follow the circus that’s been going on for the last couple of years, certainly since I’ve been in Congress, the mentality has been, why do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”
He said the nation needs meaningful spending cuts and a balanced budget. The fiscal cliff was pushed to March 1.
“Sequestration needs to happen. There’s still time to balance those cuts across government rather than having the military hit so hard, and Medicare and some of the other entitlements. Bottom line, it needs to happen and that’s the deal we struck to raise the debt limit,” he said.
About relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, DeJarlais said he voted against the $60 billion aid package, not because he’s against helping people in need, “but we still have to be responsible in doing so. There’s a lot of criticism over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars because they weren’t paid for. Well that’s the problem with our government. They don’t pay for anything, they just borrow more.”
He said Chickamauga Lock is a priority in Tennessee but for which there is not a lot of money to spend.
“If we prioritize our spending, most of the projects that are needed can be taken care of. We’ve just got to get rid of a lot of waste in government and it’s everywhere in every department,” he said. “I’ll work closely with Chuck and work with the other representatives here to do what we can.”