Rep. Patrick McHenry fields questions during town hall

Aug. 16, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina (10), fielded nearly 20 questions from the close to 100 in attendance during a town hall stop Thursday at the Cool Springs Administration Building in Forest City.

While some were contentious, McHenry answered questions ranging from minimum wage to health care reform and many topics in-between.

The stop in Forest City was the last town hall during the August Congressional recess.

The biggest topic surrounded the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

McHenry called the health care initiative a "bad bill" and cited his record of voting against the measure 40 times.

He was asked pointedly about whether he had a better solution to the Act of which he referred to his website.

"I think it will hurt the very people it was meant to protect," McHenry said of the current law.

Although he said more needed to be done with regard to health care, there were two positives in the current Act including no discrimination for pre-existing conditions and the age limit of which children can be on their parent's insurance.

The more to be done, according to McHenry, included making health care non-taxable and increasing the high-risk pool to allow for insurance for those with pre-existing condition.

"I want health insurance companies to compete," McHenry said. "We should allow small businesses to band together for purchasing."

He said, in its present form, the Act does not do anything to make health care more affordable.

In addition to fielding questions, he also heard about frustrations with Washington gridlock and regulation from several members of the audience.

"I share the frustration," McHenry said.

He told a story about how his father tried three times to set up a family business and the risks that were taken to make the final try successful.

"Those risks are something everyone should be able to take," McHenry said.

He said one problem with Washington was over-regulation.

"It's the boot of government on your back," McHenry said. "I'm trying to make Washington irrelevant in your life."

In a moment of levity, McHenry was asked about House leadership and the unwillingness to "stand up against Obama." He was specifically asked about House Republicans replacing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

"We'll talk after," McHenry quipped.

McHenry also talked about the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which is commonly referred to as food stamps and the use of E-Verify for agriculture employers to validate the immigration status of workers. That sparked conversation about U.S. immigration policy.

"The approach we are going to take in the House is that we have received the Senate bill and I won't vote for it," McHenry said. "I don't buy it and I don't think some of the senators who voted for it buy it."

He said the House will take up immigration reform piece by piece including border security and internal immigration security.

Both the House and Senate have been in recess since the first of August. Both chambers will return from the August break on Sept. 9.