By MATTHEW PEDERSEN

Congressman Michael C. Burgess, representative of the 26th District of Texas, spoke at a town hall meeting at Lewisville High School Harmon campus Wednesday. The meeting was the last in a series of similar events which allowed local citizens to meet with the congressman and to ask him questions regarding civil issues facing the local government and the country as a whole.

“Thank you for coming here this evening.” He said as he began the proceedings, “It’s a great turnout here in Lewisville, it’s always good to come to Lewisville. Lewisville was my home for a number of years, where I practiced medicine, and as the poet Robert Frost once said ‘Home is the where, when you have to go, they have to take you in.’ So I’m back.”

Given the heated temperaments and divisive atmosphere currently taking hold of the United States’ political sphere, Congressman Burgess, a Republican, clarified the purpose of these town hall meetings.

“This is of course an election year; this is a political year. This is not a political event. This is an open forum, your opportunity to be sure I’ve heard what you have to say as we meet together face to face. My comments are not going to be political. Not because I fear going in that direction, but because that is not the purpose of this event. I will become political if I become provoked.”

The Congressman opened the talks with a brief discussion on National Security, referring back to the early days of his career and the challenges the country was facing during that period. “The authorization for use of military force in Afghanistan and Iraq actually passed before I started in Congress. Afghanistan passed in 2001 after the attacks of 9/11. The Iraq authorization for the use of military force was passed in 2002 before I was elected to office. The reason I bring that up is because there continues to be conflict in the Middle East. ISIS has grown in stature over the past several years, and those conflicts have become increasingly important to, not just to us, but to our allies and our partners.”

Congressman Burgess continued by discussing the need for new authorizations for military force, particularly in Syria, and for the creation of finite and reachable military goals.
“Let it be a tough vote. Let it be one of those things that may be career ending or career defining for a member of Congress. There’s probably no more important vote we take as a member of Congress.”

After voicing his opinions on the economy and healthcare, Congressman Burgess opened the floor to questions. While a myriad of topics were brought up, the Congressman mentioned what three points Lewisville constituents were most concerned with in a post-town hall address.

“I heard from a number of constituents. Had a pretty large and lively group here in Lewisville to wrap this week up. What did I hear about? I heard primarily about healthcare, I heard about problems with immigration (both pro and con), and I heard problems with the Veterans Administration.”

“Look, the Veteran’s Administration is deeply in need of a solution. Problem is it has never been a priority for the two presidents I have served under. I want to see that made a priority in the next administration, and I’m going to make certain that I do everything that I can to make that happen.”

“On the healthcare front there are some serious stresses that are appearing in the system as it exists today. Now, I had some people who spoke favorably about the Affordable Care Act, I had some people who spoke vociferously against the Affordable Care Act. I do believe that there’s some market based solutions that could be employed right now. Then, on a larger note, I do think we need to get rid of the individual mandate that is the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, because it’s simply not working, and puts way too much power in the hands of insurance companies.”

“And then, finally, on the immigration issue, it continues to be one that attracts a lot of attention here, both legal and illegal immigration. I will share with you that I will be going down to McAllen, Texas early next week, to the lower Rio Grande Sector to see what is happening with the current state of the Unaccompanied Minor Crisis that happened a couple of years ago. Many people here today wanted an increase in the number of visas. I don’t favor that, and I was as honest as I could be with those folks who came out tonight. The fact of the matter is there are problems within the immigration system. I don’t see any change occurring for the balance of the current administration. It is possible that it’s something that can be talked about in the next administration, but it has to be done in a forthright and transparent fashion, not these behind closed doors deals that have been happening for the past few years.”

Readers can contact Congressman Burgess through his website.