Political notebook: How did your congressman spend first recess?

Published 12:05 am Saturday, February 25, 2017

By Josh Bergeron


Wondering where your congressman was this week? It wasn’t at a public town hall meeting.

During the first congressional recess of 2017, some members of Congress across the U.S. held town halls that attracted large crowds. Many people who turned out were critical of President Donald Trump and Congress.

Rowan County’s members of Congress — representatives and senators — had various plans for the week, from riding horses on the U.S.-Mexico border to meetings with health care officials.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., toured the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas with a congressional delegation. The tour included a helicopter and boat ride near the border as well as a horse ride, according to a photo of Tillis posted by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. The delegation also received briefings on border security, a news release said.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., was out of the country on congressional business. Burr’s office did not release details about the trip.

Like Burr and Tillis, Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican whose district includes most Rowan residents, was traveling on official business. He attended meetings for the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which he was appointed to in January.

The organization monitors compliance with the Helsinki Accords, which were signed in 1975. The agreement aimed to improve relations between eastern and western Europe and ease Cold War tensions.

Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican whose district includes Salisbury and western Rowan County, was traveling across his 13th District during the recess. He held meetings with health care professionals at four facilities — Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, Iredell Memorial Hospital, Thomasville Medical Center and Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro. The meetings were not open to the public.

Budd also gave the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce, according to the Lexington Dispatch. Budd’s office did not respond to a request about other local events he may have attended.

Budd presses for further investigation into plane sale

First, he questioned the sale of weaponized aircraft. Now, Rep. Ted Budd is calling for a formal investigation into the matter.

Budd last week introduced a measure that would halt aircraft sales to Kenya because a local company could provide 12 weaponized, border-patrol aircraft cheaper than the contractor. L3 Technologies was awarded the contract, but Budd says Mooresville-based IOMAX USA could produce the planes for $283 million less.

On Thursday, Budd and other congressional representatives from the Carolinas asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to begin a formal investigation into the matter. Budd was joined in writing a letter to the GAO by Reps. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.; Mark Meadows, a Republican who represents North Carolina’s 11th District; Virginia Foxx, a Republican who represents the 5th District; and Walter Jones, a Republican who represents the 3rd District.

Budd said the federal government should act as if it’s buying equipment for the U.S. taxpayer because Kenya would use the planes to battle a group affiliated with al-Qaida.

“That’s why I’ve asked for an unbiased, nonpartisan government agency to take a look at this,” Budd said in a news release. “The Government Accountability Office is well-suited to determine if the rules were followed here. Politics has no place in a process like this.”

Warren wants term limits for leadership

State Rep. Harry Warren gave the house speaker race a shot earlier this year; now he wants to impose term limits on leadership positions.

Warren, R-77, introduced a bill this week to put term limits on the offices of N.C. House speaker and N.C. Senate president pro tempore. The limit would be four consecutive, two-year terms.

Other primary sponsors of the bill include Reps. John Blust, and John Hardister, both Republicans from Greensboro.

Before the leadership term limits would took effect, the issue would go before voters in a referendum in November 2018.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.