U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger visited with a group of Wise County Republicans Monday afternoon in Decatur to chat with constituents and answer questions on health care, military spending, the press and education.
Granger opened the meeting by pointing out Wise County is typically home to some of her strongest supporters. She netted 83 percent of the vote in Wise County in the November 2016 elections.
The congresswoman took responsibility for failed Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act early in the meeting.
“We just missed the boat,” she said.
Granger later answered an audience member’s question about that effort, called the American Health Care Act, admitting the House knew the bill was flawed, but they passed it on to the Senate with hopes it could come up with something better and the two legislative bodies could reach a solution.
Ideally, she said, a new bill would incorporate some of what the ACA did while mitigating what she referred to as its more destructive provisions.
“I’ll tell you exactly; we had to get it out of the House, Granger said. “We weren’t getting any better. The bill we had was not a good bill. It took some good steps, but it wasn’t what it should be. But we weren’t going anywhere.
“We, in the House, voted it and sent it to the Senate, knowing it would have to come back to us with a better bill that we would all vote on, but it wasn’t a good bill,” she said. “It was the only bill that was out there. We’d gotten to the point where we couldn’t come to the solutions, and the committee couldn’t either. So we went to the Senate, to see if they had a better one, and they haven’t.”
Granger said a new bill would also include a better finance plan and account for counties that had only one provider, which she identified as a major issue moving forward. Technology could also make health care more affordable, she said.
The original question, and several others, came from a group of Democrats who attended the event in hopes of getting a word with the congresswoman.
“We have questions for Kay. We’re her constituents,” said Jeanette Lockett, a representative from the Parker County Democratic Party. “[Granger] won’t hold town halls, so we felt this was a great opportunity to get to ask her some questions.”
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Granger has turned down town hall-style meetings this summer, citing security concerns and a confrontational political climate. Despite a law enforcement presence, the meeting Monday was pitched by the Wise County Republican Party as an “impromptu” social visit and Lockett said her group was asked to wait outside until organizers could be sure there was room for them to enter.
Before the meeting, unconfirmed rumors circulated that a bus of protesters with signs was en route, but Lockett confirmed her group, which included Parker and Tarrant County residents, wasn’t there to protest, just to ask questions. She said the group didn’t bring signs to the meeting.
“If I had wanted to have a sign, I would have gone out on the sidewalk and protested,” she said. “We never had signs.”
Eddie Burnett, who attended the meeting with the group from Parker County, said he’d called Granger’s office to ask questions in the past but hadn’t received satisfactory answers. Burnett asked Granger Monday why efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed, despite a Republican majority in Congress and seven years to work on a plan.
“I’ve called her office and I’ve gotten the same response, but I’m grateful that I got here tonight and was recognized to ask a question,” Burnett said. “I had held my hand up several times and got passed over.”
Granger also addressed press coverage of Washington politics, disputing claims that suggest elected officials aren’t working cohesively.
“I’m proud of what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re working very hard, and we’re working together better than we have in a long time.”
Granger also went after a report by the Star-Telegram that she agreed with President Donald Trump’s remarks that “both sides” were to blame for violence during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville a week-and-a-half ago. The congresswoman published an official statement on her website the day after the article ran online condemning “white supremacist groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis that promote bigotry, antisemitism, racism, and violence.”
The congresswoman also discussed the stresses and rewards of chairing the House Subcommittee on Defense, citing proposed increases in military spending as a chance to keep legislative promises to the military.
The budget hike would include better equipment, raises for military personnel and funding to fight issues with opioid addiction in veterans, she said. In doing so, Granger touted her ability to reach across the aisle and work with members of other parties.
“When you’re talking about defense, Democrats and Republicans want to keep our nation safe,” she said. “It’s not that difficult because we always work from that position.”
When asked about federal funding for education and recent budget proposals in which the Trump administration would cut $9.2 billion from the Department of Education, Granger said she feels education issues should be decided by states and local communities.
“I’ve never felt the federal government should be in charge of the education of our children,” she said. “It should be the state and the local communities. We should all be involved in our schools.
“The budget in that department just doesn’t mean much to me,” she said. “It’s not very much, so they shouldn’t, then, not give the funding and try to make all the decisions. But that’s just where I am. I’m always for education to be decided by the local communities. That’s the budget I’m worried about.”