ONTARIO – U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz talked about the budget deficit, his legislative successes and the future of the Farm Bill at the weekly Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce forum at Four Rivers Culture Center, Monday, July 31.
Bentz, a Republican who represents Oregon’s sprawling Second Congressional District, delivered a PowerPoint presentation to the big crowd where he highlighted facts about Congress and key political issues politicians face in the future.
Bentz, who is the chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries, said he represents the second largest congressional district “that is not a state.”
Bentz’s district covers 73,000 square miles.
With Congress now on a break, Bentz said he plans to convene a host of town hall meetings across his district.
Bentz said his office so far worked and closed 3,855 cases brought forward by his constituents.
He also touted his role as the chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries.
“Being a chair in Congress is a big deal because you get to decide what will be talked about,” he said.
Bentz, who is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, conceded cooperation between Democrats and Republicans is often an elusive goal.
“The folks who are not in power do their best to make those in power look bad. Working together is extraordinarily difficult,” he said.
That lack of cooperation could evolve into a major problem in the future he said, possibly sparking another government shutdown. He said such a shutdown is “50/50.”
A shut down, he said, is “not good for the country.”
“But there are certain folks who want that to happen to call attention to spending,” he said.
Bentz likened the government spending issue to a train moving down the track. The challenge, he said, was “slow down, but not crash the train.”
Now, the public debt the U.S. holds is around $32.33 trillion dollars.
Bentz also discussed a long list of issues – from government and military spending to freedom of speech – federal elected leaders grapple with on a regular basis. He also talked about border security.
The availability of water now and in the future across the West is also a key issue, he said.
“How do we make sure we have enough water as it gets hotter?” he said.
He fielded questions regarding water and talked about the ongoing debate regarding removing four lower Snake River Dams in the Columbia basin.
The issue is complicated, with battle lines evenly drawn between conservationists who want to see the dams removed to safeguard salmon and steelhead and those who believe the dams are essential for barge transportation and hydroelectric power.
Bentz said the dams “are not safe” and could eventually be breached. That will turn the dams into “nothing more than rocks,” he said.
He said the current appropriations for the Farm Bill – which was enacted into law in 2018 – will be addressed in September when Congress reconvenes.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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