U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon, spoke at the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday, March 14. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

ONTARIO – The Russian invasion of the Ukraine is an emergency on par with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon, told the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday.

“It is a horribly difficult situation,” Bentz told the large crowd at the luncheon.

While Bentz said “no one wants us to send soldiers to the Ukraine” the crisis showed that proper funding for the military is crucial.

“It (the Ukraine crisis) should have alerted us to the face we have to be prepared, we have to be ready,” said Bentz.

He said he believes sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other nations are “having an impact.”

“It is my hope they will work,” said Bentz.

Bentz said most likely mistakes were made by the U.S. and NATO – the North American Treaty Organization – in the run-up to the Ukraine invasion.

“Holding out NATO where anyone could join was probably a mistake,” he said.

Bentz also discussed growing inflation in the U.S., which he said is triggered by a number of different factors, including disruptions in the global supply chain.

“The supply situation is one that will take a while to fix,” he said.

Bentz reminded the crowd he voted against President Joe Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion infrastructure bill last fall but said there were good things in the legislation, including money for mega projects, including a proposal to upgrade the port of Coos Bay.

Bentz recognized the price of fuel continues to climb but did not list the Ukraine as the trigger for the higher costs.

Bentz said the Biden administration wants to convert the nation to cleaner fuels, including a push for Americans to buy electric cars. The problem, he said, is there isn’t the infrastructure to build the cars nor are the prices of such vehicles at a reasonable level for the average American.

“People can’t afford them and we don’t have a supply,” said Bentz.

He said it can take up to 15 years to make such a profound shift. That’s why, he said, a transition timeline must be built into such a plan.

 “The word transition was the one missing word in the Democrats’ vocabulary,” said Bentz. “It has to be clear that there has to be a transitory time.”

Bentz also touched on the ongoing immigration issue on the border and water issues across the West and, in particular, in the Klamath Basin.

The ongoing drought in the West is also an issue he is watching.

“Seventy million people face drought,” he said.

Bentz said he was pleased the River Democracy Act – a piece of legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, - was “headed off.”

The legislation, introduced by Wyden and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, last year aims to protect nearly 4,700 miles or rivers and streams in Oregon as part of the national Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

“What Ron (Wyden) is trying to do is stop any activity on our forests. Why? I really don’t know,” said Bentz.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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