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5th District race:
Hurt: Government rules can hamper job growth
Sunday, October 28, 2012
By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer
When 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt looks at the stalled Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre project, he sees the problem with the federal government.
“It perfectly represents the problem of the federal government having totally unreasonable rules that affect job creation,” said Hurt, R-Chatham.
Henry County has received a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality permit needed for site preparation work at Commonwealth Crossing, the large industrial site along the North Carolina border.
Yet an effort to get a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is stalled because the corps considers the park speculative with no committed tenants.
According to Hurt’s office, he has written a letter with Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb, both Democrats from Virginia, and 9th District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, to ask the corps of engineers to proceed on the permit process as quickly as possible.
Hurt also presented a colloquy or discussion on the House floor with the chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee to express the importance of the project to this area and the rest of the 5th District, his office said.
The effort shows how the state’s congressional delegation works together, Hurt said. “It’s a golden opportunity for us. The federal government is standing in the way” of a project that could benefit the area.
Hurt is seeking his second term in the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 election. He was elected to Congress in 2010 after serving two years in the state Senate and five years in the House of Delegates.
He considers it a privilege to represent the district in Congress, but said he is disappointed he has not been able to do more since he went to Washington in January 2011. He attributes that to the fact that “Washington is a dysfunctional place.”
Much of his frustration comes from the lack of cooperation between the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The House has “worked diligently on specific proposals to get our economy growing again” through an energy policy, spending cuts and other efforts. “We send them to the Senate and get nothing back,” he said.
The Senate cannot compromise, Hurt said, pointing to the fact that it has not adopted a budget in three years. “That’s where the breakdown is.”
Hurt feels the Nov. 6 election may bring change. “I believe we’re in a good spot to take back the Senate,” he said, even if the GOP achieves less than a 60-vote majority.
However the election plays out, “we’re still going to have to work with Democrats,” Hurt said. “I think (Republican presidential candidate Mitt) Romney and (vice presidential candidate Paul) Ryan are better suited to work with those people.”
If Hurt wins his campaign against retired Gen. John Douglass on Nov. 6, he said he hopes to keep his spot on the House Financial Services Committee, which deals with the financial and housing sectors. “There is nothing more important than putting private-sector capital on the street,” he said of why he considers his service on that committee so important.
Hurt is concerned that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was designed to regulate large banks in the wake of the Great Recession, is hurting community banks and consumers. “You can ‘t use a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said.
He does not favor repealing Dodd-Frank, but rather amending it to be more effective.
On job creation, Hurt said there have been “a lot of missed opportunities” over the past four years, and even in the nearly two years he has been in Congress.
For instance, he said, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “has been devastating to the economy” because of the uncertainty it has created, and Obama’s stimulus increased the national debt but did not create jobs.
Again, Hurt said the House has dealt with “dozens of bills, many bipartisan, that would help small businesses succeed, reduce mandates from Washington and reduce the costs of overregulation. I don’t mean we need to do away with all regulations — we need to keep food safe and the environment protected. We’ve just gone overboard.”
Another missed opportunity, Hurt said, was the failure of Obama to offer a “reasonable domestic energy policy.”
“He had the opportunity to reach out to Congress and say we can look for ways to expand our energy sources, “ Hurt said. “There’s no reason we can’t figure out a way to do this and protect the environment and health and take advantage of these resources.”
Hurt does not favor raising taxes on anyone, he said, and he thinks the Bush tax cuts should be made permanent.
He supports Ryan’s budget plan. Hurt said legislators should be fixing Medicare “instead of … using it as a political football to scare seniors.”
At the same time, “none of this will work unless we have a robust economy,” he said.
He said the American people should demand steps be taken to avoid sequestration, the looming automatic budget cuts that are expected to have a major impact on Virginia and the rest of the nation. But, he said, it is possible the issue will be pushed into the next Congress to handle.
On the violence in Libya and deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three staff members, Hurt said many questions remain and it is appropriate for Congress to seek answers. Security for American personnel must be ensured, he said.
Despite the fact that the decision to lift the uranium mining ban in Virginia will be up to state — not federal — legislators, it has become an issue in the 5th District race because if it is approved, the mining would be done in Pittsylvania County, where Hurt lives.
He said his position on the ban has not changed since he was in the state Senate — the moratorium should not be lifted in Virginia. “I have said it’s something Virginia needs to study. It should not be lifted unless it is proven that it can be done safely,” he added.
Hurt criticized his opponent for raising the issue “for his own personal political gain. … He’s exploiting it for his own political purposes.”
In the final weeks of the campaign, Hurt said he is continuing to travel throughout the district that, thanks to redistricting, covers more than 10,000 square miles. It is larger than New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire, and almost the same size as Massachusetts, Hurt said, adding it encompasses about one-quarter of Virginia.
His message to voters is simple: “It has been a privilege to represent people in this district. When I travel across the district I meet so many fine people, people who contribute to the quality of life and make this a place where they want to raise their families and have our children raise their families. It’s very gratifying.”
Hurt pledged to be a “true and faithful voice for these people.”