Mooney offers telephone town hall
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Congressman Alex Mooney hosted a telephone town hall for residents of Lewis, Upshur, Randolph, Pendleton and Hardy counties this week.
During the town hall, Mooney, R-Second District, spoke to constituents about a variety of issues, in addition to having a question and answer session.
Mooney hosted the call from his office in Washington D.C. Tuesday evening prior to voting later that night.
“I wanted to take the time to speak with you before I did that,” Mooney said.
Mooney currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee, which “oversees some of the most important economic issues facing West Virginia,” he said.
“This important committee assignment will give me a greater platform to expand financial opportunities in rural areas for the great state of West Virginia.”
Mooney noted that his position on the committee has given him the opportunity to work with many small businesses across the state, calling them “the backbone of West Virginia’s economy” and stating that they “play a vital role in strengthening our rural communities.”
He described his visit to JesterLine gaming in Buckhannon as an example.
“We stopped by and wished them congratulations on their grand opening. I even had the chance to try on some of their equipment,” he said.
“The owners, Jarod and Lacy Ramsey, are exactly the type of local entrepreneurs that West Virginia should be proud of. I will continue to work in CFongress to ensure that we do not needlessly burden small businesses with regulations that prevent them from growing and expanding and being successful in our state.”
Mooney teamed up with Congresswoman Cindy Axne of Iowa to create the Expanding Access to Capital and Rural Job Creators Act, which was passed by the full House of Representatives on July 9 by a vote of 413-7.
“It requires the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to pinpoint the obstacles faced exclusively by rural, small businesses — like we have a lot of in West Virginia and would like to have more– in our efforts to grow and expand.”
Mooney noted that he hopes the committee will continue to focus on important issues “and not become sidetracked with baseless investigations into President Donald Trump.”
He also mentioned the state of the economy.
“After the historic tax reform bill, which we passed about two years ago, unemployment is at historically low levels, job openings are at record highs, paychecks are growing and wages are rising right along with economic optimism,” he said.
Mooney said he recently traveled to Weston where he met businessman Enzo Cardelli at Rochell’s Antiques and Collectibles.
“We discussed the economy and how his business is,” he said. “I was pleased to hear his positive views.”
Mooney recently attended the annual West Virginia Chamber of Commerce meeting, where he heard “a lot of positive news.”
“The one that stuck out at me the most was that West Virginia now leads the nation in personal income growth, and that was in the first quarter of 2019 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis,” said Mooney.
Mooney said West Virginia’s personal income growth was at 5.6 percent, leading all of the states in the nation, among other positive news from the meeting.
“We still need to work on coal and support the coal industry and while we’re doing that, diversify our economy and bring in manufacturing and all sorts of other kinds of jobs.”
Mooney stated that it’s his “strong view” that the economic policies of President Trump and his supporters in Congress deliver “real results for West Virginia families.”
He also discussed the opioid epidemic across the state.
“The drug abuse epidemic in our state is a tragedy we cannot afford to ignore. It ravages communities, rips apart families and obviously hurts the economy.”
Mooney said that the issue is “certainly above party politics” and “plagues rural areas and city areas.”
In an effort to combat the drug epidemic, Mooney held a roundtable discussion at the Randolp;h County Commission Chambers in Elkins on July 31, where attendees — including local elected officials, law enforcement and community leaders — discussed ways to collaborate in order to combat the issue.
“There’s no magical solution. We need local, state and federal officials all working together. I will continue to work with Commissioner Mark Scott, all the other local elected officials and law enforcement to ensure that Randolph County and the entire region have access to resources to help fight back,” he said.
Mooney additionally noted that an application was put in to have Randolph County designated as a high intensity drug-trafficking area, which would bring more funding and resources to the region. However, the application was ultimately not accepted.
“I was disappointed we did not get that designation this year. Fayette County in West Virginia did get that designation,” said Mooney, adding that he and other officials have already started working with the department and the individuals who review the applications to approve Randolph County’s application for next year.
Mooney also discussed progress on the Corridor H highway project.
“Since my first day in office, I’ve been working with local elected officials to ensure we get critical funding for infrastructure projects,” he said.
In June, Mooney — along with the other West Virginia representatives in the U.S. Congress and Senate — announced a $100 million federal grant for the West Virginia Department of Transportation for the Corridor H project.
“It’s nearing completion, and it’s a top priority and certainly will help our economic growth in that region of the state,” he said.
“I welcome this investment of $100 million and will continue to work with federal, state and local officials to assure that Corridor H funding remains a top priority.”
On July 29, Mooney toured and visited the Central West Virginia Center for Pregnancy Care in Buckhannon.
“I was pleased to see firsthand the work they do to help mothers and babies in the community. Witnessing the support of pro-life care the pregnancy center provides for babies and their mothers is truly inspiring. It was a privilege to learn about their facility and an honor to see they work that they do to help the most innocent among us — the unborn children,” he said.
“They provide medical care, baby food, clothing and support for mothers that need help. Nonprofit organizations like this — made almost entirely of volunteers — are a great blessing to our community,” said Mooney.
He went on to discuss the issue of abortion.
“I recognize that the issue of abortion can be an uncomfortable issue to discuss for some people, but we must never lose sight of the innocent lives we are defending,” Mooney said. “When I ran for Congress, I made a commitment to the people of the Second Congressional District of West Virginia that I would do everything in my power to defend the unborn. You can count on me to continue to work with my colleagues to defend the innocent and give a voice to the voiceless. I will continue to defend our traditional values in West Virginia.”
Additionally, Mooney discussed a new project that partners his office with the Library of Congress in order to bring the Veterans History Project to West Virginia, which “collects, preserves and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so future generations may recount them directly.”
Mooney said his office will help to facilitate organizations, high school groups and other interested constituents with the Library of Congress to complete the project.
“If anyone is interested in participating, please reach out to my Charleston district office at 304-925-5964,” he said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who fight to protect our nation.”
Mooney stated that he remains dedicated to working with Trump in order to “improve our state and country.”
During the Q&A portion of the press call, Mooney discussed issues with several constituents.
Michael from Lewis County inquired as to the Congressman’s stance on red flag gun control laws.
“We’ve looked into that very carefully,” replied Mooney. “I’m pro second amendment, and I’m proud to have an A+ rating from the NRA. There are things we can do that don’t take away our second amendment rights without due process.”
“My mother is an immigrant from Cuba, and in Cuba, people are accused of things and don’t have basic rights we enjoy in this country — like the right to face your accuser and the right to be innocent until proven guilty. While red flag laws may sound attractive to some people, they basically take away your second amendment constitutional right without a chance to defend yourself.”
Mooney stated that he had concerns about red flag laws and that he did not support them.
Michael replied that his view was a lot like Mooney’s and that he was “just glad to hear (him) say it.”
Robert from Lewis County asked, “How can we develop a labor or employee pool when most of the problem the small businesses have is not being able to find employees?”
Mooney replied, “The state of West Virginia actually made a work requirement to receive state benefits. I know that was controversial in some corners, but at least it would force some folks to work who are getting state benefits, but what you’re saying is true.
“There was a disconnect for years. I travel West Virginia, and some folks would say that they couldn’t find jobs, and then I’d tour businesses — small and large — and they’d say that they had to find employees.”
“I think it’s pretty clear at this point that there are plenty of jobs out there for folks who want to work,” he said. “We do need to incentivize that and make sure that the jobs are good for folks and they’re properly trained.”
Robert asked, “How can we stop multiple opioid prescriptions and even multiple state med cards? We have people who have med cards in more than one state and have multiple prescriptions in each state.”
Mooney replied, “That’s certainly true. We’ve had a lot of drug-related opiate addiction roundtables.
“I’ve taken the bull by the horns a little bit in my own office. We have a program with recovery point in Charleston where we actually take women who are in recovery and give them internships in my office for a few months so they can get their work skills and a good job reference and back into the workforce. We’ve done that successfully.”
A constituent named William asked, “Why are they trying to impeach President Trump when he hasn’t done anything to be impeached for?”
Mooney replied, “(It) doesn’t make any sense to me.”
“After two years and $35 million of our tax dollars, Special Council Robert Mueller found that there was no collusion between Trump (and Russia), and he also didn’t show any obstruction of justice evidence either.
“Rather than letting it go, it seems like Speaker (of the House) Nancy Pelosi and a lot of folks here that I serve with from other parts of the country want to keep doing it,” he said.
“I just think some folks maybe are not willing to acknowledge that Trump won the election, and it’s scary because our form of government relies upon respecting election results. President Obama won twice and declared a war on coal in West Virginia, and as much as I didn’t like that, I had to acknowledge that he won the election.
“If folks don’t like what (Trump) is doing or think he’s not a good person, then they can vote against him, but this impeachment stuff doesn’t make sense,” he said.