WestSouthwest: Representative Fred Upton on the year ahead in Congress
West Michigan Congressman Fred Upton sat down with WMUK's Gordon Evans and Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Yvonne Zipp to discuss a wide range of topics.
The Allied Paper Landfill site
The EPA is considering a range of options to deal with PCB contamination at the site in Kalamazoo. Upton says the good news is that the most recent report shows the cost is lower for all of those options. Upton and most other leaders in the community want the contamination removed from the site. The least expensive option is to "cap and monitor" the contamination, which would leave it in place.
West Virginia chemical spill
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have called for Congressional action after the contamination of drinking water caused by a toxic chemical spill in West Virginia (Washington Post story). Upton is Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. But he says the issue may end up before another committee. Upton says an update is needed to the federal regulations on transporting toxic substances.
Michigan Nation Republican Committeeman David Agema has made a series of controversial statements about gays and lesbians in recent months. That led the former leader of the Michigan Republican Party Betsy DeVos to call for Agema to resign from the Republican National Committee (Detroit News). Upton says he's glad that DeVos called for Agema to step down. He says Agema's intolerance should be rebuked by Republicans. Upton issued a statement (Kalamazoo Gazette story) critical of Agema after he gave a speech in Berrien County.
Yvonne Zipp asked Upton about a story in Politico Magazine which said that Upton was among the Republican members of the House who called on Speaker John Boehner to stand up to members of the tea party. Upton said the story was "somewhat inaccurate." But he says it was a closed meeting so it's tough for him to fully describe the conversation. Upton says he shares many of the tea party's beliefs about fiscal issues. He says some tea party activists support him and others oppose him. Upton faces a primary challenge for the third straight election cycle.
Getting things done
Upton says some Republicans in the House are there to vote "no" on everything. Upton says he considers himself "a governing Republican." He says with the GOP controlling the House, and the Democrats holding the Senate and the White House, compromise is required to get things done. A Time Magazine blog says Congress isn't likely to approve any major legislation this year. But Upton disagrees, he says Congress can pass legislation on immigration, tax policy and a new farm bill.
The interview was recorded on Monday. That same day, Upton participated in a live chat with the Kalamazoo Gazette.