West Michigan Congressman Fred Upton has been in the House for more than 27 years, and he is looking for least two more.
Upton says he has a track record of working with members of both parties to get things done. If he is re-elected, the Saint Joseph Republican says there would be a busy agenda in the next two years. Upton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He told WMUK's Gordon Evans and Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Yvonne Zipp that if the Republicans pick up seats in the House and Senate, as expected, he would be in a good position to look out for the district. A summary of issues:
Upton says the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was necessary after the long delays that veterans faced to get medical appointments. Upton says he is working with one constituent who is facing a long wait for a knee replacement. He says there is a promise to veterans that they will get medical care after serving in the military. Upton says he would like to give veterans a voucher that would give them greater choices for treatment. He says it may also mean that veterans don't have to travel long distances to VA medical facilities.
Authorization of War
Asked about authorizing force again in the future, Upton says it's important for Congress to have a role in sending troops into combat. The Congressman says he and others authorized going to war in Iraq in 2002 based on some information, which turned out to be wrong.
This is the third straight election that Upton has faced a challenge in the Republican primary. He was asked about charges from Democrats, including the candidate in the 6th Congressional district Paul Clements that he has moved to the right. Upton says he has worked with the other side of the aisle on a number of issues. Upton says his votes accurately reflect the district. The Saint Joseph Republican says his party is working with a slim majority in the House. He says some of those Republicans vote "no" on almost every bill. Upton says that requires working with Democrats to get anything done. And he says his track record shows that he can work with members of both parties.
Other issues were covered in the interview, and can be found in the longer, web version of the interview.
The interview with Upton was recorded the same day as the EPA announced a proposal to greatly reduce emissions by 2030. The Congressman says he is concerned about the cost and what it will mean for consumers. Upton said at that time, he had not had much time to study the proposal. He says emissions have been declining for the last few years.
Upton says Congress has voted to commit about $18-million for the national background check system. After a shooting spree in California and the shooting death of a boy in Kalamazoo, Upton says mental health records could be part of the background check for purchasing firearms.
The House recently approved a measure that blocks the federal government from interfering with states where marijuana has been legalized for medicinal purposes. Upton voted for the bill. He says if the voters of a state have made the decision to make marijuana available for certain medical conditions, he will respect that decision.
Upton says legalizing same-sex marriage should also be left up to the states and voters. He says his votes in Congress have respected voters' wishes on that issue. Upton says the courts are also likely to determine the future of gay marriage.
Affordable Care Act
Republicans, including Upton have said that the law known as "Obamacare" is likely to stay on the books for the foreseeable future. The Saint Joseph Republican opposed the law, but says as long President Obama is still in office, there is no chance of repeal. Upton proposed legislation to allow people carrying individual health plans to keep them for now. He says it's possible that the same could be proposed for employer-based health care plans.