The hard questions came at the start and didn’t let up. A year ago, questions focused on Social Security reform. This time, without a focal point, residents asked U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11) about seemingly every hot-button issues before the federal government.
Bill Mims was the first to stand and speak during the town hall meeting on Feb. 4. "When you voted to authorize [President George W.] Bush (R) to invade Iraq, did you understand you also authorized him to spy on citizens?" he said.
Davis questions the rationale on the legality of the spying program, he told the audience of about 130 people crammed into the Town Council chamber. "You cannot give the executive branch unfettered control," Davis said. "Ultimately, it gets abused."
Mims followed up by asking if Davis would support impeachment of the President.
"I think we’re a long way from that," Davis said.
The Iraq War came up in general. Davis has visited Iraq, and people wanted to know what we will do now. Davis said that during his visits, he’d been quoted a proverb. "You are like the dog who has caught the car," he said. "What do you do with it now that you are there."
Davis said that withdrawing from Iraq now would have negative consequences, but did not know when we would be able to do so.
Mark Gould of Oakton criticized Davis for the topics he’s examined as chair of the Committee on Government Reform. Gould noted that with all of the problems facing the country, Davis’ committee held hearings on Terry Schaivo and on steroid use in baseball.
Davis noted that his committee has also held hearings about whistleblowers from Halliburton and has plans to begin hearings on the response to Hurricane Katrina. He also defended the steroid hearings. "Frankly, I’m glad we did it," he said.
Young people start using steroids every year, and the professional athletes he called to testify are role-models for them. "And drug policy is in the committee’s jurisdiction," he said.
Marc Rosenblum, a New Orleans resident who is currently living in Northern Virginia wanted to know when he can go home. "We should have a commitment to rebuilding New Orleans," he said. He asked Davis to support the so-called Baker Plan for doing so.
"I think the city can survive without the Baker Plan," Davis replied. He suggested that the states of Louisiana and Mississippi should instead get a portion of the royalties from offshore oil drilling and be able to use that money to finance the reconstruction. "Let locals make the decision," he replied.
Luis Parada asked Davis about Illegal Immigration. He advocated not forcing people to wait for a green card as long as they do now. He also wanted to insure that children who are brought here by their parents and grow up in the U.S. are not penalized because mistakes their parents made. "Would you support a real immigration reform?" Parada asked.
Immigration is a complicated issue, Davis replied. Most people agree that there needs to be more control on the borders. "But what do you do with the 13 million here now?" he said.
Davis said that one solution would involve working to improve the economies in Central American countries in order to reduce the number of people who need to come to the U.S. for work.
He also noted another proposal to create a long-term worker visa which would allow foreign workers to come here for a number of years. "It may or may not include a path to citizenship," he said.