Jan 20 2016

The economy and national security top the list of concerns for North Carolinians in 2016, according to U.S. Sen Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Until North Carolina and the United States stabilize their economies, there won’t be a significant recovery, Tillis said in an interview with the Salisbury Post. Economic recovery, he said, is tied to national security. Assuring the nation’s business community Congress won’t create uncertainty is one way Congress can contribute to economic stability in 2016, he said.
“I think that this (Obama) administration, through various tax policies over the last seven years, has heaped on tax and regulatory burdens that are really squeezing businesses to the point of failure,” Tillis said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time trying to repeal or delay regulatory policies that we think will add to the cost of uncertainty — the EPA emissions standards, the waters of the U.S. These are all things that translate into a real significant, immediate, additional cost of doing business.”
With a Republican in the White House, Tillis said, Congress could pursue a broad-base tax policy, tax reform and return offshore profits to the U.S. He called 2016 the “do no harm” year for Congress on business issues.
Along with top issues facing Congress in 2016, Tillis also discussed how America should address a refugee crisis in Syria, his work in Congress in 2015 and the 2016 presidential race. Expectedly, Tillis said he won’t be voting for Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
Refugees and national security
One of the first major issues Congress will discuss in 2016 is a bill to temporarily pause the flow of refugees from Iraq and Syria. Before being admitted into the U.S., refugees would face a vetting process that includes increased scrutiny, according to the bill.
Originally introduced by U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8, the Senate this week is expected to discuss and potentially vote on the refugee bill.
Like Hudson, Tillis said “before we can allow anyone into this country” he or she has to be fully vetted.
“We can’t let events overtake us and not do the basics that we do any time we allow somebody to come into this country,” Tillis said.
He said American leaders need to be certain refugees haven’t been radicalized, and don’t have the potential to become radicalized based on relationships and behaviors while in the Middle East.
Continuing, Tillis said America shouldn’t ban refugees from America simply because he or she is from Syria. A thorough vetting process, however, is required, he said.
Veterans Affairs and eugenics compensation
Health care for veterans and eugenics compensation were two areas Tillis focused his attention on in 2015.
After noted uproar about lengthy wait times at VA hospitals, Tillis said there’s been progress in ensuring veterans receive timely care. The VA’s choice program has transitioned from a good idea to “improving care for many vets,” he said. The program allows veterans to receive care at private facilities instead of VA hospitals.
Tillis said he’s focused his attention on finding ways to improve long-term, systemic issues in VA facilities.
In April 2015, Tillis sent a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald suggesting improvements for the agency’s North Carolina facilities, including moving more of the agency’s funding from regional administration to local medical centers, a new credentialing system for VA providers such as doctors and nurses, and enhancing patients’ ability to seek care at private providers.
In 2015, Tillis also helped introduce legislation to prevent the government from counting eugenics compensation against eligibility for federal benefits, such as Social Security. Tillis said about 200 North Carolinians have been identified to date as victims of forced sterilization.
His bill has passed the U.S. Senate and now needs to pass the House.
Tillis said he’s confident his bill will likely pass the U.S. House soon and surely before the end of 2016.
2016 presidential race
As the first primary elections of the 2016 race draw closer, Tillis also talked briefly about things he’d like to see discussed in the race. Primarily, Tillis said he’d like to hear more about specific policy matters.
“I think it would be helpful for (candidates) to talk about what their administration would look like,” Tillis said. “What kind of expertise are they going to draw on? What are their priorities going to be?”
He said the race is currently focused on broad, “50,000-foot-level” issues.
Tillis said one issue he’s interested in concerns the Waters of the United States rule. It’s aimed at protecting wetlands and waterways and criticized by Republicans as a massive power grab. Another issue Tillis mentioned was a strategy to defeat ISIS.
“You’ll get a little bit of that during the primary, maybe in the later phases, but right now it’s all 50,000-foot, headline-grabbing rhetoric,” Tillis said. “It’s not really reached a level where I can discern the difference in terms of policy. I’m looking forward to getting to that stage in the primary and certainly in the general election.”
Once the Republican Party picks its presidential nominee, Tillis said, voters will easily be able to discern the difference between a Clinton or Sanders administration and a Republican administration.

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