Barletta discusses budget, ACA during visit to Shamokin
SHAMOKIN - U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-11) promised the people of the 11th Congressional District he would work with other members of Congress - Democratic and Republican - while the government moves toward more inevitable budget battles in Washington.
"That means we're going to have to compromise. It is a divided government. Nobody's going to get the whole loaf of bread on either side, so let's take a slice. Let's find where we can put aside our differences, find common ground and govern," Barletta said Friday on Independence Street outside Original Italian Pizza.
Barletta visited the city Friday afternoon for lunch and a walking tour with Mayor George Rozinskie and other community leaders, and he participated in a brief interview with The News-Item before he left to visit Sunbury.
His arrival comes nine days after the two-week federal government shutdown ended. In the House, whose conservative GOP wing germinated the shutdown, Barletta joined 86 other Republicans and all the Democrats to support the "clean" resolution to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
The agreement funds the federal government in place of an annual budget through Jan. 15 and lifts the debt limit through Feb. 7.
Barletta has faced criticism from both sides of the fence: Tea Party legislators on the right calling him a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and legislators on the left putting him in the Tea Party caucus.
But, he said, "I'm going to continue to be my own person."
Which means he won't be led by his own party or influenced by the opposing party when they pressure him, he said.
Barletta has voted against the GOP when they wanted to cut funding to Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) or the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), he said.
"That doesn't mean I'm going to be less Republican or I believe less than what the Republican party stands for," he said. "It means I'm a realist and a problem solver."
His attitude extends to last weeks's rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its website, which was mired in problems upon its launch.
"I'm not surprised," Barletta said.
However, the congressman, who voted 45 times to delay the funding and to repeal the ACA, has little doubts the health care measures will fail.
"If we just step aside, I believe it will crash on its own," he said.
Barletta believes members of the younger generation aren't going to go along with the provisions.
"There's an old saying in politics: 'When your opponent is hanging himself, don't shoot him,'" he said. "I don't think there's much more we have to do with it. Now that it's out there, I think the public will see that it's not what they want."