U.S. Congressman James Comer discussed Syria, healthcare, tax reform and thoughts about President Trump with Murray-Calloway County business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Tuesday morning.
On the President's decision to strike Syria, Comer said "That was not an act of war. What President Trump was trying to do was two-fold. Number one, trying to destroy some chemical weapons. Did he get them all? Probably not. That was the first goal. The second goal was to send a message. Send a message to the world. When the United States, the most powerful country in the world, draws a line and you cross that line there's going to be consequences." Comer said the act sent a message to North Korea, Syria and the Middle East.
"I support what he did. Hopefully we won't have to do that again. I don't want to see troops in Syria." Comer said he wants Trump to lead an international group to create a safe-zone in Syria to protect refugees until there is stability. He said U.S. led efforts for regime change doesn't work too well. And said while he doesn't support sanctuary cities, the U.S. has a role in providing relief to Syria.
Kentucky Congressional members are divided on the Syrian air strikes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supported the strike, calling it "an action of consequence." Senator Rand Paul called the strikes "unconstitutional." Republican Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted "#bigmistake" after the strike. Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth said he supported the act, but said Congressional approval is needed before further action.
Comer mentioned the ongoing healthcare debate. Referencing a meeting with local members of 'Pennyroyal INDIVISIBLE' and 'RESIST Kentucky' in Hopkinsville on Monday, he said "There are issues that we'll never agree on, but we had discussion." He said healthcare is "the biggest problem in America" and has gotten worse after 'Obamacare,' taking issue with fewer individual carriers and Medicaid spending.
On tax reform, Comer said there are complications between the idea of a border adjustment tax as proposed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and tariffs as proposed by President Trump. He said he didn't know the difference, but wants to know how these plans could affect business.
Comer also congratulated Republican efforts to "remove regulatory barriers" in Frankfort and Washington. He said the Congressional Review Act allows President Trump to review Obama-era social, environmental and healthcare regulations. He attributed the stock market rise to efforts reducing regulations and the "change of attitude" in Washington to aiding the business industry.
"I really believe that there's a window of opportunity in Washington D.C. to try and improve the business climate, to try to bring manufacturing back to America and to try to give the private sector confidence again to grow and expand and invest in their business and to hire more employees," he said.
He said he reviews every email and receives messages from every phone call to his field representatives. "And when it's a business person it has added significance because the business community is the economic engine... And those are the people I really want to focus on," he said.
Reflecting on his time with Trump on Air Force One, Comer said, "This guy is going to work hard. He's serious about improving the business climate. He's a business person. He knows the obstacles from dealing with building permits, from dealing with OSHA, from dealing with EPA. He's dealt with a lot of the things that we deal with every day in the negative manner from the federal government. So I really think things are going to get better."