Friday, August 8, 2014
Around 30 people gathered in the Georgetown County Library main branch on Aug. 5 to participate in a roundtable with U.S. Rep. Tom Rice.
From 3 to 4 p.m., the congressman addressed his year-and-a-half in Washington, D.C. and answered questions from the audience.
“My primary focus has been jobs and the economy,” he said. “Nationally, I’ve been trying to keep the issue on the forefront.”
He said in his opinion, the country is not competitive and that’s causing a national deficit of job opportunities.
“A global company can choose to operate anywhere they want, and if our country is not competitive, the jobs will go elsewhere. And the people who are getting hurt are the middle class.
“States and counties are competing for a declining pool of jobs, and the reason for that is our country is not competitive.”
Rice said he’s been working on several projects to help improve his district, including job creation. Specifically, he mentioned his efforts to localize the ports bill and moving forward with the Interstate 73 project.
Some of the biggest accomplishments in Congress, Rice said he’s most proud of, are the ports bill, immigration bill and veterans bill, which were all passed recently.
The new ports bill gives small areas the opportunity to compete for federal money for dredging ports, like the Georgetown Port, which was not available before the bill, he said. The immigration bill allocates $600 million to expedite immigration hearings. The veterans bill allocates $17 million toward building new Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country to address growing needs, including one slated to be built in Myrtle Beach.
Following his talk, attendees were invited to ask the congressman questions and he briefly addressed them including:
Climate change – “I wish we could build our natural gas infrastructure quicker;” education funding – “I believe all of these choices should be moved down to the local level;” supporting the area’s natural resources – “Natural resources are what brings tourists here. I will do everything I can to support both things [natural resources and tourism.]”