Wittman calls for stronger military at veterans forum

jojacobs@vagazette.com

Rob Wittman led a discussion heavy on defense and veteran’s issues at Patriots Colony Thursday.

Wittman, a Republican who represents Virginia’s 1st District in the House of Representatives, spoke to about 50 people at the retirement community for former military officers and civil servants in James City.

Russia and China’s rising military profiles are a challenge for the United States. Congress’ nine years of continuing resolutions to fund the government on a stop-gap basis hurts the nation’s military. The practice has cost the Navy $4 billion. The most recent continuing resolution is set to run until Feb. 8, Wittman said.

“A strong U.S. military is the insurance policy to keep us from getting into a conflict,” Wittman said. “Think today, with the lack of readiness we have in the Navy and the needing to build ships and needing to repair ships and needing to build aircraft and needing to repair aircraft and the lack of material readiness that we have, what that $4 billion could have done.”

Wittman is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces subcommittee.

Wittman suggested Congress members not be paid until a budget is passed and has introduced legislation to create that standard.

Wittman called for more Department of Veterans Affairs resources in the region. He’s introduced the Veterans Choice Accountability Act, which he said would ensure healthcare is provided in a more efficient way for veterans.

President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan could be a boost for the region, particularly as a way to improve broadband internet service in rural areas and congestion in Hampton Roads. The trick will be how Congress can find the money for the project, which would include $200 billion in federal funds, Wittman said.

After the forum, Wittman expressed support for the release of a secret Republican memo that alleges FBI bias against Trump, despite the FBI’s concern regarding the memo’s accuracy.

The more transparency, the better,” said Wittman, who said he’s read the memo.

The event was one of the latest constituent interactions on Wittman’s calendar since Trump’s election in 2016. Since then he has favored more private public appearances buttressed with ten telephone town halls instead of in-person town halls.

Constituents hoping for such a town hall will be disappointed to know that isn't expected to change anytime soon, as Wittman considers his current range of telephone and online interactions a more productive way to hear from voters.

“We can bring folks in and actually address issues and try to get out of the noise that happens from other forms of town halls,” Wittman said.

Wittman plans to embark on a series of veterans town halls, which will allow veterans to get help with claims on-site from Veterans Affairs officials. An event is scheduled for Feb. 17 in Prince William. Another similar event is expected to take place in the lower part of the district in the future.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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