Herald and News by Holly Dillemuth 1/20/19
Congressman Greg Walden wasn’t shy about his thoughts on border
security and the wall on the border between the United States
and Mexico during a town hall in Klamath Falls on Friday, where
he discussed recently casting a vote outside Republican Party
lines to end the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Hood River Republican specifically took issue, though, with
the furlough of employees of the Departments of the
Interior, Agriculture, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
cited the Klamath Basin and the Biological Opinion as one of
the things that got delayed (in the) course of these
discussions,” Walden said.
wants to exempt agencies funded by Department of Interior,
Agriculture, and Fish and Wildlife from the shutdown.
inflict all this?” he said. “I didn’t sign up for this kind
of shutdown,” Walden added.
the town hall, which drew about 150 people to Oregon Tech,
he called the vote a bit of a “break” with party lines, a
comment met with applause from some in the audience.
don’t know what a BLM worker in Vale or a Forest Service
worker in John Day or Fish and Wildlife down here has to do
with this debate that’s going on in Washington right now,”
Walden said. “I also very much support getting border
security in place.”
said he asked for his pay to be with held during the
shutdown out of solidarity for federal workers furloughed.
told Mrs. Walden a couple days later,” he noted.
need to work through this, the people that make the
decisions — Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump and Chuck Schumer
and Mitch McConnell — need to get in a big room and work
when it comes to the wall, the concept isn’t new to Walden,
or he said, many other politicians.
the president is actually proposing is a wall, it is a
fence, it is a added border security, it’s the whole thing,”
Walden said. “He wraps it around the term wall, but really
what it is is much more than that. It’s much more than that.
It’s repairing fencing, it’s building new border security,
some sort of wall. It is all these other security measures
and I do support that.”
called out U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., as having voted for
a “wall” — “It was called a fence in 2006,” Walden said.
fence references House Resolution 6061, known as the Secure
Fence Act of 2006.
of it’s been built,” Walden said. “There are walls, there’s
fencing, some is high tech,” he added. “They put up the wall
in San Diego, they put up the wall in El Paso, and they put
up solid border protection in Arizona.”
actually rebuilding fencing that needs to be redone and some
of old wall that needs to be redone,” he said.
fight is over the Homeland Security appropriations bill that
contains the funding for the wall and border security.”
Walden, it’s a holding pattern until 60 votes can be found
to move the bill in the Senate.
president said he’ll veto until they get a resolution on
border funding,” Walden said.
also touched on other national issues, such as elections, in
response to Michael Fitzgerald’s question.
don’t need other governments — Russia — involved in our
elections, or the way we conduct our public process,” Walden
said. “We need to be able to have faith in our electoral
responded to Leslie Lowe’s questions of whether he would
change his votes on issues, such as immigration by saying:
“I don’t support open borders … I do support border
also addressed drought relief funding allocated in the
America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA).
authorized $10 million for each of the next four years, if
necessary,” he said.
would have to fund it but then it’s already authorized. You
can’t fund something if you don’t know if you’re going to
need it. Part of what we ran into was we needed that
said funding for drought relief would likely be found in a
disaster bill in 2019, if needed, which can cover wildfires,
floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and drought.
the context of that, we can say, this is already
authorized,” he said. “It’s emergency funding for emergency
Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (KPDRA), which is
set to distribute more than $9 million in federal drought
relief to irrigators, was set to dissolve in June.
agency will have approximately $1.5 million left over and,
if it remains an organization, could oversee transfer of
funding from AWIA, according to Walden’s staff.
On-Project irrigator and farmer Rob Unruh addressed
declining levels of farmers in the Project, despite welcomed
federal aid spearheaded by Walden.
got to look at something different,” Unruh said. “We need
your help and we need to fix the problem.”
said he’s not worked on an issue that’s “more vexing” and
“more elusive” than trying to come to a long-term solution
over ongoing water conflicts in the Klamath Basin.
“There’s so many legal issues, treaty issues, political
issues,” Walden said. “I’m open to working with anybody. I
still believe there’s a way through this.”
also addressed wildfires in 2018 and expressed
dissatisfaction with how they’ve been handled.
pushed hard in the last Congress to get more authorities
that are proven and work to reduce the fuel loads in our
forests,” Walden said.
said a prior Farm Bill had included authority for “thinning”
of forests but it was up to governors of states to decide
which forests to conduct thinning. He hopes to gain
authority to allow thinning in all areas of the district.
also waxed hopeful that a visit by Secretary of the Air
Force Heather Wilson to Kingsley Field late last year could
mean big things for Air National Guard base in the future.
hopeful as a result of that visit that we can move forward
and have a flying mission out of here that keeps that base
at its full capacity or more,” Walden said. “Whether that’s
F-35s or the F-15-e’s, or other type of training of
aircraft, I think we’re in a little better position.”
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