August is No Vacation

Sep 10, 2013

Each year, Members of Congress return home to their districts for four weeks in the summer.  The media often refers to this time casually as Congressional vacation or recess; however, it is really more accurate to call it what it is – a District Work Period.  

During this time, Members of Congress are working in their Districts, meeting with and listening to their constituents. I had many appointments with constituents in my Knoxville office.

During my time in Congress, I have worked hard to try to be one of the most accessible Members of Congress, and my staff and I have always given highest priority to constituent services.

I always say that I have around 700,000 bosses, and I try to vote the way my constituents want me to.

During August—and throughout the year—I hold multiple Constituent Days, where I travel around the District and meet with people one-on-one on any issue of concern.   

In my travels across the District this August, I also spoke to many different groups—from a meet-and-greet at a credit union in Powell to a woman’s group in Claiborne County.  I also attended a book-signing by Pete DeBusk, one of East Tennessee’s most well-respected businessmen.  

I was honored in August to attend an Eagle Scout ceremony, the Teen Board of Knoxville Mayor’s dinner, and my newest grandson’s baptism a Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church.  I now have six grandchildren, and Lynn and I are blessed to have all of them living in Knox County.

Whenever I am out in the District at events like these, or even dining in a restaurant or attending church, people stop me over-and-over again to let me know what is on their mind or to ask for help.

This August, many folks told me about their fears over Obamacare; and almost everyone who stopped me expressed opposition to U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.  

Others just needed help with Veterans or Social Security claims, which I am always happy to assist with.

Our federal government is now so big and bureaucratic, people often do not get the service they need or deserve. I try to bring the government down to a more humane, personal level.

I am the founding co-Chairman of the Friends of Scotland Caucus in Congress, which has in just several years grown to more than 50 members and taken a lead role in U.S.-Scottish relations.  

During August, I also had the opportunity to travel to Scotland as a guest of the Scottish government.   This trip was not at U.S. taxpayer expense, and it was far from leisure.  Our group visited factories, universities, and sites of mutual U.S.-Scottish cultural interest.  We also met with government officials, including the First Minister of Scotland, and with Members of the Scottish Parliament.

Many millions of Americans consider their heritage to be Scottish or Scot-Irish, and East Tennessee was primarily settled by this group.  In fact, in Maryville, you will find the Maryville College fighting Scots, and Knoxville was named after a Scottish immigrant.

I also had the opportunity during August to take part in several charitable endeavors, including a Knoxville News Sentinel event and a fundraiser for Lincoln Memorial University’s new law school in Knoxville.

East Tennessee has been one of the most popular places to move to in the entire Country for the past 40 years due to its low cost-of-living, hardworking people, and business-friendly environment.

Over August, I attended two groundbreakings: one for the PRONOVA medical facility in Blount County, and the other for an expansion of ALCOA.  These two facilities will bring hundreds of jobs to East Tennessee.

I also spoke to a gathering of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors in Knoxville, where I heard from many business leaders on how they are suffocating under burdensome federal regulations.

Over the course of the month, I attended meetings with Governor Bill Haslam and Sen. Lamar Alexander about many different issues affecting Tennessee, and I had the honor to attend a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of Dr. Clarence Sexton’s service as pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Powell.  Dr. Sexton, who is also President of Crown College, is a beloved leader in Knoxville.

I was very pleased to meet with officials at McGhee Tyson Airport regarding a proposed airport in Oak Ridge and attend a ribbon cutting for a new airport operations facility building at the Knoxville airport.

Since being elected to Congress, I have served on the House Transportation Committee, where I am currently Vice Chairman, and I have formerly served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation.

We must speed up the approval of transportation infrastructure projects such as these in this Country, as they now take on average three times longer than any other developed nation from concept to completion because of government red tape.

There are a lot of issues facing America this fall—from funding the government and the debt ceiling to Obamacare and a potential war in Syria.

I will take under consideration every thought and comment from my many bosses I met with during August when each of these items come before the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming months.