Freshman congressman addresses Rome Chamber

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U.S. Rep. Anthony J. Brindisi, D-22, Utica, weighed in on the continuing shutdown of the federal government in a forum at the Delta Lake Inn, 8524 Fish Hatchery Road, this morning.

The event, sponsored by the Rome Chamber of Commerce, put the freshman congressman face-to-face with constituents and their questions.

“It’s the longest government shutdown that we’ve seen in history — it’s disappointing,” he said in opening remarks. “I don’t believe this is any way for our government to operate, we can’t operate crisis to crisis, and we certainly can’t play politics with peoples’ lives.”

Brindisi mentioned his White House visit earlier this week, saying he met “with the president ... as part of a small bipartisan coalition of rank and file members in the House, to hear his concerns and hear from the Director of Homeland Security about border security.”

Asked if he felt a compromise on border security that would end the shutdown could be made, the Democrat indicated he was willing to make a deal.

“I’ve voted on a numer of bipartisan bills to get the government back up and running,” but the Senate has yet to vote on any of them, he said.

“I think the area where we compromise is on the issue of border security and immigration,” he said.

“What I can support — I understand the president and where he’s coming from, and I have said that I can support a physical barrier along the southern border where the experts are telling us that makes sense, but that’s not the only thing that we need. We need more border agents, and we need to make sure that we’re investing in technology at our border crossings and our points of entry.”

“It’s not going to be a wall from sea to shining sea,” he continued. “That can’t happen. You have land use issues, you have terrain, mountains, you have bodies of water that you have to cross — that can’t happen,” he said, adding again that he would support a barrier along the border “where it makes sense.”

Closing his thoughts on immigration, Brindisi said policy should “look at the root causes” as to why “people are fleeing these countries,” and how “we can use our diplomatic power” to “assist folks beforer they have to flee ...”

Now in his “second week on the job,” the congressman said he was setting up district offices in Utica and Binghamton. He said he plans to form constituent advisory boards to inform his actions on the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs committees.

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