Tooele residents expressed concerns about Obamacare and military action in Syria during a Tuesday town hall meeting with Congressman Chris Stewart.
Stewart, a republican representing Utah’s second congressional district, told attendees that he has not yet made up his mind on Syria, but will push to defund or delay Obamacare.
He also spoke about working in the house, and expressed optimism about the nation’s future despite his disappointment about the current political situation.
“We will fix our problems,” he said. “I am certain of that.”
Residents jumped into the Syria discussion shortly after the meeting began. Though he said he had not decided how he would vote on the issue, he favored military action in Syria, but would not approve of a war.
“I’m not suggesting we go to war. I don’t want another Iraq. I don’t want another Afghanistan,” he said.
However, as a former Air Force pilot, Stewart said he believed an air strike over the course of a day or two could cripple chemical weapons possessed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In that case, he said, the U.S. has a moral obligation to enforce restrictions on chemical weapons and to assert its own leadership on a global scale.
“The world expects the United States to lead,” he said. “The world needs the United States to lead.”
Stewart added that he believes a lack of leadership has created the current global situation, where foreign nations such as Iran do not believe the U.S. will follow through on threats made against nations that use prohibited weapons and cross internationally recognized red lines.
Beyond limited military action, the congressman said he would not support a war in Syria. He does not believe an airstrike will result in declarations of war against the U.S.
“I don’t think the Russians will do anything,” he said. “I don’t think the Iranians will do anything. I don’t think the Syrians will do anything.”
His comments on Syria met opposition from residents in attendance, many of whom vocally opposed action in Syria. One man, who said he had driven from St. George to address Stewart, told the congressman that his vote should already be decided, and that if the majority of the citizens he represented opposed military action, Stewart should vote against it.
Other attendees, some of whom said they were concerned about insurance rate increases, later brought Obamacare into the discussion. Stewart denounced the healthcare reform bill as “the worst piece of legislation ever written,” and vowed to do everything in his power to defund or delay the bill.
Residents met his comments on the topic with more enthusiasm, and continued to question Stewart about how the bill would affect their families. Stewart said he was aware of surveys that put projected rate increases in the range of 40 percent to 120 percent for most people. He reassured that there was bipartisan support in the house for measures that would protect individuals with preexisting conditions if the bill were repealed.
Stewart also talked about his experiences working in Washington D.C., and mentioned his busy summer schedule. His staff has arranged more town hall meetings than the rest of the entire Utah delegation, he said, so he can listen to the concerns of those he represents.
“It doesn’t matter what I do in Washington D.C.,” he said. “If I have not served you, I have failed.”