By Brett Milam
Congressman Brad Wenstrup was the featured speaker at the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce’s Year in Review legislative luncheon on Nov. 17.
Wenstrup, who represents Ohio’s Second Congressional District, had announced his re-election campaign a few days prior on Nov. 13, stating that the House of Representatives is “hard at work on issues important to the American people.”
“When I go to Washington, I work hard to see our shared vision through,” Wenstrup said in a video announcement. “Together, we’ve accomplished a lot.”
The Second District covers all or parts of eight counties including Clermont, Hamilton, Brown, Highland, Adams, Pike, Ross and Scioto.
“In 2018, we’ll move forward as Americans united under God to build a better way, a better life, and a brighter future for everyone in our nation,” Wenstrup said in the video.
At the luncheon, Wenstrup was reflective about the last year in D.C., particularly the moment that thrust him into the national spotlight, although not for the reason he wanted: June 14, when James Hodgkinson opened fire on a number of Republican Congressmen, including Wenstrup, practicing for a baseball game.
“It gives you a lot of pause; it gives you a lot of pause about what’s going on in our country,” he said. “Our job is tough and I think that there’s a lot of good people up there on both sides of the aisle, sometimes not enough.”
However, Wenstrup started out with a gripe about how the media covers the House of Representatives.
“I have found that when we get along; when we do things that get through, they never get noticed,” Wenstrup said. “And when there’s things that are debatable, which are part of our job, it gets more attention than other times.”
The first issue of note Wenstrup tackled is the hotly contested tax bill moving through Congress.
“What we’re really trying to do is help the job creators and help American families to increase their wages, to pay less taxes and we need to compete with the rest of the world,” Wenstrup said. “On the corporate side, that’s where we really struggle.”
Next, Wenstrup pivoted to the opioid problem, which he called a “multi-faceted issue,” noting the three prongs of law enforcement, healthcare and workforce.
“It’s a cancer on our country and it’s destroying a generation of people, if not more than one generation of people,” he said.
Leaning on his doctor background, Wenstrup said he understands the pain side of the opioid epidemic.
“Certainly you want to take away people’s pain, but at the same time, pain is a diagnostic tool and you have to look at risk versus benefit. And you don’t want the risk of taking away pain that now you have an addict,” he said. “There’s a lot of ways people get started on this problem.”
The work has to take place at the local level, though, Wenstrup added.
Other topics Wenstrup touched on:
– The military needs to be rebuilt, Wenstrup said, and that’s something he and other members of Congress have been working on.
“We want our troops to be medically ready and we want our medical forces to be militarily ready to meet the needs of our troops all over the world,” Wenstrup said.
One of the issues is the training accidents occurring in the military. To avoid those deadly accidents, Wenstrup said the military needs the tools necessary to practice and get good at what they do.
“What I found in the military is they’ll put up with Congress; they’ll put up with what they get, but we owe it to them,” Wenstrup said.
– The Veterans Administration keeps getting money and “nothing changes,” Wenstrup said.
“We have expanded care, we’ve done things that’s made a difference,” he said. “And we’re not even close to being finished.”
One of the things he said the Congress is trying to get through this year is an asset review to know what “we have and don’t have, and what we need and don’t need” in the VA.
Wenstrup said the goal is to cut waste.
– The way to stop all the bickering and bitterness, Wenstrup said, noting he gets asked how to do that, is to turn off the cameras.
“I don’t see it be the same way when the cameras aren’t rolling,” he said.
Things get done, even if “we don’t always agree,” Wenstrup added.
– Collusion between President Trump and Russia to win the 2016 presidential election isn’t something Wenstrup said he’s seen yet.
Wenstrup sits on the Intelligence Committee, he said, and he grew up with truth, justice and the American way led by Superman.
“I’m finding a story where the end’s been written, and now they’re trying to write the beginning,” he said. “Where is it?”
If there’s something, Wenstrup said he’ll be the first to tell the people about it.
“They are winning right now,” Wenstrup added, about Russia. “I guarantee you, I’m working on this and we’re doing this as professionally as we can.”
Overall, Wenstrup wants to de-emphasize the importance of politics.
“Bottom line is, I want to get Washington out of the way and let you live your lives,” he said. “If we put God, family and country first, we’re going to be fine. But if you put politics before that, you got a problem.”