Issues affecting the state of Ohio and the world were among the topics addressed during an update on Washington D.C. given by U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce during a special luncheon last week.
The event at Signature of Solon was sponsored by the Solon, Aurora and Twinsburg chambers of commerce.
Rep. Joyce, R-Bainbridge, represents the 14th District and is in his fifth term of office after being elected in 2012. He told the 75 people in attendance that he has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. He then addressed what he called the “800-pound gorilla in the room – Afghanistan.
“There is a problem we need to deal with, and the unfortunate part is there are Americans left behind,” he said. If the U.S. walks away from those people, it sends a “horrible message to our allies.”
Rep. Joyce, who was elected while President Barack Obama was in office, said that he hopes President Joe Biden does what is necessary in this time of crisis to not only bring all Americans home but to send a message to the rest of the world that something like this will not happen again.
He said there are people around the world who hate our country.
“We will be fighting those folks [like we did] since Sept. 11 and from now on,” he said. “Our democracy is not for everyone. There are those who live for the day to kick us off, and we are going to have to learn to live with that unfortunately.
“I would like to tell you the next six months will be easy, but I can’t,” Rep. Joyce said. “I want to lay it out there upfront.
“People’s lives are in danger, and we have to get back to governing.”
Rep. Joyce addressed the current COVID-19 relief bill and the state of the world leading up to it.
“On March 13, 2020, we hunkered down in our homes and didn’t know what we were facing as a country moving forward,” due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he said. He recalled making calls to businesses and members of the community saying, “we will make this work. We are all in this together.”
He also recounted being on a conference call when he was informed $2 trillion needed to be put into the economy or the market would tank.
“We very seldom said the ‘B’ word back in the day,” he said referring to billion, let alone trillion. “This would almost be like a post-World War II effort.”
Programs like the Payroll Protection Program were created and other loan projects to help businesses get where they needed to go, he explained.
“We thought that would be six weeks or three months and here we are, two years plus out,” looking at the Delta variant, he said.
Before COVID-19, infrastructure meant just roads and bridges, he said, but after, broadband must be added to that list.
“If the future of medicine is tele-medicine, we have to make sure we have a system that works for every American,” Rep. Joyce said.
Rep. Joyce also spoke to the issue of civility, stating we need to get back to it as a country.
“We need to remember we are all citizens,” he said. “We all pump the same blood, and we have one great country.
“We have a democracy that is so meaningful,” he added. “That is why many hate us.”
Rep. Joyce said we have the ability to have discussions with one another, and we need to be able to do so, no matter what someone’s political party or religion is.
“We are one country, one people,” he said. “We have to make this work.
“We are here for one lifetime.”
Rep. Joyce fielded questions regarding the opioid crisis and what should be done with them flowing freely over the southern border.
“The only way to fix the problem at the border is to fix the problem at the border,” he said, and let the border control do what they do best.
“We need to get things back under control,” he said. The trouble is when people are given a green light to come in regardless of safety checks.
He said this is something former President Donald Trump was good at.
“There has to be a strong message from the president,” he said. “We need to get back to a system that works.” Immigrants are entitled to come to this country only if they meet certain safety criteria, he said.
“We really have to develop a system,” he said.
He said he also worries about the amount of fentanyl coming over the border, mainly from China.
Rep. Joyce also addressed questions involving partisan politics and whether he is pressured to vote with his party.
“You have to be able to stand up, and know your issues,” he said, noting he voted no on the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
“You have to be able to understand what your community wants, what people around you want,” Rep. Joyce said. He said he never had trouble sleeping at night as former Geauga County prosecutor over making the wrong decision, and he has not had it either while in Congress.
He said no matter the president, it is the district that matters. “Am I going to make everyone happy? No, but I stay true to what we are doing and hopefully you’re the judge again next year (when you go to vote.)
“It’s the 750,000 people of this district I care about,” he said.
Rep. Joyce addressed the issues involving lack of workforce.
“Employee issues is something you all face,” he said of business owners. “Everyone is looking for workers who will show up every day.
“We have to continue to train folks for jobs that exist,” he said. “We have to focus people and get them back to the job at hand. A BS [bachelor of science] has to turn into a J-O-B.”
Rep. Joyce added of the importance of a healthy Lake Erie, that one of the biggest selling points we have in Northeast Ohio is water.
“We have a plentiful supply,” he said. “Having a healthy lake is very important.”