Hudson reviews his first weeks in Congress
Since his Jan. 3 swearing-in as the District 8 Representative, Richard Hudson said he learned a lot about Washington D.C.
Already, he has received criticism for votes against Hurricane Sandy relief and debt ceiling votes. He has been a vocal opponent of stricter gun control. He was featured in a short clip about gun control featured on The Daily Show.
"That was the highlight of my career so far that this Liberal politician disagreed with me publicly and played a clip of me talking about our right to keep and bear arms," Hudson said. "I was jumping around the house celebrating when I saw that."
Hudson was in Union County to speak to residents for a Farm Bureau Insurance sponsored breakfast Monday. These kinds of meetings are necessary, he said, for staying connected to the people he represents.
A top priority of his office is the rewrite of the national farm bill, a collection of all food and agriculture policies that is revised every five years. Fiscal issues have thwarted an updated version of the bill so far and coming spending arguments will push its passage further into 2013, Hudson said. He asked locals to give him their most important issues and he would keep them updated as work progressed.
One issue is what happens to the nutrition aspect of the farm bill, which takes up about 85 percent of its budget, Hudson said. About $139 billion was cut from nutrition last year, he said.
"As far as I'm concerned, if they want to see some savings out of the farm bill, it needs to come from the nutrition side," he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is especially vulnerable when discussing spending cuts, Hudson said. Most farmers have said they do not mind taking cuts to agriculture, as long as the cuts are universal, he said. But the fight in Washington over UDSA funding is not partisan, but more between rural and urban representatives.
Audience members urged Hudson to look at ways to make USDA operations more efficient and cut outdated programs before making major cuts.
Hudson also talked immigration reform. A bipartisan group of senators announced they would work on rebooting the country's immigration policies, Hudson said. Eight senators have announced they plan to make it possible for more than 11 million current illegal immigrants already in the country to earn a legal status. It would also punish employers who hire undocumented workers, increase border security, change how work visas are issued and a major overhaul of the current immigration system.
"It's a lot easier to come over here illegally than to come here legally, because our legal immigration system is broken," Hudson said.
The country should also issue visas based on employer needs instead of by lottery, he said.
Hudson also spoke frankly about major spending battles between Republicans and Democrats happening within the next few months. While House Republicans push for spending cuts instead of tax increases, the president and Senate disagree and want to keep spending at current levels, Hudson said. Republicans plan to use these spending debates to leverage some spending cuts.
"The deal was the delay the debt ceiling to give us time to have that spending argument over the budget and Republicans thought it was a smart tactical move," Hudson said. "I thought it was probably a good move but I couldn't vote for it because I promised you during my campaign that I wouldn't raise the debt ceiling without getting dollar-for-dollar cuts."
In March, a mandatory $1 trillion in spending cuts enacted in 2011 will take effect. It would mean deep cuts to military spending, Hudson said. A U.S. Air Force official stated that branch was now at 50 percent readiness and would only suffer from less funding, Hudson said.
Still, Hudson said he hopes to work with Democrats in finding other solutions to problems in the coming months.