XENIA — Count United States Congressman Mike Turner among those thrilled with last week’s announcement that Attorney General Mike DeWine named Secretary of State Jon Husted as his running mate.
“I’m a big fan of Mike DeWine and I think he’ll be a great governor,” Turner said during an end of the year update phone call with the Gazette. “Anything that moves the chances of that forward will be great for Ohio. I think it will make it very difficult for the Democrats to win again.”
At the same time, Turner said a pair of Democrats are making it difficult for important legislation to gain funding in Washington. Congress recently passed the $700 billion the Defense Authorization Act, but since it surpasses the budget cap of $549 billion for defense spending, it will require new Congressional action to be enacted.
Any funding legislation in the senate will require 60 votes so it will need bipartisan support since Republicans only hold 52 seats.
“(House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer have a lot to say in whether it gets done,” Turner said.
If the measure isn’t approved, the government could face a shutdown or there could be a sequestration, both halting work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
The Democratic leaders are expected to meet with President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the White House Thursday, Dec. 7 with the hopes of avoiding a shutdown. Congress passed a two-week extension in an attempt to get enough support to fund the act in 2018.
Turner said Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Schumer (D-N.Y.) are stalling for political gain.
“When does the political cost to them get high enough?” Turner asked.
The 2018 fiscal year plan includes a 2.4 percent pay raises for men and women in uniform, increase missile defense spending, funding for eliminating the back log of air parts and the assurance that the National Aviation Hall of Fame would stay in Ohio.
Turner also provided an update on the opioid epidemic and said that a bill he introduced is gaining support. If ultimately passed, it would eliminate a restriction in Medicaid that prohibits incarcerated individuals from receiving drug addiction treatment. Turner said he was made aware of that restriction while touring the Greene County Jail.
“They told me that the individuals there were likely Medicaid eligible,” Turner said. “Most individuals who are incarcerated, if given the opportunity for help, would voluntarily seek it. (But) they would most likely not seek treatment when they were released.”
The bill is currently in the House and has support in the Senate from Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Turner said the courts and the prison do have the ability to compel an inmate to receive treatment, but a lack of funding is what largely prohibits that. President Trump could also remove the restriction by executive order.
“I hope our bill puts pressure on the administration to do so,” Turner said.
He also said that he is hopeful the tax bill will be reconciled by the House and Senate before the end of the year.
A subject of quite a bit of controversy, Turner called it “very important tax reform” and if passed would provide an average family of four making $59,000 per year in the Dayton region an extra $1,000 in their pockets.
The reform, Turner said, will help grow the economy, which would lead to wage increases and more jobs.
The bill has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.