9/25/2013 11:08:00 AM Gosar promotes forest bill, bashes ACA: Legislation could prevent wildfires, stimulate economies
Ken Hedler Special to the Tribune
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-4th District, hewed to his party line Monday by attacking President Barack Obama's policies - calling for the repeal of Obamacare - and maintaining his opposition to the Senate's immigration reform bill.
But while he devoted many of his talking points to national issues, he touched briefly on a forest health package that is close to home and which he has backed in the House of Representatives.
Speaking after an open house that drew more than 60 people Monday evening to the Prescott Valley Public Library, Gosar said the package will speed the process for environmental reviews for logging in national forests.
"It usually takes seven years to infinity," Gosar told reporters after his 90-minute open house. He added the legislation provides protections to endangered species, and enjoys bipartisan support.
The forest package will put people back to work, Gosar said during his presentation.
Gosar's office in Washington, D.C., announced Friday that the House voted 244-173 for the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, House Resolution 1526.
The package includes Gosar's wildfire legislation, the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act, HR 1345. His bill is aimed at preventing destructive wildfires and stimulating rural economies, a news release from his office stated.
Gosar's staff reported Tuesday that U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is putting together a similar package of forest reform bills.
Gosar began his presentation in the library with talking points accompanied with slides.
The first issue he discussed is the national debt, with spending exceeding $3.5 trillion for the federal fiscal year that ends on Monday. Social Security alone accounts for $768 billion of the total, according to his pie chart.
He said Obamacare, known officially as the Affordable Care Act, is "going to be much more expensive than what we expected."
He also expressed opposition to intervention in the Syrian civil war, and called for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign.
After his talk, Gosar fielded questions from more than 10 people, many of whom expressed support for what he is doing as a second-term member of the House.
One opposing view came from Bill Haas, a retired insurance agent who lives in Prescott and is a registered Independent. He asked Gosar whether he is willing to work across the aisle with Democrats.
Gosar responded that he has worked with U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-1st District, whom he defeated in 2010. However, he criticized Obama, saying he finds it "offensive" that Obama will sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Syrian rebels but not with Republicans in Congress.
Haas said afterward that Gosar delivered a "very political presentation, to begin with. When he talks to his constituents, he gives the impression that the other party has no good ideas and is not worth talking to."
While some others in the library auditorium expressed disagreement with Gosar, the presentation was largely civil.
However, the event concluded with a confrontation when political activist Dennis DuVall of Prescott approached the podium and tried to present a placard-size "letter" expressing opposition to the proposed Keystone oil pipeline in the Midwest. Environmentalists oppose the pipeline, which enjoys tremendous support from congressional Republicans and business groups.