LAURINBURG — U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson passed through town on Tuesday, stopping to update more than 60 members and guests of the Laurinburg Rotary Club on his second term in office.
As a freshman representative, Hudson chaired a transportation security subcommittee that saw six bills signed into law.
“My approach was to pick issues that are so darn common sense, that have a real impact on people’s lives back home, and focus on those and try to do it in a bipartisan way,” he said.
Hudson represents North Carolina’s eighth congressional district, which includes Scotland, Richmond, Anson, Robeson, Montgomery, Stanly and parts of Mecklenburg, Union, and Davidson counties. First elected in 2012, he ran on a promise to focus on goals attainable in a bipartisan manner.
He put forth two recent bills to that he said were also examples of compromise. One bill, to modernize energy infrastructure, omitted mention of the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, both of which Hudson personally supports.
“We wanted the president to sign it and we wanted the Democrats in the Senate to work with us,” he said. “We got it done and through the House, and I feel good that we can get it through the Senate.”
But Hudson also stressed that he will oppose issues that he disagrees with like the Iran deal signed last month by the U.S., France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Germany.
“Once they’ve got those missiles that can hit us, what are we going to do if they invade Israel?” he said. “If we pass this Iran deal, I guarantee you our children and grandchildren will be back in that type of world where they live in constant fear of a nuclear war, and I don’t want to go there.”
In the agreement, Iran consented to destroy most of its stockpile of enriched uranium and restrict its enrichment for the next 15 years to nuclear power and research rather than creating weapons-grade material. In exchange, the United States and other parties will lift economic sanctions in place against Iran.
Hudson expressed skepticism about the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency to ascertain whether or not Iran is in compliance with the agreement.
“There is no ironclad way to guarantee we can inspect what they’ve got; I’m not even sure if they know where all their facilities are.”
Other topics Hudson discussed included environmental deregulation and the importance of federally funding the nation’s interstates despite the dwindling state of the Highway Trust Fund.
“We have a responsibility as the federal government to keep that interstate system up, keep those bridges safe,” said Hudson. “I think ultimately we’re just going to have to cut a check out of the general fund and offset it by cutting something else that’s not as important.”
Fielding a question from the audience regarding immigration, Hudson said that the general consensus in Washington is for border security.
“The problem here is that you can get a job easier if you come here illegally than you can if you come here legally,” he said. “We’ve got to fix our broken visa system, because you can build a wall 100 feet tall and put alligator moats on both sides and people are still going to come here to get jobs if the visa system’s broken.”
Among those in attendance at Tuesday’s Rotary meeting, held at the Laurinburg Masonic Lodge, were Mayor Tommy Parker, county commissioners Guy McCook and Whit Gibson, City Manager Charles Nichols, and County Manager Kevin Patterson.
“You’ve got tremendous leaders here, and all of you are part of that, whether you own a business or you’re involved in some level of government,” Hudson said. “That’s what’s great about this community to me: everybody cares and everybody pitches in.”
Before the Rotary Club visit, Hudson toured the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
“I’m really impressed by the people and the programs here,” said Hudson, a Republican from Concord who represents the 8th District, which includes UNCP and most of Robeson County. “We have a leading university right here in our own back yard.”
Dr. Robin Cummings, who became chancellor in July, joined Hudson and his staff as they toured several buildings, during which Hudson met students and staff and learned the history of UNCP and what it offers. The group made a stop at Old Main, which houses the university’s museum. Stan Knick, the curator, gave a brief history of the school and its American Indian heritage. The group left campus to visit the Office of Regional Initiatives in the COMtech business park, where Hudson learned about research being done by Ben Bahr, a UNCP professor, on Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injuries.
Bahr recently received a grant for research on soldiers who come home with a traumatic brain injury.
“I’m on the energy commerce committee and we just passed a bill on 21st century cures, and it has put around a billion dollars into research,” Hudson said. “Knowing that UNCP is making breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research is exciting to me.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.