Congressman Keller speaks to large crowd at Economic Partnership breakfast
MILL HALL — United States Rep. Fred Keller (R-Kreamer) touched on a myriad of topics at Thursday’s Eggs and Issues, which was held at Hayood’s On the Green at the Clinton County Country Club.
Keller, who was elected in May to the House’s 12th District seat vacated by Tom Marino, talked about local issues such as the Interstate 99 corridor and national issues such as trade with China. Following his prepared speech, Keller took questions from those in the audience on a wide variety of topics.
He opened his prepared speech by talking about getting things done in Washington, D.C.
“We do not have a chance of getting it correct in Washington, D.C. unless we’re in the community with elected officials of each county and municipality. We’re also working with our school districts, our universities, our non-profits, our businesses to make sure we get our message correct to take it down to Washington, D.C.,” Keller said.
Early in his speech, he talked about the oversight and reform committee, which has been in the news as of late.
“It’s a pretty big committee and you’ve probably seen it in the news with all of the investigations that have been going on in Washington, D.C.,” Keller said. “Quite frankly, some of those investigations we need to put behind us and get into the real work that will impact the lives of our constituents.”
Here are some of the highlights from Keller’s speech and the question and answer session that followed:
Keller spoke at length about trade war with China that is currently rippling through the global economy.
“That issue has been going on for many years. China has been taking advantage of the United States — intellectual property and other things and really putting us at a disadvantage,” Keller said. “While the President may be unconventional in some of the things he does, this is one I’ve heard a lot from Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District and people as we’ve been traveling. They’re willing to give him some latitude because he is putting America’s workers and America’s families first.”
According to Keller, the trade war escalated because it hasn’t been addressed for a long time.
“That’s something that needs to happen, should have happened a couple of administrations ago. We could have been working on this,” Keller said.
Legalization of Marijuana
During the question-and-answer session, Keller was asked about the legalization of marijuana — for both medical and recreational use.
He is strongly opposed to legalizing the drug for recreational use, he said.
“I think that is very dangerous, quite frankly. I would never support that,” Keller said.
However, he said that medical marijuana is different.
“I did support that because that was about kids … kids that were having seizures. When you have a child and you’ve tried everything else, you’re going to try whatever you can to help that (child). As a state legislator, I didn’t want my constituents breaking the state law to get help for their child,” Keller said.
With Lock Haven University President Robert Pignatello and Keystone Central School District Superintendent Jacquelyn Martin in the audience, Keller noted that education and labor is vital for the district.
“That is really important for Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District because of the outstanding educational facilities we have,” Keller said. “The education committee is very beneficial in looking at policy that will help develop the workforce that we need, not only here in the 12th Congressional District, but across the Commonwealth.”
With that in mind, Pignatello asked Keller about helping the Commonwealth’s universities with funding. Keller didn’t say if any funds or grants are available, but he’s willing to meet to discuss funding.
“What I’d like to do — instead of saying one specific thing — is set up meetings with the educational facilities … we’d like to see what programs you have and if you’re thinking about a specific grant. Depending upon what you’re looking at, we have grant money for many things through the Department of Education,” Keller said.
Keller said that infrastructure cannot be limited to roads and bridges.
“It’s also broadband internet access and we’re looking at some creative ways to get that done. We can see what we can do in other areas — not just rural Pennsylvania but rural areas of the United States,” he said.
He said that broadband internet access is vital for the local economy, healthcare and education.
Outside of Pennsylvania, Keller said that he’d like to see New York state approve a natural gas pipeline.
“If anyone remembers the news stories from about a year and a half ago, we were bringing liquefied natural gas into Boston Harbor to provide energy and heat for homes in New England. That was coming from Russia,” Keller stated. “Ships came into Boston and delivered LNG because we can’t get a pipeline through the state of New York to deliver our gas.”
According to Keller, bringing in the LNG puts the United States at a disadvantage.
“We are transferring our wealth to Russia, a nation who does not share our interest and does not share the interest of our allies,” Keller said.