Compiled by Staff
WELLSBURG -Hit them in the wallet. That's one way NATO and the United States can begin to combat the terrorism from the Islamic State, said U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., during a roundtable discussion with Brooke High students on Wednesday.
McKinley said he thinks the best way to handle the Islamic State is to "follow the money" and interrupt their flow of cash.
"Freeze their assets and shut off their money. We know where their assets are. We know where the money is. I can't speak for the president. I don't know why he hasn't done that yet," he said.
Speaking to 13 students from the school's academic team, debate team and judicial scholars program, McKinley acknowledged that the turmoil in Iraq and Syria are proving to be a distraction for Congress as it works to improve the U.S. economy.
McKinley, an engineer from Wheeling who has been in business nearly 50 years, also said he only returned to politics because he believed the country was heading in the wrong direction.
He said turmoil around the globe could "take our eye off the ball" when it comes to improving this country's economy. He referred to the conflicts in the Ukraine and the Middle East, including the recently publicized beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
"If our focus in Congress is to try and get our economy up and get people jobs and you have these things going on around the world, it means you have to take whatever resources you were going to apply and apply them somewhere else to address those hot spots. We've got some nasty things going on," McKinley observed. "We have to be very vigilant and solid on where we want to go as a nation."
Also during the session, one student asked how McKinley plans to improve the job market if he is re-elected in November. He answered a high corporate tax rate and increased regulation are the biggest problems stifling the business climate. He cited the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations on the coal industry as an example.
"What I've found out is that this Congress is so big with 435 members. About 10,000 pieces of legislation will be introduced in a year's time. They can't possibly get to 10,000 bills. I have to convince them why my bill is more important than all those others. I think being pushy sometimes is effective, because I've been able to pass seven bills," McKinley said. "Amendments are easier to pass than bills, and we've passed 31 amendments on legislation."
McKinley said he realizes there are consequences when a measure is passed.
"You have to understand the impact and be careful about it. ... Just because they can doesn't mean they should," he said. "Coal ash is an unavoidable by-product of burning coal. Some environmentalists have said that coal is a poisonous product, and they want us to stop using it. So they've decided to treat that by-product of burning coal as a hazardous material, like asbestos. If coal ash was treated as a carcinogen, the cost of dealing with that would cause people to just stop using coal altogether.
"We started researching, and we found out that the EPA itself has said that coal ash is not actually a hazardous material in two studies in 1993 and in 2000. For 32 years they tried to stop the use of coal in America, because they say the fly ash is a carcinogen. In my first year in office I drafted a bill saying it's not. The House-passed bill went to the Senate, and the Senate didn't take it up. But we kept at it. The EPA, this past spring, backed off. I'm pretty proud of that," McKinley said.
He noted that without that legislation, 316,000 people would have lost their jobs recycling fly ash.
A student asked McKinley about his stance on immigration. He answered America needs to have a cohesive immigration policy, and he believes that at this point, America does not.
"I'd like to have a work permit program, where people can come from Mexico or Canada and work for a day at a time and return home. But there are people in Washington saying we need to give them full citizenship," he said. "I also think that if anyone hires them for less than minimum wage, they ought to be fined. Those companies are taking advantage of these people who are just trying to take care of their families, and that needs to be punished. We need to find a way to embrace the immigrants."