In the News

U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern meets constituents, takes questions, at 'coffee' forum at Tulsa VFW

Tim Stanley, Tulsa World

Tulsa, OK , August 26, 2019

While frustrated by the lack of progress on immigration and other issues, U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern told constituents at an open forum Monday that he has no misgivings about going to Washington and is still committed to finding solutions.

“I’m often asked would I do it again,” the first-term congressman said of his run last year to fill the District 1 vacancy. “The answer is absolutely. I didn’t go up there for another career or for the pay. I went up there to represent all the interesting points of view for the district. … We may not always agree, but I will certainly be there to listen.”

He added that that’s what Monday’s open forum, held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 577, was all about. The event, “Coffee with the Congressman,” gave Hern a chance to field questions on a range of topics from gun control, immigration and veteran unemployment to President Trump’s future and the trade war with China.

 
Regarding immigration and the situation on the southern border, he said: “I really thought this would be easier to fix. But I tell you: I’m not sure either side is willing to fix it.”

Hern said he has been to the border — “one of the few (in Congress) who’s been there” — and as recently as last week met with a top Texas immigration attorney to broaden his understanding of current law.

“It is a mission of mine to help fix this issue. … I will continue to work so we can make sure we are doing the right thing by the people who are coming here and protect them … and best fix this situation for all.”

Hern, a Tulsa businessman and McDonald’s franchisee, got a round of applause when he said part of the onus is on business owners like him, who “have a responsibility in our communities to make sure we are hiring people who are legal citizens of the United States of America.”

“This is where I differ from some of my business friends,” he added.

About 50 people attended the forum, which started at 8 a.m. Questions were submitted in advance, with radio host Russell Mills moderating.

Hern was asked about President Donald Trump and whether he was “in trouble” and would face a “serious challenge” in the 2020 election.

Hern, who said he has not yet met the president, said, “Trump got elected in 2016 saying the things he said, tweeting the things he tweeted, saying he wasn’t going to release his tax returns — and the American people elected him.”

Of Trump, Hern added: “His day of reckoning, like all of ours, is Election Day. That’s why we have the greatest country. … Do I know if he’ll be reelected? I don’t know. I have no idea. I’m focused on our election.”

The event ran 15 minutes over the projected hour, concluding with a question about the trade war.

Of the trade war, he went on to say: “I’m a global guy. I think we need global markets, … but I’m going to tell you something: China is a bad actor.”

He added that the president is having to deal with a situation that every president going back to Nixon should have dealt with.

 

“President Xi is sitting there looking at President Trump and saying: ‘Dude, you’re either going to be here a year or five years, but after that you’re gone. I’m going to be here forever.’ It’s hard to negotiate with a guy who can wait you out.”

“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” Hern added, “but I think it’s going to come to a head pretty quickly.”

Hern started with an overview of his months in office.

Since he won the seat vacated by Jim Bridenstine last November, he said his office has received more than 61,000 messages and questions from constituents.

“We respond to every one of them,” he said. “I promise you: You email or call our office; we will get you an answer.”

He said of 598 votes cast in the House, the only ones he’s missed were seven from the day he returned to the district to visit flood victims with Vice President Mike Pence.

Hern said he’s often asked what the “biggest surprise” about Washington, D.C., has been for him.

“To sum it up,” he said, “how many people are in D.C. that talk about things they’ve never, ever, ever done — ever done — whether it be job creation, whether it be immigration and have never been to the southern border. … The list goes on and on.”