We begin a new, twice-a-month feature on WUWF with U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. Dave Dunwoody sat down with the newly-minted Congressman to speak about the first days of the 115th Congress.
On being a freshman lawmaker in Washington:
"So far it’s been very busy. When I first started coming to Washington before the presidential election, there was a sense of despondence and despair. Folks thought we’d just have partisan bickering and nothing would get done. Now, under unified Republican government, there’s no one to blame but ourselves. So it’s time for the Republicans, myself included, to put up or shut up – start delivering on many of the promises we’ve been making to the American people over the last eight years."
On being named to the House Armed Services Committee, succeeding former Congressman Jeff Miller on that panel:
"I know why Northwest Floridians sent me to Congress. The expect me to defend our military mission with a whip and a chair, when necessary. Jeff Miller did a fantastic job, ensuring that northwest Florida was well-protected when there were decisions being made about our military. I think that my experience will be different because we’ll have, hopefully, Gen. [James] Mattis running the Department of Defense; we’ll have President Trump, and really a renewed sense that America’s got to rebuild our military and restore our standing the world."
On being named to the House Budget Committee, which will be among the first to tackle a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act:
"The Budget Committee will be a starting point for many of the bold, conservative reforms that are going to be priorities for the 115th Congress. In the coming weeks, we will [also] be drafting a budget resolution to deal with Fiscal Year ’18, which needs to put us on a path to a balanced budget. Also tax reform is going to be an issue the Budget Committee addresses."
Is there any pressure to have a substitute for Obamacare ready, when it reaches its final day?
"We can’t leave people in the lurch, but Obamacare isn’t solving problems for sick people today. If you look at premium increases, high deductibles, the high cost of prescription drugs, you’ve got many people that have been impacted by Obamacare, and seen the quality of healthcare they can receive diminish. What will be important for us is ensuring that we have our free market reforms in place, when Obamacare is repealed."