One of the many executive orders from President Trump places a hiring freeze on federal workers. How could this impact civilian employees at military bases in Northwest Florida?
Matt Gaetz: "We’re talking about people who provide security services, who work in child centers, who do maintenance and yard work all around our military installations. I’m currently working with the Department of Defense to try to get a waiver for northwest Florida, so that civil servants who are working at or on our military bases would be exempt from this freeze."
You’ve made some headlines on your call to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.
MG: "I’m a big supporter of conservation; I just don’t think the federal government is very good at it. In 1970, when the EPA was formed, states didn’t have the technology or the expertise to be able to appropriately protect all of their environmental assets or resources. But we’ve come a long way since then. My hope is that we’re able to downstream the eight billion dollars that the EPA currently spends, largely on “administrivia,” and that we can put those resources to better use protecting our environment more at the state level."
Denver Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch has been nominated to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
MG: "I think Judge Gorsuch is a constitutionalist; his integrity and his credentials are impeccable. And so I'm eager to see him confirmed by the United States Senate. It’s really unfortunate that the tone and mood in Washington today, is [sic] as partisan as perhaps any time in our nation’s history. And we’ve got circumstances where Democrats won’t show up to the committee meetings where we’re having confirmation discussions."
Could that be “turnabout is fair play” regarding Judge [Merrick] Garland?
MG: "Yeah. I’m not someone who was all that enthusiastic about the Senate’s unwillingness to hold hearings on Judge Garland. If I had been a member of the United States Senate, I would have been willing to hear from Judge Garland. I think that it is an obligation of the Senate to advise and consent on nominations regardless of the partisan affiliations of the occupants of the White House."
There have been several complaints in regular and social media about the inability of people to visit Barrancas National Cemetery aboard NAS Pensacola, thanks to new security crackdowns. Many have said they’ve contacted your office.
MG: "We have worked with the commanding officer to try to develop some protocols that protect our security interests; but at the same time allow folks access that I think would be appropriate. One of the things we’ve already gotten changed: there was a policy that didn’t allow someone on Christmas Day, who traveled a very far distance, to be able to pay respects to a fallen relative. We got that cleared up, and hopefully that will give us the momentum to develop a set of protocols that strikes a responsible balance."
Tell us about the first “Open Gaetz Day” on February 23 in the Pace and Milton area.
MG: "We’re going to go and speak to some service clubs, we’re going to visit Avalon Middle School and perhaps what I’m most excited about is we’re inviting the community to a barbeque lunch at Grover T’s on Highway 90 at noon. I’ll be providing a legislative update about the work we’re doing in Washington."
You were quoted as saying that protesters and political opponents are also invited.
MG: "We don’t have town hall meetings just to have an echo chamber of my supporters. I think the job of a congressman is not only to get the advice and counsel of people who share an ideology, but people who have different opinions. That’s the sign of a healthy democracy."