Occupation: Tree farmer
Education: B.A., J.D., Wake Forest University
Political experience: N.C. House of Representatives 1966-72 (minority leader 1968-72); N.C. Senate 1972-74 (minority leader 1972-74). U.S. House of Representatives 1990 to present. Committees: Appropriations; Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies (chairman); Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce
1. What should Congress do about the federal budget deficit, now at an all-time high?
Congress should continue the path of fiscal discipline being set by the House Appropriations Committee. Last year, we: reduced nonsecurity spending from the previous year for the first time since the Reagan administration, saved taxpayers $3.5 billion by eliminating 53 low-priority programs, and reduced earmark spending by nearly $3 billion.
2. What course should the United States take in the Iraq war, now into its fourth year?
I am proud of the brave men and women who have fought to help secure the freedom of the Iraqi and Afghani people. Having seen the progress in Iraq and Afghanistan firsthand, I fully support the swift return of troops from the region without creating a politically motivated time line.
3. What would be your primary area(s) of emphasis as a member of Congress?
During my 15 years in Congress, I have focused on economic development and job creation. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have worked to bring millions of dollars to WNC to establish broadband service and to establish education and job-training programs at our area’s colleges and universities.
4. Do you favor the North Shore Road project as originally planned, or a cash settlement with Swain County?
I have always supported, and will always support, the fulfillment of the federal obligation to Swain County and the families who once called this area home, through construction of the North Shore Road. I remain convinced that this project can balance the park’s resources with public access and recreation.
5. What measures would you support to address the needs of working families and the poor in WNC?
Health care remains a vital issue for WNC. Last year, I voted to increase Medicaid spending by over $7 billion while instituting reforms to fulfill its intended mission and provide proper coverage to recipients. To help families, I supported bargaining power for small businesses to lower costs of providing health coverage.
6. What’s your position on marital rights for same-sex partners?
While I believe all Americans should be afforded the same rights established in the Constitution, my position has always been that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman.
7. What’s your position on abortion?
I oppose abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life.
8. What would you do to protect or improve WNC’s air and water quality?
The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which I chair, provides millions for the retrofit of diesel vehicles to address mobile sources of air emissions in our region. I have secured millions in federal funds for the upgrade and expansion of wastewater-treatment facilities to decrease effluent discharge into our streams and rivers.
9. What most distinguishes you from your opponent in this primary?
Experience. My public service in the N.C. House and Senate and 15 years in Congress have afforded me the opportunity to put my seniority and clout to work for the people of WNC. My opponent is most affable, but his experience is limited to Internet postings and amicus briefs.
10. Do you support an increase in the minimum wage? Why?
I have opposed mandated minimum-wage increases in the past and will continue to do so in the future. The market minimum wage is already well above the current mandated minimum wage levels in most of the nation, including Western North Carolina.