Fighting terrorism at home and abroad takes an effort from all citizens, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter said.
Carter (R-Pooler) visited South Effingham High School to discuss civics with Tasha Drain’s class and spoke of how the labors of government are divided —and what tasks lie ahead.
Carter has called for closing security gaps in the visa waiver program. While he said it is a good program, he added there are ways it can be taken advantage of by those seeking to enter the country for terrorist acts.
“We have to have a robust vetting system, make sure they’re not coming over here with the intent of hurting us,” he said. “We’re the most humanitarian nation in the world. We’re a nation of immigrants, and we’ll continue to be that. But we need to make sure we have a vetting system in place that assures to the greatest extent we can that we are not letting people in who can hurt us.”
Carter said President Obama has to show a plan for combating ISIS in the wake of the organization’s attacks in France and in the San Bernardino, Calif., killings by a couple who aligned with ISIS.
“We have to have a plan,” he said. “The president has to lead. He has to show us a plan that is going to defeat ISIS and not just contain them. He said they were contained and referred to them as the ‘JV team.’ Obviously, that’s not the case. We witnessed it in Paris. We witnessed it with the downing of the Russian plane in Egypt. We witnessed it in San Bernardino.”
The first-term Congressman also said citizens can play a part in deterring potential future terrorist plots.
“This is ongoing. We’re going to do what we have to do at the Congressional level. But we need the citizens to be involved, too,” he said. “They need to be observant. They need to report something that just doesn’t seem right. This is a different world we live in now. You can be observant without being intrusive. We need to make sure that if something doesn’t look right, you report it.”
In speaking to the students, Carter said the national debt of $18.5 trillion is a threat to the nation’s security and stability, calling it
“intergenerational theft.” He said the government needs to cut spending and enact entitlement reform and needs to invest in its infrastructure to help foster economic development.
“We have to grow our way out of it,” he said.
Carter said he is a strong advocate of Second Amendment rights, but the nation needs to address the issues of mental health and assure that people with mental issues don’t have access to firearms.
Congress may pass a budget before heading out of the nation’s capital for its Christmas break, Carter said.
Congress passed a continuing resolution last week to keep the government funded through Wednesday. Over the weekend, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to go over the budget proposals. Much of the spending plan had been done before John Boehner stepped down as speaker in October, according to Carter.
“A lot of work has been done,” Carter said.
Also passed recently was a five-year transportation spending plan that Carter acclaimed.
“This is the first time, in many, many years, that we’ve had something longer than a two-year bill,” he said. “This gives states certainty, and it makes the federal government a reliable partner, which the states need. They were having to stop projects because they didn’t know if the federal funds were going to be there or not. We’ve taken care of that, and I’m proud of that.”
Carter hailed his former colleagues at the state level for passing House Bill 170, the Transportation Funding Act, which has changed the motor fuel tax structure in an effort to provide more money for roads and bridges. He anticipates the law will undergo some revisions in the upcoming General Assembly session.
“The state of Georgia has done a good job in taking care of transportation,” he said.
As a member of the U.S. House, Carter is up for election every two years, and his seat will be up November 2016. During his tenure in the state General Assembly, he ran every two years, first for the state House and then for the state Senate.
“I’ve run 12 times in 20 years,” he said.
Carter also commended the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which puts control of education back at the state and local level. The law, signed last week, is expected to dismantle the No Child Left Behind Act and revamp the Common Core standard.
“We left it up to the states to follow Common Core,” he said.