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Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 12.17.18

Washington, DC (Dec. 17, 2018) -

Big Stone Wall

C. Bascom Slemp

President Trump recently named Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as his acting Chief of Staff. Having worked with Mick when he represented South Carolina in the House of Representatives, I think the President has made a good choice.

Earlier in the search process, attention focused on a current colleague of mine and another Freedom Caucus member, Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC). At a Freedom Caucus meeting, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) observed that if Meadows was selected, he would be the most conservative White House Chief of Staff since the Coolidge Administration of 1923-29.

This remark drew my interest, for as I noted to Senator Lee, the Chief of Staff’s equivalent under President Calvin Coolidge was an earlier representative of Virginia’s Fighting Ninth, C. Bascom Slemp.

Slemp was born in Turkey Cove in Lee County in 1870. His father was active in politics, and at the age of eleven Slemp served as a page in the House of Delegates. He later attended the Virginia Military Institute and studied law at the University of Virginia, eventually practicing in Big Stone Gap.

In 1907, Slemp’s father, by then representing the Ninth District in Congress, died, and he won the race for the vacant seat. He served several terms in Congress before retiring in 1923. As it happened, that year Calvin Coolidge ascended to the presidency upon the death of Warren Harding, and he needed a private secretary to assist in his dealings with Congress and the 1924 presidential election.

President Coolidge recalled in his autobiography, “I was especially fortunate in securing C. Bascom Slemp as my Secretary, who had . . . a wide acquaintance with public men and the workings of legislative machinery. His advice was most helpful.”

Slemp aided Coolidge as he finished Harding’s term and won a resounding victory to the Presidency in his own right. Slemp resigned in 1925 and returned to practicing law in Big Stone Gap (where the federal building is named after him) and Washington. When he died in 1943, Slemp was buried in the family plot in Turkey Cove.

The Need for Border Security

It is often noted that America has a government of laws, not of men.

The current immigration system seems to be an exception. Illegal immigration to our country occurs frequently without consequence, while aspiring legal immigrants are left to navigate for years through a maze of red tape.

The process for those who want to come here the right way, legally, should be simpler and easier. You shouldn’t have to wait a lifetime to get citizenship if you came here legally in the first place. We want people to share in the American dream. Congress must act, which is why I supported several reform measures this year.

The focus right now, however, is on illegal immigration and border security, and this situation will not get better on its own. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an astounding 3,029 people were apprehended attempting to cross the southern border illegally in a single day, December 3.

Lack of border security also facilitates trafficking in people and illegal substances. For example, methamphetamine use has surged as Mexican cartels move the product across the border, contributing to a surge in nationwide overdose deaths involving meth from 1,887 in 2011 to 6,762 in 2016.

More border security is necessary to deter illegal immigration and to crack down on trafficking.

President Trump wants a “wall” to guard the southern border. I support the President on this issue. Building a “wall,” in some places a physical wall, but in others smart fences and other technology, will help reduce human trafficking and the flow of illegal aliens and illicit drugs that now cross the border with relative ease.

I have previously voted for wall funding, including almost $25 billion twice in separate bills in June. President Trump has asked for $5 billion in “wall” funding to be included in legislation funding the government for the 2019 fiscal year, and I support him in this request.

I have also signed on as an original cosponsor of a bill by Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) to allow the Treasury to sell bonds raising money for wall construction. If private citizens want their money to support border security, they ought to have that right.

I believe it is important to protect our borders, making it more difficult for illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings and illicit drugs.

I am committed to working with my colleagues and President Trump to get this done.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

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