By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Sixty residents listened Wednesday as U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta discussed rising tensions in Syria and the Affordable Care Act during the Hazleton Republican’s first town hall meeting in the city, which recently joined his 11th Congressional District.
Barletta, a frequent Valley visitor, spoke to a packed room in the Northumberland County Administration Building and addressed Obamacare as one of constituents’ concerns.
“We need to stop Obamacare before it goes too far down the road,” Barletta told the audience. “We are doing what we can.”
Barletta said he has been discussing with colleagues various ways to reform health care, one of which would be to get small businesses together and shop for the best price for employees.
Barletta also spoke out against abuses by welfare recipients and the need for Washington to get a better handle on monitoring how government money is spent.
When the two-term congressman was first elected in 2010, he told the crowd he decided to host town hall meetings throughout his district because he wanted to take residents’ concerns back to Capitol Hill.
“Sometimes when we are in Washington, we don’t get a sense of the real world,” he said. “This is why I like to do these town hall meetings. I get to hear what people want to talk about, and I get to take that back to Washington. They are a great way for me to stay in touch with my constituents, real people living in the real world.”
With the United States weighing whether to intervene in the Syrian crisis, Barletta said he agrees with his fellow House Republicans in hoping that President Barack Obama will ask Congress before launching an attack.
“We hope he would ask us,” Barletta said. “Before any action is taken, we have asked the president to hear from us.”
Barletta thanked Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi for making the administration building available.
“He was very helpful and our office wanted to extend our appreciation,” Barletta said.
He said he is planning more public forums throughout the district and will return to Sunbury soon.