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Collins talks health care, immigration
Challenges awaiting Congress this year
Collins WEB 1
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins speaks to members of the North Forsyth 400 Rotary Club on Tuesday. - photo by Jennifer Sami

It didn’t take District 9 U.S. Rep. Doug Collins long to determine that Washington, D.C., is broke.

“Not just financially, but in a lot of other ways,” said Collins, a Gainesville Republican who took office in January. “It’s as bad as it seems and, actually, it’s probably worse than what we talk about.”

Collins’ remarks came during an address Tuesday to the North Forsyth 400 Rotary Club, one of many stops he’s making across his district.

After four months in the nation’s capital, Collins said he’s always glad to come home, where there’s “at least some sanity.”

“Where people actually know that you’ve got to get up and go to work to earn a living,” he said.

Collins talked to the Rotarians about a variety of issues facing Congress and his work on the House Foreign Affairs, Oversight & Government Reform and Judiciary committees.

He also discussed his efforts to get rid of redundant or unnecessary laws and said noted the up-coming debate over immigration reform that deals with both illegal and legal immigrants, as well as enforcement.

While border security is viewed by many as a necessary first step, Collins said about 40 percent of illegal immigrants living in the United States came to the country legally and just overstayed their visa.

Collins noted while the government issues the visas, there’s apparently no way to find out if those issued one leave the country when it expires. He hopes address that and other “common-sense measures” as the immigration debate picks up.

He also talked about sequestration, the recent arbitrary cutting of $85 billion in spending resulting from inability of Congress and the president to reach an agreement.

“The sequester did work,” he said. “It’s not the best way to do it, and in fact I’d rather have done it a different way. But if that’s the only way we’ll do it then we’ll move forward that way.”

Rotarian Scott Mason said he enjoyed hearing from Collins, whose district includes north Forsyth, because “it gives us the feeling that they actually do care about the people that they’re representing and that it’s not just what we hear on TV.”

“I’m glad he supports the conservative values and I’m glad that he realizes that it’s a spending issue and not a revenue issue,” he said.

Mason added that he was disappointed that President Barack Obama’s health care law, dubbed Obamacare, is not going to be overturned, something Collins said is unlikely, since it would essentially require the president to vote against it.

Many pieces of the law remain in question, Collins said. Those include whether businesses will stop offering health insurance to employees and if it will be ready for full implementation in 2014, as regulations are still being written and exchanges organized.

Collins noted previous efforts to repeal the health care law have been unsuccessful.

“Some of the taxes have already started,” he said. “But next year, you get the mandate part of it. If they can pull it off, that’s the next question. So we’re looking at it from the perspective of employers.

“What we’re trying to do now is we’re trying to figure out what is the best outlet for this.”