ST. CLAIRSVILLE - U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson worries about the future of America's national security as Obamacare results in federal defense cuts.
Johnson, R-Marietta, spoke on the front steps of the Belmont County Courthouse on Tuesday night to a gathering of conservatives organized by the Belmont County Tea Party. Main Street in front of the courthouse was closed to traffic while the event took place.
A military veteran, Johnson predicted defense cuts would result in the smallest Navy and Air Force the nation has ever seen.
ADDRESSES CROWD — U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, addressed a crowd gathered outside the Belmont County Courthouse in St. Clairsville on Tuesday night. The Belmont County Tea Party sponsored the event that led to the closure of Main Street/U.S. Route 40 in front of the courthouse. - Joselyn King
"This year's election is not just about the economy - though that's what is most important on our minds," he said. "It's also about national security. These folks (the Obama administration) don't know what they're doing."
Johnson faces former U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, a Democrat, in the Nov. 6 general election. Johnson defeated Wilson in 2010.
Johnson said Tuesday the difference between him and Democrats in Washington is that "I want to spend less, while Barack Obama wants to spend more." He added he supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through the Midwest to increase the nation's gasoline supply and lower prices, and he thinks there should be fewer regulations on industry.
Johnson acknowledged he gets frustrated in Washington.
"But we're making progress," he told those present. "Look around you ... the voice of the American people is being heard. They are starting to think, 'What is the character of the people we're sending to Washington?'"
Johnson also noted the Senate has failed to pass a federal budget in more than three years.
"If (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid were in the military, he would be in jail for dereliction of duty," Johnson said. "They don't have a jail for Harry, but he is still derelict in his duties."
Johnson has introduced legislation that would require Congress to pass a federal budget before April 14 each year. If they fail to do so, members would receive no pay until a budget is approved, Johnson said.
Comments from others also elicited positive response from those present.
Kellie Conway of the Belmont County Tea Party told the crowd the word "green" in an environmental sense "is just a code word for socialism. That's the way I see it."
Wheeling financial adviser Thomas Pie, a St. Clairsville resident, spoke of the "elitists" in government. He said elitists believe "people are weak, people are stupid and that people must comply."
Also speaking was coach Dave Daubenmire, a radio broadcaster and inspirational speaker from London, Ohio.
Johnson was in Mingo Junction earlier in the day talking about grant funding.