NEW CUMBERLAND - Concessions will need to be made before Congress will pass legislation raising the nation's debt ceiling, U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley explained.
"You have to get something for it," McKinley, R-Wheeling, said during a townhall event held Tuesday in New Cumberland.
With a vote on the debt ceiling expected in the coming days, McKinley told residents who gathered at the New Cumberland City Building that he is against the idea of raising the debt ceiling just to continue down the same path.
He said careful spending reductions need to be made in concert with finding ways to pay the nation's debts.
"It's time we get our house in order financially," McKinley said.
Along with the spending cuts, legislation currently in the House of Representatives also is proposing a one-year delay in the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which the congressman says has its merits but also needs adjustments.
McKinley said an alternative plan is being worked on, which would try to keep some of what he believes are good elements of the law, such as coverage of pre-existing conditions, while replacing others with new elements. Among the proposals mentioned by McKinley were allowing the purchase of insurance programs across state lines and letting small companies pool their resources to find health care programs.
"We're trying to address it," he said. "We can't go back to the old way."
McKinley also touched on the growing natural gas industry, showing a graphic depicting the Tri-State Area as being a part of the nation's second-largest pipeline network for the resource.
He noted there is a need to have balanced regulations to encourage the growth of the industry while protecting the nation's highways and other infrastructure, noting he has spoken with officials with the West Virginia Division of Highways for advice on what can be done to provide better road maintenance along with the increase of truck traffic.
"We can repeal a lot of laws, but we can't repeal the law of gravity," he said.
McKinley also touched on the success of Ergon, which he said is the only remaining refinery in West Virginia, explaining it can see more success if the natural gas industry continues to grow. The gas industry also could spur additional economic development in the region, he said.
Careful regulations also need to be applied to coal, he said, noting his disappointment in newly announced regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency, which McKinley explained will prevent any new coal-fired power plants from being built as there currently is no commercially available technology to meet those requirements.
Other topics discussed included immigration, exports of natural gas and coal, gun control and military action around the world.