Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1) held a forum on campus Wednesday evening to address some of the questions and concerns from the College of William and Mary community, covering a wide variety of issues at the state and federal levels.
The College Republicans hosted the event, which drew approximately 30 people, mostly students. The congressman, who has served the College’s district since 2007, opened the forum by talking about the ongoing economic crisis.
He also spoke about some of the legislative issues he works on as a member of the House of Representatives Committees on Armed Services and Natural Resources, including efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay to stimulate the regional economy.
“That Chesapeake Bay is an economic engine,” Wittman said. “If you look at where the Bay was back in the middle part of this past century, it was the most productive water body in the world, and for years Virginia was always among the top three seafood producers in the nation. Now we’re not in the top five. It has the potential to be in that place again if we do more to clean it up, and I still think we have a ways to go.”
Wittman also praised the capabilities of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and cited the school as being the organization he hoped would play a leading role in monitoring bay cleanup efforts and fishing regulations.
Afterward, Wittman fielded questions from the audience, which ranged in topic from American naval power to a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget to illegal immigration.
On some of the more controversial issues raised by the audience, including the “fast and furious” scandal of the United States Department of Justice and the White House’s loan to energy company Solyndra, Wittman urged caution before jumping to conclusions and stressed that Congress was already at work in uncovering the truth about the scandals.
“I think that those questions are being asked and are being asked in a way that gathers the information and does it in a very objective way to determine what happened,” Wittman said. “Were there problems with the process, and were there people that didn’t do what they were required to do under the law? I feel very good about how those questions are being asked, and that’s Congress in the oversight role.”
On the question of whether the U.S. was losing its edge as a global superpower, Wittman exuded a more optimistic tone.
“I think we’re at a tipping point where we can make some decisions that will get us to the point of being functional in a sustainable way, or we can lose our position, and if we do, I think the problems that we have today will just become exacerbated,” he said. “I’m still a glass half-full person, and I think that the basic fundamentals of the United States, our economy and our military are still there for us to continue to that prominence in the world as an economic power and a military power.”