July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Rep. Bob Gibbs talks freed American soldier, Benghazi

BRUNSWICK — U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, said he plans to hold President Barack Obama’s administration responsible for negotiating the release of an American soldier in return for releasing members of the Taliban along with the continuing Benghazi investigation.

Gibbs, whose 7th Congressional District includes part of Brunswick and western Medina County, also said he is closely following a congressional investigation into how the government reacted when an American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked in 2012.

Bob Gibbs

Bob Gibbs

The House has named Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to investigate the federal government’s action in responding to the attacks that killed a U.S. diplomat and three others.

“Gowdy is only after the facts,” Gibbs said. “There are still things we want to know.”

Gibbs stopped by the Brunswick Rotary Club on Thursday morning to meet with members of the civic group, answer questions, and give a legislative update and talk about issues facing lawmakers in D.C.

Gibbs said he wants to know why diplomatic requests for more security in Libya were denied, and what actions Obama and his administration took during the 10 hour attack.

Gibbs said the Benghazi issue is one of many he hopes to investigate.

He said he plans to keep up pressure on the Veterans Affairs, which he said has a long history of forcing veterans to wait years trying to receive treatment. Amid the scandal, Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary of Veteran Affairs last weeke

“At my office, we have veterans who have been waiting years to get through an appeals process,” Gibbs said.

He also weighed in on controversy that began this week after Obama announced the exchange of five Taliban members the U.S. had been holding in an exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been accused of abandoning his post before he was captured by the Taliban.

“I think it puts all Americans at risk now, because they know we bargain for hostages,” Gibbs said. “That was not the policy before.”

In addition to oversight issues, Gibbs discussed legislative action, including passage of a farm bill, budget, and most recently, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. The bill, which was approved by a vote of 412-4, has already been approved by the Senate and is expected to be signed by Obama on Tuesday. The bill has traditionally been passed every two years but hasn’t been updated since 2007, Gibbs said.

“The newest bill has zero earmarks and contains mostly reforms,” he said.

The bill includes reforms and funding for waterways and dredging at ports throughout the country. It also includes flood control planning and ecosystem restoration to protect local habitat.

Gibbs serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and chairs the Subcommittee of Water Resources and Environment, which is a part of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He said he played a big role in helping to draft the legislation, which took about three years of work to complete.

He said the act includes a number of public-private partnerships which could help legislation move along faster.

“We created a new mechanism for how these projects move along through the levels of government,” he said.

Gibbs plans to attend Obama’s signing of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act on Tuesday in the Oval Office.

“It’s a pretty big deal, heading to the Oval Office for a bill signing,” he said. “I feel especially good about it because it had such strong bipartisan support.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or at lgenson@medina-gazette.com. Follow her on twitter @lorengenson.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.