Somerset Daily American: Joyce: Constituents want him to follow President Trump's agenda
Freshman U.S. Rep. John Joyce started his tenure in Washington amid the second-longest partial government shutdown.
“Yet I am up for the challenge,” Joyce said in a telephone interview from the nation’s capital Tuesday. “This is a special set of circumstances, and yet I still feel I need to address these issues the people from Somerset sent me to Washington to do.”
Joyce, a Republican from Altoona, was sworn into office Thursday.
He wrote a letter to the chief administrative officer of the House stating that he will not be taking a government salary during the shutdown and will instead have his salary donated to charity.
“I don’t think any legislature should be paid when their job is not being done,” he said. “Part of their job is to pass a budget that the president will sign.”
The shutdown has furloughed 380,000 federal workers and forced an additional 420,000 to work without pay. President Donald Trump wants funding in the budget for additional border security, including a wall.
Joyce said he thinks there will be progress on the impasse “as soon as the Democrats stop playing politics.”
“I hope they are going to come to the table so we can resolve this quickly,” he said.
Joyce said he is hearing from constituents in support of the president’s agenda.
“The calls are saying we sent you; let them know border security is important to us,” he said. “We are hearing that overwhelmingly on the phone.”
Joyce said he went through an intense orientation process as a new congressman. He said he has assembled a great team with members from both the 13th Congressional District and Washington.
He said he is setting up district offices in Blair, Franklin, Adams and Somerset counties, places where constituents can go to meet with people who take their concerns seriously.
“I invite people to come here,” he said, “come to my office and sit in their chair I am temporarily holding at their request by their votes. This is the people’s house. I’ve taken that charge seriously.”
Joyce said U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson serves as the dean of the Pennsylvania delegation and has been holding conference calls to help freshman lawmakers.
“I am proud to have him as someone who is working with us,” he said.
He said the first bill he signed on as a co-sponsor was a concealed carry reciprocity bill that allows individuals with a concealed carry permit to carry nationwide.
“You do not have to worry if we leave Pa. and drive into Maryland with a concealed carry,” he said. “I am proud the first bill I signed was concealed carry reciprocity.”
Joyce said he has joined the pro-life caucus.
“They represent the ideals and values of people throughout south-central Pennsylvania,” he said.
He said he is not afraid to reach across the aisle to work on issues such as obtaining funding for Route 219.
“Since the swearing in, I am the new face here,” he said. “I am the fresh voice from my decades of experience as a doctor, as a small business owner in the district. I know what we need to grow the economy. I worked for the U.S. Navy and we need to support (the military) to keep them safe.”
Joyce said he was honored that so many people from Somerset County came to Washington, D.C., Thursday for his swearing-in ceremony.
“I was truly moved by that whirlwind day,” he said.
Joyce said he is planning to attend the March for Life on Jan. 18.
“I plan to be on-site walking in the life march and look forward to meeting as many people that come to Washington as I can,” he said.