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U.S. Rep. Farenthold social media interview (w/video)

April 20, 2017 at 10:36 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold.

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold.   Angela Piazza for The Victoria Advocate

Congressman Blake Farenthold took questions from social media during a visit to Victoria on Thursday afternoon.

The visit came a day after Farenthold was noticeably absent from a town-hall-style meeting at the Oveal Williams Senior Center in Corpus Christi, which more than 100 constituents attended, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

"The folks that don't support me have a really bad habit of scheduling things when I'm not going to be there," said Farenthold on Thursday in an interview at the Victoria Advocate's office and broadcast live on social media.

The U.S. representative defended his absence, saying the organizers of the Corpus Christi meeting had not properly invited him.

"They didn't call and say, 'Hey, congressman, when can you do a town hall?'" Farenthold said. "They sent us a fax saying, 'We're having a town hall (Wednesday night) - come. That's not how you schedule anything with anybody."

Farenthold also said he is planning to have town hall meetings in Corpus Christi and Victoria by August or earlier.

Despite that missed connection, some members of District 27 did get the chance to ask the congressman about issues and policy.

Travis Smith, of Victoria, wanted to know where Farenthold stood on tax reform, specifically the border adjustment tax.

Although Farenthold said he liked the premise, he sees both advantages and disadvantages to a tax that would "level out the playing field for our exports" by giving tax advantages to U.S. exports and stripping tax breaks from foreign imports.

"That tax would potentially be passed on to the consumers buying things made in China at Wal-Mart," he said. "There are ups and downs to either side, but I really do like the premise. How you get the details is yet to be worked out."

With international media outlets reporting the failure of a North Korean missile launch Sunday, the representative spoke his mind about the possibility of conflict in the Korean peninsula.

"If you ask me what I lose sleep over, it's that ... You've got a leader over there that I think may not be playing with a full deck of cards," Farenthold said. "And he has access to nuclear weapons. That's scary. How do you deal with that is the next question."

Farenthold praised President Donald Trump's recent meeting with Chinese leaders as a move in the right direction. The representative said North Korea's dependence on Chinese oil refineries could allow the U.S. an opportunity.

"China has a lot of leverage in trying to rein them in ... I'm not really happy about relying on China, but it looks like the quickest way to a peaceful solution."

Victoria resident Sherrie Norred's question for Farenthold addressed issues closer to home.

"Why does mental health funding get cut over ... and over?" she commented Thursday on a Facebook post asking constituents for questions.

Although the representative acknowledged the nation faces serious mental health issues, he said lawmakers are challenged by the demand to solve problems while simultaneously balancing the budget.

He also said he would like to see nongovernmental organizations participate in solving the problem.

"I fundamentally believe it is not the government's responsibility to care for you cradle to grave," he said. "Your family, your church, your community need to step up as well."

Farenthold next was asked about his thoughts about the rising cost of tuition throughout the nation.

The representative said universities have an obligation to lower tuition themselves.

"Do you really need to put that new climbing wall in the student center?" Farenthold asked.

The 20-minute interview with Farenthold ended with a question from Alvin Gomez, of Yoakum.

"What is his position on the release of Trump's tax returns?" said Gomez in a Facebook comment.

Farenthold described the request for tax returns as a "big distraction."

"I think everyone is entitled to privacy on their tax returns," he said.

This story was updated on April 21, 2017 to correct Sherrie Norred's city of residence.


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