HAMMOND | U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky addressed issues from his vote on the fiscal cliff deal to gun control Thursday at one of his first town forums planned in the region this month.
Visclosky, D-Merrillville, told a packed room at the Hammond Public Library that the deal was a “tragic way to legislate” considering Congress knew for two years the Bush-era tax cuts were set to expire. Visclosky, who was one of 16 House Democrats to vote against the measure, also pointed to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that found the deal would add nearly $4 trillion to the deficit.
Through the deal, Visclosky contended Congress essentially punted the problem.
“We are going to have another situation like this arise in seven more weeks,” Visclosky said.
Visclosky said while he was a “proud” Democrat, he felt his responsibility was to the people of Northwest Indiana. The deal, aimed at averting the “fiscal cliff,” maintained the Bush-era tax cuts for families with an income of less than $450,000 and pushed back spending cuts to defense and domestic programs by two months.
“The best deal is if there is something in it all of us don't like because then we all gave something up and then you move ahead and that would be the one thing I suggest to my colleagues is we have to govern,” Visclosky said.
On gun control, Visclosky said given the recent tragedy where 26 people were killed at a Connecticut elementary school, it is clear Congress will consider legislation dealing with firearms.
While Visclosky said he supports Second Amendment rights, he gave two examples of when he voted in favor of strengthening gun control.
Visclosky said he voted for the Brady Bill, which established background checks on individuals purchasing firearms. He also voted in favor of the now-expired assault-weapons ban.
Albertine Dent, of Hammond, who came to hear Visclosky speak at the forum, said she thought the event was informative.
“I always like to hear and get it directly from my congressperson,” said Dent, who serves on the Hammond Public Library board, “as to what's going on in the Congress and how we can help locally to push things.”
Visclosky will hold forums through Jan. 18. He will make stops today in Munster, Crown Point, Portage, Chesterton and Valparaiso.