Mar­shall de­fends stance

Con­gress­man stands be­hind bill ex­pand­ing gov­ern­ment wire taps

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rachel Oswald

Dis­trict Eight Con­gress­man Jim Mar­shall (D-Ma­con) de­fended his re­cent vote in fa­vor of a bill which ex­panded the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s author­ity to spy on Amer­i­can cit­i­zens with­out court-ap­proved war­rants at a town hall meet­ing Fri­day morn­ing.

Crit­ics of the bill — which was signed into law by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush on Aug. 5, have said it vi­o­lates the Fourth Amend­ment of the Bill of Rights, which pro­tects Amer­i­cans from un­rea­son­able searches and seizures by the gov­ern­ment.

Pro­po­nents of the bill say it is a nec­es­sary part of the gov­ern­ment’s War on Ter­ror. Crit­ics how­ever warn that there is no guar­an­tee that the new pow­ers won’t be abused and used for pur­poses which have noth­ing to do with the search for ter­ror­ists.

Mar­shall — speak­ing be­fore a gath­ered crowd at the New­ton County Li­brary — said that Congress only ex­tended the new pow­ers for six months af­ter which time they will sun­set un­less they are rat­i­fied again.

“I don’t think any great vi­o­lence has been done to our Con­sti­tu­tion as a re­sult of it,” said Mar­shall of the new law.

Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent Ed Mum­ford ac­cused Mar­shall of tram­pling the Fourth Amend­ment by vot­ing for the pas­sage of the bill.

“There’s no safe­guards to other searches,” Mum­ford said of his op­po­si­tion to the law.

Fri­day’s town hall was hosted by the Cov­ing­ton/New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce. At the be­gin­ning of the event Mar­shall was hon­ored by the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce and given its Spirit of En­ter­prise award for vot­ing in ac­cor­dance with the cham­ber 73 per­cent of the time dur­ing key cham­ber votes in the sec­ond ses­sion of the 109th Congress in 2006.

“The lo­cal Cham­ber of Com­merces do an in­cred­i­ble job,” said Mar­shall in ac­cept­ing the award for the first time.

Be­fore a gath­ered crowd of ap­prox­i­mately 30 New­ton County res­i­dents — which in­cluded lo­cally elected of­fi­cials and civic lead­ers — Mar­shall an­swered ques­tions rang­ing from his views of Con­gress­man John Lin­der’s (R-Ge­or­gia) Fair Tax leg­is­la­tion (he’s against it) to his stance on the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate and the War in Iraq.

A self-de­scribed blue dog Demo­crat, Mar­shall said he has worked with other fis­cally con­ser­va­tive Democrats to push through pay-as-you-go leg­is­la­tion to turn the tide of spend­thrift pork bar­rel pol­i­tics which have ruled Congress for so long.

“You’re not sim­ply go­ing to run red,” Mar­shall said of the new PAYGO pol­icy.

Un­for­tu­nately this means that there will likely not be any pro­gram ben­e­fits for New­ton County and other Ge­or­gia farm­ers suf­fer­ing from the ef­fects of a two-year drought un­less fund­ing is cut else­where.

“It’s just too ex­pen­sive, that’s the bot­tom line,” Mar­shall said. “We know that it’s go­ing to tie our hands in terms of the Farm Bill, but it’s the right thing to do.”

In re­sponse to a ques­tion on the state of the Fed­eral High­way Trust Fund — which the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion re­ceives the ma­jor­ity of its fund­ing from — Mar­shall said he was aware of no bill in Congress which would al­lo­cate ad­di­tional fund­ing to the trust be­fore it com­pletely runs out in 2008.

“I’m just not on top with that is­sue,” said Mar­shall who does not serve on the House Com­mit­tee on Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture. “We do fore­see short­ages.”

On im­mi­gra­tion, Mar­shall said he has voted in fa­vor of build­ing a border fence on the Mex­i­can border to stem the tide of im­mi­grants cross­ing into the U.S. il­le­gally. How­ever Mar­shall said he sees the key to en­forc­ing U.S. im­mi­gra­tion laws is to come down hard on Amer­i­can em­ploy­ers that know­ingly em­ploy im­mi­grants il­le­gally.

“Those who are ar­gu­ing that this should be tol­er­ated are en­tirely wrong,” Mar­shall said.

Mar­shall said he has au­thored a bill, which would im­pose harsher penal­ties on busi­nesses that em­ploy im­mi­grants il­le­gally.

On the War in Iraq, Mar­shall — who re­cently re­turned from a clas­si­fied trip to Afghanistan where he vis­ited the Pak­istani border — used an anal­ogy of a foot­ball game to de­fend his con­tin­ued sup­port of the War in Iraq.

Just as foot­ball teams some­times don’t like their coach or the calls that he makes but still have to fol­low his com­mands, Mar­shall said the Amer­i­can pub­lic should con­tinue to fol­low the wishes of the mil­i­tary and its com­man­ders.

“So long as there is a rea­son­able chance of suc­cess, I’m not go­ing to vote for any­thing that’s go­ing to hurt our chances,” Mar­shall said.

Fri­day’s town hall meet­ing is one of 56 that Mar­shall will host through­out his dis­trict dur­ing his sum­mer re­cess from Congress.

Mar­shall will be host a sec- ond ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion for New­ton County at 1:30 p.m., Tues­day, Aug. 21 at the Mansfield Com­mu­nity House at 3158 Ga. High­way 11.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Hon­ors: U.S. Con­gress­man Jim Mar­shall, left, ac­cepts the Spirit of En­ter­prise Award from U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce South­east­ern Re­gional Man­ager of Con­gres­sional and Pub­lic Af­fairs Deb­bie Car­rothers dur­ing a Town Hall meet­ing at The New­ton County Pub­lic Li­brary Fri­day morn­ing.

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