Congressman offers comments during Gravette Chamber meeting
GRAVETTE — Congressman Steve Womack was the guest speaker for the regular meeting of the Greater Gravette Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday, Aug. 17. Prior to speaking at the meeting, he joined Mayor Kurt Maddox for a tour of the recently modernized Gravette City Hall and Police Department. He and his assistants also toured Gravette’s Can Do Hardware and visited with the owners and employees.
Womack has represented Arkansas’ Third Congressional District since 2011. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. After redistricting, his district includes Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison and Crawford counties and most of Sebastian County.
Chamber president Steve Harari welcomed those present and introduced Womack and his assistants and new Chamber member Kim McDougal, owner of Local Bliss.
Womack said he believes the truth of the old statement, “There’s no place like home,” and he looks forward to taking his August recess to come back to Arkansas and put his finger on the pulse of the people who elected him. He introduced three members of his staff and said a good, qualified staff is a tremendous asset.
The Congressman spoke a bit about redistricting and explained how the boundaries of his district have changed. He said the big questions before the people are “Where are we going?” and “What are we trying to do?” and emphasized that establishing these goals is important. He said he would continue to “work within the process” and do what he can to help the country and help his district.
“I’m not going to change who I am to get re-elected,” he stated. “I’m going to do what I think is right.”
Womack stated that establishing a budget is a first priority for anyone in business, education or the healthcare field and spoke about the difficulties of setting a budget. He said that developing a budget hasn’t been done the way the budget act says since he has been in office. Ideally, a budget would be formulated, debated in both houses of Congress, then compromises would be reached and, by Oct. 1, each federal agency would know what they have available to spend.
“However today, August 17, not one appropriation bill has passed. I pray we will have funding by the end of the year. We’ve got to figure out a way to get the government working again for the people.
“Can we put Humpty Dumpty back together again?” he asked. “If you can’t even get the basic things taken care of (like a budget), how are you going to fix the hard (matters of national security, transportation, healthcare, etc.)?”
Speaking about Gravette, Womack said, “Man, am I impressed!” and commended Mayor Maddox for recent improvements to the city. He said, “Gravette is doing what you should be doing to be ready because you know the growth is coming.” He noted that Benton County is growing faster than Washington County and “you have a high speed divided highway coming right to your front door and you’ve only seen the beginning.”
Gravette citizens must ask, “Can we get ahead of change?” he noted. “Think beyond today,” he urged. “Think about what you need for the next generation. Gravette is not going to be your granddaddy’s Gravette. It’s going to be something remarkably special if you do it right.”
“I don’t want kids at Gravette High School to feel their success is dependent on what the government will give them,” he continued. “The more we give, the more dependent they become and that suppresses the desire to go out and do cool stuff, create jobs, take risks, skin your knee now and then, get up and keep going.”
Womack said he hopes for a return to smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom, where the people are more in control. “But you gotta have a change agent and a lot of that is happening in Gravette,” he concluded.
Womack answered several questions from the audience following his presentation.