08/21/13 — Holding discusses future for immigration legislation

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Holding discusses future for immigration legislation

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on August 21, 2013 1:46 PM

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U.S. Rep. George Holding explains his budgetary concerns during a meeting with faculty, staff and students at Mount Olive College Tuesday. His visit to the college was part of Holding's tour of colleges in his district -- North Carolina's 13th congressional district.

MOUNT OLIVE -- U.S. Rep. George Holding stopped Tuesday during a tour of colleges to hear concerns from Mount Olive College faculty, staff and students.

"I wish I could solve all the problems that we have in Washington. It's probably not going to happen, but at least we can solve some small problems through constituent service and getting involved here," Holding told the gathering.

Holding's district, the 13th, contains most of rural Wayne.

He answered questions from the crowd that primarily concerned budget cuts, Obamacare and immigration.

"I think the day of reckoning is coming, and it's coming because we've run out of money," Holding said. "Washington politics are broken. A prime example is we aren't able to pass an appropriations bill in five years."

To fix the budget, Holding said there aren't any simple solutions and soon, the untouchables of federal safety net programs -- Social Security and Medicaid -- will have to be reworked somehow into something more solvent.

"If I want Social Security to be there for me, I'm going to have to plan to retire sometime after 65," the 45-year-old Holding said.

"There's no reason we shouldn't have a safety net for seniors and for those down on their luck. But at the same time, if we are going to have a strong safety net, it's going to need to be reworked."

"The future is getting closer and closer and the future does not bode well for our safety net programs," he said.

According to the 2013 Social Security Trustee's Report, Social Security will be unable to pay its scheduled benefits by 2033.

Related to budget concerns is the upcoming implementation of Obamacare on Jan. 1. The effects of the implementation still aren't fully known, Holding said.

"What is health care going to be like on January 1st? I have no idea and people can't tell you," he said.

"I have no clue. I really don't. The Affordable Healthcare Act has turned into an absolutely big mess, and the debate has changed a little bit in Washington."

"The debate has changed from blaming the folks who voted for the Affordable Healthcare Act to reaching across the aisle and trying to stop it. We say 'We understand that you did not intend these consequences. Please join us in reforming, repealing or delaying the implementation of this.'"

"It's not accomplishing the things that people who voted for it thought it would accomplish," he said.

And to stop Obamacare, Holding and fellow congressman are using the "leverage points" of the House.

"We have limited leverage points that we can use to try to force things through the system and a continuing resolution is one of those. The debt ceiling is another one. And I think it's important to try to reform repeal and delay the implementation of Obamacare and a continuing resolution is a way to do it."

A continuing resolution is a type of appropriations legislation that funds governmental agencies if a full budget has not been signed into law by the end of a fiscal year.

"Congressmen (Mark) Meadows from the western part of the state circulated a letter which I signed onto that says, 'We'll, not demand, but strongly advise, that if leadership brings a continuing resolution to the floor that we would work towards defunding Obamacare,'" he said.

"There's got to be a really good reason for me to vote for a continuing resolution in general. Defunding Obamacare is a good reason to vote for a continuing resolution. A balanced budget amendment would be a good reason to vote for a continuing resolution."

If a continuing resolution nor a full appropriations bill is not passed by Congress, a government shutdown could occur, he said.

Holding also discussed immigration. Currently, Holding is a co-sponsor of a bill that would rework the agricultural guest worker program -- one part of a number of small steps that Republicans are using to fix the immigration problem.

"The current H2A program doesn't work. That's why we have an illegal immigrant problem," he said.

Holding said the current guest worker program has too much bureaucratic red tape, is burdensome to farmers and that wage rates for farm workers are arbitrarily based on standards that really don't apply.

Currently, employers who use the program have to the pay the higher of minimum wages, the prevailing wage or a rate known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate -- currently set at $9.68. This rate is set by the U.S. Department of Labor based on the regional weighted average hourly wage for farm workers.

Holding also disagrees with providing a pathway to citizenship for immigrant guest workers.

"Finding a pathway to citizenship for people who have broken the law and come here, for me, that's not a doable thing," Holding said.

"It won't work. It won't solve the agricultural labor problem either. If people do get citizenship -- you look back to 1986, you had an amnesty program when people got citizenship. They didn't stay and be agricultural workers, they went and became something else," he said.

"This is the red herring out there. Most of the immigrants do not want to become citizens of the United States."

Instead, immigrant farm workers have other ideas, Holding said.

"Earn money, save money and take it home or send it home, the idea is not to become a citizen," he said.

The Agricultural Guestworker Act has made it through committee and has yet to be passed by the House.

"A guest worker program is something that the Senate and the House could agree on. And I like the House bill," Holding said.