U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson Visits Aiken, Talks SRS and Trump Influence

Jan 3, 2018

The Aiken Standard

Colin Demarest

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., stopped by the Aiken County Government Center on Wednesday afternoon to preview his legislative goals for the new year.

Wilson's 2018 focus can be divided into four categories: creating jobs, reducing regulations, promoting international alliances and strengthening the military.

During his speech, a pamphlet – a version of which was enlarged and served as a backdrop for his remarks – was circulated. It lightly detailed each category.

Regarding the economy, Wilson said he will support conservative budgets and advocate for fair trade. Repealing and replacing Obamacare, an effort that has failed multiple times now, is also on Wilson's list. The pamphlet says the health care program "destroys jobs."

Locally, Wilson said he would work tirelessly to ensure the prosperity and security of the Savannah River Site: "Whatever missions can be done, I will promote or be there."

The congressman applauded state Attorney General Alan Wilson's federal court win against the U.S. Department of Energy, a win that forces the DOE to remove 1 ton of weapons-grade plutonium from SRS in two years.

Wilson said the plutonium will move to Yucca Mountain, a Nevada nuclear waste repository that President Donald Trump has attempted to resuscitate. Federal funding for the storage site ended in 2011.

"The people who live in that immediate community of Nevada understand this would be safe and secure," Wilson said. "It needs to be transported safely and securely underneath the mountain in Nevada."

Wilson said he strongly believes South Carolina is not a nuclear dumping ground. That comment directly echoes an earlier statement put out by the attorney general.

Regarding the ever-controversial Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, Wilson said he's collaborated with South Carolina and Georgia politicians – "working with Sen. Graham and congressman Rick Allen" – to secure funding for continued MOX construction.

Overall, the MOX project is 70 percent complete, Wilson said.

"I want to finish MOX … It's very frustrating to hear reports that it's 30 percent complete," Wilson said. "That's not true."

The rest of Wilson's 20-minute conference focused on Trump: Wilson said he is "very appreciative" of what the president has done so far.

"I'm very grateful of his leadership," Wilson said.

The congressman said Trump has successfully promoted and rebuilt the American military – an achievement that lines up with his own goals.

That military growth, Wilson added, is partially responsible for what he described as the routing of ISIS in the Middle East.

"We see the consequence of this," Wilson said. "ISIS has truly been defeated."

Wilson, though, later said the war on terror is ongoing and is undertaken on new fronts daily.

The South Carolina Republican, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also praised a recent arms deal with Ukraine.

"This is very, very significant because we must stop the Russian Federation from the aggression they've had," Wilson said. "The president is standing firm."

In December 2017, the Trump administration approved the sale of anti-tank weaponry, among other lethal weapons, to the Ukrainian government. Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists for almost four years .

The distributed pamphlet says Wilson supports Trump's view of "peace through strength."

On the topic of international relations, Wilson, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Trump has regained the trust of Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, for the American people. Wilson said the president's declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the president's recent condemnation of the Iranian government both deserve applause.

Wilson's stop in Aiken was part of a larger District 2 tour that included stops in West Columbia and North Augusta.

Wilson visits North Augusta

During his stop in North Augusta at the Municipal Building, which he called "the world's most beautiful city hall," Wilson mentioned the Riverside Village development, calling it a great example of South Carolina and Georgia working together.

"To see the vision that Lark (Jones) had and you're following through," Wilson said to Mayor Bob Pettit, "The riverfront, how exciting this is and to see the stadium, and every time I'm reading the newspaper about the expansions there and the jobs they've created, it really warms my heart to see what a positive community this is."

"I'm thinking of President Trump's economic agenda: jobs, jobs, jobs," he said about Riverside Village.

He also mentioned Fort Gordon and the new cyber command center. "How important that's going to be to this community in terms of addressing the issues that are a threat to our country from cyber, and CRSA is going to be in the middle of it," he said.

After the conference, attendee Connie Boswell asked how the recently passed tax plan impacts her as a retiree and how it will affect Social Security and Medicare. Said she worked for AT&T for 35 years and worked very hard for her retirement.

"I moved eight times chasing it and I can't afford to lose what I've got," she said.

Wilson responded by saying the growing economy will make sure the funding is there, and said retirement accounts have been significantly enhanced.

"The good news is by growing the economy, we will be able to save Social Security and Medicare," Wilson said.