U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo addressed an enthusiastically supportive crowd today during a town hall meeting at the Derby Recreation Center.
The Wichita Republican spent an hour speaking and answering questions on issues that varied from balancing the federal budget to praising the governor of Wisconsin's effort to curtail public employees' collective-bargaining powers and criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency.
He started the meeting by praising the Air Force's decision Thursday to award a $35 billion aerial refueling tanker contract to Boeing.
"It's gonna be built right here in Kansas," Pompeo said to cheers and applause.
That's why he ran for office, Pompeo said.
"There were two things I wanted to take on — first was jobs and the second was shrinking the size and scope of our federal government," he said.
Sean O'Brien of Derby challenged Pompeo about his stance regarding unions, in light of to recent events in Wisconsin.
"Are you going to support union workers or support union busters in these places?" O'Brien asked. "Where Republicans got control, that's the first they did is go after working people."
O'Brien's question drew shouts of "no" from the audience.
"What you are seeing in Wisconsin is exactly what you are seeing at the federal level," Pompeo said. "It is a direct result that there is simply no money. You are seeing it with governors all around the country and you will see it with ours in Kansas, too."
While the federal government can print more money, Pompeo said, states don't have that option.
"You have a governor who is trying to figure out how to make it work," Pompeo said. "I applaud the efforts of what he is doing."
O'Brien countered, "Yes, but to call teachers some kind of elite class of workers... it is perfect, you've got workers fighting with one another."
Pompeo also talked about his opposition to EPA regulations affecting small businesses, which drew applause of support.
"You have an agency that doesn't understand the lives you all live, whether their purpose is noble or not," he said. "They don't understand that small business doesn't have time to fill out that piece of paper. We will start to push back through authorization and defunding certain programs and agencies."
Pompeo also announced that his new office — located on the fifth floor of the Equity Bank Building on the southwest corner of Kellogg and Rock Road — will open Monday morning.