Saturday at the Phelps County Republican picnic, Eighth District U.S. Rep. Jason Smith said, "Today is the four-month anniversary of my swearing-in."
Then he added, "It's truly been a baptism by fire."
Smith, elected in June to succeed Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned to work as CEO of the National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, spoke by telephone over a portable loudspeaker provided by 121st District Rep. Keith Frederick.
"We've been at a standstill for five days," said Smith of the government shutdown. "It's pretty sad that the president would rather negotiate with Iranians and Russians than the House Republicans."
Smith, spending his second weekend in Washington, D.C., rather than coming back to the Eighth District and his Salem area home, said he would have much rather been at the GOP picnic in Rolla.
In his comments to the Republicans:
•Smith said he has made arrangements to give his salary accrued during the government shutdown back to the U.S. Treasury. He has called on every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate to do the same. More than 100 have said they would, he said.
•The Obama administration barricaded the open-air World War II memorial that an Honor Flight from Missouri wanted to visit last week. Smith said he and other congressmen went to the memorial and moved the barricades. "That is petty politics," Smith said of the barricades against that memorial and other monuments.
• Government regulation went too far in the Eighth District this summer when the National Park Service attempted to regulate a church's baptismal rite in a river in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. "We threw a pretty big fit," Smith said, so the feds rescinded the rule, allowing the church to baptize.
• A Washington bureaucrat recently said, "Government regulation does not affect job growth," and Smith said that that viewpoint is the result of never leaving the D.C. and getting out into the rest of the nation. He noted the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theater will close this month after 54 years because of the costs of federal health care requirements. In addition, Doe Run will lose a smelter, costing 300 jobs. Nordyne will move 495 jobs to Mexico.
• It's time to require a balanced budget, Smith said.