U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tennessee, was quick late Thursday to summarize what he has seen in his first four months in Washington. The Knoxville Republican was the keynote speaker at the Blount County Republican Club’s annual Lincoln Day dinner at William Blount High School.

“In the last 100 days under a Democratic majority, we’ve accomplished nothing, but under Trump, we have a booming economy,” Burchett said.

The budget tops a list of items he felt were important to voters, from helping homeless veterans and opposing abortion to addressing the current drug epidemic.

Feelings were high as the former Knox County mayor joked with local officials and told anecdotes from his first quarter representing Tennessee’s 2nd District.

The most critical issue, he said, was balancing the national budget.

“Congress hasn’t passed a balanced budget in two decades,” Burchett said.

The last time was in 1997 under former President Bill Clinton with the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which was designed to end the deficit by 2002.

The budget for fiscal year 2020, which runs from Oct. 1, 2019, to Sept. 30, 2020, is $4.746 billion with a deficit of $1.103 trillion — the highest in the country’s history.

A balanced budget also would allow elected officials to begin focusing on other concerns, according to Burchett, including assistance for veterans with an emphasis on homeless veterans.

Another concern, he added, was supporting the White House’s efforts to deal with North Korea’s reclusive leader, Kim Jong-Un.

“He’s a punk just like his daddy, but Trump can handle him,” Burchett said. “No missiles have been launched since Trump has been in office.”

Burchett also is a staunch supporter of Trump’s efforts to construct a border wall along the U.S.-Mexican border from California to Texas.

A controversial bill, the Ensuring Lawful Collections of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act, was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in 2017 to divert funds seized from Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman and other convicted traffickers for the border wall project.

Domestic seizures legally are required to be deposited into the U.S. Department of Justice’s existing Assets Forfeiture Fund for a variety of causes, including law enforcement training and equipment.

First introduced in 2017, the bill died on the floor. Cruz revived it in January.

“I supported the El Chapo Act,” Burchett said. “A large portion of the drugs in this country are flowing in over the border.”

Burchett chided Democrats on a number of issues, including the recent Green New Deal bill that seeks to move toward 100% renewable energy while eliminating toxic fuel emissions.

While growing up in Knoxville, Burchett recalled, his family drove past a local glass-making factory on their way to church.

The odor and emissions from the plexiglass manufacturing process was so strong, he said, it burned his eyes.

“You couldn’t see the mountains back then, and now you can,” Burchett said. “Folks, things are so much better now and this sky-is-falling nonsense isn’t working.”

{div}Not everyone agreed with his synopsis, though. Blount County Democratic Party First Vice Chairperson Nathan Higdon said his group found different issues concerned voters when they knocked on 20,000 doors during the last election.{/div}

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{div}”With boots on the ground, our knowledge is the the biggest issues were education and health care,” Higdon said. “They are worried about to keep their kids in school and how to keep their health care covered. They are concerned about how to care for aging adults. This is not a partisan issue. The reality is, people are concerned about how those issues will come back to their pocketbooks.”{/div}

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{div}Longtime Republican supporter Max Hill agreed with Burchett on many points. Both political sides also are paying more attention to current events than in years past, Hill noted.{/div}

“People are more concerned about what’s going on in the world than usual,” Hill said.

Former Republican National Convention representative Peggy Lambert presented longtime Blount County volunteer and chairwoman Susan Mills with the Republican Woman of the Year Award.

Mills has served for 20 years, including stints as Blount County Republican Party chairwoman and as a state GOP committee member.

“It’s nice to be recognized by friends and people that I’ve worked with through the years,” Mills said.

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