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Congressman Gregg Harper

Congressman Harper not happy about recount

By BOBBY HARRISON

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper lamented Monday that the election recount being initiated by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is an effort by Democrats “to portray this as an illegitimate outcome of the election.”

The Republican Harper of Rankin County, who has represented Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District since 2009, told the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government/capitol press corps luncheon Monday that Republican nominee Donald Trump won the Nov. 8 election and should be given an opportunity to succeed.

After eight years of a Democratic presidency, Harper told the crowd, “I am excited to serve with a Republican administration.”

He criticized what he called the effort of Democrats to delegitimize the Trump presidency, trying to weaken his effectiveness.

When asked if a person could say that is what Trump tried to do by continually making the false claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, Harper said, “You could, but I am a Republican. I can’t say that.”

What is important to remember, Harper said, is that the president-elect is “putting together a good team” and he is optimistic for a Trump presidency and what it will mean for the nation and particularly Mississippi. For instance, he said plans to increase the size of the Navy could be good for ship building on the Gulf Coast.

As far as the recount, Stein said she will request recounts in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – three surprise victories for Trump that spurred his electoral college win. The Clinton campaign has said it does not believe the results will change, but said it would participate in the recount.

On other issues, Harper said an interstate highway running from the Gulf Coast to Jackson is needed, particularly as an evacuation route during hurricane threats. But he conceded that it would be difficult to fund such a program without it being part of a larger infrastructure plan that Trump has said he supports.

Harper said that such an infrastructure package is important, but so is controlling federal spending.

He predicted that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, will be repealed. But Harper acknowledged that certain aspects of the law, such as requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ health care plan longer, are popular and most likely would be retained.

As far as the more than 20 million covered by the ACA, Harper said they would not immediately lose coverage. He cited possible small co-pays for people covered through Medicaid expansion, as is allowed by the ACA, and possible work requirements to continue to receive the coverage.

Harper said Republicans understand the need to have some type of health care program to keep “people from going to the emergency room where hospitals are mandated by law to provide care when people don’t need to go to the emergency room.”

With health insurance, people have options for care other than the costlier emergency room.

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