Mike Lee discusses national politics in Coalville
September 4, 2015
Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) set the tone for his town hall meeting in Coalville Wednesday saying he disagrees "with our current president and many of his policies and tactics."
Lee spoke with constituents at North Summit High School touching on a variety of issues when prompted by questions from the audience, including immigration, climate change and the Iran nuclear agreement. He referred to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as a "vile dictator" and he advocated for religious freedom and state rights.
Several of his statements triggered applause from audience members, who traveled from Park City, Henefer, Heber City and Sandy to attend.
At town hall events Lee said he is able to get a sense of where people’s concerns lie. In an interview with The Park Record after Wednesday’s meeting, Lee said the underlying theme from the discussion is that people are frustrated with an "overreaching government."
It was a sentiment he expressed repeatedly during his hour-long discussion with the audience, referring to an "overuse of executive authority" within the federal government.
"For the last year and a half there has been a growing sense of frustration and concerns like those are coming up a lot more frequently," Lee said.
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In a lengthy response to a question, Lee used the Iran nuclear issue to illustrate how the government is overstepping its powers. Wednesday afternoon, Obama secured enough Democratic votes to ensure the deal goes through Congress.
"This is a bad deal," Lee said. "When you are buying a car and you tell the car dealer, ‘I am going to buy this car and I am not leaving tonight until I buy this car. In fact, I will spend everything I got in order to buy this car,’ how good of a deal are you going to get? Not a very good one… it’s my fear and my firm conviction that that is analogous to what we have done with Iran."
Lee told the audience the agreement does not hold Iran accountable and will open up several billion dollars to its government that will be used to kill Israelis and American soldiers. Lee said the deal should be submitted as a treaty and ratified by the Senate.
"So tonight I call upon the secretary of the United States and the president of the United States to follow the Constitution and submit this to the Senate as a treaty. Let us decide if it should be ratified as a treaty," Lee said as the audience erupted in applause.
Framed to reflect Summit County’s changing climate and the recent relatively snow-less winter, Glenn Wright, the chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, asked Lee about his position on climate change and how it could affect the local economy.
"There are many who take the position that man-made activity is producing these climate changes and causing global warming. I understand that theory, but lets us even assume human activity is to blame for climate change. Be that the case, what regulatory solutions can change that?" Lee said. "I would need more assurance other than there is some possibility over the next 100 years that we will make a dent to the tune of a degree, or half degree, the jury is still out on this one."
When one audience member asked Lee why the "idiot in Washington," can’t be shut down, he responded, "Which one?"
Lee questioned many of the current policies instituted by the president, but also made several statements blaming his political predecessors.
"What this president has done that offends many of us is sadden the legacy left by lots of presidents, senators and congressman of both parties over many decades," Lee said. "I wish I could say that all that belongs to the other political party that I don’t belong to. It doesn’t. Over the course of many decades we have had presidents and members of both political parties trampling on the Constitution."
Lee answered several questions, including one from North Summit High School student Maren Boyer about the use of public lands, and responded to statements for nearly an hour. After the meeting, he spoke with audience members and posed for pictures.
During the meeting, Lee scribbled notes on a notepad about the issues that were raised. He said he uses these discussions to glean ideas from "people back home" and raise them on Capitol Hill.
"It all goes into the matrix and the mix of my legislative policy and strategy," he said. "It helps serve as a point of discussion with my colleagues and serves as a jumping off point for a larger discussion."
The town hall meeting was Lee’s second this week. He appeared at Woods Cross High School in Bountiful Tuesday. The meetings were the Lee’s last visits before the U.S. Senate reconvenes on Tuesday, Sept. 8.