Morgan Griffith discusses Trump's successes, issues affecting southwest Virginia

The U.S. representative stopped by the 10 News studio

ROANOKE, Va. – Before returning to work Monday in Washington, U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, (R) 9th District, stopped by the 10 News studio to talk about President Trump’s successes, foreign policy - including relations with North Korea - and border security. Here’s part of his conversation with 10 News reporter Tommy Lopez, starting with an evaluation of President Donald Trump.

Tommy Lopez: "How would you describe his successes and/or failures over his presidency thus far?”

Morgan Griffith: "When you look at policy, the president has been very successful. We've had tax cuts, we're working on the regulatory stuff. He deserves the credit for regulatory reform which is creating more jobs and allowing more expansion in the United States. More jobs, more money, better economy, we're going to be okay."

Lopez: "Some of the analysis of Mr. Trump's activity is that he's fairly isolationist with some of his decision making. Do you feel that way about the president's activities?

Griffith: "I don't. What the president is saying is we need a better deal. We need a fairer deal. For example, with the Chinese, they've been stealing from us for decades. We've just been taking it because we've had the largest economy and we've said well, we want to work with the Chinese because we want their markets.

At some point we have to say stop or we're going to be the second, third or fourth best economy in the world instead of number one. I want to see United States be number one. That means you have to negotiate. That means they're going to be some brush-ups, some pushing and shoving but I don't see us going into anything major but there's going to be some jostling, but you can't get anything done if you just sit back and accept the status quo which is that the Chinese are stealing our ideas. They're stealing our jobs. We can't continue to allow that to happen."

Lopez: "Getting to the North and South Korea tensions, they certainly are appearing to be calming. What do you think the right move is for him in relation to Kim Jong Un? Is a face-to-face meeting and good idea and potentially productive?"

Griffith: "I think it is a good idea because it is potentially productive. We've tried everything else. No other president has said 'I will sit down and talk with you.' Part of the North Korean problem is they've always had this chip on their shoulder that nobody respected them. He's shown them some respect. If that means we get rid of nuclear weapons that threaten Japan, Guam, even the west coast of the United States, it's a good thing.

If we give them a little bit of respect and nothing happens, what have we lost? Nothing. The president has played a hard game. Now he's playing a respect game. If that brings us to a conclusion, that's good. We're in a better position with North Korea than we've been in my lifetime and President Trump deserves that credit."

Lopez: "Moving back here at home, let's get to your work on the opioid epidemic. How would you describe your efforts right now and what Congress can do to hold companies accountable and try to sort through this mess."

Griffith: "Well we're going to look the CEOs of some of the distributing companies in the eye next week on Tuesday. That's at 10 o'clock. We're going to be looking them in the eye and saying, 'What did you do? What did you know? What are you going to do to make it better?
It's very clear they were negligent in distributing drugs to areas that could not possibly have been using that many prescription opioids and one of the things we have to look at is was there criminal intent?

The DEA, and I could criticize them over the last five or six years as well, but the DEA has gone in and they're doing a better job of monitoring where the drugs are being sent. We can do better even so and one of the bills we're looking at would do some additional monitoring."

Lopez: "The projections on the deficit increasing are continuing to come out. What is your take on what this country should be doing to help combat some of that and stave off some of those projections?"

Griffith: "It's tough sometimes but we have to look at spending. They may come after one of my spending projects. We all have projects that we think help our district and they do, but we have to decide, is that a top priority and we need to cut some spending. We need to take a look at everything that we're doing and make sure that what we're doing is the most efficient for our nation as a whole.

That's one side of it. And then we have to get those tax cuts out there and make those regulations reasonable. We're also looking at a bill this summer that includes a look at SNAP. If you're an able-bodied person who's on SNAP, we're going to ask you to work and work means you don't have a minor or disabled child at home and work includes things like taking classes so you can go get a job or doing community service work."

Lopez: "Do you have some momentum for that legislation?"

Griffith: "We do have momentum and I do believe that will pass sometime later this summer."

On border security and president Trump’s goal to increase security at the Mexican border:

Lopez: "To some extent it's money and resources right? Is that going to be a Congressional fight for money?"

Griffith: "It is going to be a Congressional fight for money and I will tell you this is a place where we don't have bipartisan support. I unfortunately and regrettably think there are some Democrats who want to keep this issue alive so they don't want to compromise on something like DACA where most everybody believes we have to find a solution to those kids. But they don't want to put any money into the wall and we have to fix both. So why not make the deal to fix both of those?"

Lopez: "Are there any other bills that might come up or ones that you're trying to build momentum for that you'd like to mention?"

Griffith: "I've got some money put into the budget the last two years that deals with taking abandoned coal mine lands and fixing them from an environmental standpoint and converting them into places that can be used for new economic development and that's going to be very important for deep southwest Virginia because you can't use that land right now."