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Rep. Mast to constituents: 'I hear you'

Posted at 7:51 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-27 06:57:58-04

From immigration, to healthcare and the fate of Planned Parenthood, there's a lot of unknowns in Washington right now.

"I hope my voice will be heard, it hasn't been heard so far," said Jeanette Hartzell, who lives in Port St. Lucie.

She was one of the more than 40 people who turned up at newly-elected congressman Brian Mast's Treasure Coast office on Tuesday. They hoped to speak with Rep. Mast while he's home for one week as Congress is in recess.

Many of them had concerns about affordable healthcare and the possible defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Click here to read more about the mass visit to U.S. Representatives' office across Florida.
With so much to do and so little time, Mast said he has been working around the clock to meet and speak with as many of his constituents as possible. When the group visited his office on Tuesday, he was busy with community meetings in Stuart.

"There's some amazing things going on right now. I'm proud to be a part of it and I look forward to the way the process continues," said Mast.

WPTV's Alanna Quillen caught up with Mast -- who represents District 18 -- at a business event on Wednesday. He wants people to know that he hears them loud and clear.

"People have anxiety over what's going on with healthcare and anxiety over what's going on with tax reform. That tells me that we have to go out there and we have to fight this by doing the best possible job in messaging this," said Mast.

He says he's concerned about affordable health care too, as Republicans in Congress work to find a replacement for Obamacare.

"Not just that premiums have skyrocketed, but deductibles have skyrocketed," he said. "We have to make sure that people have usability with their healthcare. If somebody has such a high deductible that they can't go out there and get the most basic medical procedures, essentially even though we provided them access, we've taken away the ability to use healthcare."

Fellow republican Tom Rooney (R-District 17), who represents several counties around Florida's west coast, said he hopes constituents can give the House a chance.

"Obamacare is collapsing under it's own weight. One of the things we could do is nothing and just let that happen, but that would be irresponsible. but what we're trying to do is replace it with something that's sustainable and something that is more affordable," he said.

In regards to Planned Parenthood, Mast said he plans to tour a local facility soon. He also said he's bringing local water issues to the table in Washington, D.C.

"What's going on with Lake Okeechobee, our rivers, our coastal estuaries," he said. "I'm speaking with the corps of engineers on a regular basis. I'm doing what I can to speak to the EPA. I'm doing what I can to speak to stakeholders. We're working on legislation."

Rep. Rooney, who has been in Congress for eight years, is asking for patience. He says things move a little slower in Washington.

"I don't think it's fair to say one way or another, that in this short amount of time, that all the things that we've been talking about can happen this quickly," he said. "With regard to some of the rhetoric and everything going on with regard to the president, I just say, give the guy a chance. He's been in office for a month. Let's see what he can do and if he can deliver on his campaign promises."

Rooney added that another major issues Congress has on their plate right now is tax reform.

"We're going to try and reform the tax code and that's a huge lift. There is a lot on our plate," he said. "Aside from getting our regular appropriations bills done, this is the first time since I've been elected in '08 where we have a Republican House, Republican Senate, Republican in the White House. So being able to actually mark up bills that are republican sided and actually have them signed into law is exciting for those of us on the right side of the aisle. So hopefully we can get that done."

Mast plans to hold a town hall meeting this Friday at 1 p.m. at the Fenn Center in Fort Pierce.

"I wasn't given an 8-ball or the ability to read minds. And that's where I tell people -- tell me what your concerns are, tell me what you're thinking about so that I can be a better representative," he said.

He and other U.S. representatives will return to the nation's capital on Monday.