Congressman Taylor visits campus

On Oct. 18, Representitive Scott Taylor visited campus to talk to students and faculty about his time in Congress and his plans for re-election. Scott Taylor has been the 2nd District’s congressional representative for two years. He is currently up for re-election, going up against Democratic nominee Elaine Luria.

As most candidates do, Taylor started off by giving his bio and then later went on to talk about what he has been working on since he’s been in office. Taylor grew up on the Eastern Shore with a single mother. He had a somewhat troubling time growing up but once his mother got him involved with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program, his Big Brother helped him change his life around.

After he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the navy and signed up to join the Navy SEALS. During this time with the Navy SEALS, he spent time in South and Central America teaching host nations certain skills, all of which gave him skills that he later used while in Congress.

As he continued talking, he highlighted what he has been working on since he has been in Congress. When he got to Congress he became the 1st “freshman” representative to be elected to the appropriations committee. The appropriations committee is in charge of passing appropriation bills, which regulate government spending.

Taylor was adamant about being on the committee because  “it is important to have an appropriator because about 43% of the district’s economy is government spending,” Taylor said. He’s also worked on projects regarding the military, such as issues with veterans’ affairs and the economy which Taylor said was possible by voting on things that would have a positive effect on the economy.

Taylor prides himself in being able to work with both parties in Congress. Although he is a Republican when he is working in Congress, he never introduces a bill without a Democratic co-sponsor. He says that it is usually harder to get it done that way, but he wants to have bipartisan bills.

Originally any questions for Taylor were supposed to be submitted ahead of time, as Taylor has such a busy schedule, but since there were only three questions that were submitted, Taylor ended up taking questions directly from the audience.

Taylor got lot of hard-hitting questions. Some of them had to do with things that he has worked on during his time in Congress and some other questions had to do on his beliefs and viewpoints of certain topics. Recreation and Leisure Studies professor Doug Kennedy asked Taylor a question based on how much Taylor votes with President Trump. “What are five policies where you disagree with President Trump?” Kennedy asked. Taylor then asked Kennedy if he could name one bill that the president has submitted. When he didn’t get an answer, he went into talking about how the house votes in a majority, and with that all of the bills that actually go to the floor are the ones that go with the party. Even though he didn’t answer the question directly, he still seemed very frustrated about the whole situation.

While most of the questions that were asked when hard-hitting, some were not. As Taylor had previously said, he makes sure that every bill he introduces has a Democratic co-sponsor. One question from the audience had to do with Taylor working with fellow Democrats in congress, wondering if Taylor really tried to be bipartisan like he claimed. “I’m a military guy, I don’t care where you’re from, if you’re black, white, gay or straight. If we got something to do, let’s get it done,” Taylor said. He believes in the strength of diversity and reaching over the aisle.

At times, it seemed as though Taylor went against some of the things that he prided himself on, such as getting along with others. When Administrative Assistant to the Academic Schools Christine Pritchard asked Taylor a question, she felt as though he wasn’t civil like he claimed he was. “It feels like when someone asks you a question and you disagree with them you get aggressive,” Pritchard said. This was referring to questions that he had been asked early regarding some of his beliefs and how he has voted in the past year. While it seemed as though Taylor didn’t like the comment that she had made about his behavior, she continued on with her questions.

At this point, when Taylor was asked questions he didn’t always answer them directly but in a broader and vague way. For example, Pritchard asked Taylor how he felt about the Black Lives Matter movement. Much to her dismay, Taylor stated that he didn’t exactly know what the movement is but he believed that all lives matter.

As a follow up to that question when he was asked if Black Lives Matter he got somewhat defensive and said that he needed to more information about it. He then deflected the situation into talking about some work he has done with prison reform.

While Taylor appeared to answer questions straight ahead, some of the questions that he received were not given the same treatment. With the recent rise in mass shootings in the nation the second amendment is a serious topic amongst the nation.

While things have been tense in this political climate both locally and nationally, Taylor believes that people should disagree with each other and he feels as though that is something that people don’t get to do now. “People should calm down; you can have differences in opinion. That’s why we have elections. People get elected by the majority of the people who show up. That is why it’s important for you to show up. It’s important for you to be engaged in your community. Whether it is the local, state or national level,” Taylor said.

Taylor showed from his visit to Virginia Wesleyan that he has experience as a congressman, but his demeanor and conduct may lead some to think otherwise.

Cynthia Griffin