Congressman Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) explained the guiding principles of his personal decision-making in office, focusing specifically on how it applies to issues of economic reform and national defense, at an event in Healy Hall on Tuesday
The event, which was co-hosted by the Georgetown University College Republicans and the GU Student Veterans Association, saw Gibson emphasize three major policy points: growing the American economy, drafting a balanced budget and maintaining a strong national defense.
After 29 years of military service, Gibson was elected the U.S. Representative of New York’s 19th Congressional District in 2012.
Gibson currently serves on the House Agriculture, Armed Services and Small Business Committees. He said that he follows two principles to guide his votes on any bills under consideration: whether the bill is constitutional and whether or not it benefits his constituents.
“If the answer is yes to both, then I support it, I vote for it,” Gibson said. “If it’s no to one of the two, then I don’t.”
Regarding his principles, Gibson said that his colleagues have learned to respect his firmness. He further stated that once he makes a decision, the House Republican leadership does not pressure him to change his mind.
“My leadership know that if I say no, I mean no, if I say, yes, I mean yes,” Gibson said. “That means they can count on me even when it gets really hard and I’ll be there with them.”
Gibson said he supports reforming the current health care system to reduce costs and benefit the economy. Currently, the World Bank reported that health care spending by the U.S. government occurs at a level of 17 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product, which Gibson wants to bring down to 3 percent. Gibson also said he backs the easing of regulations for small businesses, which he says suffer under the present system.
“Our small business owners today often get fatigued [by regulatory policies],” Gibson said. “They have a great idea and then they’ll actually walk away from it before they get it started and then for those existing businesses, [the ideas] often get forgotten.”
Gibson said he gave up his military pension before making monetary cuts in his district in order not to give a poor impression of hypocrisy to his voters. Gibson relates his legislative mentality to his experience as a soldier and the sacrifices that one must make when being part of a team.
“Just like when I was an infantry leader, I knew I was going to have to make some hard calls and I wanted to be the first one to take the cut,” Gibson said. “That was important for having the kind of moral legitimacy that we can make these hard calls.”
On the issue of national defense, Gibson asserted his philosophy as one that emphasizes defense spending and is willing to use force if necessary. Gibson noted that the United States should always carefully weigh its options before committing to a major use of force.
“I am a classical conservative when it comes to national security. I believe in peace through strength,” Gibson said. “I’ve fought and bled for this country, but I think that we’ve been too quick to use force.”
In response to the threat of the Islamic State group, Gibson advocated for United States support of all Muslim allies in the region. Specifically, he advocates openly arming the Kurds to fight ISIS militants, as a stronger U.S. presence in the region might undermine the recruitment capabilities of ISIS.
“This enemy is essentially fraudulent,” Gibson said. “They claim they’re advancing the cause of Muslims; nothing could be further from the truth. They kill more Muslims than anyone else.”
Director of Campus Affairs for the GU College Republicans Allie Williams (SFS ’19) wrote that Gibson’s commitment to principles sets him apart from other politicians.
“It was extremely refreshing to hear from a politician who is more concerned with ensuring the best outcome for the citizens of his district than simply pandering to his party,” Williams wrote in an email to The Hoya. “[That] is all too common today.”
Mark Henderson (COL ’17), a member of Georgetown University Student Veterans Association who attended the event, conveyed his admiration for Gibson. Henderson has a personal connection to Gibson, as he served under him in the military and at his office in Congress.
“Having served under Colonel Gibson as a paratrooper and Congressman Gibson as an intern, I’ve been fortunate to witness the caliber of his leadership firsthand,” Henderson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “People should know that he is genuine, and I believe our system could use more of his moderate voice of reason.”
Grace Smith (COL ’18), a resident of Gibson’s district who also attended the event, expressed her appreciation for his work. Despite the fact that she has different political views from Gibson, Smith still respects the efforts made on his part for his constituents.
“Although I am a loyal and proud Democrat, I really respect him and the work he has done,” Smith wrote in an email to The Hoya. “He has served upstate New York well, and I am humbled to be his constituent.”
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