HURLOCK — U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-1st District), during a lunch with Eastern Shore chambers of commerce members on Tuesday, Aug. 13, talked about health care, clean energy and international trade.
Harris met with chamber members from Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico counties at Suicide Bridge Restaurant in Hurlock, where he reassured his constituents that Congress was constantly trying to reach health care compromises in Washington, D.C.
The congressman said that many of President Donald Trump’s initiatives to reform health care have been shot down under Maryland law. He said he thought the president’s temporary insurance plans were a “good solution at a much lower price [than the Affordable Care Act],” but Maryland denied them.
“The Maryland General Assembly made them illegal. What can I say?,” he said. “Every time [President Trump] does something, somebody takes it to court. We are trying in Washington. The president’s trying.”
Harris urged those in attendance to pay close attention to health care discussions as the 2020 election nears.
Harris also touched on the state of international trade in the U.S., calling the trade war with China the “fly in the ointment.”
“We have to fix the trade issue, no question about it,” he said. “When America coughs, the world catches a cold. We have to settle trade issues now and, honestly, it’s all about China right now.”
Harris said he thinks the trade issue will “turn out alright” in the end, but said it’s “going to be painful getting there.”
“It ain’t pretty to watch sometimes, but [President Trump] is keeping us on the track,” he said. “Bottom line is, this president understands how the economy works.”
Topics of conversation shifted back and forth throughout the lunch, but Harris spent a significant amount of time detailing his thoughts on the Ocean City windmill farm project.
Harris said plans to construct offshore wind turbines near Ocean City should be halted because the effects of the turbines on certain entities have not been thoroughly researched.
The windmill project intends to boost Maryland’s renewable energy supply, erecting the nation’s second and largest offshore wind farm near Ocean City.
Harris said opponents of the project say the turbines will be an eyesore for beachgoers, obstructing people’s view of the horizon, and could interfere with sonar and radar signals.
Harris said that, despite opposition from the Ocean City tourism industry, the windmill project has gotten the “red carpet laid out to the point where rules aren’t followed.”
Harris said the project received special treatment because it is a “favored project.” But the government did not consider all of the implications of going forward with the construction, he said.
Harris referenced a study by the U.S. Department of Defense, which he said found the windmills have an effect on the sonar and radar signals.
“So [there’s] interference above the water and below the water,” he said. “Because if you think about it, these windmills turning at a relatively slow speed actually vibrate the entire tower that actually sends sonar signals under the water.”
Harris warned the interference could affect national security because it would inhibit the U.S. from detecting submarine threats off the coast.
“What else vibrates as it spins? Well, Russian submarines off the coast,” he said. “So, it turns out, the Navy had said years ago in a memo we uncovered, ‘You know what, we really ought to think about this very carefully. Ocean City is the closest ocean to Washington, D.C. If an attack on Washington, D.C., were to come, it would probably come off the Mid-Atlantic coast.’
“Why in the world would you not want to know what the exact effect of these spinning objects that create waves both in the air and under the water have? Well, because it’s a favored project,” Harris said.
Harris ended the meeting by saying he loves coming to the Eastern Shore, and he urged people to bring to his office’s attention “anything you think the federal government could do better.”