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Social Security, energy, vaccines topics of Rep. Fred Keller’s town hall

U.S. Rep. Fred Keller fielded several telephone calls during a live stream town hall meeting this week that focused on his legislative agendas but also included discussion on Social Security concerns, energy independence and use of federal tax dollars.

Keller, R-Kreamer, said the millions of dollars going to communities as a result of the American Rescue Plan and taxes needs to be specifically directed toward projects and programs that improve lives.

For example, Keller strongly believes that any infrastructure bill should provide direct sources of cash for repairing roads and highways, bridges, expanding broadband Internet to more rural locations and energy and water and sewer projects that lower cost of energy and provide jobs.

Fielding callers questions, a woman from the borough of Jersey Shore said she has not received her tax return from the Internal Revenue Service after filing it in March.

Keller apologized to the woman adding that he believed the delay might have to do with the federal agency not being back to full staff. He also referred the woman to his aides at the local office.

The limited amount of increase for recipients of Social Security and how federal funds are getting shuffled to illegal immigrants irked one caller.

“How are people expected to

survive on $1,100 to $1,200 a month in Social Security?” the caller asked Keller before adding a second related question: Why can’t money used to support those who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border go toward the Social Security fund?

Keller, who recently went to the border, said retirees earned their Social Security. He agreed that those whose first act is to break laws should not “go before American citizens.”

“Republicans get accused of cutting Social Security,” Keller said. “What hurts the payments is inflation and shutting down natural gas pipelines,” he said.

A caller from South Williamsport asked Keller to please support President Joe Biden’s budget proposal on renewable sources of energy.

Keller said he favored an “all inclusive” and diverse energy, including natural gas, clean coal, wind and solar.

Keller told a small restaurant owner in Lewisburg who could not find enough employees to hire due to unemployment paying more than wages to work in food service that he would support legislation that incentivizes workers.

Keller said continuing to extend unemployment without incentivizing back to work policy places Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare in jeopardy.

“It also is putting debt on our kids,” Keller said.

Keller said he was opposed to federal government funding school districts to teach critical race theory and said school boards need to drive curriculum discussions.

Keller said he would continue to support legislation to help veterans. He told a Sullivan County woman whose father’s military records from Merchant Marine service in World War II were lost in a fire to contact his office, she should contact his office which may be able to assist her in finding the records.

Keller said he supported legislation to make healthcare workers available such as the Nurses Care Act and Rural Healthcare Act to ensure rural hospitals receive equitable funding and reimbursement for providing inpatient services compared to hospitals in urban settings.

He noted his support for the Lycoming County Fair in Hughesville and Future Farmers of America and 4H Club and individuals in agriculture throughout the 15 counties in the district.

He said the month of August will be a time for him and the staff to visit with constituents and hear their concerns before returning in September.

To those who called to express their frustration with various politicians Keller said it was important they “do not paint everyone with one broad brushstroke and to look at their behavior.”

“Past performance is an indicator of future behavior,” he said.

To a question from someone unwilling to be vaccinated and not wanting it forced, Keller said, the vaccines that were developed in the previous administration and continue to be distributed widely are proving to be working and that it was a choice. “Nobody should be coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccination against their will,” he said.

Keller said he supported holding congressional hearings on the origin of COVID-19.

But, he said, all 435 congressional districts across the nation need to get Democrat House leadership to agree to put such a hearing on the schedule.

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