GREENSBORO — U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-1st, during a town hall at the Greensboro Volunteer Fire Company on Sunday, Oct. 13, fielded questions from Caroline County residents concerning a range of controversial topics.
The hour-long question-and-answer session covered President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, the impeachment inquiry into Trump, clean energy production and the 2nd Amendment, among other issues.
The first question Harris’s constituents fired at him was whether he supported Trump’s decision to abandon U.S. Kurdish allies in Syria — to which Harris conceded “it could play out badly.”
Harris said he was “willing to wait to see how this plays out,” and defended Trump’s decision, saying, “Look, we live in a dangerous world, and these are not easy decisions.”
“Putting American men and women in uniform in that area is not an easy decision, nor is withdrawing them an easy decision,” he said. “This president inherited a dangerous place and he’s trying to figure out a way out of it. There are no easy solutions.
“If it works out poorly, then it’s real simple. At the ballot box next November, Americans will not reelect him. That’s the way it’s gotta be. Anything other than that is chaos,” Harris said.
Switching gears, a woman then asked Harris what Congress was doing to establish safer gun laws. Harris employed a pro-2nd Amendment argument, and ensured those in attendance guns are the reason the U.S. has remained a sovereign nation.
Harris used the story of his parents, who emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary and Poland after WWII, to explain his stance on gun rights.
“My parents came from communist countries where it was illegal to own a gun,” he said. “That’s how communists actually stayed in control. That’s how the Nazis controlled the Jews in World War II. They made it illegal to own a firearm.”
He said owning a firearm in the U.S. “was a protection against the government taking power over its citizens above and beyond what [Americans] think is appropriate.”
Harris said Americans’ ability to own firearms “has kept us free for 220 years,” which is “actually phenomenal.” He credited that freedom to the 2nd Amendment — earning him a mixed reaction from a tense audience.
But Harris’s constituents pressed harder, navigating swiftly to the next point of contention in U.S. politics: the House’s impeachment inquiry into Trump.
“If no further evidence comes forward, I would vote against impeachment,” he said. “We have much more pressing things we need to do. We have an election in 13 months. We can resolve all this through an election in 13 months.
“Until then, we got an economy that needs to be kept going. We’ve got a border that needs to be secured. We’ve got healthcare costs that need to be brought down,” Harris said.
He said he predicts “all the oxygen [will be] sucked out of the room by an impeachment inquiry,” which will prevent Congress from advancing on “any of the things we need to pass.”
Harris also said the inquiry looks like a “highly partisan... attempt to invalidate the  election.”
“Some of my colleagues in the House have actually been quoted as saying, ‘We’ve got to do this otherwise the president might get reelected,’” he said. “I mean, my gosh, come on. I trust the American people. So, I say, let’s let all the evidence come out... and next November the Americans will decide...”
Following the impeachment discussion, Harris tackled the issue of clean energy production and the environment. The congressman pointed the finger away from the U.S. toward other countries, which he said are to blame for the world’s excessive CO2 production.
“The U.S. is doing its share. The problems in the world are not the U.S,” he said. “It’s India and China, the countries with 1.3 billion people, who still have a growing middle class and a lower class that’s coming out of poverty where electricity is being generated, where cars are being bought.”
Harris said the solution to the world’s environmental strife at the hands of irresponsible energy production is not erecting solar panels or eliminating fossil fuels.
He said the world should look to employ technological advancements, such as the “holy grail of fusion” — a developing technology that has peaked scientific interest since the 1940s.
The technology, which uses the same thermonuclear fusion reaction that gives the sun its power, has been deemed dangerous and difficult to control.
However, once developed, scientists say widespread implementation of the technology could halt climate change entirely because it produces “no carbon emissions or radioactive waste,” according to an article published in Forbes.
Harris said, “We solve this problem through research,” before assuring he has always voted in support of full and increased funding for Department of Energy advanced research projects.
The town hall concluded with Harris thanking his constituents for coming. Harris’s Caroline County supporters and adversaries met his conclusion with a peppering of approving cheers and disapproving shouts of criticism.