Representative John Shimkus, a Republican who represents Illinois' 15th Congressional District, joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss some of the issues he’s dealing with as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and other matters in Washington. Shimkus represents a large portion of the Metro East as well as parts of eastern and southeastern Illinois.
Shimkus touched on international affairs, explaining that many residents in his district are concerned about extremist groups and potential terrorist attacks. “They are very concerned about what they see is a lack of leadership or the world losing control whether it’s [because of] ISIS, Iran [nuclear] negotiations, or a re-emerged Russia,” he said.
To ease concerns, Shimkus said that Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which allocates funds for the United States Department of Defense. However, he said he believes that not enough is being done to counter international conflict.
“If the United States doesn’t lead, then the world has no leadership,” Shimkus said. “We have challenges, but we still are the foremost country that protects individual freedom and liberties and believe in representative governments and the rule of law. I don’t think that we’re stepping up to the plate to try to lead in all these hot spots and [instead] letting them resolve on their own.”
In regards to the Patriot Act and how information is collected, Shimkus discussed limiting the intrusion of the National Security Agency. He stated that corporate entities have the right to be in control of their data, and that government officials should only be allowed to collect that data after having probable cause.
“For the government to have a collection of everyone’s data, we feel that’s not appropriate,” Shimkus explained. “And that’s how [the House] voted.”
Among other topics, Shimkus discussed how Congress is working together under Republican leadership, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and his thoughts on the 2016 presidential race. Shimkus said he has not yet decided which Republican candidate he will support.
St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.