Rep. Palazzo visits coffee shop, PRCC

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

1.REACHING OUT TO THE COMMUNITY: Pictured, U.S. Congressman Steven M. Palazzo speaks to community members about current events in Washington D.C. and in Mississippi during a meet-and-greet on Tuesday at PJs. Photo by Ashley Collins.

REACHING OUT TO THE COMMUNITY: Pictured, U.S. Congressman Steven M. Palazzo speaks to community members about current events in Washington D.C. and in Mississippi during a meet-and-greet on Tuesday at PJs. Photo by Ashley Collins.

Community members were able to make their voices heard during Republican Congressman Steven M. Palazzo’s visit to Pearl River County on Tuesday.

Palazzo said his visit was meant to open the lines of communication between himself and the people he serves. He also said this communication allows him to better serve the people as the representative of south Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District.

“When you have people who come out, you’re in their community, they’re going to be a little more honest with you because they feel they’re amongst family and friends. And so taking their messages, their issues and concerns back to D.C. allows me to be a better representative,” Palazzo said.

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The Gulf Coast native made two public appearances on Tuesday, first at PJ’s Coffee in Picayune and then at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville.

Several Picayune City Council members were in attendance at PJ’s, including Larry Breland, Wayne Gouget and Lynn Bumpers.

“I’m very pleased that Congressman Palazzo came to hear the constituents concerns. It’s always good to have a congressman who talks to the people he represents,” Gouget said.

Breland added, “I think that if more people in office would do that it would help.”

Palazzo touched on several local, national and international topics, including the current state of affairs in Washington D.C. and the search for a House speaker.

Former House Speaker John Boehner announced he would resign at the end of October. After GOP Representative Kevin McCarthy pulled himself out of the running, it is not clear who will replace Boehner.

Palazzo said although Boehner carried out several duties of his job successfully, his resignation was necessary, saying, “he was not unifying our conference. There were a lot of decisions he made that weren’t reflective of the majority.”

Palazzo believes U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn, who serves the Seventh District of Tennessee, is a contender.

“They want somebody that’s a proven conservative, that’s got the credentials of conservatism. That means they’re for limited government, less taxes, less regulation; someone who will stand up to the Senate and challenge the president from time to time,” Palazzo said.

That person is Blackburn, he said.

Palazzo was first sworn into office on Jan. 5, 2011. Palazzo blames Senate inaction for Washington gridlock.

“But every time we do something, we have bill after bill after bill, we send it to the Senate and nothing happens,” Palazzo said. He said it’s the result of the Senate filibuster, where “you need 60 votes plus one to get something passed.”

Palazzo calls the filibuster a “Senate-created rule” that needs to be revisited.

On a local level, the community expressed concerns about the need for healthcare options to assist local U.S. veterans.

Jeff Brady, a Pearl River County native, said there are more than 5,000 registered veterans in the county.

“Is there any way possible we can bring something in here to help our veterans? They have to travel all the way down to the coast VA. With this being said, maybe you can bring something like a hospital or a home for the veterans. Is there any way we can get help?” Brady asked.

Considering past VA scandals, Palazzo said they’re trying to find viable options to assist U.S. veterans.

“We have to take care of our veterans. We’ve got a lot of vets in south Mississippi,” Palazzo said. He questioned if the VA is the only option for medical care. “Maybe we should give veterans the ability to go anywhere they want to go, you choose, freedom of choice, to choose the best healthcare for you.”

Palazzo was re-elected to his third term in 2014.

In his political career, Palazzo has been instrumental in the passage of RESTORE Act legislation in support of environmental and economic development projects to the Gulf Coast and space legislation known as the “Space Exploration Sustainability Act.”

Palazzo is also a Persian Gulf War veteran, member of the Mississippi National Guard and a former member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, according to the U.S. House of Representatives website.

Palazzo encourages community members to contact his office to address any issues or concerns. For more information, visit