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As a retired emergency management coordinator in New England, a FEMA disaster assistance employee and a hazard mitigation consultant, I was truly shocked to learn that U.S. Rep. Tom Graves voted against House Bill 847, which provides long-overdue medical and related benefits to those brave first responders who were heroes on Sept. 11, 2001, and who helped to clean up that horrendous disaster for many months afterward.
Luckily, that vital Bill passed in the House by a considerable margin, but with no thanks to Congressman Graves.
Therefore, I tried to call both of his offices around 9 a.m. Thursday for some explanation (if he has one). A young woman's voice on the Washington phone number, speaking very rapidly, said they were closed. A generic tape on the Gainesville phone number informed me "the party you called is unavailable."
Perhaps our congressman and his staff are taking an early holiday vacation, rather than worrying about the people's business. Lucky them!
On the other hand, I have also noted that Graves voted against closing debate on House Bill 6547, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, a measure which passed the House on an appropriately overwhelming vote of 314 to 20, with Graves being one of that 20.
It seems neither the health and well-being of our valiant first responders, nor the health and safety of our students and children, are of much concern to our congressman.
Perhaps he is just trying to save public money, but are these really the areas to do so while untold hundreds of billions are wasted on far-less-urgent projects and endeavors?
Of course, since it appears impossible for his constituents to reach Graves for the time being, it is very hard to know the reasoning, if any, behind his votes. Perhaps he just likes to vote "no" even on the worthiest causes and the most urgent and justified needs. Or perhaps he just doesn't understand legislation on which he votes. Or perhaps Congressman Graves just enjoys putting a lump of coal in the stockings of American heroes, and sees no need to make our children any safer from sexual and violent predators.
Regardless of his reasons, if he has any, Graves indeed makes Scrooge look pretty good.