NC Rep. McHenry talks tax reform, PROTECT Act, & concealed-carry legislation

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-10th District) spoke with News 13 on Wednesday for our Connect to Congress. In the span of about 8 minutes, he covered a lot of ground. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-10th District) spoke with News 13 on Wednesday for our Connect to Congress. In the span of about 8 minutes, he covered a lot of ground.

McHenry introduced The PROTECT Act in the wake of the massive Equifax data breach. Part of the bill would ban credit bureaus from using social security numbers.

"I think we've got great technology being developed now with two-factor authentication, even the blockchain could be a remedy to this challenge," he said. "The social security number was never determined or decided that it should be a national ID number. So, I think it's inappropriate for these agencies to have that type of information that can get so very easily hacked."

The Senate's companion bill was introduced this week. McHenry said his bill goes a little further than the Senate's version, where it also requires agencies to have on-going regulatory reviews of their cyber-security procedures and policies.

"I think that it's important that they adhere to the same standards that other financial institutions must adhere to, so we have regular visits from regulators to ensure that they are protecting our data in a way that other agencies would do for large financial institutions," McHenry said.

The White House said the Senate's recent budget resolution creates a pathway for tax reform & tax cuts. According to NPR, the tax cuts are expected to add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. News 13 asked McHenry if the deficit is worth the economic growth the tax cuts are expected to bring.

"Our tax reform plan brings down the corporate rate to 20-percent, making us globally competitive and ensuring we keep jobs here in the United States," he said. "It ensures small businesses get dramatic tax relief so they can compete with large businesses and stay in business."

Democrats have criticized the GOP's plan, saying the tax overhaul will benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans instead of middle and lower class families. McHenry didn't mince words in his reponse.

"They're wrong. They're making a false accusation based off of faulty numbers," he said.

McHenry says families will be able to see for themselves whether the overhaul is good or bad.

"Our tax reform is targeting middle class families and the proof will be when we produce legislative text and individual members of families can put their tax information into a calculator online and determine whether or not they're better off than under the current tax regime," McHenry said. "Once families, once small businesses, and once corporations are actually able to put in their information and determine whether or not they're better off, I think you'll see wide-spread support for our plan."

McHenry also addressed concealed-carry legislation that is making its way through Congress. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, backed by the NRA, would allow concealed-carry permits issued in one state to be valid in all states.

On Sunday, North Carolina's Attorney General Josh Stein signed a letter with 16 other attorneys general, asking congressional leaders to abandon the measure. The letter warns that federal reciprocity proposals being debated on Capitol Hill "will lead to the death of police officers and civilians, the proliferation of gun traffickers, and acts of terrorism and other mass violence."

McHenry says he supports the legislation.

"The conversations we're having is for those folks that are in North Carolina and travel outside of the state, they adhere to North Carolina gun laws and have gotten a conceal carry permit and gone through the arduous process of getting permitted. But if they travel across the state line -- let's say they travel to one of our neighbor states -- they don't have that same right. I think that's inappropriate," he told us.

In an email, a spokeswoman for Stein said there are 12 states that don't require a permitting process for concealed carry. "Under this legislation, people from those 12 states – who have not gone through any permitting process – would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in our state. The Attorney General believes that North Carolina law should be the law that governs our state – not other states'," she said.

A spokesman for McHenry responded to that concern:

It is true that permit-less or Constitutional carry states don't require any permitting beyond proving that you are a resident of the state. That being said, North Carolina and our local governments are still allowed to set whatever gun control laws and regulations they deem fit in regards to when a person may carry a concealed firearm. Additionally, there is a provision in the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 that excludes any individuals who are prohibited by federal law from 'possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm.' Between this provision and the NC rules, Congressman McHenry believes the concerns the AG raises are more than cared for.

News 13 also spoke to McHenry about issues stemming from the GOP in the Senate on Tuesday. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake announced that he will not seek re-election, saying he "can't continue with this kind of politics." Also on Tuesday, President Trump and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker got into a war of words. Corker is also not running for re-election.

"I think the President's doing a good job," he said. "We've got good appointees to the judiciary as a result of his election--and I don't pay much attention to petty fights between individual senators and the President."

McHenry said that the Senate needs to be more focused on passing legislation, noting that the House has passed nearly 300 bills that the Senate hasn't yet taken up.

"I think they need to get to work and get bills to the President's desk. That's what I'm focused on--is getting results. Not about some war of words between individual senators or senators that want to quit rather than fight through a tough political environment."

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