U.S. Rep. Ron Barber

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber: Congress must do better at developing partnerships to serve Americans

Ross D. Franklin

What Southern Arizona-specific issues will you champion in Congress?    

The Star invited Southern Arizona's congressional candidates to answer that question.

This is the second of three Sundays of guest commentaries by the congressional candidates. Find previous columns at www.azstarnet.com/opinion

One of my main priorities in Congress is standing up for Southern Arizona's military families and veterans and protecting our military installations.

If re-elected to represent Southern Arizona in Congress, I will continue to:

Stand strong for military families and veterans. I grew up on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, so I understand the sacrifices military families make. Southern Arizona is home to nearly 100,000 veterans. That's why I joined the Veterans Jobs Caucus and introduced an amendment to provide housing for our country's 70,000 homeless veterans and an amendment to protect service members' pay.

I also introduced two bipartisan bills to protect our veterans from financial scams and to improve their access to health care close to home. This is especially important for veterans in rural areas who must drive unreasonably long distances to get care at Veterans Affairs. Our veterans have served this great country, and I am committed to doing my part to make sure they get the benefits they deserve.

Protect the missions at Davis-Monthan, Fort Huachuca, and the 162nd Fighter Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard. Southern Arizona's military installations are not only critical to our national security, they are major economic drivers in our region.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue my work to protect current missions and secure new ones. That means working closely with military commanders, local businesses, and community groups including the DM50, 162nd Minuteman Committee and the Huachuca 50 so I can inform policymakers in Washington regarding the strengths and needs of our installations.

Fight the impending cuts to the defense budget and VA. Like many military leaders, service members and veterans, I am deeply concerned about the impending across-the-board budget reductions, known as "sequestration," which would cut nearly $500 billion from our nation's defense budget.

This would not just hurt our men and women in uniform and our veterans; it would be devastating to Southern Arizona's economy. Avoiding this impending fiscal cliff and the damage it would do to our military and veterans is one of the most important tasks before Congress, and I will work to hammer out a bipartisan plan that minimizes these cuts and takes a balanced approach to addressing the deficit.

I am proud to have grown up in this community and I will fight for our veterans and military families in addition to pursuing policies that will protect seniors and rebuild our middle class here in Southern Arizona.

Barber, the incumbent, is the Democratic candidate in District 2, which includes much of Tucson plus Vail, Green Valley, Sahuarita and Southeastern Arizona.