Congressman Jason Lewis speaks at chamber luncheon

U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Woodbury, spoke at the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce event April 10 in Apple Valley. (Photo by Andrew Miller)
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Woodbury, spoke at the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce event April 10 in Apple Valley. (Photo by Andrew Miller)

Though Congress failed to pass the American Health Care Act, U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Woodbury, stands by his support of the bill.

“I will be the first to admit our side did not do a good job of messaging,” said Lewis, speaking April 10 at a Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce event at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley.

The health care bill, which was withdrawn in March after failing to gain enough House Republican support, is something the first-term congressman believes would have worked to resolve the “crisis in health care” brought on by the Affordable Care Act enacted during the Obama administration.

“I spoke passionately on the floor about this — I stand by my support,” he said. “The status quo is untenable.”

Health care was one of several topics Minnesota’s 2nd District representative discussed at the chamber event. His talk focused on his first 100 days in office, touching on tax reform, transportation funding and other political matters, along with some aspects of everyday life as a member of Congress.

During his first few weeks in Washington, living conditions proved less than ideal. Unable to immediately secure an apartment, Lewis slept on an air mattress in his office. He’s since found living quarters within walking distance of Capitol Hill.

About a dozen protesters stood outside the clubhouse at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley prior to U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis’ speech at the chamber luncheon April 10. (Photo by Andrew Miller)
About a dozen protesters stood outside the clubhouse at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley prior to U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis’ speech at the chamber luncheon April 10. (Photo by Andrew Miller)

One thing that struck him as pleasantly surprising during his first months in Washington, Lewis said, is how many young people are working on Capitol Hill in positions of influence.

“Twenty-five-year-olds are running the world,” said Lewis, noting that his own staff’s legislative director is 28. “These kids are wonderful — they are smart and competent and great. … That’s a pretty good feeling: There’s hope for the future.”

On the political end, Lewis said that, along with health care reform, his chief priorities are tax reform and transportation and infrastructure improvements, specifically as a means of spurring economic growth.

“Economic growth solves almost all the problems,” he said. “It’s all about making commerce and business flow more smoothly and getting a rising tide of prosperity in the 2nd District.”

About a dozen protesters had assembled outside the clubhouse at the city-run Valleywood Golf Course prior to Lewis’ talk, holding signs and breaking into song as the congressman entered the building.

Members of the group told a reporter they wanted to talk with Lewis about health care, women’s rights and other issues, and to encourage him to schedule an in-person town hall meeting.

Lewis’ talk was part of the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce “Good Day Dakota County” general membership luncheon that’s held the second Monday of each month.