Jake Laturner picture

Rep. Jake LaTurner, R-Kan., appears at a town hall in Wathena, Kansas, on Monday. LaTurner fielded questions primarily about infrastructure.

Rep. Jake LaTurner visited a local community Monday for a small meet-and-greet with constituents over infrastructure and the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

LaTurner, R-Kan., hosted a town hall attended by about a half-dozen people at the Wathena Community Building. His speech focused on foreign policy, the border and the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But most of the questions from constituents revolved around infrastructure. How do we keep our only grocery store open? What about our gas station?

LaTurner voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a recent piece of bipartisan legislation, but he said his staff still will help local businesses and municipal governments draw funds.

“We are in desperate need of infrastructure investment in this country,” LaTurner said. “For me, I wanted it to be all about roads, bridges, broadband and some things like that. So not everything in this bill is bad. I wanted it to be about infrastructure.”

LaTurner, a member of a subcommittee that focuses on cybersecurity, told attendees that the federal government needs to be more proactive in addressing cyber breaches like ransomware.

He said the federal government offers training for private businesses and municipalities but does little once a breach has occurred.

LaTurner also focused on foreign policy issues like data breaches caused by other nations including Russia and China. And he criticized the Biden Administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Regardless of your opinion on that, we have a big issue with the State Department leading this instead of the Department of Defense,” LaTurner said. “It set back the United States a long way.”

When asked if the U.S. should’ve left troops in Afghanistan, LaTurner said about 3,000 troops in Kabul could’ve kept the peace.

“(The) 3,000 troops that were there were maintaining the peace,” he said. “I understand we don’t want perpetual wars ... (however) we are going to have to stay engaged in Afghanistan.”

The town hall was attended by Col. John Cluck, the commander of the 139th Airlift Wing, who is also the mayor of Wathena.

Cluck asked LaTurner about infrastructure investments and possible legislative solutions to keeping dollars meant for Kansas on their side of the border with Missouri.

Other attendees included an official with Doniphan County’s economic development agency and other citizens.

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