Republican lawmaker and former Duval County sheriff speaks to the Jacksonville Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society.
U.S. Rep. John Rutherford was at the Main Library on Monday to address the Jacksonville Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society and the state of the Congress was on his mind.
Rutherford, a Republican, was Jacksonville’s sheriff for 12 years. After a brief retirement, he was elected in 2016 to represent the 4th District of Florida.
He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittees.
When he arrived in Washington, he had lawmaking experience on his resume after serving nine years as the legislative chair for the Florida Sheriffs Association. That’s where Rutherford said he learned how to get bills passed by enlisting support from both sides of the aisle.
“When I went to D.C., I knew there would be some frustration, but I’ve never seen an organization where the rules get in the way of doing the right thing so many times,” he said.
Rutherford said Washington primarily is populated by “ideologues” in both parties who vote strictly along party lines with no effort to compromise on issues.
“And if they don’t get 100% of what they want, they won’t vote for a bill,” he said.
“People ask me what can be done to help me in D.C. I say don’t send another ideologue to Washington, send pragmatists. For institutions to work, the people who work in them need to work together,” Rutherford said.
He also addressed immigration and border security issues and reform.
“The reason we have the challenges we have at the southern border is because we can’t get anything passed in Congress, so the courts have stepped in. We created a void and the courts filled it,” Rutherford said.
He said under current court rulings, immigrants that cross the border with children, even if they aren’t their own, may be legally held in custody for 20 days before they are released into the U.S.
“They don’t run from Customs and Border Patrol, they run to them. They want to be taken into custody. The traffickers figured out that if they match children with individuals trying to cross the border and claim asylum, they are released into the country in 21 days,” said Rutherford.
Immigration reform, he said, is an example of why the partisan politics needs to be replaced with compromise.
“We have to fix this problem. It is a humanitarian crisis at the border. I am supportive of immigration. We have to have immigration, but legal immigration in an orderly way. We have to know who’s coming here and they have to be vetted properly. I hope Congress can respond.”