JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt made a surprise visit to the Missouri House of Representatives Wednesday morning, speaking just after the morning prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. In a wide-ranging speech to the chamber, Blunt hit on topics from EPA regulation, President Donald Trump’s assumption of office in January, and the unique role Missouri plays in the national economy.
Blunt, who presided over Trump’s inauguration, said that it was an “example of how democracy is supposed to work” that former President Ronald Reagan called both “commonplace and miraculous.” Blunt called it an example of the belief of the founders to ensure democracy remains deliberative.
“Democracy isn’t easy, change has to be well thought out,” Blunt told members of the chamber. “[The founders] put together a government they thought would check and balance itself.”
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Blunt also talked about the importance of repealing certain regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule. That rule was widely opposed by agriculture and business organizations in the state as it would give the agency wide latitude over Missouri’s waterways.
He expects to see the Trump administration repeal more regulations and used that to transition into his focus on transportation, saying Missouri was in a unique position with its large road system and waterways.
Blunt has worked on transportation in the Senate with 2015’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act, and knows the issue well, but he said he has not specifically picked a side in the ongoing debate within Missouri of how best to deal with a lack of transportation funding. Some legislators have sought to increased the motor fuel tax, others are open to private-public partnerships on toll roads, and others want to take money from general revenue.
The senator said that choice belonged to state legislators.
“People here have to decide what the state should do, but I’ve spent a lot of time with members of the General Assembly continuing to reinforce my view that transportation is one of our great advantages and we need to make the most of it,” Blunt said.
The senator also weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court case with a Missouri spotlight, the Trinity Lutheran case. Blunt said he, along with Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, requesting the body vote in favor of the church.
“The Blaine Amendment is an amendment that has outlived its time, if it ever had a time, and this is an important case,” Blunt said. “The issue is probably a whole lot bigger than the playground program using shredded tires.”
The Senate will return to session next Monday.