Candidate says defense must be federal focus
Jason Church is facing Tom Tiffany for the Republican nomination for the 7th district
On February 18 voters in the 7th Congressional District will narrow the field of candidates from four to two for those vying to fill Rep. Sean Duffy’s vacant congressional seat. Jason Church, a Menomonie native, is running as a Republican for the seat and stopped at The Star News office this week to talk about the campaign and issues facing America.
Church describes himself as an “army brat” who grew up in Menomonie and graduated from Menomonie High School in 2007. He went to college at UW-La Crosse where he was a four-year letter winner in football and a cadet in the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Program) program. Upon graduation with a degree in political science, he was commissioned in the U.S. Army. He began his officer training at Fort Benning, Ga. While stationed there, he graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School, Army Airborne School, and Stryker Leader Course.
In May 2012, Church deployed with his unit to Afghanistan. On the Aug. 23, 2012, in Panjwai province, Jason and nine other members of his platoon were involved in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion. The IED blast resulted in the amputation of both of his legs below the knee. Jason went through 21 surgeries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. On July 31, 2014, he received his promotion to captain and medically retired from the U.S. Army.
Church graduated from Georgetown University with a Master of Arts in Security Studies from the School of Foreign Service and from Wisconsin Law School.
Church said his career plans growing up were to see how far his military career would take him. He noted that serving in the military was something of a family business with his father and uncle both veterans. After losing his legs in the IED explosion, Church said he still wanted to serve his country.
“Even though the Taliban took my legs, America’s enemies didn’t take away my desire to serve,” he said, noting that he is motivated by “service and sacrifice.”
In his issue statements Church has called for increased investment and spending in the military referring to national defense as the primary job of the federal government. At the same time, Church describes himself as a proponent of small government and says that federal spending needs to be reduced.
He said he does not see a conflict between these positions, stating that out of the $3.2 trillion federal budget there is far more spent on mandatory spending than on defense.
“Medicare and Medicaid continue to grow and squeeze our other portions of the budget,” Church said, suggesting that ending inefficiencies in these programs would free up money for other areas.
“Defense of the nation is a priority,” Church said.
Church said he favors tighter borders and the construction of a border wall with Mexico. He went on to say that part of the problem is decades of congressional inaction in reforming the immigration laws.
“The problem is Congress has done nothing,” he said describing the immigration system as ridiculous and riddled with loopholes. He said legal immigration is bogged down by bureaucracy citing the first-hand experience he has had dealing with the system with the visa for his fiancé Bella Barbosa who is a native of Brazil.
“We need to cut the bureaucracy out of this,” he said.
While advocating for tighter immigration at the national level, Church said the states need to be more involved in immigration. He said a blanket one-size-fitsall approach is not working and instead said the states should have more input because they know their needs.
Church supports the idea of term limits and has gone on record saying that he would not serve for more than four terms, which is eight years, in Congress. He said term limits would provide Congress the ability to take action rather than looking out to appease power brokers in order to get reelected.
He explained that having term limits would increase accountability to the public and that people would be actively engaged in the system.
Church said he is not a career politician, but rather is someone who wants to serve for a period of time and then move on when he is done.
Campaign finance While supporting term limits, Church has mixed reactions if he would support campaign finance reform. He noted that if everyone was actively engaged in public policy then there would be no reason to spend money to bring the message to the public. However, he noted that people are not engaged and it is necessary to get their positions out.
Church also noted there was an element of free speech in campaigning and said he felt the better solution was through term limits where people didn’t continually have to plan for running for reelection.
Tariffs and trade
Church is an unabashed supporter of President Donald Trump especially in regard to his trade negotiations with China. He noted that China has been a bad trading partner and has routinely stolen intellectual property and made it unfair for American companies to compete in China.
According to Church, Trump has the authority to make trade decisions because Congress has given the president these powers and that he feels the president made the right call in his dealing with China. He said the president needs this level of authority in order to effectively negotiate with foreign leaders.
Church said he would like to work with the president on the trade issues but noted that there needs to be an element of reality especially when dealing with foreign powers that utilize unfair trade practices.
Church also blames Congress for some of the dysfunction in Washington DC He said this can be traced back to President Lyndon Johnson’s expansion of the role of the federal government.
“The federal government is doing far more than it was ever designed to do,” Church said.
The primary election is Tuesday, Feb. 18. The winners of the primary will advance to a special election to be held on May 12. Whoever wins the race will not have much time in office before they have to run again in the November general election.