Craig With a Democratic-controlled Senate consistently challenging Iraq war policies, Congress has turned its attention away from "most other issues," Sen. Wayne Allard said Friday.
"Withdrawal has not been acceptable in the Senate," Allard said during an early morning town hall meeting in Craig.
"It's inappropriate for us to pull out," the Senator added, citing that he believes terrorist factions would fill the void created by an American military departure.
Allard, R-Colo., making his first appearance in Craig since a Northwest Colorado swing in the spring of 2006, met with about 40 local residents at Craig City Hall. He is visiting with communities throughout the state while Congress is on recess this month.
His appearance included answering questions about topics ranging from immigration to oil and gas exploration in the Vermillion Basin.
The war also received a good deal of attention.
Citing recent polling statistics indicating a growing dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush and Congress, Allard said the discontent many share with the government is a byproduct of an unpopular war.
"There's no doubt : Some people are extremely displeased with the war," he said.
He tried to ease one audience member's concern that the deployment and troop situations in Iraq may cause the government to reintroduce the draft.
"The Pentagon's position, and I happen to agree with them, is they don't want to reinstate the draft," said Allard, adding that military service today requires education and technical knowledge. A high school education, Allard said, isn't enough for today's military.
On immigration, Allard said laws are in place to adequately deal with the issue. However, enforcement has been lax, he said.
"I can understand the frustration of what's happening," Allard said.
"We need to do more to enforce the laws we actually have. : I do think we can secure our borders without legislation."
He also said he opposed amnesty, or allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States legally.
The senator was asked his position on the debate concerning oil and gas exploration in the Vermillion Basin. Local discussion circles around whether to allow drilling in the area versus preserving the natural habitat.
Allard said the question must be answered at the local level, and through compromise.
Allard said his "basic philosophy" is to support decisions developed and endorsed locally.
Constituents with questions or concerns may call Allard's Grand Junction office at 970-245-9553.
• Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or email@example.com.