Two Loris area morning meeting spots for coffee and conversation, Mount Vernon Grocery and Shorty’s Grill, got their share of both on Sept. 24.

District 7 Congressman Tom Rice, joined by his area field representative Thomas Keegan, was in the local hotspots for Rice’s “Coffee with Your Congressman” initiative. He was there to hear what the voters of his district want and need, and was met by a packed house at the Mount Vernon Grocery where he stayed for well over an hour beginning at 8 a.m.

The crowd touched on issues ranging from how to help small business to improving healthcare, especially for local veterans. Government spending, immigration reform and border controls were also discussed.

“I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but Washington is just in a mess right now,” said Rice. ‘‘We just are suffering all around from what is simply a lack of leadership in the White House.”

Rice, a member of the budget committee, said the Senate will definitely not move on any bill regarding border control that will cost the taxpayers $100 billion, and do nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants into this country.

“That’s what they’re asking for and honestly we all know that’s it can be done for far less than that,” said Rice.

Rice heard from veterans, farmers, and families with disabled veterans and children asking how to get through the red tape to get the help they need.

During Rice’s second stop at Shorty’s Grill in downtown Loris, he took time to enjoy some breakfast. He sat with a large group of veterans, businessmen and pastors and listened intently, asking and answering questions during the meal.

The same theme of issues followed, and Rice shared a brief summary of the current Veteran’s Relief Bill that he instrumental in bringing to a vote.

“This bill will help all veterans struggling to get to or in the VA hospitals, and eliminate long waits and travel expenses,” said Rice. “The bill simply states that if you live 40 miles or more from your closest VA doctor or facility, you can go to a private clinic or doctor in your area.”

Rice also discussed the legislation of a Ports Bill to help bring focus back on American competition in the world wide market.

“We have done it to ourselves, sending American jobs and businesses out of this country,” Rice said. “The EPA and tax regulations along with certain laws make shipping out of our own ports more expensive than anywhere in the world because the environmentalists fight to keep us dredging our ports, like Charleston and George-town, so that the larger, more cost effective ships can come in to ship our products.

“Common sense is gone. No sound reasoning at all when it come to making America the leader in world trade she used to be.”

Rice went from table to table listening to questions or just wanted to meet the congressman.

By Lacy Hardee

For The Loris Scene