Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) is back from a visit with American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. She says the trip answered a lot of her questions about the United State's involvement in the Middle Eastern countries. But some of the representative's constituents are upset that she hasn't been in the district answering their questions.
Tenney was part of a small group of representatives who took the trip. As a member of House Financial Services Committee, Tenney says she was there to better understand why the U.S. is still present and what kind of funding they may need to continue the mission. But even after the trip, Tenney says it's hard to make a definitive conclusion as to whether the U.S. should remain in Iraq and Afghanistan as the countries try to fend off the rise of terrorist groups within their borders.
"Do we leave and leave the vacuum and the void," Tenney asked. "Many argue no because we pulled out in 2011. We had the Iran deal. Our Russian reset didn't come out the way it was supposed to. Whenever there's a vacuum it seems like we could lose our influence especially with Russia and Iran in the background. So, it's not an easy answer to any of it."
Tenney shared the lessons she learned overseas with veterans at two roundtables in the district Saturday. It was the kind of in-person meeting that many of her constituents have been been demanding. Tenney is now considering holding town halls in the district soon, saying she has been unable to thus far because of threats made against her that D.C. police are currently investigating. Yet, Tenney says she has some doubts about how constructive a town hall can be.
"You can go to a town hall and have the same people show up at a town hall and have the same people show up and say the same thing over and over and so I don't know if it's always the best effective communication but I'm happy to do them if new people show up or we have enough people that we can talk about a breadth of issues and not the same issues over and over," Tenney said.
Tenney says she has been meeting with hundreds of her constituents since assuming office in January, including with some who have protested at her district offices.