Students enter Wally’s world

How quick is Congress’ trigger finger, and what about that big, fat raise?

Pleasant Valley High School students got a hands-on civics lesson Dec. 17 by way of a question-and-answer session with Congressman Wally Herger, R-Marysville.

Herger, who scaled exercise-step stairs to a Vikings podium set up in front of the library’s nonfiction section, spoke to more than 100 students in a visit coordinated by government teacher Bill Ward.

The congressman centered his words on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, praising the students’ generation as the patriots who will prove themselves in coming years. “There’s never been a time when I’ve been more proud to be an American,” said the 56-year-old leader.

“We’re putting the bad guys on the defense,” he said of the Taliban forces. “We are after them.”

Town-hall-meeting-style, Herger fielded savvy students’ questions about immigration policy (it’s been too lax, he said), how long it will take to catch Osama bin Laden ("I don’t have any idea") and cleaning up the Twin Towers debris (until July), national security, unemployment and Northstate water rights.

One student asked, “Why are you getting a raise right now in this time of need?” Herger responded that Congress hasn’t gotten a big raise in about a decade, and this latest was just to counter the rising cost of living.

Another requested that Herger share his “mental process” in voting to send military troops to Afghanistan. “This mental process was a pretty simple and easy one for just about all of us,” he said of Congress. “It was an easy, almost a no-brainer vote.”

Herger tried to not to get too partisan in his comments but did blame Democrats for high taxes and the difficulty in getting legislation passed that he said would aid corporations in the interest of boosting the economy.