Rep. Harshbarger Meets with Bristol Business Leaders

BRISTOL, Tenn. — U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger participated in a round table discussion Wednesday hosted by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

During the meeting, Harshbarger heard from local business leaders about the current obstacles they are facing and informed them about the legislative happenings in Washington, D.C.

One of the topics was the incoming Immigration Reform Bill, which Harshbarger explained she has not had the opportunity to read yet. However, while recalling her many trips to the border during her time as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, she emphasized her concerns regarding national security and health.

“Come May the 11th, we’re going to be inundated because that’s when the remain-in-Mexico policy stops,” she said. “There are people here that shouldn’t be here, should be deported, and there are people that maybe they are seeking asylum for whatever reason.”

“What are we seeing come across the border? Diseases that we have eradicated from this country, tuberculosis, measles,” she said. “We’re seeing strains of RSV [Respiratory Syncytial Virus] that are resistant ... We’re seeing things that we haven’t seen forever.”

According to the CDC, the largest measles outbreak in the United States since 1992 took place from January to December of 2019, with a total of 1,274 cases reported in 31 states. In addition, the CDC states that, “The majority of cases were among people who were not vaccinated against measles.”

Harshbarger also provided the group with an update on the debt ceiling package that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which she highlighted includes several common-sense measures.

“If we hadn’t voted to increase the debt ceiling, they would have passed the debt ceiling, which you’re looking at $45 trillion with a T,” Harshbarger said. “The people I’ve talked to in the House, it’s one of the best debt ceiling packages they’ve ever had. So I’m like, don’t get squishy and pass something that we don’t want, that will increase the debt tremendously.”

She also spoke about the proposed changes to Medicaid that are included in the debt ceiling package, which, if passed, would add working requirements to able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 55.

Other topics discussed included infrastructure, energy, pharmaceuticals, transportation, EV technology and the upcoming Farm Bill.

For Harshbarger, meeting with the community and business leaders that she represents is integral to her work and being able to meet their needs.

“I talk to the people I serve and I want to find out what they want me to focus on, things that affect them, like the Farm Bill that’s coming up. They haven’t written it yet. So, feedback to me is important,” she said. “I’m here to get things done, and when they point me in the right direction, I can focus on that.”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at