Rep. Alex Mooney visits Morgantown, talks with The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN – Rep. Alex Mooney was in Morgantown on Tuesday, having spent a couple days touring area businesses and facilities. The Dominion Post stopped by his office to talk with him about a handful of issues facing Congress in the coming days.

The proposed TikTok ban has been on many minds. It passed the House 352-65 and awaits its fate in the Senate. Formally called the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, it would force Chinese-owned ByteDance to sell it or face a ban. Despite the app’s popularity, there is a broad consensus the Chinese Communist Party employs it to gather date on its users.

Mooney said he was among the minority who voted against it. “I bucked the prevailing tide down there.”

The bill was rushed through with no time to review or amend, he said. “Sometimes you pass these things and realize six months or a year or two down the road, you realize you really made things worse.”

Mooney said he agreed with former President Trump who said banning TikTok will just send people to Facebook, which is known to engage in censorship against conservatives. A better approach would be to reform and update internet censorship and liability protections in federal code.

“We do have a First Amendment. It’s inconvenient at times but we do have free speech. … If we go around banning things, I think it flies in the face of the First Amendment.”

But he understands the concerns about the Chinese using it for their own purposes. He’s worked on legislation regarding them.

“We need to stand up to China and every country. We should make sure our data is kept private. It’s not a matter of who owns it [the platform]. It’s a matter of making sure your data is protected from everyone.”

Budget brinkmanship is back: Congress has until Friday to fund the government and avert a partial shutdown. After that the House heads into a two-week Easter/Passover break.

Mooney maintains his balanced-budget approach. “My constituents want to see government funded while also balancing the budget and reining in an out-of-control president of the United States. … We need to control the spending, it’s crazy.” Neither party is watching the purse strings.

Budget talk leads to questions about border security and Ukraine funding.

Mooney is among those who fault the president for the millions pouring over the border illegally. “He absolutely will not do anything to secure the border.”

The House passed a border bill a year ago that he’d like to see revived, he said. It paid for more agents, finished the wall and reinstated the Remain in Mexico policy. “I’d be for that. I hope we see that in the next three days.”

Democrats want to see funding passed to aid Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan before the break but news reports indicate the House speaker wants to take up those issues after the break, the earliest day being April 9.

Mooney agreed all three nations need funding and material support. For instance, Patriot missiles are on one-year back order. Rather than omnibus bills he prefers single-issue bills for those things.

One issue he’s received a lot of calls on, he said, is actually not a federal issue. It’s a bill just passed by the state Legislature, HB 5105, that exempts students in virtual public schools from vaccine requirements, provided they do not also attend a private or parochial school.

Gov. Jim Justice has not yet decided if he will veto it.

Mooney noted that some religions have different views on vaccinations, as do individuals. “I think we should respect that, personally.”