tv Interview with Representative Neal Dunn CSPAN May 16, 2017 8:20am-8:30am EDT
i want to talk with you about being open to the unexpected. about making room for the improbable and the unlikely. past commencement speeches from the c-span video library and join us for this year's commencement speeches as we hear from politicians, business leaders and white house officials. starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern on saturday may 20th, the 27th, the 29th memorial day and june 3rd on c-span and c-span.org. next, a conversation with republican representative neal dunn from florida's second congressional district. he sat down with us to talk about his medical career in the military, and his legislative priorities as a new member of the congress. from capitol hill, this is ten minutes. congressman neal dunn, what were you doing before you joined the u.s. house of representatives? >> i was a surgeon in panama
city during neurological surgery and i've been doing that there for 25 years or so. >> and what was your practice? and why did you decide to go to panama city to open it? >> oh, so panama city my wife and i chose that after careful thought when i got out of the army back in 1990. we wanted to go to a place that was friendly to the military. you remember that the country hasn't always been friendly to veterans. it is now, but in that era around bay county, all along the coast there of gulf coast of florida has always been very, very friendly to veterans of all sorts. and so we felt immediately at home in panama city there. >> and before you left the military, you were a doctor in the military. >> yes, that's right. >> tell us about your military career. >> i was actually -- i went straight into the military right out of the medical school and served in a number of different places around the world. and had a chance to do a lot of different types of surgeries, settled ultimately on doing yur
logical surgeries, kidney stones, lot of prostate cancer. and became -- that became sort of my specialty. and then when the berlin wall fell, they called all of the surgeons in and said go home. find a job. war is over. and of course it was for six months only. then we're online in kuwait. by then i was ensconced in panama city and had a lot of new friends, and we've been -- we had a great time raising our three sons there. they're all grown and gone now. we have grandchildren, so. >> well, you rose in the ranks when you were in the army. >> i did. so the medical course is a little different. you start out as a captain right out of the medical school. and then they tend to bonus the doctors instead of promote them rapidly, they just bonus them. i got out as a major. i was on lieutenant kernel. >> you also spent time here in washington before -- >> yeah.
>> before coming here now as a freshman in the house of representatives. what were you doing? >> i was in my residency studying any urology here at walter medical reed. i met my wife. she was working as a contractor for the government. and so it was fun. we met and she had a very, very military background as well. so we kind of clicked. one thing led to another and here we are 35 years later. >> how many kids? >> three children, three grandchildren. >> and you are from a military family as well. >> i am. >> what did your dad -- did your mom serve as well? >> no, just dad. my father did. her father did. so they were -- and when one of our sons. so we're -- the children are military. military ourselves and proud parents of a military officer. >> what was your life like with the father that served in the military? >> so, we travelled a great deal, and it was not painful because we thought everybody did it. you know, we just thought, open, sure, every year, here we go. we had foot lockers back then. you didn't have card board
boxes. we knew where everything went. every year just pack them up and move to the next station wherever it was. it was fun. every military family is like that. and we -- it was a very outgoing community. we sort of had to be, you know, new people every year, so you had to introduce yourself. get out and meet them. we had a chance to go all over the world. we were stationed in asia and southeast asia during the war. so, i mean, my wife was, too. she had -- did three years in bangkok. >> did your life growing up in the military, you serving in the military as well, do you think that is what inspired you to run for a seat in the house? >> it certainly is part of it. i mean, and the reason really wasn't because i had been in the military, it was because i understood what was happening to our military. you know, our military has been gutted by this sequester, which we ended -- well, yes, we ended it yesterday or the day before. that was great. the sequester is really hurt the
military. we have hallowed out the military to an incredible degree. and i hear people sometimes that don't really appreciate that, but they need to get -- to understand how much we have shorted them. and we need to rebuild them. i believe in peace, but i believe in peace through strength. and we need to do some work there. >> that's one of your legislative priorities. >> absolutely. >> what else do you want to accomplish? >> it's popular within the district. everybody wants to see the military rebuilt. the other things that i heard on the campaign over the course of the year or more was consistently we need to repeal and replace this obamacare thing. it is breaking the backs of every business. so you actually only covering about 7% of the population with this insurance, but you're caught pushing the cost out on to everybody. and it's just unsupported. so, everybody wanted that gone. that was a big thing. and of course that was something i felt in medicine. we tried to solve those problems back in my practice at home, but we couldn't do it. the problems aren't there in
panama city, they're up here in washington. and the other thing that we hear again and again is just the regulations. i don't know, we've got to get this economy going, get the regulations off my back. the popular refrain was everything you got in washington, i want less of it. so i thought that was something we could do. we can. we can make the economy grow. you remember when the economy is growing at 7 and 8%. i tell that to my children. they don't believe me. it never was that good. yeah, it was that good. we were retiring the debt. we actually took in more money than we spent as a government. shocking. we can get there again. >> what has surprised you about washington? >> i think it's a little bit jarring to see the -- some of the negotiations take place only in the process. like two people as close as you and i in a room might not be able to communicate but they can go out and give a press conference about each other minutes later. that's a little surprising.
i'll tell you the other thing that's surprising is this city is full of a lot of good people. and that isn't always evident when you're 1,000 miles a i way from washington or rome, as we call it. you don't know until you get up, really well meaning people, serious, intelligent. the gridlock is disconcerting, though, when you're out in the provinces. >> what committees are you serving on? >> ag, science and va which work out very well for my district. we have a very rural population, 19 counties. so there's great people but they're thin on the ground. and lot of farms, lot of farms, lot of forrestry, so agriculture is perfect for that. the v.a., there's a huge number of veterans in the district. we have about 75,000 veterans. this is not just the active duty, that's veterans in the district, so 1 in 10 people in
the district are veterans. and it's very, very popular military throughout. and so we get a chance to work with the military as well, both through veterans things and on the science committee which is very rewarding. >> why is it that this area of florida attracts active and has active veterans? >> melissa, it's always been friendly to military. i think a lot of the farmers and a lot of the rural folks will send their daughters and sons off to the military for a while. they'll do four years, six years and they come back home. and obviously they have others that put in whole careers and come back home. and so it's really a great culture of support our troops out there in every corner of those 19 counties. >> it's the second district of florida. >> second. >> explain where that is. >> it goes from panama city beach in the extreme west all the way around the bend of florida to okala. so it's 300 miles of coastline as the crow flies, i don't know,
faced the coastline, but in all those 19 counties down along the water there and a few more up against the georgia, alabama border. great folks. >> i asked you what surprised you about washington. what's your favorite -- what's your least part of this new job? >> just the enormous amount of travel back and forth. so when i need to go to the district, i may actually fly to orlando, which is closer to the far end of my district than where i live. so we fly to orlando, tampa, or jacksonville to drive into my district and work on that east end of the district. >> and the hours? >> the hours are amazingly long. i thought as a busy surgeon you could not be any busier than i was. i was wrong. yeah. i was wrong. >> what are you working? how many hours out here? >> i have not added it up. my wife works harder than i worked as a surgeon. i work -- it's a lot.