Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series which came from an in-depth interview with Rep. Tom Marino, who spent nearly an hour answering questions on Monday of this week.
— Rep. Tom Marino isn't shy.
The first-term Republican, who was elected in 2010 and sworn-in in January 2011, says there are many complicated issues facing the country and Congress.
Marino serves on the Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security and Judiciary committees in the House. He lives in Williamsport and represents the 10th district, which includes Wayne County.
One issue which faces every member of Congress are the extremely low approval ratings of its members.
He called it a "conundrum," saying that in general polls, Congress is rated very low, however, when people are asked about their individual representative, those numbers are very different.
But Marino is also a realist.
"Generally, they are absolutely right," said Marino about the public's dismay with Congress.
Marino said he thinks the ways of Washington are broken and "the mechanics must change."
He pointed out that any leader, whether the Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader or even committee leaders, "can prevent a piece of legislation from going to the floor for a vote. That cannot happen."
He said the House currently has 37 pieces of legislation in the Senate but officials there refuse to allow them to go for a vote.
The main reason, he said, is Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, has 23 senators up for reelection and he does not want them to have to vote on legislation.
But he's also quick to point out both parties are guilty.
"It's happened on both sides of the aisle," said Marino.
He also noted there are 89 freshmen members of the House, a full one-third of the majority caucus.
"We have flexed our muscles once or twice," he said, noting they voted against their own majority.
The result, he said, was getting what they wanted into legislation to get it passed.
Marino said the "old way of running Congress" is not working.
"I'm a taxpayer and I am just as frustrated as anyone else out there," he said. "It has to change."
One issue which impacts people in Wayne County is the defense appropriates bill, which Marino voted for recently.
Some of his critics say this will kill jobs at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, which employs hundreds of people from Wayne County.
Marino said his opponent, Phil Scollo, is saying the vote would kill jobs at the depot, something Marino disputes.
Page 2 of 3 - "He's getting directions from the DCCC (Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee) ... but if he would read the legislation he would learn something about it."
Marino outlined many reasons he voted for the bill. He said it includes funding for national security, it provides resources for military efforts abroad, it raises the quality of life for service members, including a 1.7 percent pay raise and it supports the Abrams tank program which supports jobs in the Scranton area.
He also said there are "two accounts" of exactly how money left over from the current budget will be applied to the next appropriation.
"I knew before I voted for it the issue that had arisen," he said. "I came to find out the two different interpretations that have an impact on carry-over funding," he said.
Marino says there is a "clear agreement with the Senate" to correct the "funding program. Leaders on both sides promised it would be dealt with in 2013 funding when it comes up. It's going to be rectified."
When asked if he is confident full funding for Tobyhanna will be included, Marino said, "Yes."
But he also said if something happened and it was not included, "I will be standing up in front of the cameras. It will be rectified on the Senate side."
Another major issue which impacts this area is hydro-fracturing for natural gas, a process most commonly know as fracking.
"I support gas drilling," said Marino.
Marino said he lives in the country and his water is from a well.
"I can see three areas where they were drilling. I've done a lot of research on this. I've talked to many people."
He said even the Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama, says there is "no situation to support that fracking has polluted any water or had any negative impact."
For people in Wayne County, the biggest obstacle is the Delaware River Basin Commission which has control over drilling along the Delaware River. That group consists of representatives from four states and the federal government.
"That's the problem," said Marino. "Too many entities get involved. You get individuals who don't know the facts or choose to ignore the facts. They simply take a position they don't want drilling, they don't want fossil fuels.
"We do not have enough alternative sources to say we aren't going to use fossil fuels anymore. I'd rather have eight to 10 sources from which to choose. Why not take advantage of all of them?"
Marino says he thinks the federal government should stay out of the drilling decisions, "particularly in Pennsylvania," where he said the state has tougher regulations than the federal government.
Page 3 of 3 - "The less federal government is involved in our lives, the better we are," said Marino.
Coming tomorrow: Marino discusses education, taxes, airport and homeland security and term limits.