Toomey tours BAE Systems' York facility

David Weissman
Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, left,  and BAE Systems Director of Operations Mel Nace, right, look on as Sen. Pat Toomey speaks to BAE employees during his tour of the BAE Systems Facility Friday, March 31, 2017, in West Manchester Township. Amanda J. Cain photo

Making his first stop in York County since being re-elected, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, toured BAE Systems in West Manchester Township on Friday afternoon.

Speaking to about 30 employees at the global defense manufacturing company, Toomey advocated for more defense spending, as President Donald Trump has included in his initial budget proposal.

Trump's budget proposal includes a $52.3 billion increase in defense spending while calling for cuts in nearly every other department, including cutting the Environmental Protection Agency's funding by more than 30 percent.

Toomey said he and his fellow Congress members will likely find parts of Trump's proposal they disagree with, but he's not convinced the EPA can't continue to operate with less funding.

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The proposal, titled "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," also calls for a $5.8 billion reduction in funding to the National Institutes of Health, a cut which Toomey said he opposes.

Sen. Pat Toomey shakes hands with Electrical Engineer Simon Nguyen, left,  during his tour of the BAE Systems Facility Friday, March 31, 2017, in West Manchester Township. Amanda J. Cain photo

Flanked by state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, and York County Commissioner Chris Reilly, Toomey said at a news conference following the tour that protecting U.S. citizens must be the government's No. 1 priority.

Toomey said there is a strong consensus in Congress that America needs to rebuild its military in order to scare off potential threats from enemies.

Asked to describe where potential threats are coming from, Toomey mentioned Russia, which has been the subject of great public scrutiny lately.

FBI Director James Comey recently confirmed the bureau is investigating possible links between Trump's associates and Russia as part of allegations of Russian interference in last year's election.

Toomey said a lot needs to be investigated with regard to Russia, and he believes the Senate Intelligence Committee is doing its job on that front with bipartisan cooperation.

He added that allegations of improper surveillance also need to be fully investigated.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.