A conversation with U.S. Representative Russell Fry (R-SC)
Elected as just the second representative of South Carolina’s Seventh District in 2022 – itself established in 2013 – Congressman Russell Fry was sworn in as a member of the 118th Congress by then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and has worked to advance the priorities of his party, while also championing causes close to his heart, including fighting human trafficking, addressing immigration, and introducing legislation to improve the transparency around the awarding of federal grants. Here, we spoke with him about the issues near and dear to his heart as well as the key role hoteliers play in his district and the economy as a whole.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THIS SESSION?
When I ran for Congress, I vowed to always support policies that put America First. I’m proud to be part of a House Republican majority that has fought against out-of-control Washington spending, fought to secure our Southern border, and restored oversight of our federal government.
I serve on both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee, where we work to provide a check on our federal government to ensure it’s working for the best interests of the American people.
I have introduced bipartisan legislation to measure how the fentanyl crisis is taking a toll on everything from the labor market to industry sectors to state and federal finances and more and to provide solutions to Congress on how we can best address this crisis.
I’ve introduced the bipartisan Grant Transparency Act, which provides for a more competitive and transparent federal grant application process.
I’ve also led bicameral legislation to bolster efforts to crack down on the online exploitation of America’s youth by child predators.
When I was running to serve the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions of South Carolina’s Seventh District in Congress, I took pride in my support of House Republicans’ Commitment to America, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done to deliver on those promises. I look forward to seeing what else we can accomplish to restore sanity to our federal government and provide solutions that work for the American people.
WHAT SORTS OF POLICIES, SUCH AS TAX AND REGULATORY REFORMS, DO YOU HOPE TO WORK ON TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS AND THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
Americans across the country are paying higher prices for essentials – and many industries are facing a workforce shortage. We want to foster healthy competition in our local economies and provide business owners with the tools they need to operate successfully. By increasing access to capital, incentivizing Americans to return to the workforce, and supporting the needs of small businesses, we can bolster the financial health and capabilities of Main Street and the hospitality industry.
WHAT EXCITES YOU THE MOST ABOUT SERVING IN CONGRESS?
I’ve always been dedicated to and passionate about serving my fellow South Carolinians in whatever way I can. As an Eagle Scout, I was always taught to leave your campsite better than you found it. Since being elected to public office, I’ve modified the motto a bit; we should always strive to leave our community, our state, and our country better than we found it.
It excites me to see when our office’s work has a positive impact on the people of the Grand Strand or Pee Dee. Whether it’s passing legislation, advocating for solutions, or helping a constituent with casework, it’s always exciting to see our work, no matter how big or small, make a difference in people’s lives.
WHAT INDUSTRY (OR INDUSTRIES) DID YOU WORK IN BEFORE YOU WERE ELECTED TO CONGRESS?
Prior to this role, I practiced law along the Grand Strand for more than a decade. I also represented State House District 106 in South Carolina’s General Assembly for seven years. I served as Chief Majority Whip and also chaired the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee.
WHAT LED YOU TO RUN FOR CONGRESS?
Growing up, I learned from an early age the American Dream is within reach. Coming from a family that lived paycheck to paycheck, I saw first-hand how the government’s actions directly affected working-class Americans.
I understand the things that matter most are never guaranteed – they’re earned. I’m committed to fighting for those who don’t always have a voice. I’m committed to doing everything I can to make sure that the federal government provides solutions for Americans – not working against them. I always will fight for policies that work for the folks across South Carolina’s Seventh District.
WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT STAYING IN HOTELS?
In this new role, I find myself traveling across the country and staying in hotels more than I would have expected. I always appreciate the work of the hotel and their staff to make sure every guest’s stay is as clean and comfortable as possible.
When you’re constantly on the road and seemingly always traveling to different places, my favorite thing about a hotel room is a quality blackout curtain to make sure I can always get a good night’s sleep!
WHY ARE HOTELS AND HOTEL OWNERS IMPORTANT TO YOUR DISTRICT/STATE?
Tourism and the hotel industry are the economic lifeblood of South Carolina’s Seventh. Our white sandy beaches, premier golf courses, family attractions, and more are some of the many things that bring millions of visitors to my district each year. Hotels and hotel owners are the backbone of our tourism industry. Our tourism industry revolves around visitors being able to stay in hotels and South Carolina’s Seventh District is lucky to have so many great options.
THE HOTEL WORKFORCE WAS ONE OF THE INDUSTRIES MOST AFFECTED BY THE PANDEMIC. DO YOU SEE CONGRESS PLAYING A ROLE TO SUPPORT BUILDING BACK THE HOTEL WORKFORCE?
Hotel workers are crucial to support the influx of tourists my district experiences every year. Congress, along with state and local officials, are working together to support this vital workforce across South Carolina’s Seventh District. We must focus on policies that incentivize people to get back to work and offer adequate wages to support them. Additionally, partnering with local colleges and universities has proved helpful in inspiring lifelong careers in the community and providing a pipeline for the hotel and tourism workforce.