The majority of those attending a town hall meeting on Friday night hosted by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Washington’s 6th District at Hoquiam’s 7th Street Theatre agreed with some of the Democratic congressman’s political views, including getting the government back on track.
Kilmer then explained what could make this happen.
He has proposed ethics training be mandatory for members of Congress. He supports the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act and is among co-sponsors of the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would authorize investigation into whether Russia or other nations interfered in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the Presidential Tax Transparency Act.
He wants to return the Voting Rights Act to full strength so the Department of Justice again has oversight with states that have discriminated against voters in the past.
Kilmer also wants to bring an end to gerrymandering, which is when elected officials redraw the borders of electoral districts for political gain.
“Voters should choose elected officials, it shouldn’t be elected officials choosing voters,” he commented.
Campaign finance reforms are also important to the congressman. Loud applause came in response to his voicing support for a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which prohibits restriction of independent political expenditures by corporations, labor unions and other associations.
Kilmer explained that he wants to stop what he refers to as budget gimmicks, such as Republicans threatening sequestration instead of approving a budget.
He criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order instituting a federal government hiring freeze as a budgeting gimmick. The president has also proposed adding $54 billion to military spending and taking it away from other programs. His staff created a list of federal programs that come close to totaling $54 billion — Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Indian Health Service, National Park Service, Small Business Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration together compose only a partial list.
The nation’s middle class is shrinking, and our economic problems would be better remedied by such things as supporting small businesses, reforming the tax system, strengthening education and training, and enhancing the use of research in emerging fields to stimulate the economy, Kilmer asserts.
Constituents’ thoughts expressed
There were some conservative constituents in the crowd who expressed some of their opinions to Kilmer during the question-and-answer period.
“I don’t know how we can get across our point. When you see it on TV, both sides just shout at each other now,” said one man, who identified himself as a Republican. His grandchild is very ill and was born that way. And his own doctor spent more time looking into a computer screen than conversing with him during a recent office visit.
There was a reason why Democrats who voted to approve the Affordable Care Act had “to be bribed,” he said.
He went on to also say parents of men and women age 25 or 26 should be “kind of embarrassed” their grown children are still living at home because they can’t find a job.
The cutoff age for inclusion of an adult child under a parent’s health care plan is 26.
Kilmer replied that some situations make him feel like an outsider himself: “Sometimes people agree with me and sometimes I’m the pinata.” He went on to talk about how many Americans have said health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions must be allowed to continue, but noted that Republicans in Congress haven’t offered proposals that would do that or introduced any bills to replace the ACA. Many of the other people there made known their concern about what might happen.
The congressman said that along with protecting coverage for these adult children that the ACA provides a great deal of preventive care without the recipients having to be responsible for a co-payment, eliminates lifetime caps on health coverage and ensures women aren’t charged more health insurance than men.
Another important development that stems from the ACA has been improved mental health care because “illnesses above the neck are treated the same way as those below the neck,” Kilmer said.
He also told the audience that with it more people are insured, that it’s curbing cost increases for health care and has saved community hospitals money by reducing the need for charity care.
Kilmer will hold a telephone town hall on Wednesday, at 6:05 p.m. for people who couldn’t attend the meeting in Hoquiam. Participants will have the opportunity to ask the congressman a question or leave comments in a message. Send an email to email@example.com with name and phone number by 3 p.m. today to participate.