U.S. Congresswoman hosts community forum

By Jami Makan

U.S. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, who represents Washington’s 1st congressional district, hosted a community forum in Blaine on Saturday, February 23 in which she addressed the recent government shutdown, rising health care costs and other topics.

In the hour-long session, which took place at Blaine City Hall, audience members asked questions and made comments on topics ranging from homelessness and the environment to firearms and robocalls.

Here’s how Congresswoman DelBene, a democrat, responded to different topics that were raised.

On privacy of information: “Consumer privacy and control of their data is very important in this day and age. In the last congress, I introduced legislation on privacy. You have to proactively opt in, and you have to receive an explanation in clear, plain English, of how your data is going to be used.”

On robocalls: “Robocalls have to be addressed. It gets to this core problem of your personal information being exchanged by others.”

On firearms: “Safety is critical. We’ll be voting this coming week on universal background checks.”

On health care costs: “Everyone in our country should have access to affordable, quality health care. There should be no debate on that.”

On the shutdown: “If we don’t pass a budget for a full year, how do you do your job or run your agency, when you only have money for 30 days? How do you hire someone or keep a program running? It’s cost us billions of dollars, and the human cost has been great. The Coast Guard didn’t even have toilet paper in their bathrooms. That’s no way to treat federal workers or to run any organization. Members of Congress shouldn’t be getting paid if there’s a shutdown. But I don’t believe there’s an excuse for a shutdown happening.”

On Venezuela: “We’ve been trying to work with the administration. On the congressional side, we need to understand exactly what’s happening there.”

On the national emergency declared by President Trump: “On Tuesday we are voting on a resolution to terminate the President’s declaration. There is no emergency. This is just his attempt to get around congress to pay for something we don’t need.”

On immigration: “We need comprehensive immigration reform. We have a broken immigration system. No matter what your point of view is, a lot of folks feel that way. When you see children being separated at the border and records not even being kept, it’s heartbreaking and irresponsible.”

On the availability of doctors: “When we talk about health care, we also have to talk about the availability of providers. We need more support for rural hospitals, and there are also possibilities for more telemedicine. In the past, I introduced legislation on student loan debt.”

On prescription drug costs: “Medicare should be able to negotiate on drug prices.”

On the environment: “We are facing a climate crisis. We have a crisis and we need to address it. I represent the most beautiful district in the country, but that’s only going to be true if we protect our resources.”

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