By Danielle Silva
Congressman John Garamendi appeared in Davis for a town hall talk about policies relevant to the community at large. The following are his opinions, shared during the beginning of the town hall or given after the main speech.
Trump Impeachment and Syria
Considering the number of “Impeach Now” posters throughout the crowd, Garamendi found himself surprised he began mentioning the Trump impeachment inquiry near the end of the town hall. In response to a question on Congress containing Trump’s “authoritarian outreach,” the crowd broke into cries of “Impeach Now,” with one town hall member crying, “Impeach and imprisonment.”
Garamendi stated that there was evidence Trump received funds from foreign governments, which was a direct violation of Articles 1 and 2 of the Emoluments Clause.
He stated they will continue their investigation, stating Trump’s actions “disregarded his oath of office,” even if done “unknowingly” or even “in ignorance.”
Garamendi shared he had been in Ukraine before the phone conference had occurred and had come back from Ukraine again this last Saturday. He believed that there was evidence of the president extorting Ukraine and encouraged the investigation of the phone call and more attention to the Mueller investigation.
The Congressman has also been in the media as of late on the current Syrian situation, disapproving of the president’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria. He noted the threat of ethnic cleansing of the Kurds, the U.S. ally who took the brunt of the war but are now vulnerable to a “greenlight invasion” between Turkey and Syria. Garamendi considered this a “serious mess” as this could very likely lead to the resurgence of ISIS.
Commenters asked what Congress aimed to do to support refugees from countries in war, especially wars initiated by the U.S., which the Congressman argued could be addressed through a reconstruction program. He did not, however, address immigration policies for refugees. He did note that Congress could prevent the president from using military funding, as he did for $5.6 billion he used for his border wall.
One commenter asked what to do in light of polls stating 40 percent still support Trump, and Garamendi’s initial words were about retaining “hope” and “optimism.” He also stated that individuals should try to combat Trump support through education, that sharing knowledge would help individuals understand how Trump was attempting to offset the balance of the three branches of government.
“He’s about to learn his lesson,” Garamendi stated.
H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, is one bill Garamendi was reluctant to show support for. Flyers had been distributed in front of the town hall venue, stating in his 2017 op-ed in the Sacramento Bee that Garamendi supported H.R. 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. However, since 2019, the H.R. 1384 bill has 119 members of Congress signing onto the bill, Garamendi not included.
The Congressman stated he did still want a universal single-payer healthcare system and has ridden on that viewpoint since 1993, having created healthcare reform that President Clinton ran on. However, he noted the sensitivity of attempting to overhaul the entire Affordable Care Act System by completely removing private insurance agencies from the equation, which H.R. 1384 states it will do. He noted the role in which private insurance companies “shape medical care” and the methods by which they gather funds for healthcare.
Garamendi argued that he did not want to destroy the current Affordable Care Act but wanted to work on providing options to how they received their Medicare. He wished for children born from Jan. 1, 2020, and onward to automatically be given a Medicaid card.
Garamendi also noted his support of H.R. 3, which aims to lower the cost of drugs.
The Congressman heavily emphasized his involvement in supporting Alzheimer’s research, noting that Republican tax cuts have halted current research for a drug that appeared to be showing results with Alzheimer’s. He stated he has supported every Alzheimer’s bill that he has come across, and two that an audience member pointed out were currently in his inbox.
“We can do better and must do better,” Garamendi stated.
Further Foreign Affairs
Davis Hong Kong, a group currently focused on bringing awareness of the ongoing 2019 Hong Kong protests, called the attention of Garamendi by raising their hand in a group and their uniform black masks. They provided the Congressman with 373 letters urging him to support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.
Garamendi also addressed another comment on the lack of security with antibiotics, considering the U.S. was in a trade war with China, and the possible establishment of FDA regulations in foreign drug manufacturing countries. He shared that nearly 100 percent of our antibiotics come from abroad, which makes this a national security issue.
Criminal Justice Reform
The Congressman also received a question in regard to “rogue agencies” that aimed to separate and imprison families, such as the recent actions of ICE. Garamendi stated that eight pieces of legislation are currently developing that introduce important reforms of the system. He also noted how Trump pulling assistance to foreign countries was not an appropriate response to immigration, choosing to ignore the reasons why immigrants cross into the United States.
Garamendi also addressed prison reform, arguing against the use of privately-owned prisons and encouraging law reforms. He asked why immigrants were being placed in said prisons.
A member of Moms Demand Action brought up the issue of gun violence in America, asking for Garamendi’s support in enacting gun violence bills. Garamendi noted his support of banning assault weapons in California but also shared what he claimed many considered “the single most important issue – fear of being shot.”
Indigenous People’s Day, Environmental Issues
Several commenters asked Garamendi regarding Indigenous People’s Day, one asking about its establishment as the holiday instead of the usual title of “Columbus Day.” The Congressman argued that more awareness and education should be brought of the “history of the people of America,” especially issues of ethnic cleansing.
Garamendi also shared his approval for the “Green New Deal,” asking why we couldn’t use green energy yet. He noted that during the 1978 energy crisis, legislation was laid out that started the wind industry in California. He believed that green energy needs the same support that the oil industry has to succeed.
He also stated, as a member of the Readiness Subcommittee, that addressing energy usage of the military could be a vital way in addressing climate change. Garamendi noted that reducing energy consumption from one of the biggest consumers of energy, the military, would be a beneficial change.
One commenter, a student aiming to become a teacher, noted to Garamendi his concern for his financial stability in the future. Garamendi stated that society as a whole does not value or prioritize education as much as it was actually worth, leading to the lower cost of funding. His solution focused on bringing awareness that education was a “critical national issue” and a “national security issue,” stating, “Without education, there is no equality.”
Garamendi shared that $1 trillion should be taken from the nuclear weapons budget to support education.
Cancel Student Debt was one group that did not have the opportunity to speak during the town hall. As individuals began filing out of the venue, group members began chanting, “Cancel Student Debt.
One UC Davis Graduate student, Morganne Blais-McPherson, expressed her upset at the town hall’s scheduling which prevented students and workers from attending.
“Some of us were there to witness Rep. Garamendi’s agility in skirting important questions about his lack of support for life-saving proposals to close the camps and ensure a true Medicare for All,” Blais-McPherson stated.
“When he comes to UC Davis, we won’t let him dance around the issues or ignore our raised hands. He must respond to our demands for student debt cancellation because the number of his constituents with student debt far exceeds those few who make a living off of gambling on Wall Street.”