NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Immigration, healthcare, economic security discussed at Pramila Jayapal’s latest town hall

Two evenings ago, on Wednes­day, May 2nd, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal held her six­teenth town hall event at the Seat­tle Cen­tral Pub­lic Library.

The dis­cus­sion served as a stark reminder of how much work needs to be done in Con­gress to address peo­ple’s griev­ances and soci­ety’s shortcomings.

It was also a reminder of how for­tu­nate the 7th Dis­trict is to have such an engaged and pro­gres­sive con­stituen­cy, ably rep­re­sent­ed by Con­gress­woman Prami­la Jayapal.

Jaya­pal opened the event by prais­ing the peo­ple of the 7th Dis­trict for being among the most involved in the coun­try. She says her office receives more emails and phone calls than any oth­er dis­trict in the country.

In her open­ing remarks, Jaya­pal expressed her dis­dain for the cur­rent regime: “There is deep trau­ma being done to peo­ple across our coun­try. Peo­ple who are fac­ing depor­ta­tion, peo­ple who are bare­ly scrap­ing by. The swamp has grown larg­er, and the swamp mon­sters big­ger,” Jaya­pal said.

She then laid out what she called her “propo­si­tion agen­da”, hit­ting espe­cial­ly hard on the issues of immi­gra­tion, health­care, Social Secu­ri­ty, and high­er education.

On immi­gra­tion, Jaya­pal expressed her frus­tra­tion that Con­gress is doing noth­ing pro­duc­tive. Jaya­pal stat­ed she would con­tin­ue to push for com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform, “includ­ing a path to cit­i­zen­ship for eleven mil­lion, includ­ing fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion, includ­ing a per­ma­nent solu­tion for the 1.8 mil­lion DREAM­ers that have only known the Unit­ed States as their country.”

Health­care was anoth­er major focus of the town hall event.

Atten­dees voiced con­cern that for too many peo­ple, health­care is still not afford­able, let alone avail­able. Through­out the evening, Jaya­pal reit­er­at­ed her sup­port for sin­gle pay­er, uni­ver­sal health­care. Part of her agen­da for health­care is leg­is­la­tion that would allow states to move to a sin­gle pay­er system.

She said she will intro­duce the bill in the next cou­ple of weeks.

“If you can show that your plan is going to cov­er 95% of your state’s res­i­dents, then you would be able to expand on the pub­lic option waiv­er that’s cur­rent­ly in law [in the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act] and actu­al­ly use the fed­er­al streams that are avail­able to move towards that sin­gle pay­er sys­tem in the state”.

Rep. Jaya­pal also spoke at length about the Col­lege for All bill she intro­duced along with Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders of Ver­mont last month.

That leg­is­la­tion aims to make four year pub­lic col­lege degrees tuition-free for fam­i­lies mak­ing up to $125,000. In addi­tion, the bill would cut stu­dent loan inter­est rates for new bor­row­ers in half and reduce the cur­rent stu­dent loan debt cur­rent­ly esti­mat­ed at 1.3 tril­lion. The Rep­re­sen­ta­tive not­ed that stu­dent loan debt now exceeds Amer­i­cans’ cred­it card debt, and argued that can­cel­ing the stu­dent loan debt would dras­ti­cal­ly boost the country’s eco­nom­ic productivity.

One of the final ques­tions Jaya­pal addressed was sim­ply phrased: “What can we do?” She asked mem­bers of the audi­ence to raise their hands if they had rel­a­tives or friends who had vot­ed with the Repub­li­can Party.

She then asked peo­ple to keep their hands raised if they had talked to these rel­a­tives or friends about their polit­i­cal views and concerns.

Sev­er­al dropped their hands.

Jaya­pal empha­sized the need to be an engaged cit­i­zen, to have dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple of oppos­ing view­points, to write or call local lead­ers, and to attend town hall meet­ings like the one orga­nized by her office.

Were you at Wednes­day night’s town hall with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaya­pal? Feel free to share your reflec­tions on the event in the com­ment thread below.

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