In a sometimes feisty town hall meeting Aug. 29 at Foothill College, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo maintained optimism that the current House of Representatives is making progress on a broad array of issues ranging from health care to political reform.
Eshoo, a Democrat who since 1993 has served the 14th Congressional District, which includes Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View, touted HR1 (the “For the People Act”), a bill making it easier for individuals to vote while strengthening ethics rules and reducing influences of big money by corporations and wealthy anonymous donors.
She also expressed faith in ongoing efforts to lower costs of prescription drugs by directly negotiating with drug companies, as is the practice with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Still, the veteran representative, addressing a half-full Smithwick Theatre, was challenged by some of her less moderate constituents. Audience members, often talking out of turn and blurting out statements, questioned Eshoo’s decision not to add her signature to a list of 135 colleagues calling for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
“I’m for the investigation,” she asserted. “People say, ‘Sign a petition.’ No. I use my words. I never opposed an investigation. We do not yet have the underlying documents from the Mueller Report. They provide evidence – that’s why we have to have an investigation. … Of course, I support that. I don’t need to be No. 1 or No. 136.”
Audience members also challenged Eshoo on her opposition to the Medicare for All Act of 2019, introduced by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), which bids to provide guaranteed universal health coverage for every U.S. resident. Eshoo said she opposed this particular bill because it takes away private health insurance.
“We don’t know what it’s going to cost; it has not been scored,” Eshoo added. “Choice is eliminated in that particular bill. … I’ve never taken health insurance away from anyone.”
However, Eshoo indicated she would support a universal health-care bill that provided choice.
“I’ve fought my entire public life for universal health care,” she said. “My voting record is replete with that.”
Eshoo avoided referencing Trump by name but clearly voiced opposition to administration policies on issues such as immigration and climate change.
“The lungs of the Earth are on fire,” she said, referencing the fires currently burning the Amazon rainforests. “This is not something we can take our time on anymore. Congress has to be bold and bring forward legislation.”
She also described the current immigration policies, leading to travel bans and separation of children from families as “cruelty on one hand, incompetency on the other.”
“I would add another word – un-American,” Eshoo said.
Eshoo noted that comprehensive immigration reform has not been taken up since 1985.
“What we’re experiencing right now is based on bias and prejudice,” she said. “Children with medical issues are told to get out in 33 days. It’s a mess. It’s not who we are as a country.”
One major issue barely touched on was gun violence, with Eshoo acknowledging the recent mass shooting close to home at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
Regarding election tampering and loss of personal data over the internet, Eshoo said she’s been working on a bill with fellow local Rep. Zoe Lofgren. She did not offer specifics but said the bill would be “broad and deep.”
“It will deal with how we protect the privacy of every individual in the country,” she said. “You’re going to hear more about it.”