On 4/18/2017, Scott Peters held a Town Hall meeting at Clairemont High School. I was in attendance. Here is a summary of what transpired in the meeting and my impressions.
He began the meeting with an opening statement focused on three issues:
The Republican party's failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The retaliatory missile strike on Syria for the use of chemical weapons: he supports the use of force against the Assad regime (and has supported it in the past under President Obama). However, he does not support further action in Syria unless a clear plan is presented to and passed by Congress.
On North Korea, he indicated that he was very against the “saber rattling” of the administration in response to the North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapon testing. He believes that working in conjunction with China on diplomatic solutions is the best path forward with the recalcitrant North Korean regime. Editorial comment: I do not think that North Korea will respond to diplomatic overtures. The Kim dynasty has maintained power, despite domestic conditions that would topple almost any other regime and it has done so by convincing its citizens that it is in constant existential threat. The North Korean government cannot back down without falling out of power. For a more thorough discussion of this hypothesis, read Max Fischer’s April 17th, 2017 article in the NYT.
After these opening statements, he took over 30 questions from the audience. I want to emphasize that Scott Peters sees himself as someone who can move government forward through dealmaking and compromise with his colleagues in the House of Representatives. I discussed this with him after the meeting and he said that there needs to be the “firebrands” (like Donna Frye and Elizabeth Warren) and quieter dealmakers like himself. Editorial comment: I tend to support his position. We need to move forward with better ideas and make the compromises that gets the work of government done. But first, we have to deal with the sh*tshow that is going on in Washington and get the country back on track.
Here are some of the questions presented at the town hall and his answers:
Q: The Republicans have used redistricting to create an unfair advantage for their party in the House of Representatives. What should be done?
non-partisan redistricting scheme California has implementedA: Implement the same. However, he emphasized that Democrats would need to win more state houses and governorship for this to happen.
Q: What can be done to ensure that the US maintain its participation in the Paris Climate Accord?
A: No direct answer, but he indicated his strong support for dealing with climate change. Editorial note: the Trump administration can unilaterally withdraw from the Paris Accord because it has not passed a super-majority in the Senate, as required by Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. As this is a Senate matter, he really cannot directly affect the outcome of final acceptance of the Paris Accord by the US. However, he did talk up his participation in the Congressional Climate Caucus. Which now has 13 Republicans, including our own Darrell Issa of CA-49.
Q: What is your position on women's rights?
A: Strong support for STEM, equal pay, and reproductive rights. He did not offer any specific action.
Q: H.R.620 burdens the disabled community. Do you support it?
A: Yes, he is a cosponsor
Editorial comment: This bill is well intended. It seeks to prevent enforcement of ADA through civil litigation, which often results in out-of-court settlements with private parties and no changes to improve disabled access. However, it does create a burden on the disabled community and disincentives lawyers from taking ADA cases. We should approach Scott Peters with potential amendments to the bill. It is still in the Judiciary Committee and then to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
Q: Why has he not signed up in support of H.R.676 (Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act)?
A: He believes that the forward progress that has been made with the ACA has created a viable foundation for a successful medical insurance system for all as a public/private partnership and it does so without disrupting existing health insurance coverage through business. This fits in with him positioning himself as someone that can work with moderate Republicans.
He also supports:
H.J.R. 48 (We the People Amendment) 114th Congress
DNC providing grass roots support for local candidates (particularly state legislature and governorships)
Comprehensive immigration reform that will, in part, reign in ICE enforcement.
Promoting action on climate change by switching the messaging to human health and cost benefit arguments
Impeachment, if sufficient evidence is uncovered during investigations. Furthermore, he believes the provisions of the Constitution are suitable to handle any contingencies of succession.
Genetic privacy (he will vote against H.R.1313)
He also had a few words of wisdom to hand out:
The existing system to email congressional representative screens out people not in their district. If you want to contact them, call them or send them a letter.
He likened the Republican party to “the dog that caught the car.” (By far, the best quote of the night.) He believes they will have to show results to remain in the majority.
In summary, I think we can expect him to be in agreement about policy with people in our Indivisible chapter 90% of the time. However, we need to understand what kind of politician he is: not a firebrand who is going to lead the charge, but a deal-maker that will take advantage of the space created by his more colorful colleagues in the House of Representatives to advance a compromise solution for issues facing our Nation. Thus, he will not take the most progressive stance on every issue and he will participate in legislation that is not entirely to our liking.