Washington 7th Congressional District Rep. Pramila Jayapal shared her disapproval of the new president with a full crowd at a town hall in Seattle on Monday, Feb. 6, his early policies and executive orders keeping her busy in Washington, D.C.
Since taking office two months ago, Jayapal said her office has received around 36,000 citizen correspondences through phone calls, mail and email. She said the four most common issues that come up are immigration, environment, women’s rights “and I’m going to call it anti-Trump.”
“And some people have called me the anti-Trump,” Jayapal said, “and I am so proud.”
The freshman congresswoman has been vocal in her opposition of Donald Trump’s immigrant travel ban — and Monday’s revised executive order, which she calls “Muslim Ban 2.0” — his roll back of clean water rules, promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and attacks on women’s rights and Planned Parenthood. Jayapal is also calling for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign, for lying about meeting with representatives of the Russian government while working on Trump’s election campaign. Sessions has recused himself from any investigations into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election — after it was shown that the newly appointed attorney general had met with a Russian ambassador. Jayapal said she wants an independent investigation into potential Russian interference in the election, and to know whether the president is a “puppet” for a foreign government.
Jayapal mentioned her cosponsoring House Resolution 111, an inquiry that would direct the attorney general to provide the House of Representatives with certain documents relating to the president’s financial practices.
The congresswoman said she will fight any attempts by Trump to use his office to profit.
“Who knew about the emoluments clause before this election, right?” she said. “I mean, everyone knows about the emoluments clause, right now, which is a great thing.”
For those that don’t know about the emoluments clause, it relates to the acceptance of titles or gifts from foreign governments, and is something a watchdog group accused Trump of being in violation of because of his various business holdings. While the Trump Organization — helmed by his two oldest sons — now runs the president’s businesses, he continues to own them. Trump’s attorneys say no gifts will be accepted while he is in office.
Jayapal said she recently had the privilege of offering the Democrats’ Motion to Recommit on HR 998.
“I had five minutes to make the argument for why we should not allow this president to use the office of the presidency of the United States of America to profit himself.”
While the crowd was energized, and the congresswoman encouraging them to organize within the anti-Trump movement, Jayapal didn’t make stopping the tearing away of “collective liberty” sound easy.
“We’re going to have a lot of losses,” she said, “and we’re going to have a lot of pain and suffering around us.” She added people have to be there for each other when that happens.
Healthcare is a top priority for the congresswoman, who wants profits removed from the equation.
“I believe we should have a Medicare-for-all system,” she said.
House Republicans on Monday released their replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The American Health Care Act proposes replacing federal insurance subsidies with new individual tax credits and grants.
“Many of us fought hard for a single-payer system when we were going into the Affordable Care Act,” she said, “because we knew that the problems that we are seeing around high premiums, high deductibles, high drug prices, was part of the problem of a system that depends on profit.”
While the Republican replacement hasn’t yet been properly vetted, Jayapal is signing on to the Medicare for All bill, which would provide single-payer, taxpayer-funded health coverage for everyone.
“Let me tell you, the Republicans have no better replacement,” she said.
While Trump’s actions since assuming the presidency are concerning, Jayapal said, she is most disappointed by her GOP colleagues, for not standing up to bad policy decisions.
“I’d like to say that the chickens are still voting for Colonel Sanders,” she said.
During questions from the public, Jayapal was asked about her opinion regarding legislation she says would essentially eliminate all class action lawsuits.
“I mean, can you believe this stuff?” she said. “That means that (Washington Attorney General) Bob Ferguson’s class action lawsuit on the Muslim ban, wouldn’t be able to do it. That means class action lawsuits around gender discrimination or race or any of those things, wouldn’t be able to do it.”
One attendee said she was the survivor of domestic violence, her ex-boyfriend having shot her in the face. She said it seems the Violence Against Women Act is “on the chopping block.”
“This was never a partisan issue,” Jayapal said. “It was always a bipartisan issue, until a couple of years ago, and now it seems like once again it has moved into the partisan issue, but it’s one that’s pretty indefensible, and that’s why it finally did pass — again — with a lot of push from us. But I think, really, do you want to be a Republican who stands up there and says, ‘I believe in domestic violence’? I mean, they actually have done that a little bit.”
A number of Republican lawmakers have taken criticism for not holding town hall meetings, with Washington 8th Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert being a notable local figure.
“We’re having trouble finding our congressman,” said one resident of the 8th District at Jayapal’s town hall.
The congresswoman said Reichert did join her as the Republican counterpart needed to support the Bridge Act, which would extend deportation protections for children that qualify under DACA (Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals) for three years.