Democrats in Washington are increasingly antsy to begin impeachment of President Trump — but voters back home seemed to have plenty of other things on their minds over the last week.
In the midst of a 10-day Memorial Day congressional vacation, lawmakers have heard from voters in town halls and other face-to-face sessions about infrastructure concerns and health care worries as well as impeachment.
In New Jersey, Democrat Josh Gottheimer held a press conference to call on other members of Congress to start working on a bipartisan solution to infrastructure, after President Trump derailed talks with Democratic leadership over his complaints about their impeachment fervor.
Standing with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor leaders, Mr. Gottheimer also announced legislation he said would spur the Gateway Tunnel project, which locals deem critical to train traffic through the Northeast.
“We’ve got to put aside other partisan stunts and make sure we’re coming together to stop our infrastructure from crumbling further,” the congressman said.
In New York, Rep. Max Rose held a press conference to say he was working to get guardrails added to a major road project to protect pedestrians and bikers. He directed a fiery rebuke of local officials that projected to not finish designing the rail until 2020.
“We’re not building the Eiffel Tower,” the freshman congressman said. “We’re building guardrails to protect people from terrorist attacks and drunk drivers.
Rep. Angie Craig, Minnesota Democrat, told a town hall meeting she is working on health care, saying Obamacare needs an injection of more government.
“We ought to have a public option in this country to compete with large health insurance companies. We ought to have that option,” Ms. Craig told constituents.
The public option is the name given to a plan to have the government create an insurance plan that would be sold on Obamacare’s exchanges alongside private industry plans.
It was rejected by Democrats during the Obamacare debate in 2009 and 2010 as too much of a government role, but has become a popular rallying cry among Democrats not ready to go for full government control, but looking for answers to the health law’s stumbles.
Michigan Democrat Rep. Elissa Slotkin told reporters recently that members from purple districts like hers intend to focus on legislation rather than pursuing impeachment.
This past week, she told her local news that though there’s a lot of bipartisan work being done on Capitol Hill, those efforts go unreported because the media focuses on more sensationalized stories.
“All you see on the news is really polarizing angry conversations between Democrats and Republicans,” she said. “But I do bipartisan bills constantly, they’re just not on sexy headline issues.”
That’s not to say impeachment was an afterthought.
The Pennsylvania Capital-Star, covering a town hall held by Rep. Madeleine Dean, said voters “came out in force, braving driving rains and tornado watches, to ask [her] one thing: Where does she stand on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.”
The congresswoman said she had been wondering whether she’d get asked — then delivered the goods, saying it’s time to get rolling on an impeachment inquiry.
“I think we are faced with the most indecent president of our lifetime,” she said, according to the Capital-Star.
In Washington, Rep. Pramilla Jayapal also found constituents at a University of Washington town hall eager to talk the I-word.
She drew applause when she said she’d read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report three times, and she brushed aside other Democrats’ fears of poisoning politics.
“People say, ‘Aren’t you worried about 2020?’ and I say, ‘Sure, but what I’m more worried about is our Constitution and our democracy,’” the congresswoman said.
Ms. Jayapal did also suggest policies on affordable housing and touted her support for “Medicare for All,” the government-sponsored health plan that goes beyond public option.
“I’m not looking to buy my computer or my coffee from the government. I am looking to have this basic concept of health insurance provided for everybody by the government,” Ms. Jayapal said.
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