Rep. Bera hears appeals, criticism for impeachment, single-payer healthcare in spirited town hall meeting


Rep. Ami Bera (D - Elk Grove, Calif.) displays redacted
pages from the Mueller report during the Elk Grove
town hall meeting. | 

During a spirited session last night in Elk Grove, Rep. Ami Bera held a town hall meeting that drew over 200 constituents. 

The meeting at Laguna Creek High School, which was scheduled to an hour and 15 minutes lasted over 90 minutes with Bera staying for a lengthy period after the meeting concluded. There were two primary topics constituents focused on - the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump, and healthcare, with the impeachment discussion taking over half of the session.

Acknowledging a high volume of calls has been received by his office urging him to support impeachment proceedings, Bera's opening remarks focused on that issue. Democratic Bera, who is now in his fourth term representing California's 7th Congressional district asked how many people in attendance supported impeachment saw over half of the participants raised their hands in agreement.

"It is a really important topic that needs to be discussed," Bera told the audience during his opening comments.

Part of the Bera's discussion focused on the findings of the Mueller report and its implications. Bera noted substantial pages of information were redacted by U.S. Attorney General William Barr and that he supports holding him in contempt for failing to respond to Congressional subpoenas. 

Bera said Congress needs to find out what Barr hid from the report and it verifies Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"Anyone who doesn't acknowledge Russian interference is in denial," he stated.

Bera also said after reading the Mueller reports, he believes Trump has committed impeachable acts including obstruction of justice, However, he stopped short of voicing support for impeachment at this time.  

"The President did commit impeachable offenses" but added, "a vote of impeachment hurts us."

Bera said a strong case against Trump must be built on several fronts. Until then, he said given the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, impeachment proceedings would fail there.

"The way we take down Donald Trump is to defeat him in 2020," he said. Bera added that if Trump ignores any of the possible subpoenas from Congress or the judicial system, the country could find itself in a constitutional crisis. 

During his talk, Bera heard several comments urging him to support impeachment and condemning him for not taking a bold stance on the issue. 

"I am asking you to have the courage of your convictions," Regina Banks, a 7th District constituent said to Bera. "Do your job, that is all we are asking."

Later in the meeting Banks told Bera that although she has worked his campaigns and donated money, if he had a primary challenger in 2020 who was supportive of impeachment and issue like single-payer healthcare, she would support that candidate.

While the impeachment question dominated the meeting, the topic of healthcare was also passionately discussed. Several audience members displayed "Medicare for all" signs in support of a single-payer health care system. 

Bera did not commit to supporting single-payer healthcare in spite of many impassioned pleas and various proposal floated from audience members. Noting that there are still 20 to 30 million uninsured people nationally, Bera said that programs such as automatic enrollment in the Affordable Healthcare Act program are under consideration.  

Toward the end of the meeting, Bera also faced criticism for not supporting House Joint Resolution 48. That proposal seeks a constitutional amendment that extends rights only to people and not corporations. 

That discussion was wrapped in questions about recent legislation in states like Alabama that eliminate women's reproductive rights and the Citizen United Supreme Court ruling. Bera noted he supports reversing Citizens United and has a 100 rating from Planned Parenthood on women's reproductive issues but still faced criticism. 

"Corporations have more rights than women," Elk Grove resident Nancy Castignetti said in her comments criticizing the congressman for not supporting HJR48. 

Bera also briefly touched on homelessness, affordable housing, and the proposed Green New Deal. Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Mackenzie Weiser, who said she has personally visited his field office advocating for its support, asked why he has not taken a stance.  

"Why is it you don't support the Green New Deal," she asked.

In response, Bera said he supports the ideals of the plan forwarded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) but has not carefully examined the proposal. Bera said he would look into the details of the program. 

Even though Bera was frequently challenged and criticized during the meeting, he promised to hold another meeting next month within the district. He also thanked the audience for their participation.  

"Thank you for showing up, thank you for bringing your passion, and thank you for expressing your displeasure," Bera said. "That is democracy." 












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