BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Close to 300 people attended a town hall meeting at Englewood High School at 3800 S. Logan Street on July 13 featuring U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette. The event was hosted by Democratic state officials Rep. Meg Froelich and Sen. Jeff Bridges. Also present were Mayor Tara Beiter-Fluhr and Mayor Pro Tem Sally Daigle of Sheridan and Mayor Linda Olson of Englewood.
DeGette is in her 23rd year representing Colorado U.S. Congressional District 1, comprised of the City and County of Denver plus the suburbs of Cherry Hills Village, Englewood, Sheridan, and Glendale.
The 12-term congresswoman focused on her role as chair of the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, which, she explained, has jurisdiction over multiple areas, including health care policy, biomedical research, telecommunications and food safety.
She talked about the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019, which she introduced in May, to permanently protect more than 740,000 acres of land located in 33 locations across the state. She explained that this is an update of a law passed in 1964 and was much needed to protect Colorado’s diverse landscapes, multiple species of wildlife and the quality of our rivers and drinking water. The bill was heard by the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands last week. DeGette expects it to be on the House floor before year end.
Responding to an audience member’s question on the condition of the environment and climate change, DeGette said, “Climate change is an existential issue for our planet. I believe we need a carbon standard of 100 percent carbon free (emissions) by 2050. I am working on a bipartisan bill to accomplish that.”
The fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act was passed by the House on July 12 with no Republican votes and will now go to a conference committee to sort out differences between the House and Senate versions. DeGette listed provisions that earned her support, including the first pay raise for the military since 2010, no money for a border wall, a prohibition against the President going into Iran without congressional authorization, no additional money for sending more people to be detained in Guantanamo Bay, no more payments for anyone in government to stay at a hotel owned by President Trump and no more money for “frivolous parades,” like the one held this past July 4.
On the subject of immigration, DeGette easily agreed with the need to address the problem comprehensively. She also talked about the 11 million immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for many years, saying, “The House passed the Dream Act, which accounts for 2 million people. We have to figure out what to do with the other 9 million who have been living here and working here, paying taxes, and getting no benefits.” She said, regarding Central American refugees, “We need to work with the countries where people are coming from, to help improve their situation.”
An audience member asked if providing free health care to migrants would encourage more migrants? DeGette pointed to the impact of refusing to provide health care for immigrants, saying, “Migrants’ kids go to school with everyone else’s kids.”
DeGette shared that she had attended the recent classified briefing by U.S. intelligence agencies on the subject of outside interference in American elections. She said that there were numerous entities attempting to hack into our electoral process, “not just Russia and China,” and said that “everyone should be vigilant on social media. If things seem weird, they probably are weird.” She went on, “No ballots were found to have been changed in Colorado, but federal funds are going to six states to make sure they have paper ballots to back their systems in 2020.” (Colorado has had them for several years). She said that there are a few counties in Florida where it cannot be determined whether or not votes were changed in 2016.
A voter asked DeGette her view on the “one percent.” She said, “The historical trend is that most of the wealth in this country is concentrated in the top .001 percent and the Trump tax cuts exacerbated the problem. Working people’s situation is getting worse. We need to repeal the Trump tax cuts and devise an equitable tax system. A robust economy doesn’t matter if working people don’t benefit.”
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