Friday, April 14, 2017

Reflections on Rep Dan Newhouse Sunnyside Town Hall (Revised)

According to the Yakima Herald, nearly 150 people turned out Thursday evening, April 13, to hear from U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA4) on issues ranging from immigration to dairy regulations to President Donald Trump's taxes.

A number of people representing progressive interests in the 8th LD and Benton County carpooled to the town hall in Sunnyside to pose questions on issues of concern to the community. The reaction to Mr. Newhouse's town hall was mixed, with some grateful just to see him make an appearance, and others less than satisfied with the format for the town hall (questions presubmitted and drawn by a moderator), or the congressman's less than forthright responses to questions from the audience.

Rep Dan Newhouse at Sunnyside Town Hall, April 13, 2017

Congressman Newhouse began the town hall with a request for a prayer. The reaction to that request -- heckling --was a preview of things to come. An attendee wondered what the reactions would have been had someone asked to follow-up with a Muslim prayer. The heckling about the prayer made some uncomfortable.

There were comments to the effect that the town hall was so raucous it made for an unpleasant experience. Plus, it was difficult to maintain a reasonable give and take with Newhouse, since he kept being interrupted, and people in the audience were talking at the same time.

That lack of courtesy and respect bothered some people, especially those who went to the town hall with an open mind to hear Newhouse's point of view. Others felt differently.
Faces in the audience reflect variety of responses to Rep Newhouse during town hall
Many pointed out that it was important for Newhouse to understand that people were frustrated and angry about what was happening in Washington. People felt disenfranchised. The accusations about the Trump Campaign colluding with the Russians to sway the 2016 Election to Trump was on a lot of people's minds, and Trump's refusal to release his tax returns exacerbates suspicions.

In response to a question on Trump's tax returns, Newhouse said he'd help write a bill making it mandatory for ‘a president’ to release his tax returns. Not exactly responsive to the Trump tax returns question, but perhaps better than nothing.

There was a great deal of dissatisfaction voiced about Newhouse's tendency to waffle-word his responses -- not an unusual tendency among politicians. For example, Newhouse sponsored H.R. 848, a bill that exempts animal and crop waste and fertilizer from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. He was challenged on this by residents of Outlook who say their drinking water is being polluted. He responded by saying the RCRA rules were never meant to apply to dairies, but he would "research" the problem. Some may have wondered why he didn't do this prior to introducing the bill.

Newhouse said that he initially supported the GOP American Health Care Act (AHCA), but changes in the bill concerned him, and he said he wants to take the time to get it right.
Hold up your card, red or green, disagree or agree.
On the issue of net neutrality, Newhouse said he will look into the issue to see what agencies are doing with residents' browsing history and, if needed, look into legislation. He seemed less than well-informed about the issue. The House of Representatives has already approved a repeal of protections put in place under the Obama administration. On a 215-205 vote, largely along party lines, the House voted to undo these Obama-era broadband privacy rules that govern the behavior of Internet service providers. Newhouse voted with the majority.
Newhouse will host a final listening session from 6 to 7 p.m. in Okanogan County on April 20 before Congress is back in session April 25.

1 comment:

Scott Woodward said...

One of the dodgeball tactics was to evade any stance on the proposed budget by saying that all President's budgets are complicated and rarely come to fruition so we should not be concerned by the likes of a 31% cut in the EPA. So, Congressman how do YOU feel about the budget????

He tried the soft calming approach on his "respect" for the environment and the need for clean water and protecting "the life blood" of the Valley(Yakima River). Almost like a bedtime story hoping to lull us off the track. My mistake for not pointing out the difference between his nearly poetic words about the environment and his voting record on the environment. He has one of the lowest environmental voting records in Congress. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a score of 1! for his body of work in Congress. That is 1 on a scale of 0-100, 100 being a perfect score. yes folks, a 1! In this case actions do speak louder than words.

On climate change we got a lecture that he believed in climate change because since creation it has always been changing. I think I captured that right because after I heard what I thought I heard I was trying to make sure I was really awake and not in some nightmare.

Sorry folks, not that impressed with the efforts of the Congressman. One of the reasons for the crowd outbursts was the format that greatly diminished the interaction between the audience and the Congressman. It became apparent early on that the audience wanted to interact with the Congressman but he had chosen a format that greatly restricted any interaction despite his constant reminder of how important it was for him to hear what his constituents had to say. Yes there was interruption and shout overs, hard to say if the normal line up behind an audience mic and wait for your chance to speak would have resulted in the same behavior but, as we were reminded, this is a "Listening Session" not to be confused with a Townhall. There was no mention at the start of the program about follow up questions being allowed. Once the Congressman diverged from the card followed by an answer format he opened the gates for a frustrated crowd. Don't blame it all on the audience.

Rest assured the opening salvo, though poignant, on the prayer will play big when he needs to energize his base.

Respectfully submitted with a humble appreciation for those who managed to attend the program in Sunnyside and continue working to Resist.