United States Representative David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island) held a “community conversation” with constituents at Hope High School in Providence on Saturday morning. The two main topics Cicilline wanted to cover were the government shutdown and HR 1, the For the People Act of 2019.
“It is my view that it is never appropriate to shut the government down over a policy disagreement,” said Cicilline. “It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.” Cicilline plans to sponsor legislation to allow the government to stay funded at the same level as the previous month in the event of future shutdowns. This will remove “this stick that is being used by the President to get a policy that he agrees with.”
The shutdown will end “when the President decides it is not politically advantageous to have this fight and … when those Senators are home this weekend hearing from their constituents that they expect [their Senators] to do their job and vote on these bills and they put the pressure on Mitch McConnell.”
Cicilline was on the group of Democrats who put together the agenda for 2018 “with an understanding that we were going to run on an agenda that demonstrated that Democrats are for the people of this country and not the powerful special interests and the big lobbyists.”
Democrats decided to focus on three priorities:
- Driving down health care costs, with a focus on driving down the cost of prescription drugs and protecting access for people with pre-existing conditions;
- A focus on raising family incomes; this includes a trillion dollar investment in infrastructure;
- Take on the corruption and self-dealing and corrupting influence of money in our political system.
HR1, says Cicilline, is “a transformative Democracy reform bill. My view is that if we don’t fix the way government works, the likelihood that we’re going to make progress on any of the other things we talk about is very small.”
The first goal of HR1 is to “amplify the voices of the American people.” This includes automatic voter registration, early voting, restoring the Voting Rights Act, and investing in protecting electoral integrity. The bill also raises ethical standards and empowers the government ethics office. The bill requires the disclosure of Presidential tax returns. The bill also includes The Disclose Act, which is cosponsored by United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island) in the Senate. The bill includes a public finance model. It would prevent individuals in Congress from serving on corporate boards.
“We’re going to pass HR1 by the end of this month,” said Cicilline, but stopping this bill in the Senate “is one of the biggest priorities of the Koch Brothers and the Adelsons and others… because this is the mother’s milk of their power. We cut off their ability to spend money secretly in our elections and stope their purchase of our democracy.”
Cicilline is also sponsoring bills that will ban assault weapons, high capacity magazines and bump stocks, tighten background checks and introduce universal background checks.
Cicilline serves on the House Judiciary and Finance Committees. Judiciary deals with what Cicilline calls the “I-word,” that is, impeachment.
Cicilline serves as the chair of the antitrust regulatory reform subcommittee in House Finance. Part of the problem of inequality is “the big mega mergers, these consolidations of sectors in the economy” that result in fewer choices and higher prices” for consumers. Cicilline cites Facebook and Google as companies that have near monopoly power and threaten privacy.
You can watch all of Cicilline’s remarks here:
After Cicilline’s introductory remarks, he entertained questions and comments from the over 150 people in attendance. Cicilline’s answers to the questions and comments are presented in the videos below.
Q1. On HR1, do you have bi-partisan support, and what can we do to help create bipartisan support to get this passed?
Q2. What are your thoughts on monopoly businesses and the ineffectiveness of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)?
Q3. The people making decisions about our health care seem out of touch with the doctors who are working with patients.
Q4. What are your thoughts about eliminating the electoral college?
Q5. Public opinion matters. Is there any way to get information, real facts, not Fox News, to the “other side” of the debate?
Q6. I am concerned about tobacco use and specifically e-cigarettes. Will you be paying some attention to that?
Q7. Have you considered a bill to force gun owners to get insurance, just as car owners do?
Q8. Should drug manufacturers be required to list the cost of their medications when they advertise on television?
Q9. America has a role to expand and support democracy around the world, but we don’t always do so effectively.
Q10. A question from a man who supports the building of a border wall and the electoral college. How do Democrats square their opposition to a border wall with their support for Israel, which manages border walls?
Q11. A question from a woman who believes vaccines are dangerous and that 5G technology will blind people as part of some sort of dystopian future.
Q12. A suggestion that a commission to examine the efficacy of a border wall might allow Trump an out and allow the government to re-open.
Q13. What measures are you putting into make sure the next President will not be able to violate the norms of the position, such as not revealing tax returns, not putting their business and finances into a trust, not running the government as a family business, etc?
Q14. A question on the opioid crisis and corruption.
Q15. Rhode Island may be losing a seat in the House due to population decline. What is to be done?
Q16. As to the border wall, what of the rumors that Trump may declare a national emergency or his deal to trade concessions on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status for wall funding?
Q17. Are there any plans to establish a minimum competence for the office of the President and how close are we to removing President Donald Trump from office?
Q18. Rhode Island is one of the few states that does not allow insurance companies to share savings with patients who opt for cheaper services.
Q19. As legalization of marijuana proceeds state to state, what are the chances of revising banking laws to ensure that businesses have access to banking services?
Q20. A question about what the next steps in geoengineering solutions to climate change might be.
Q21. What are you going to do to get the United States Coast Guard paid for all the important work that they do?
Q22. Can the President be censured by Congress for his behavior over the shut-down?
Q23. A question from a member of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who says that the air traffic control system is not as safe as it was.
Q24. How do we safeguard our online privacy?
Q25. A question about economic equity and fairness. The questioner asks about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s suggestion that people who make over ten million dollars be taxed at a 70 percent tax rate.
Q26. Will your new position as the chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee allow you to make further change?
Q27. Due to the nature of Cicilline’s answer, I have to run the lengthy statement by this man in its entirety.
Q28. Not really a question, but a compliment.
The elected officials in attendance included State Senators Karen Alzate (Democrat, District 60, Pawtucket), Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence), Joshua Miller (Democrat, District 28, Cranston), and Ana Quezada (Democrat, District 2, Providence); Representatives Grace Diaz (Democrat, District 11, Providence) and Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence); Providence City Councilors Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3) and David Salvatore (Ward 14); Pawtucket City Councilors Michael Araujo (at Large) and Mark Wildenhain (District 2) and Central Falls City Councilor Franklin Solano (Ward 4).
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