U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) received a supportive welcome April 17 during a Town Hall meeting at Sherwood High School where she addressed issues ranging from protecting immigrants to health care issues to pushing harder for an investigation to determine what types of ties the current administration may have with Russia.
Most of one side of the Sherwood High School gym was filled with audience members to hear Bonamici speak at what was her fifth of six plan town halls for the area. Bonamici, the Oregon Democrat who was elected in 2012 and represents the state's sprawling First Congressional District, said the top three issues constituents currently call her office about at the moment are health care, proposed budget cuts and the recent airstrike in Syria.
During her town hall meeting, many audience members quietly held up paper placards reading "agree" or "disagree" to express opinions as the Congresswoman broached a variety of topics, spending most of her time taking questions from the audience.
"I'm very concerned about health care bills," Bonamici offered, saying a Republican-sponsored bill on health care would have resulted in "higher costs and fewer benefits" than the current Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.
Still, she said legislators on both sides didn't appear to like the recently considered Republican alternative to the act already in place, adding, "They might not like Obamacare but they liked the Affordable Care Act."
In response to a question on how Congress could improve the Affordable Care Act, Bonamici said she and her colleagues are ready and willing to talk about health care improvements. She later responded to a question on health care costs by noting, "There's still too many people who have health care costs that are insurmountable."
Here is how the U.S. Representative responded to other audience questions:
On the selection of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education: Bonamici, who sits on both the Committee on Education and the Workforce as well as the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said she has concerns about DeVos' past support for pushing for school vouchers by using money normally earmarked for public school education to send students to private schools.
"It's not going to work to give everyone a voucher," Bonamici pointed out.
On Alzheimer's disease research: An audience member thanked Bonamici for supporting efforts to fight what she said was the most costly illness in the country today. Bonamici said she was supportive of such research, noting that she too has a parent with dementia.
On Russia: There are concerns on both sides of the isle, Bonamici pointed out, calling for more transparency, more facts and an independent investigation regarding Trump team ties to the Russian government. She added that based on what she hears from her colleagues, she believes the pace of an investigation will pick up.
On Syria: While admitting that a chemical attack on civilians is terrible, she noted that the president should have consulted with Congress, noting that while the president has power as commander in chief, "those powers have limits."
"This was not an attack on our country," she said.
On women's reproductive healthcare: She said that it "makes no sense to defund Planned Parenthood."
On immigration: The Congresswoman also expressed concerns that Congress needs to create some type of comprehensive immigration reform to stop from having "too many people in (the) community living in fear."
Bonamici said she's talked to school administrators in districts with Latino parents who are afraid to attend parent/teacher school nights for fear of being arrested on immigration charges.
Later in the evening, she said she wants to ensure that some form of legislation is passed to keep the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, from "ramped up enforcement" in schools, courthouses and places of worship.
Meanwhile, she said those in the United States with overextended visas will not be impacted by an expensive wall.
"In my opinion, the wall is an awful waste of time," she said to extensive applause.