Wyden speaks out at town hall meeting
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden held a town hall meeting at Chehalem Cultural Center on Sunday before a zealous crowd that came from around the area to ask questions on topics ranging from the health care system to his thoughts on President Donald Trump.
The town hall was flooded with emotions as Wyden made a declaration about Trump and the investigation into his possible collusion with the Russians during the 2016 election. More than half of the crowd held up their green "I Agree" signs, while the others clapped, when the senator addressed the issue.
"I've been saying as I've made my way around the state that as long as I have the honor to represent you on the Senate Intelligence Committee this Russian investigation is not going to get swept under the rug," he said.
There was also a brief pause when members of the crowd asked Wyden about Trump, including from a concerned constituent asking, "How do you sleep?" Some in the crowd complained of helplessness, that they are unable to affect change on the issues.
Wyden understood this and throughout the town hall encouraged the crowd to "speak out," to write letters, make telephone calls and let their voices be heard.
Questions about health care were most popular among the crowd as they inquired about the rising costs of medication, to seniors and Medicare.
"One area that I feel very strongly about is that we should lift the restriction on Medicare, so Medicare can bargain down the cost of medicine.
"Also, I would hope that we would start to put our focus on making a seamless web through the health care in America. I would like to set up a single payer system. I would like to see that Oregon, California and Washington be the first part of the country to test that out," Wyden said to loud applause from the room.
Asked was what his top four priorities for 2018, Wyden responded with his list.
"I want to make the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) permanent. If we can't make it permanent I want to make the longest extension that I can," he said.
"Second, I want to get that (wildfire) fire bill passed, because I am telling you folks that these fires are not our grandfather's fires. They are bigger and they are hotter. Whoever imagined that a fire would leap the Columbia River? I really want to be focused on fire prevention.
"Third, I'd really like to see us get a bipartisan construction bill for roads, bridges and the transportation system.
"Fourth will be front and center this week in the Senate: a really important intelligence bill called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. There are two parts of this: the first part allows us to target dangerous threats overseas. I'm for that. Part two is just as important today given the fact that communication systems globally are interconnected. When a threat is targeted overseas often law-abiding Americans get caught up in the searches and their data is searched without a warrant. I very much want to show in this bill that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive."