U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici isn't ready to endorse the impeachment of President Donald Trump, but she says House committees should continue to press their investigations of him and his administration.
"This president is not fit for this office," the Oregon Democrat said to applause at a recent town hall meeting.
"We need to do what we can to get the facts to hold him accountable. But I do not want to do anything to increase the chances of him staying. I think it's not right for the country."
Teri Robins of Hillsboro did not get a chance to ask Bonamici a question at the meeting, which about 200 people attended at Century High School in Hillsboro.
"I just want to impress upon her how important it is that the House follow through with an impeachment inquiry," she said afterward.
"It would be as if we conspired to rob a bank and the car broke down on the way to the bank, so we didn't rob the bank and nobody would arrest us. But if the president of the United States conspires with a foreign government — and it does not work out, although not for lack of trying — it means he should not be in that office."
Bonamici's stance was similar to that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, although recent resistance by Trump and his administration to House committee subpoenas may prompt a reassessment by the Democratic majority.
Impeachment would be akin to an indictment, which can be voted by a majority in the House. But removal is unlikely in the Senate, which has a Republican majority and where a two-thirds vote is required
Although Bonamici isn't on any of six House committees pressing investigations into Trump, she has been critical of Trump appointees on the two committees she does sit on — Education and Labor, as well as Science, Space and Technology.
She has said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is unqualified for that job. DeVos finally met with the House committee on April 10, more than two years after she took office, but faced criticism for support of a $5 billion tax credit for charter schools.
One of the committee's main goals is to renew federal spending authority for higher education, and Bonamici said DeVos has thwarted action to ease the growing debt burdens on students.
"We need to make sure that everyone who wants to go to college can go without incurring substantial debt," she said.
Bonamici also has been critical of Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July 2018 amid ethics questions, and Andrew Wheeler during their tenures as administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Somebody with absolutely no regard for the environment and lobbied for coal ends up at the EPA," Bonamici said of Wheeler.
Bonamici also sits on the House select committee on climate change, which cannot generate legislation.
"But we are finally holding productive hearings," she said. "We are looking around the country and the globe to find out what is working and successful models for a carbon-free economy."
On the Science, Space and Technology Committee, she said, a Republican chairman who was a climate-change denier was replaced by a Democratic chairwoman who is not.
"We are not really debating whether it's real anymore. We know that," she said, because of the latest report from an international panel that warned there is barely a decade left for the world to avert the most disastrous effects of climate change.
"It wasn't a wakeup call," she said. "It was an alarm. We are seeing the effects here in Oregon."
It was the first town hall meeting for Leann Perez of Aloha.
"She was good. It was interesting," she said.
"I want to know which presidential candidate she identifies with the most, and which one of them can take Trump down. She's there; she knows."
An aide said Bonamici has not endorsed any of the candidates, which numbered 20 at the time of the town hall meeting; four more have joined since then. Four are sitting House members — Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Tim Ryan of Ohio and Eric Swalwell of California — and seven more are sitting senators.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.