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Congresswoman's town hall meeting in Scappoose draws concerns about new president's policies

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, addressed constituent concerns about budget cuts, attacks on Syria, and healthcare, among other topics Saturday afternoon at an hour-long town hall meeting in Scappoose.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici addresses a crowd during a town hall meeting Saturday in Scappoose.

Bonamici, who represents Oregon's 1st District that includes Columbia County, stopped at Scappoose High School last weekend to update those in her district about her efforts to combat the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and denounce many of the executive orders issued from the White House since President Donald Trump took office in January.

"I was very concerned about repealing the Affordable Care Act," Bonamici told the crowd. "I was glad that that didn't pass, but we're not done with that conversation. ... I'm not interested in the proposal that was brought forward."

Bonamici called the repeal efforts, "a major change to America's healthcare system with no hearings."

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Cindy Kistler, of Forest Grove, asks a question during a town hall meeting hosted by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici.Town hall attendees were given cards with numbers on them, which were selected at random as part of a lottery system used for taking audience questions.

Several hands in the room went up when the congresswoman asked how many people were at their first town hall meeting.

One speaker asked about retirement security and oversight programs.

Another man asked what could be done to stop the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

"I oppose it," Bonamici said matter of factly. "I will fight efforts to defund it. There have been many."

Those who attended remained fixated on national issues affecting programs, policy and national security.

Some asked the congresswoman what she would do to stop Trump from engaging in acts of war.

"I am fully prepared to do what I need to do to have that debate," Bonamici said.

She voiced serious concerns over Trump moving forward with air strikes on Syria without congressional approval, and said engaging in war without approval is usually reserved for instances of the United States being under attack.

"I share concerns with many of my constituents ... there are ethical concerns about conflicts of interest, relations with Russia, the executive orders that were issued," she noted.

Bonamici also lambasted the president's recent travel bans, saying they "sent a contrary message around the world about what we stand for as Americans."

In February, Bonamici spoke out against the executive order imposing travel restrictions on behalf of a 4-month-old infant from Iran who was scheduled to travel to Oregon to receive heart surgery at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. The family of the baby was held up by the travel ban, but eventually was allowed to enter the country and arrived safely.

She also introduced legislation this year to block Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from entering sensitive public areas in attempts to detain and deport people.

Bonamici, as well as some republicans, have also criticized the president's recent proposed budget, saying it "cuts everything but defense spending."

Bonamici, a member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, who also serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, engaged with her constituents on environmental issues, namely climate change.

"I'll admit we haven't done enough on the environment and science subcommittee to combat climate change," she said, saying she'd like to see more investment in renewable energy, rather than efforts to revive the coal industry.

Saturday's town hall was one of six scheduled within the 1st District this spring.

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