U.S. Rep Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, stopped by Redwood City’s Cañada College Thursday for a town hall event that addressed gun violence and what can be done to stop it, impeachment and other issues of the day.
Eshoo opened the event with a few remarks on the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
“The whole country is grieving. There’s such sorrow over these massacres and it’s frightened people in the community. Constituents have stopped me in the grocery store, afraid to go to large gatherings,” she said. “We cannot accept this as any kind of thing that’s normal in our country. When is enough enough?”
Eshoo reiterated her support for universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles in response to the recent carnage.
“We should take up the assault weapons ban again. Sadly it was allowed to expire [in 2004] when Republicans took Congress back,” she said. “Assault weapons are meant to be used in war, they have no place in civil society. When someone can mow down 30 people in 10 seconds that’s not defensible.”
Eshoo noted that a bill strengthening background checks was passed by the House of Representatives in February and is sitting at the Senate. She said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is under “enormous pressure” to take up the legislation and urged her constituents to add to the pressure.
“Any and all pressure on the Senate majority leader to take up the background check legislation ASAP is absolutely essential for our country,” she said. “Law enforcement said take that up first. They helped design that. They instructed us. … We consult with the experts that are there to give us direction on what’s needed and what’s most effective because their lives are on the line too.
“If we have the right laws in place, we can eliminate so much of what has taken place,” she added.
Eshoo described the recent shootings as acts of domestic terrorism and called for legislative action.
“After our country was attacked on Sept. 11, the Congress wrote many statutes relative to international terrorism,” she said. “We need to write statutes on domestic terrorism.”
Eshoo said domestic terrorism is being driven by white supremacy, adding that the FBI director testified before Congress a couple of weeks ago confirming a rise in hate crimes and white nationalism in the country.
And she believes President Donald Trump is responsible.
“We know from [the shooters’] screeds, their rants really replicate and follow sadly and tragically the words of the president of the United States. Violent words create violence,” she said. “This is a growing threat amongst us. This is not about some political undertaking, it’s about a very sick ideology and we’ve seen that the ideology calls them to act out and to do what they’re doing. We’ve seen it.”
Impeachment was brought up multiple times throughout the event and each mention of it generated loud applause. Eshoo stressed impeachment does not happen overnight and that the wheels are in motion.
“An inquiry relative to impeachment is already taking place, that’s what the judiciary committee is doing. There’s no difference and the full house voted to give the judiciary committee the extraordinary powers of subpoena. The whole house voted for that, including myself,” she said. “In order to come up with the articles of impeachment — I think the chairman should set a deadline on this. I think we should get the work done by mid-October at the latest.”
Eshoo said if subpoenas continue to be ignored than the house has the power to issue fines of $500,000 or another amount.
“These people are going to have to answer and if they don’t I firmly believe that one of the main articles for impeachment will be the purposeful obstruction of the oversight investigation powers of the House of Representatives,” she said.
Eshoo wrapped up her comments on impeachment by declaring the “greatest opportunity for full impeachment is at the polls.”
The congresswoman also touched on immigration, health care, tariffs and China, student loan debt and sea level rise, among other issues.
She condemned the conditions at migrant detention centers and called for immigration laws to be revisited, said the tariffs on China are a “disaster” and proposed student loan forgiveness for those who commit to a community service program akin to the peace core. On the topic of sea level rise, she specifically mentioned Redwood City’s Cargill salt ponds site and said development should not occur there.
“There is a decision that the people of Redwood City are going to make on development on the Bay in Redwood City and I think a red flag should go up on that one. I’m not in favor of that,” she said. “From what I’ve seen of the plans I don’t support it. I’m going to put a call into [the Bay Conservation and Development Commission] and talk to the chair.”
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