Congresswoman Susan Wild touts bipartisanship, avoids impeachment talk at town hall
Addressing her constituents in a district almost evenly divided politically, Congresswoman Susan Wild emphasized the need for bipartisanship during a town hall meeting Tuesday, saying it’s “broad stroke issues” not the drama on cable news that Lehigh Valley voters care about.
Those issues include the environment, affordable health care and reducing student loan debt, Wild told a crowd of more than 100 gathered at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Lehigh County.
“A lot of what we hear on the news, on the debate stage, I don’t consider to be relevant to this district, because I think our district is made up of everyday Americans,” Wild said, arguing that Lehigh Valley voters expect their leadership to be respectful and civil to others.
As evidence of her bipartisan efforts, Wild, a Democrat, touted an amendment she introduced to a bill designed to protect Americans with preexisting medical conditions. Wild’s amendment would prevent the current administration or future administrations from enacting rules that would increase premiums on people with such conditions.
The amendment was agreed to 301-112 with 78 Republicans voting in favor.
“That’s the literal working across the aisle and talking to your colleagues that needs to be done and we need to see more of in Congress," she said.
“This should not be a partisan issue,” Wild added. “Preexisting conditions affect people on both sides of the aisle — young people, old people."
Wild, a freshman lawmaker elected last year to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, is banking on that message of bipartisanship to appeal to a split district. The 7th Congressional District, which includes Lehigh, Northampton and part of southern Monroe counties, is viewed as one of the most competitive congressional seats in the country.
Voters in the district, which skew Democratic, favored Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race by only 1 percentage point. Wild won the district by 10 points in November.
Questions asked by the group in attendance Thursday forced Wild to address several partisan issues that have divided lawmakers and Americans alike. Asked whether she would support beginning impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, Wild said she wasn’t trying to dodge the issue before shifting to talking about what she views as a power imbalance between the legislative and executive branches of government.
“I’m also a lawyer by training and spent a lot of years in the courtroom. And in my world, you didn’t defy subpoenas even if you did think it was an inappropriate subpoena,” she said, alluding to the Trump’s vow to resist all subpoenas issued by House Democrats in response to the investigation completed by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Wild said in May she was “not at that point” when asked if she supported beginning an impeachment proceeding. She did address the question as directly Tuesday.
“I have a lot of concerns with the manner in which the administration is responding to the investigations being done by those committees," Wild said, adding that she was also troubled by Trump’s conflicts of interest that have arisen due to his business holdings.
The crowd, which applauded several other responses from Wild, reacted to her answer with silence.
Wild also touched upon another divisive issue Tuesday, calling for a measured response to climate change that would consider how it would impact employees of the fossil fuel industry.
“I think it’s incredibly important that we not trade environmental justice for economic justice or the other way around, and put people out of work with what we do,” she said.
Wild cited a similar concern earlier this year when she considered whether to support a progressive climate change resolution known as the Green New Deal. The legislation, championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., would have sets goals for eliminating carbon emissions in ways that would have dramatically overhauled the U.S. economy. The proposal failed in the U.S. Senate in March.
Wild said Tuesday that there are ways to enact climate change with the support of industry.
“Any time we can do anything that’s market driven, it’s that much more likely to be successful,” she said.Wild noted that she voted in favor of bill that rebuked Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord. That bill, which passed the House but has effectively died in the Senate, would have blocked the administration from using federal funds to withdraw from the agreement.
The crowd at Tuesday’s event cheered loudly when Wild mentioned the vote. Wild said she has also signed onto a measure to create a carbon dividend trust fund and an act to help prepare the public health system for the effects of climate change.