From impeachment to the cost of college, U.S. Rep. Susan Wild fielded wide-ranging questions at Town Hall
The cost of college, the environment, impeachment.
Those were some of the issues on the minds of constituents Thursday night during a packed Town Hall U.S. Rep. Susan Wild hosted at Lafayette College auditorium in Easton.
As the impeachment trial continues in Washington this week, Wild struck a bipartisan tone as she answered questions for more than an hour about promoting renewable resources and consolidating student loans.
Wild, a Democrat who faces her first reelection contest this year, represents Pennsylvania’s 7th District, which includes Lehigh, Northampton and parts of Monroe counties.
Here are five things constituents wanted to know:
Don Bastian of Lower Macungie Township said he is tired of the partisan bickering in Washington, D.C.
“Before it was Russia, Russia, Russia. After that, it was Mueller, Mueller, Mueller. After that, it was impeachment, impeachment, impeachment,” he said. "People are standing around Pennsylvania, saying what are they doing for us. It seems Congress has been hijacked by a bunch of far-lefties ...”
If Trump is reelected, he asked, is Congress going to do the work of the people or will there be four more years of calling for impeachment?
Wild, a Democrat who voted for impeachment, said she believes a majority of her colleagues represent moderate districts like the one she represents and wants to work on issues like prescription drug prices, student loan debt and the environment — but those efforts aren’t exciting enough to make cable news.
She said the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which replaces NAFTA, as an example of the bipartisan work that Congress and Trump are capable of accomplishing. She said she believes bringing down the cost of prescription drugs is another issue in which Congress can work with the president.
“If President Trump is reelected in November, then it’s my intention and I believe the intention of most of the other members of Congress to continue to do the work we are doing and to try to find common ground,” Wild said.
John Gallagher of Bethlehem Township asked Wild what constituents can do to move along the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
Wild said said she signed onto the proposal, which would create a trust fund for Americans to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies to reduce pollution, she said.
She suggested her constituents ask their friends and families in other districts to ask their representatives to sign onto the bill, giving it a better chance to be voted on.
“I’m a big believer in the more we can get the market to innovate and be incentivized to come up with renewable technologies and things that are safer for our environment, the more likely we will actually succeed in doing exactly that.”
Fossil fuel jobs
A grandfather from Bath questioned what Wild can do to help people who lost their jobs in the fossil fuel industry, especially in Pennsylvania, where there are coal companies, as renewable energy technologies increase.
Wild said Congress needs to make sure people who get displaced from fossil fuels are being retrained “and not just kicked out the door.”
Wild said there is a great emphasis on vocational training in the Education and Labor Committee, on which she serves. Manufacturers and employers, she said, have jobs to fill — and the training has to match up with the job demand.
Lee Miller, a veteran, wanted to know what could be done about the estimated 38,000 homeless veterans, including the ones in homeless camps in Easton and Allentown.
Wild said she recently toured the homeless tent city in Allentown and is “acutely aware” that veterans live among them. She said its an issue that has to be dealt with on several levels.
She said the issue must be solved through addressing mental health issues and providing opportunities so veterans are fully employed. She said that affordable housing is also a big issue in the Lehigh Valley and pointed to programs like one in Easton’s West Ward where the Redevelopment Authority rehabilitated the home and it’s been turned over for owner-occupied affordable housing.
Sera Seta, a junior at Easton Area High School, said “the thought of paying for college is something that is like an impending doom.” What are Wild’s plans to make it more affordable?
Wild listed several bills, including the College Affordability Act, that were either moved out of committee or the House floor. Among the strategies is to simplify student loans by allowing those with existing student debt to consolidate it and renegotiate the repayment plan. There would be two types: a fixed replacement plan and and income-based repayment plan. She said it would provide relief to 44 million Americans.