In the News
by Jeff Powers
House Speaker Paul Ryan and lawmakers have been working on a pair of bills that if passed, would solve the long-sought comprehensive immigration reform the country clearly needs.
Next week, Speaker Ryan is expected to present two immigration bills on the floor of the house for consideration. The timing of this effort comes as news reports emphasize the separation of undocumented immigrant families at U.S. borders and wants to change the practice in legislation. According to GOP lawmakers, the bills will include a provision barring the separation of families.
Speaker Ryan says the bills represent a consensus among the members and are in line with President Trump’s four pillars of immigration reform:
1. Path to Citizenship for DREAMers
2. Border Security
3. An End to the Diversity Visa Lottery
4. Restrictions on Family-Based Immigration
Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA.) joined the IVN Podcast to discuss the immigration debate, the prospects of these two new bills, the prospects of single-payer healthcare, and the values of Ranked Choice Voting.
“I’m part of a bipartisan group that’s been trying to force to the floor votes on four different immigration bills. There is a conservative bill known as the Goodlatte bill, there is a clean dream act, there’s the USA Act which is the dream act with some security provisions in there and then we also gave Paul Ryan the chance to put in whatever bill he wanted. We had to get 218 signatures to force a vote, but we could only get 216, we couldn’t get those last two republicans to sign the petition. Not being able to vote on it is the most frustrating thing here and it’s why Congress is so broken.”
The process has moved behind closed doors and next week it’s expected the house will be voting likely Wednesday and/or Thursday on two immigration bills.
One of the bills was written by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), and House Homeland Security Committee Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Martha McSally. (R-Ariz.) They have introduced the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760).
The bill claims to bolster enforcement of existing immigration law, makes important reforms to our legal immigration programs, secures the border, and provides a legislative solution for the current beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Of Speaker Ryan’s efforts, Congressman Peters told IVN, “Paul Ryan is having a Republican v. Republican negotiation between his freedom party tea caucus guys on one hand and the rest of the caucus. And that’s not the best way for legislation to succeed, you should be involving Democrats.”
In addition to the Goolatte bill, bill Peters told IVN another bill will come to the floor that “no Democrat has seen or had any input to.”
“Frankly the discussion we need to be having is about stabilizing the insurance markets. I’m part of a bipartisan group that came up with a solution for that. But because of the uncertainty around the subsidies and the elimination of the individual mandate, there’s no way to force more healthy people into the pool, we expect premiums to go up 20-30% this year and that’s the pressing issue. The premiums will be set in September, people will be in for a real shock and I don’t think leadership in Congress is going to be happy with the response.”
The Justice Department recently stated they would no longer defend Obamacare in court. I asked Rep. Peters if he was surprised by that move. “No I’m not, there is no regard for the accomplishments of previous administrations or the fact that laws are on the books. I think that’s irresponsible, I also think again it injects uncertainty into a healthcare situation where certainty is what drives costs down, uncertainty drives costs up and we’re going to see premiums increase.”
Single-Payer For California?
Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom has insisted that if he is elected Governor, he will push the state for single payer healthcare.
Rep. Peters disagrees with Newsom and thinks the costs are just too high, “I’m a fan of universal coverage I don’t think single-payer is the way to there. So 70% of people are happy with their employer sponsored plans, single-payer dismantles all sorts of systems that are in place… plus I think the last cost estimate that California did was $400 million, so I just don’t think it’s a practical solution. But I do think we ought to get to Universal healthcare and we can do that without blowing up the whole system.”
San Diego Considering Ranked Choice Voting
Similar to efforts in Maine six other states, Ranked Choice Voting is being considered for the City of San Diego. RCV is currently used in 4 California cities including Oakland, San Francisco, San Leandro and Berkeley.
The effort in San Diego hit a bit of a snag as the City Council Rules Committee voted against the measure 2-3. But the group behind that effort has vowed to make another run at the system.
IVN San Diego asked Rep. Scott Peters about RCV and the possibility of the system being used in San Diego. “I think it’s something we ought to consider. It’s something usually progressives like, it’s interesting that two Republicans proposed it in the city, but San Diego’s an innovative place I would like to take a look at it. The one thing that concerns me about San Diego right now is it has gotten pretty tribal. One of the good things about RCV is it steps away from the partisanship.”