Government / Politics

COMMENTARY: Break the logjam in Congress

Hollister resident supports Jimmy Panetta for Congress for positions he says align with progressive politics of the Central Coast, and because Casey Lucius will vote to elect a Republican speaker of the House who will continue to block popular legislation

I’d like to share why I strongly support electing Jimmy Panetta to be our Congressperson. I’m confident that Jimmy will fight hard for the progressive values that Sam Farr has stood up for over the last twenty-three years. He will advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, prioritize education from pre-school through college, champion environmental protection on the Central Coast, work with President Clinton on making improvements in the Affordable Care Act while preserving its core mission of affordable coverage for all, provide the resources needed to protect the United States both at home and abroad, address the growing chasm of income inequality in our country, and direct federal resources to impact the affordable housing crisis that is only getting worse in all areas of the 20th Congressional district.

You may have seen Jimmy’s Republican challenger, Casey Lucius, in her TV ads or participating in debates with Jimmy Panetta. She’s bright and articulate, and my hat is off to her for throwing hers into the ring. But there’s something she hasn’t addressed in her race for Congress: Over the last 17 years, the three Republican speakers of the House have all followed the “Hastert Rule,” which says that the speaker will only allow a vote of the full House of Representatives on a piece of legislation if a majority of the Republican Caucus votes to support it. This means that a minority of our elected representatives, often dominated by far right Tea Party conservatives, can block legislation from getting an up or down vote. A bipartisan immigration reform bill with overwhelming public support was passed by the U.S. Senate. It would have been passed by the House of Representative if the Republican speaker had allowed the House to vote on the bill.

Like many other widely supported pieces of legislation that stood a good chance of passage, immigration reform never made it to the House floor for a fair and square vote.

If elected to Congress, Casey Lucius would caucus with the Republicans. If they win a majority in the House, you can be sure that her vote will help elect a Republican speaker, who wouldn’t survive if he didn’t continue to enforce the Hastert Rule.  Lucius has presented a platform that is somewhat liberal for a Republican. What she doesn’t tell you is that none of these things that she supports will ever make it to the House floor for a vote if we send her to Washington and she helps put a Republican in the speaker’s chair.

We need a Congress that will work with the president to advance the progressive ideas that are mainstream on the Central Coast. The best chance of getting that to happen is to vote for Jimmy Panetta and break the undemocratic log jam that the House Republicans have created. Jimmy will work hard for us, as he has throughout his career.

— Seth Capron, resident of San Benito County since 1970