Concerns over immigration raids, gun control, North Bay fire relief funds, health center funding, offshore oil drilling and last week’s government shutdown were among the topics discussed during a town hall meeting Wednesday hosted by Rep. Mike Thompson.
“I can’t tell you how sad we are about the tragedy that befell all of us,” said Thompson, referring to the October firestorms.
Thompson, D-St. Helena, said he and other legislators were “working hard” on a disaster aid package that would bring $4.5 billion to communities affected by the North Bay fires.
The bill would also reduce state and local governments’ cost share of Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars to 10 percent, rather than the usually required 25 percent.
“If we don’t get that federal ratio, it’s going to be a very bad situation,” he said. “I feel confident it will pass.”
Some 200 people attended the 90-minute forum at the Santa Rosa Veteran’s Memorial Building.
Thompson blasted Congress’ inability to come up with a long-term budget rather than interim budget resolutions that he said “kick the proverbial can down the proverbial road.”’
But one local resident, Bob Proctor, 71, of Rohnert Park, criticized Democratic senators for holding the American public “hostage” and not negotiating in good faith with Republicans.
Thompson said it was the GOP’s responsibility to come up with a bill that had enough votes to pass both houses of Congress and get the president’s signature. Republicans control both houses and the White House.
“If you’re going to bring a bill to the floor for a vote, you better have the votes,” he said.
The issue of border security and legislation protecting Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, was also discussed. Thompson said he believed some compromise could be reached that would both increase border security and allow Dreamers to stay in the country.
But he said he opposed the construction of a wall, calling it a “fool’s errand” and a waste of taxpayer money.
“I don’t believe a wall is money well spent,” he said, adding that President Trump is merely trying to “fulfill a stupid campaign promise.”
Thompson also addressed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ongoing feud with states and counties that have restricted cooperation between federal immigration officials and local law enforcement.
Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters to 23 “sanctuary cities” threatening subpoenas if they did not provide documents pertaining to local law enforcement officials’ cooperation with federal immigration agents. The letter warned Sonoma County that its current “sanctuary” policy could be violating the terms of a federal grant for law enforcement programs.
After the town hall, Thompson said Sessions’ campaign against Sonoma County is putting at risk the local community, creating a rift with immigrants.
The Press Democrat remembers the 40 lives lost in the North Bay fires. Click here for more of the stories.