Rep. Katie Hill joins local officials to discuss legislation, policy with constituentsRyan Painter February 25, 2019 1 COMMENT
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Back in the 25th Congressional District for a brief congressional recess, Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce) held a “congressional conversation” in Simi Valley on Sunday afternoon, during which she joined local officials to hear constituents’ opinions about her pending legislation and policy trajectory.
Joined by Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita), Simi Valley Councilmember Ruth Luevanos and Simi Valley Mayor Keith Mashburn, Hill spoke and engaged with a crowd of roughly 100 local residents at Simi Valley City Hall for just over an hour.
She began with a review of her committee assignments and of the legislation that she has advanced before participating in a screened question-and-answer session.
Hill also provided an update on her work within the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, to which she was appointed in January. The committee, she explained, has the purview to investigate any matters in which the federal government is involved. This week, that duty will involve former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2018.
“We will be hearing the testimony of Michael Cohen in the only setting, the only open forum, where he will be speaking,” Hill said. “Our goal within the community is to make sure the information is available to the public, that people are able to make their own decision on what to believe.”
Hill then shifted focus to the variety of bills that she has sponsored since assuming office in January.
First among these was the St. Francis Dam National Memorial Act, which she credited her predecessor, former-Rep. Steve Knight, with initiating and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for co-sponsoring. The bill would make the 353 acre St. Francis Dam memorial area, found off of San Francisquito Canyon Rd. in Santa Clarita, a national monument.
“It will be going to the president’s desk to be signed into law, and we’re optimistic about that one,” she said.
Representing a district in which a significant portion of the workforce relies on federal employment and contracts, Hill informed the audience that she introduced H.R. 1117, dubbed the Shutdown Fairness Act of 2019, on Feb. 8.
“It will ensure that every federal worker, regardless of if they’re furloughed or working without pay, will have the option to file for unemployment benefits,” she said of the bill, which is in the Ways and Means Committee as of Feb. 25.
In addition to providing benefits to furloughed workers in the event of a future shutdown, the bill would also extend protection to states who dispersed these benefits during last month’s appropriations lapse.
“California was one of the states that allowed federal employees working without pay to receive unemployment benefits, and now the Trump administration is threatening to penalize the state for providing this lifeline,” she said.
With respect to healthcare, Hill said she has co-sponsored H.R. 1277, which would expand state medicare options.
Finishing up this recapitulation of her last seven weeks in office, Hill moved into a question-and-answer session. Audience members were given the chance to write their questions on index cards, which were collected by Hill’s staff and given to high school activist and Simi Valley resident Daniel McGreevy, who then read the cards at random to the congresswoman.
Hill was faced with questions on an array of topics, including housing costs, taxes, immigration, bipartisanship and gun reform. While most of the questions referred directly to Hill, the representative did defer to Smith on a question asking whether Hill would introduce a bill that would make English the official language in California schools.
“Not only is that not likely at all, but we are finding that most kids have significantly enhanced academic outcomes when they are part of a dual-language immersion,” Smith, who worked served as a Newhall School District Board Member for nearly a decade, said.
Hill devoted the most time to a question about the Green New Deal resolution authored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that, if passed, would establish guidelines and aims for the proposed economic stimulus and environmental protection package often referred to as the “Green New Deal.” Hill explained her decision not to support the resolution as a whole — which she noted was much to the dismay of some of her progressive supporters. She did, however, say that she supports the principles on which the bill is based, such as moving toward a carbon-neutral economy.
“The Green New Deal is a resolution, it is not a piece of legislation, and if it were just the first page, where it states the goals, including getting to (carbon) net zero by 2030, then I would be 100 percent on board,” she said. “The problem is that it’s not just one page, its multiple pages, and when you get into the details of it, it talks about things like retrofitting every single building … I was in construction, I worked on building development, like there’s no way that that could ever happen.”
While Hill said she believed climate change legislation to be imperative, she remains circumspect that the Green New Deal is too broad in approach.
“Legislation needs to be more laser focused,” she said. “The more you lump in, the less likely it is to get passed, and the less focus it has on the real issue on hand that we have to address now.”
Ryan Painter covers government and politics for The Proclaimer. He has worked at the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, the Daily Trojan and as a campaign staffer during 2018 midterm elections. A 2016 West Ranch graduate, Ryan studies Political Science and International Relations at USC. Find him on Twitter @ryan_pintor.