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Photo courtesy of Katie Hill for Congress.

One week ago, Stephen Daniels of The Talk of Santa Clarita interviewed Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce). We’ve put together some highlights from the interview to help our readers get to know the congresswoman currently representing California’s 25th Congressional District.

Stephen Daniels: Many things have changed since we first met. Is everything good, kind of a whirlwind for you?

Rep. Hill: It has very much been a whirlwind, that’s pretty much the only way you can describe it, I think. I mean, you really don’t get any time off, whatsoever. You’re flying back and forth across the country pretty much every week. So much has happened. This is such a crazy time in our politics to begin with, but also, I’m on three committees, which is a lot.

The “new guard”

Stephen Daniels: You’re kind of, like, part of the new guard, with AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), I mean, she’s a buddy of yours, I guess, is she?

Rep. Hill: It’s funny, because you don’t have a lot of time to hang out with, really, anybody.

Stephen Daniels: The perception, I think, a lot of people have is that you guys sit around and make laws and then go out, and then…

Rep. Hill: I haven’t had a beer with any of my colleagues.

Stephen Daniels: Really?

Rep. Hill: The only person in any kind of lengthy period of time is Lauren [Rep. Lauren Underwood [D-Ill.], who’s my roommate, and that’s, like, you get home at 10 or 11 o’ clock at night and you’re, like, decompress about the day for like 20 minutes before you both pass out. It’s pretty lonely, to be honest with you, because you don’t — there’s literally just no time.

“Call time” and fundraising

Rep. Hill: I do know a lot of people bail on certain things to go do call time, which I think is — that’s another time challenge that I’m dealing with.

Stephen Daniels: Are you doing call time? Do you have to do call time?

Rep. Hill: I’m trying to figure out when to do that, yeah. We’re fundraising now, yeah, we have to fundraise now. I’m trying to figure out when to work it in.

Stephen Daniels: You literally have to cross the street to another building.

Rep. Hill: Which is one of the hardest parts, too, right? Like, you can’t just say “I’ve got an hour between things — which you don’t really ever have, but — let me do a few calls right now. You have to leave the building to do that. Those buildings are big. And by the way, this is a stupid thing to even think about, but walking in high heels, it’s a huge place to walk in high heels in. My feet are always killing me, and so the thought of walking across the street is — I’ve not figured out the shoe situation yet.

“The party line”

Stephen Daniels: There have been a lot of people that are saying that you’re kowtowing to Nancy Pelosi, that you’re getting in line with the old-school Democrats.

Rep. Hill: I would say that it doesn’t work like that, first of all. There’s not a line. You don’t have somebody who’s kind of over your shoulder saying, “You must vote this way.” In fact, it’s the opposite, where they have a very strong motivation to make sure you get re-elected, because on the votes that matter we are principally aligned anyway, right? I ran saying that I’m going to vote such-and-such way on, like, H.R. 8, for example, the background checks that we just voted on. I was going to vote that way, period. On healthcare reforms. I was going to vote that way. I campaigned on that. Those things, we’re aligned on no matter what. They want to make sure that you get re-elected, and to get re-elected, they say, “Vote your district.” You know what’s best for your district, and sometimes that’s going to mean breaking with the party, but on the more important votes, the ones where we really need to get something that matters through, then they’re going to know you’re with them.

I am part of leadership, though, so I’m not following. I’m actually helping to set the agenda and hoping to provide feedback onto legislation that is potentially going to be more challenging for not just my district, but districts like mine and even more conservative ones.

Michael Cohen, Trump and impeachment

Stephen Daniels: What was your impression of Cohen? The Republicans kept that one line up: “He’s a perjurer, he’s a liar,” and that’s all they’ve said, over and over again, “We can’t trust him.”

Rep. Hill: I just have to say, I can’t get over this. They keep saying he’s a convicted liar. He was lying for the president. How can you just keep going back to this point? He was lying for the president. Now he’s not lying for the president. How do you reconcile this without, like– it’s just, it blows my mind.

Stephen Daniels: Did you believe his testimony, then?

Rep. Hill: I did. I don’t see a reason for him to be lying anymore. I see a lot of reasons for him not to be lying anymore. I think he made commentary that was not necessary or helpful. I don’t actually think there was any particular reason for him to go into whether Trump was a racist or not, because as far as I’m concerned, we can all see that for ourselves. It doesn’t matter what he does behind closed doors because he does it out in the open. There are things like that that I don’t think he needed to do. There was the commentary that I didn’t think was helpful, I would have rather there was just the focus on “What are the things he did that we wouldn’t have known before, that there’s now evidence we wouldn’t have known about before? There’s that kind of disgruntled employee part of character.

Stephen Daniels: Let me ask you a question I’m sure you’ve already been asked many times. Is he on his way to being impeached?

Rep. Hill: Listen, we’re going to have to see where everything takes us.

Stephen Daniels: Here’s what I was thinking about the other day. I don’t know how many people have thought about this, but the one thing I hear over and over again from senators, from congressmen, from congresswomen is “Let’s wait until the Mueller report comes out.” But to me, the Mueller report seems to be holding back doing anything, not the report itself, but anybody doing something as they wait for the report, certainly when you look at the emoluments clause, the situation with the checks and the payoffs and stuff like that, if the Mueller report wasn’t there, if it didn’t exist, would there be enough already to–

Rep. Hill: I know, and I think where you see the hesitation is because — you’re right. If you just look at the law and whether he’s broken the law, he has. I think that’s pretty indisputable at this point. Whether we move forward on impeachment, I think that, impeachment is as political as it is anything else. I think the challenge is that for us to actually impeach somebody, and to get somebody out of office, you need Republicans to do it. For it to not backfire in some huge way, it can’t look like it’s partisanship. It has to be something where there is the buy-in and the will of the American people as there is at the same time the people who represent them. Right now, we have Democrats, we have Democrats who are, for the most part, in agreement that this man is unfit to be in the White House. And I’ll say that. I think he’s unfit to be in the White House. But I think he still has a strong base of support and the Republicans — I hear what they say when they’re not on camera. They are not supportive of him. A lot of them are not supportive of him in the same way, but they are afraid of him because he has such a strong base, and when you think about the districts, about the way that they are gerrymandered and the way that they can be primaried, they’re afraid of Donald Trump, and they act accordingly. Until that chips away, and until people — no matter what your political affiliation is — recognize how this truly is about our democracy and what we leave to our children and whether or not we are moving towards a dictatorship, we are moving toward allowing crimes to be committed in the Oval Office and have people that are not accountable and are better than or above the law, then it doesn’t matter what we do. In fact, it can actually have a negative effect.

Stephen Daniels: Let’s back up, because you said something there, a key word. I just want to clarify that you said “on our way to a dictatorship.” Clarify what you mean by that.

Rep. Hill: There’s this rise in dictatorships and authoritarianism across the globe, and if you see who Trump is courting, it is strongmen, it is strongmen that do things over time that chip away at democracy. I think that one of the first things you see on the way to an authoritarian regime is attacking the press. It’s undermining election and re-elections and being okay with this hacking that has happened, that we know for a fact, that his own Department of Defense and his own executive branch says for a fact has happened. Attacking the free press over and over and over again, that is exactly what are the first steps toward an authoritarian regime.

Medicare for All

Stephen Daniels: How are we going to pay for Medicare for All?

Rep. Hill: First of all, a few things. Remember how I was talking about laying the marker? The Medicare for All package is laying the marker, right? It’s saying that we believe that every single person in the United States should be able to have healthcare that they can afford, that covers everything, that’s never going to leave them in a position where they have to declare bankruptcy or choose between putting a roof over their head and paying the medical bills.

This is a sidebar for a second, but it’s a very telling story. One of my staff members, on the day of the Oversight stuff, you know, I was getting all this attention. I don’t want to call anyone out by name, but her parents were very proud of her and she said her mom called her and said “Oh my God, I’m so proud of you honey, I just called Henry Mayo [Hospital] and I paid off all your medical debt.” Like, “I paid off however many hundreds of dollars that she still owed.” That was the “I’m so proud of you honey,” not like, “I sent you whatever,” like, my mom buys me clothes. And then she called her later in the day because I did well on something else and she was like “Do you have any dental bills?” Like, that is messed up, right, that that’s our system?

The Medicare for All package kind of lays out, like, “this is how it should be.” It’s recognized that it doesn’t have a pay-for written into it and that that’s the part — we’re putting that out there to start having that conversation and to say that we have to have that conversation to figure out how to pay for it.

The full episode of “The Talk of Santa Clarita” will be available to view and listen to on Wednesday, March 6.

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Rep. Katie Hill talks Cohen, Medicare for All with The Talk of Santa Clarita
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Rep. Katie Hill talks Cohen, Medicare for All with The Talk of Santa Clarita
Rep. Katie Hill discusses life as a congressional freshman, the recent hearing with Michael Cohen, Trump's potential impeachment and Medicare for All.
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The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer
Mai Nguyen Do

Mai Nguyen Do is a Vietnamese American poet and researcher. She is a lifelong Santa Clarita resident and a College of the Canyons graduate. She is also the author of Ghosts Still Walking (2016) and Battlefield Blooming (2019). Find her on Twitter @DoNguyenMai.

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