PORT TOWNSEND — Health care dominated the discussion at a town hall with U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer on Sunday, followed by his support of a controversial bill that makes it illegal for American companies to boycott Israel.
The Gig Harbor democrat represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties. He hosted the town hall meeting at Chimacum High School.
Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean introduced the congressman and spoke on the importance of the county’s connection to its D.C. representative when it comes to health care, environmental issues and military impact in the area.
Roughly 100 people attended the town hall, which focused primarily on those issues Dean addressed.
On health care, Kilmer said he was against the series of bills proposed by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He said that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the bills proposed would raise premiums and decrease the number of people covered by health insurance, which contradicts promises made by then-candidate Donald Trump during his campaign for president.
“I’ve had more calls to my office this year on health care than any other issue in the last four years combined,” Kilmer said.
Kilmer was asked twice if he would support a single-payer health care plan, but Kilmer said he wants to build on the progress than has been made under the ACA.
Kilmer said the ACA is not a prefect solution, but wants to move forward by stabilizing individual markets, lowering costs for low-income people and small businesses, expand access to primary care and allow a public option that would provide competition and keep costs down.
While a number of issues were brought up, there were two questions on Kilmer’s support of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which amends the Export Administration Act of 1979.
According the bill summary from Congress, the bill opposed a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that urges countries to support companies in divesting from and breaking contracts with Israel.
The bill declares that it will now be U.S. policy to oppose requests to “impose restrictive practices or boycotts against other countries friendly to the United States.”
The bill prohibits any U.S. person, which Kilmer said has been amended to U.S. companies and corporations, from participating in “any boycott fostered or imposed by any international governmental organization against Israel.”
Kilmer is the bill’s co-sponsor and says he feels very strongly about issues concerning Israel “as the grandson of a holocaust survivor.”
The ACLU and United Nations currently condemn the bill.
Another issue brought up multiple times at the town hall was climate change.
“I’m dead against what the Trump administration has done in removing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords,” Kilmer said. “I think climate change is real and we need to do something about it. You don’t have to look further than the district that I represent to see those impacts.”
Kilmer said increased wildfires in the summer have continued to affect air quality in the region and ocean acidification is threatening the jobs of the over 3,000 people in the 6th Congressional District that work farming shellfish.
The Olympic Peninsula is also home to some of the first people to be displaced by rising sea levels.
According to Kilmer, the Quinault Tribe on the Pacific Coast is actively looking to move to higher ground.
“We must stop moving backward, and more than that we have to move forward,” Kilmer said.
Kilmer said moving toward renewable energy is not only a good move for the environment but also for the economy since that is where the jobs are going.
Kilmer also spoke on his opposition to partisan gerrymandering and his work to create more bipartisan dialogue in Washington, D.C.
Kilmer is a member of the bipartisan problem-solvers caucus as well as a recent addition to the bipartisan climate solutions caucus, nicknamed the Noah’s Ark caucus since members of Congress can only join in pairs, one Republican and one Democrat.
Kilmer also heard comments on jet noise and said that he will continue working with the Navy to ensure that they are good neighbors.
Kilmer will continue his tour of the 6th Congressional District with a town hall from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Little Theater on the Peninsula College campus, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].