In her first town hall event since being seated as the representative for the Kansas 3rd Congressional District in January, Rep. Sharice Davids discussed a slew of the issues facing Congress on Sunday.
The event, which was moderated by the Shawnee Mission Post, drew hundreds to the sanctuary of Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe.
Here’s a recap of some of the highlights from Davids’ remarks. You can view the entire town hall on our Facebook page here.
Healthcare dominated the discussion at the event, making up the majority of questions submitted prior to the town hall as well as a good portion of the questions submitted by members of the audience. Davids indicated that her guiding principle in reviewing healthcare policy was finding ways to expand access to coverage.
“Universal access to affordable, quality health care is a right in this country,” she said. “It has to be the thing that we’re really pushing forward on. It has to be that no one in this country goes bankrupt because they got cancer, or because one of their family members got cancer. I cannot believe that is part of the status quo.”
Asked about the Medicare for All bill introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Davids said she was not prepared to sign on at this point, indicating that she would have to thoroughly vet any piece of legislation she would lend her name to and that she was most interested in finding approaches that could get bi-partisan support.
“I am really focused on making sure that I’m working on…pieces of legislation that we can get bipartisan support on, that we can move forward on right now,” Davids said. “I can’t say what the next step looks like. But the things that I can actually put effort and energy toward, I want them to be things that can get bipartisan support.”
Border security and immigration
Davids said she opposed the border wall being championed by President Donald Trump in part because she believed there were more effective ways to address issues with border security.
“We have to do things that are actually going to be effective when we’re talking about border security,” she said. “And I don’t think the wall is…effective.”
She suggested the wider implementation of technological solutions, like scanning vehicles coming across the border and into ports of entry, would be a better approach to address issues like drug and human trafficking.
Davids told the audience she believed the immigration system was broken, and that it had been a failure of Congress not to have addressed the issue sooner. She said protecting the Dreamers would be among her priorities for immigration reform, as well as reducing the amount of time people wait to get through the immigration process.
Davids — who noted that she had grown up in a military family and was familiar with firearms (“I’ve shot plenty of guns. I know what kickback feels like”) — noted that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution.
“But every single one of our rights in the Constitution also has, somewhere, some kind of limit,” she said. “There are boundaries that we have to acknowledge. And we do that when issues of safety come up.”
She pointed to a background check bill recently passed through the House.
“If you’re a law abiding citizen and you can pass a background check, you can still go buy a firearm. This doesn’t interfere with that,” she said. “But we have to make sure that we’re thinking about issues of domestic violence. If someone has a history of domestic violence, I think they should not be able to get their hands on a firearm.”
Davids said she wouldn’t be supportive of fully reversing the 2017 tax bill signed by President Trump because, given its sweeping nature, there were some provisions in it that she believed were beneficial to the middle class. However, she said, the bill also had provisions that were setbacks for the middle class. She said the country needs to move toward a tax policy that allows it to invest in the future.
“Here in Kansas having to still deal with the effects of the Brownback tax experiment has made it very clear that you cannot avoid investing in our public education system,” she said. “And if you continue to give the wealthiest corporations, the wealthiest people a bunch of tax breaks, we’re going to continue to see a big deficit.”