Working across the aisle in Washington is the key to getting legislation passed under this administration, U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal told a room full of San Luis Obispo business leaders recently.
The Chamber hosted an appearance by the region’s freshman congressman for a Legislative Lunch Sept. 21.
Carbajal, a Democrat, emphasized bipartisanship as the answer to a Congress that has so far failed to pass major legislation. He pointed to his involvement in split-party groups like the Problem Solvers and Climate Solutions caucuses, which are working to find common ground and forge a foundation for progress on important issues.
“We talk about bipartisanship all the time, but if we’re not willing to compromise, it means nothing,” Carbajal said.
The former Santa Barbara County supervisor also addressed issues from healthcare to Diablo Canyon’s closure during his hour-long conversation with attendees. Here are some highlights.
Carbajal supports measures to improve rather than repeal the Affordable Care Act, signing on as co-sponsor to bills that would shore up insurance marketplaces, repeal certain taxes and help small businesses by raising the employer mandate.
“My priority is bringing down healthcare costs,” he said, describing the recent repeal efforts as “partisan politics at its worst—from both sides.”
On transportation and infrastructure:
Carbajal said he supports spending to improve roads, bridges and other infrastructure, something President Trump campaigned on but has not moved forward.
“I have joined my colleagues to urge the president to make good on his campaign promise of partnering with Congress to invest $1 trillion in America’s network of transportation, energy, water and broadband-specific infrastructure.”
On Diablo Canyon’s closure:
Carbajal acknowledged the major impact the plant’s closure will have on the region’s economy, something he’s addressed by holding a town hall meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August, supporting a community advisory panel and working on forthcoming legislation to offer retraining for workers and tax credits for investment in renewable energy.
“I want to hear from you” about what he and others in Washington can do to support the region. “It will take the whole community staying engaged in this process.”
On relations with North Korea:
Carbajal toured Southeast Asia as part of his work with the Armed Services Committee, noting the complexity of politics in the region and witnessing first-hand what’s at stake if North Korea mounts an attack.
“This is not a game, and I wish somebody in the White House knew that.”
On the climate in Washington:
“We never know what’s coming next” from the Administration, Carbajal said. Acknowledging that’s how much of the audience and many of his constituents feel, he added, “We’re both in it together.”
Carbajal said the biggest surprise, and biggest challenge, of his nine months in office has been the lack of transparency and regular order—the rules that are supposed to guide how the legislative process works.
“Regular order is like the Loch Ness Monster,” he said. “I’ve heard about it but I’ve never seen it.”