Eric Swalwell

Appearing as a guest speaker at the TriValley Democratic Club’s July 20 meeting, Congressman Eric Swalwell outlined his key areas of focus and participated in a Q&A panel.

Swalwell, who once sat on the Dublin City Council, now represents California’s 15th congressional district. Upon introduction, he named social justice, climate change and gun violence to be among his top issues of focus. He referred to a poll that showed gun violence as one of the top three Democratic concerns as well. In the midst of ongoing discussions relating to the Black Lives Matter movement, Swalwell pointed out that black lives matter in more areas than police reform alone; he advocated for social justice reform and reimagining budgets on a local, state and nation level to ensure equity.

He then delved into COVID-19 and its impact at an economic and public health level.

“My priority is going to continue to be legislation that supports testing, tracing and treating and, of course, finding a vaccine and distributing it free to everybody as quickly and safely as possible,” Swalwell said. “We need to extend unemployment insurance, which runs out this week … We are a great country and resilient country … and this is so crushing to see we have utterly failed a global test of public health. The president refuses to wear a mask publicly himself.”

Swalwell’s ongoing work includes the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (HR 6800), which extends student loan debts, gives tax credit to businesses that retain 80% of their employees, reloads the paycheck protection plan and offers hazard pay of $15 an hour to frontline workers. He said this act would put people back to work while also aiding in the public health crisis.

“We’re negotiating with the Senate right now,” he said, referring to HR 6800.

The Q&A portion took up the majority of the Club’s meeting, during which time Swalwell touched on why he hasn’t co-signed HJR 48, which declares the rights protected by the constitution are the rights of natural persons only, not artificial entities, such as corporations.

Swalwell pointed out that while he’s on the For the People Act and believes in publicly financed campaigns, he had reservations about the HJR 48, which he hopes will receive amendments at the legislative floor. He further stated that the party is split on the matter.

“My issue with this … is that the way it defines a corporation, it actually unfairly creates rights for corporations that we don’t want them to have,” he said. “I don’t want to afford rights that you would have to afford to corporations to make some of the constitutional arguments about corporations and people.”

Another issue concerns defunding the U.S. postal system.

“This has been a long-standing dream for Republicans, to privatize the mail,” Swalwell said.

He explained that the post office has to do something no other federal agency has to do — it must pre-fund pensions 70 years into the future — a requirement set up by the Bush administration in an effort to paint the post office as losing money. Swalwell further noted that President Trump’s claims of voter fraud by mail might have more to do with his discord with Amazon. In recent years, Trump claimed Amazon was part of the reason the post office loses “billions of dollars a year.”

“I encourage all of you to call it voting from home, because that’s what it is,” he said. “Voting from home is safe and secure, and there’s no evidence of any fraud; it’s something our troops have done going back to the Civil War.”

Swalwell carried on to say that constant discussion around voter suppression actually contributes to voter suppression, because people begin to believe their vote won’t count and opt not to wait in lines at the voting polls or take the time to submit a ballot through the post office.

“(Trump’s) impeached forever,” Swalwell continued. “We will be the ankle monitor that he needs all the way to the election, but the removal will come at the ballot box. We need to carry ourselves with confidence that our values and conviction will take us across the line Nov. 3.”