WA Congressman tries to bridge political divide during impeachment
When Congressman Derek Kilmer heads back home in the 6th District, it isn’t so much of a recess from Congress. He switches gears and starts meeting with constituents.
This time back in the 6th, he’s noticed there is something that seems to be on everyone’s mind.
“The general exhaustion with partisan bickering,” he said.
That exhaustion is why he makes trips to Republican districts. One recent trip took him to Northwest Arkansas to get a better understanding of that district’s challenges. He also helps organize a group of 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans who meet in Washington D.C. for breakfast.
“I think it’s undeniable that Congress is, according to polling, less popular than head lice, colonoscopies, and Nickelback,” Kilmer said. “Unfortunately, too often it earns those low marks.”
Kilmer does note that there is movement on some important issues, such as lowering the costs of prescription drugs. Infrastructure is another issue he expects to make progress on. He also points to the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has some support.
Of course there is one lingering issue above all of this; even with support, can anything happen with an impeachment inquiry underway?
“There is not a sense of glee or zeal around the movement for an impeachment inquiry,” Kilmer said. “People are pretty solemn about it … I think there is an understanding that this is a divisive process in the midst of a time in our politics when our country is already too divided.”
“And yet, there is an understanding that each of us takes an oath to uphold the Constitution,” he said. “We take that oath pretty seriously. Part of our obligation within the legislative branch is to conduct oversight.”
Kilmer says he’s already heard a “tremendous number of conspiracy theories out of this White House, this president, and out of those who work for him.” For example, there are rumors that actors in the CIA and FBI were improperly trying to undermine the president.
“What is clear is by the president’s own words, (we’ve) heard him admit to asking foreign leaders for help digging up dirt on a political rival,” Kilmer said. “Some people say that this is an attempt to short-circuit the 2020 election. And why don’t Democrats just allow this process to play out and the November election to take place? That would be an easier suggestion to accept if the concerns about the president’s actions didn’t directly relate to his attempts to dig up dirt on a rival in the 2020 election.”
Kilmer also points to prominent Republicans, such as Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Susan Collins (R-ME), who have also expressed concern over Trump’s behavior.
“I wish we could see more elected Republicans express that concern,” Kilmer said. “I watched some of the Sunday morning shows this week. And I honestly can’t tell if … they actually believe what they are saying — in which case, they are operating on an entirely different fact base than most objective sources are — or if they are just spinning in hopes of trying to appease the president’s base or get a happy and encouraging tweet from the president.”
“Either way I’m concerned by that,” he said. “Because I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, so did my Republican colleagues. And that oath comes before any loyalty to party.”