Nov. 2022 Election: Q&A with Rep. Scott Peters, 50th Congressional District candidate

August 19, 2022

Congressman Peters talked with the San Diego Union Tribune about his ongoing work to tackle climate change and inflation, the implications of attacks on our democracy and freedoms, and how he hopes to earn the support of CA50 voters.

Read more of his thoughts on our nation’s most pressing challenges in this August 16th piece from the SDUT, posted below:

Nov. 2022 Election: Q&A with Rep. Scott Peters, 50th Congressional District candidate

By San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board

August 16, 2022

Republican business owner Corey Gustafson, who cofounded Dogleg Brewing Company, is challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, who is seeking a sixth two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives, in the redrawn 50th Congressional District that represents parts of San Diego County. Election Day is Nov. 8 and voting will begin a month earlier. Here are Peters’ complete answers from both candidates to all 16 questions from The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board.

Q: What will be your top domestic and international priority in Congress?

A: Domestic priorities are: 1) enacting bipartisan, comprehensive climate and energy solutions, 2) continuing to support the innovation economy in life sciences and technology in San Diego, 3) achieving comprehensive immigration reform, and 4) making national security investments that support San Diego’s role in our national defense.

International priorities are: 1) adopting trade policies that ensure San Diego remains a center for international commerce and that America maintains its global competitiveness and continues to set enforceable labor and environmental standards that level the playing field for American workers, and 2) enactment and execution of a binational agreement with Mexico to tackle the border sewage flows polluting the Tijuana River Valley and southern beaches.

Q: How do you view the events of Jan. 6, 2021, in our nation’s Capitol and what led up to them? Do those events have implications about the future of the United States?

A: The insurrection at our Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was a violent, concerted effort to stop the certification of a lawful national election. It was an attack on the Constitution, on our democratic systems, on law enforcement officers and on the nation. I was disheartened that Republican leadership refused to stand up for America and support bipartisan investigation and analysis of the attack. All Americans have a right to know what happened on that day and in the weeks and months leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, to prevent a future attack on our democracy. The Select Committee hearings have laid out plainly how the president and his allies lied to the American people and conspired to concoct a dangerous plan to attempt to overthrow our government. There must be consequences. Our democracy requires the fearless participation and resolve of both political parties, and if we do not hold people accountable, we risk further damage to our democratic institutions. Moving forward, we cannot allow anyone who perpetuates a dangerous lie about our election process to be viewed with any legitimacy. Any candidate for public office who cannot state forthrightly and unequivocally that the 2020 election results were valid, and that Jan. 6, 2021, was a violent insurrection, should be deemed unqualified to serve.

Q: Inflation is at 40-year highs in the U.S., causing economic hardship for many Americans. What can the federal government do about this? What will you do?

A: As vice chair of policy for the New Democrat Coalition, I led creation of an Inflation Working Group to develop policies to reduce the cost of living for all Americans. We proposed a comprehensive Inflation Action Plan to strengthen global supply chains, get Americans back to work, increase affordable housing, lower food prices and reduce health care costs.

In July, I helped pass the CHIPS and Science Act; it’s now headed to the president’s desk. It invests tens of billions in direct investment and tax credits for U.S. companies producing computer chips. This will help eliminate the computer chip shortage that’s led to reduced supply and increased pricing of many consumer products. Now President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which will cut energy and health care costs for millions of Americans and reduce the budget deficit and fight inflation. It will be paid for by making corporations that have paid no taxes finally pay a 15 percent minimum tax, and by cracking down on tax cheats who find ways to avoid paying income taxes. The Inflation Reduction Act also includes historic legislation based on my drug pricing proposal, the Reduced Costs and Continued Cures Act, which will impose a $2,000-per-year cap on what seniors pay out of pocket for their prescription drugs. It also penalizes drug manufacturers who increase prices at rates that exceed inflation and allows the federal government to negotiate drug prices for our seniors on Medicare for the first time in history to lower costs.

Q: Confidence in the Supreme Court is steadily declining. Should justices have term limits? Should the court be expanded? What, if anything, should change about the high court?

A: As a member of Congress, I was appalled at the double standard applied by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell — denying a vote for President Barack Obama’s nominee because it was in the final year of his term, and then rushing the approval of President Donald Trump’s pick in the very last months of his. As an attorney, I am saddened that an institution we’ve cherished as above politics has become so blatantly activist and political. The court has backtracked on decades of precedent on campaign finance, gun rights and responsibilities, environmental policy, and reproductive freedom. And Justice Clarence Thomas — who won’t recuse himself from hearing cases about Jan. 6, 2021, even though his spouse actively encouraged the insurrection — actually wondered aloud recently why people are losing faith in the institution!

We need to elect presidents and senators who are committed to the highest professional and nonpartisan standards for appointments to the court. We need to pass the Supreme Court Ethics Act, which I co-sponsor, that would establish a code of conduct for Supreme Court justices, update and clarify recusal and conflict of interest standards, and more. I do not favor term limits for federal judges, because just like the Founders, I don’t want jurisprudence ever to be affected or pressured by a judge’s concern about politics or future employment. However, I am open to allowing federal judges to serve on the Supreme Court for a term of perhaps 18 years, allowing them the option to return to the bench on a lower court until retirement.

Q: What do you see as the implications of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade?

A: Many states have or now will pass laws to criminalize abortion. This won’t stop abortion, because wealthy women who live in anti-choice states will travel for care, and poor women will find illegal and dangerous treatment as they did before 1973. Women with serious conditions related to pregnancy will suffer and die even in cases where medical professionals know the fetus won’t survive. These efforts to criminalize abortion will pit neighbors against neighbors, punish women for exercising their right to seek reproductive care, and imprison doctors who took oaths to protect patients. That is not pro-life; it’s anti-family, and it’s anti-freedom.

The Supreme Court’s recent decisions may also foreshadow additional attacks on other civil rights. Justice Thomas suggested the court should reconsider landmark cases that established rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

The House of Representatives, with my support, has passed a series of bills designed to protect a woman’s right to an abortion and to codify other basic civil rights now under attack — bills to protect same-sex marriage and access to contraception. President Joe Biden has signed executive orders to protect access to abortion medications, contraception, access to emergency care for those who experience pregnancy loss and other steps. To fully undue this tragic harm, Democrats must now speak up and explain to every single voter what is at stake in the next election, and that is your most sacred freedoms from government interference in your personal health care and family planning decisions.

Q: What will you do in Congress to combat climate change?

A: Climate change is an existential threat to the health and well-being of our planet and our children. I’ve led or co-led three of the most significant climate bills to become law since I joined Congress — bills to curb methane, eliminate coolants and reduce carbon. As a senior member of the subcommittees on Energy and on Environment and Climate Change, and as a member of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, I’ve made combating and responding to climate change my emphasis. I’ve focused on areas that need more attention — methane abatement from oil and gas, expanded interstate transmission of renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, wildfires, and sustainable biofuels from feedstocks including algae (supported by groundbreaking research and development in San Diego).

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report highlights the need to invest in carbon removal technology to help reverse the effects of climate change and achieve net-zero emissions. I am working to pass legislation that will decarbonize our economic sectors, regulate damaging short-lived climate pollutants like methane, impose a price on carbon, invest in technological innovation for new fuels and technologies, and develop carbon capture and carbon removal technologies. We must also invest in climate resilience and adaptation. I introduced bipartisan and bicameral legislation to create a national climate adaptation and resilience strategy and recently co-introduced the Save Our Sequoias Act to make our iconic forests more resilient to wildfires worsened by climate change. Last year, pollutants from wildfires in California contributed more to climate change than the state’s entire energy sector.

Q: How should the U.S. approach the war in Ukraine? What should its involvement be?

A: While I do not believe it is appropriate to enter direct conflict with Russia, I support the U.S. efforts to impose tough sanctions on Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs. We must also continue providing security and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. In March, I voted to pass a $13.6 billion emergency package that President Biden signed to provide support for refugees forced to flee the country, and food and health care support, and to give the president the authority to transfer defense equipment to Ukraine and its allies. This unjustified aggression highlights a fundamental truth — the world is safer when America leads with its allies. Smart diplomacy and working with our foreign partners will always outweigh acting alone.

Q: How should the U.S. change its immigration policies? What specific changes would you pursue?

A: A main driver of inflation is the current labor shortage. One tool to address that is increasing legal immigration. We need more workers throughout the economy. That fuels economic growth and the taxes legal residents pay help keep our social insurance programs solvent.

Let’s provide federal legal protections for immigrants who are living, working and going to school here. I support policies that protect “Dreamers” and provide them a citizenship path. The U.S. can’t produce enough home-grown technology talent to fill the jobs we have. Let’s train more of our kids in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and while we do, let’s raise the caps on H1-B visas and allow permanent residency to post-graduates in STEM. My bill, the Temporary Family and Visitation Act, would allow family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to visit the U.S. temporarily for important events like births and weddings, while also boosting tourism.

We can have legal immigration and a secure border. That’s why we’ve invested in ports of entry along the southern border. The land ports are the places where most smuggling happens. Between them, we can more effectively patrol using technology that’s better than a 13th-century style wall, which never worked in any century. We also need enough immigration judges and officials and customs agents to process applications and keep as many gates open and moving as possible, along with law enforcement and Coast Guard operations.

Q: What specific issues about border life in San Diego and Tijuana will you prioritize?

A: Sewage and chemical flows from the Tijuana River Valley are one of the great environmental catastrophes in the hemisphere, and largely affect the working-class community of Imperial Beach (represented by Rep. Juan Vargas) and Coronado, which is in my district. I helped secure $300 million in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement for water quality improvement projects along the border, plus tens of millions more through the Border Water Infrastructure Program. Our congressional delegation has twice hosted Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan at the border, and we are working closely with him, the Department of State and local San Diego officials to implement a suite of projects designed to capture, reduce and treat wastewater flows at the border as well as discharge from the treatment plant in Baja California that is sending pollution to the beaches of Imperial Beach and Coronado. We are working to ensure that Mexico also funds its share of the work. Congress must also address the anticipated operation and maintenance costs to make sure these investments last their full life cycle (expected for 40 years). We also need to invest in smart, targeted border security and efficient border infrastructure to reduce wait times and ensure economic and familial needs are met in cross-border traffic. To achieve this, our delegation worked together to bring almost $1 billion to San Diego for the expansion and modernization of the San Ysidro, Otay Mesa and Calexico Ports of Entry.

Q: The nation is experiencing more mass shootings with higher death tolls in recent years. How would you address this issue?

A: I have voted for every gun safety reform bill that has come to the House floor since I’ve been in Congress, including the most recent Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which is now law. Its passage made history as the first major gun violence prevention legislation to be enacted in nearly three decades. It strengthens background checks for gun purchasers under the age of 21, provides funding to support state red flag laws, expands laws that prevent convicted domestic abusers from buying or possessing guns to include current or recent dating partners, requires more arms dealers to run background checks, cracks down on illegal gun trafficking and invests in violence prevention in our neighborhoods and schools. I also voted to advance the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 and the Active Shooter Alert Act to warn communities more efficiently during a shooting, as well as landmark legislation securing universal background checks for all gun purchases.

I authored the STANDUP Act, which became law in March of this year. It encourages schools to implement evidence-based suicide awareness and mental health training in grades 6-12 to help stop violence in our schools before it happens by teaching students, staff and teachers how to spot the warning signs and intervene when someone is at risk of harming themselves or others.

I’ve insisted that the issue is not forgotten. I have read on the House floor the names of victims of mass shootings, and I broadcast on social media the sit-in led by Georgia Rep. John Lewis in 2016.

Q: What did the U.S. government get right and wrong in its approach to the pandemic since its start in early 2020? How would you have responded differently?

A: The biggest success was accelerated development of historically successful vaccines, which dramatically reduced deaths and demand on hospitals. It was also appropriate to require members of the military to be vaccinated — the pandemic threatened our defense readiness. We should follow the Project Warp Speed model to accelerate development of tests, vaccines and cures for future public health emergencies.

We passed the American Rescue Plan, which made critical investments to get the country healthy and back to work. It included $160 billion for testing, personal protective equipment and vaccines so Americans could stay safe and resume activities. It also included $130 billion so schools could reopen safely and support students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic.

School closures were warranted before we had vaccines. We learned quickly that closures — though they helped keep kids and educators healthy — hurt our children’s education and socialization. In the future, we should resist school closures as much as possible. One strategy is to invest in better ventilation in school buildings to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.

We learned our supply chains were too vulnerable — we couldn’t get enough personal protective equipment, basic pharmaceuticals and more. We must make sure that we are not reliant on hostile nations for our most basic needs. We have gaps in the health data we use to make policy decisions. I introduced the Health Statistics Act, which will create a national standard for how we collect, report and utilize public health data.

Q: How would you address the rising cost of private health insurance nationwide? Do you support government-subsidized health insurance for all Americans? Why or why not?

A: I support the goal of universal health coverage for all Americans and believe the federal government should ensure there are accessible, affordable health plans for everyone. That means investing and improving on the Affordable Care Act. It won’t be repealed, and no Republican has offered a replacement. Let’s make it work.

California has done an excellent job getting the word out about purchasing health care, and we have close to full enrollment. The Inflation Reduction Act will extend premium subsidies for three years for those who need support.

We need to work to keep insurance premiums down. I introduced legislation to establish dedicated federal funding for reinsurance programs that help states keep premium costs low and stable. I also support creating a “public option” for health care, sponsored by the federal government. A public option would provide competitive pressure against privately sponsored plans and give Americans more choice in their health coverage. The ability to choose our health plans, doctors, pharmacies, etc., is one of the strengths of the American health care system and helps drive innovation within the sector.

Q: What can and should the federal government do to address the high cost of housing?

A: The high cost of housing is the main impediment to continued prosperity and quality of life in San Diego and in California. Most housing policy is local, and I am a proud co-founder of San Diego YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard) Democrats, to advocate for more homes for all San Diegans everywhere.

There is a significant role for Congress as well. I introduced the Build More Housing Near Transit Act, which would leverage federal transportation funding to encourage local governments to build more homes near major federal transit investments. The federal government also provides support to the poor through Section 8 vouchers and to veterans through Veterans Assisted Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers. I’ve resisted cuts and supported funding for these critical programs. Finally, the tax code provides low-income housing credits to incentivize the creation of attainable housing for the poor and middle class.

Q: Reducing homelessness has been a focus for all levels of government in recent years. What would you do differently?

A: Lack of affordable, safe housing options is a considerable contributor to rising homelessness in San Diego and throughout the country. The federal government must pass legislation to remove barriers to affordable housing development, expand and strengthen the low-income housing tax credit and increase funding for new homeownership opportunity programs. I recently introduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act to add “source of income” and “veteran status” to the current list of protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. This bill is especially critical to San Diego’s veterans who struggle to secure housing after returning to civilian life and to families who cannot keep up with high costs of rent. To tackle veteran homelessness, I introduced the Veteran HOUSE Act, which became law in 2021. This legislation expands HUD-VASH vouchers to ensure chronically homeless veterans discharged under conditions other-than-honorable, but not dishonorable, are eligible for HUD-VASH housing vouchers and supportive case management services. I’ve also been a longtime advocate for increasing funding for housing programs like Community Development Block grants, which invest in home rehabilitation and homelessness shelters and centers.

Q: The U.S. national debt has exploded in recent decades. Are you concerned about this?

A: Our national debt is at its highest levels in decades and is growing faster than our economy. This is not a sustainable path for our country. I co-lead a 60-member bipartisan effort to put our debt on a sustainable path. We advocate first that Congress must receive an annual Fiscal State of the Nation that lays out the nature and extent of our debt. Second, we should create a bipartisan panel to recommend policies to avoid the impending insolvency of many of our trust funds, including highways and Social Security. And third, we should change the current debt ceiling limitation from a political cudgel to a legitimate policy tool to ensure that over time our debt grows more slowly than our economy. I have been recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” in 2022 by Fix the Debt, a project of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act will bring the single largest deficit reduction since I’ve been in Congress, contributing $300 billion in revenues. I’ll continue fighting for systemic reforms, but this will make a good dent in what is owed.

Q: Why should voters elect you over your opponent?

A: I am a civil rights Democrat on immigration reform, veterans’ rights, LGBTQ rights, gun safety reform and the Affordable Care Act, and I support Democrats’ plans to reform politics. But as I have shown in over two decades of public service, I will work with members of both parties to get pragmatic and meaningful results.

I’m focused on translating the energy of activism into legislation in Congress to make sure that what’s important in San Diego is elevated and addressed in Washington. I’ve introduced and passed bills to reform student loan debt, I’ve become a nationally recognized leader in the fight to reduce gun violence, I’ve been a strong voice for our nation’s military, I lead bipartisan efforts to address the national debt and I am one of the most effective legislators in Congress on tackling the climate crisis. I’ve dedicated my career to improving the quality of life in San Diego. And I am committed to American democracy.

With so many of our most cherished freedoms at stake this November, I’m working to do everything in my power to tackle these problems and craft solutions that are real and permanent and as thoughtful as the problems are serious. Finally, I am the only candidate in this race who is a strong advocate for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. I am endorsed by Planned Parenthood. My opponent is not, and he has said nothing about protecting families from government interference in these private decisions.



Peters called “one of the more statesmanlike of our elected representatives”

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Paid for by Scott Peters for Congress


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