Congressman Peters recently answered questions provided by the San Diego Union-Tribune about his top priorities in Congress, which include helping the nation recover from COVID-19, improving access to health care, combatting climate change, and comprehensive immigration reform.
These responses are included in a September 24th piece, posted below:
2020 election: Q&A with Rep. Scott Peters, candidate in the 52nd Congressional District
The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board recently emailed a series of questions to Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, who is running for California’s 52nd Congressional District against Jim DeBello, R-San Diego. Here are the questions and his responses.
September 24th, 2020, 3:30 PM
What will be your top domestic and international priority in Congress?
Internationally, San Diegans view the Mexican border as an opportunity, not a threat. I championed the effort to bring $500 million in federal investment to fully fund upgrades to the San Ysidro border crossing, the busiest land port in the world, dramatically reducing border waits, spurring tremendous economic activity and job creation. I oppose a wasteful $30 billion wall, as well as the president’s insults against Mexico. Our relationships are critical to solving common problems like pollution in the Tijuana River Valley. I helped secure $300 million as part of the USMCA which I supported, plus $50 million more through annual appropriations, to fix the decades-old problem of cross-border pollution.
Domestically, my top priority in Congress is helping the nation recover from COVID-19. The national economy is in a medically induced coma, which could have been curtailed had the Trump Administration had a quicker, more science-based response. I’ve worked to increase investment in scientific research, support trade pacts that protect intellectual property and patent rights of inventors and improve access to higher education by reducing the burden of student debt. I’ve championed billions of dollars in military investments here: a new training campus for Navy Seals, new infrastructure at MCAS Miramar and support for 25 new home-ported Navy ships. On the Veterans Affairs Committee, I fought to ensure that our veterans have jobs, health care and support to reduce veteran homelessness and suicide. And, this year, we must seize the moment and tackle and correct the systemic racism that has plagued our nation’s history.
Has the pandemic changed your approach to health care? If so, how?
The pandemic has increased the urgency of improving health care. I have always fought to ensure health care is affordable, accessible, innovative, steered by science and data, and driven by wellness instead of treatment. This approach can improve quality of life, save lives, and reduce costs in the long term. Never before has this been as clear as it has been during this pandemic. Those without access to care, who are more likely to have pre-existing conditions, are hit hardest by the virus and more likely to fall victim to its worst affects which are more deadly and more expensive to treat. I have been an outspoken champion both for protecting the Affordable Care Act and also for fixing the parts that need to be fixed, such as keeping insurance premiums lower and more stable. The United States has yet to standardize national, state, county or city-level public reporting on COVID-19, providing experts only a fraction of the data we need to fight the pandemic. Last month, I introduced the Health Statistics Act that will fix detrimental inconsistencies in data collection and reporting, which is essential to effectively combat the coronavirus pandemic.
What more could Congress do to combat climate change?
Scientists have warned that the world must achieve net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury; achieving that milestone is my priority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. There is no magic bullet. We must 1) decarbonize our economic sectors: electricity, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and aviation; 2) regulate damaging short-lived climate pollutants, especially methane; 3) impose a price on carbon; 4) invest in technological innovation for new fuels and energy storage; and 5) develop carbon capture technologies. I’ve proposed my own bills and assembled a Climate Playbook of legislation authored in previous years, much of it bipartisan and already on the way to passage. The U.S. must also engage and lead internationally. In 2017, I addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Vatican City on U.S. climate policy. In 2019, I was honored to help represent our country at the United Nations COP25 climate conference in Madrid.
What changes would you make to U.S. immigration policy?
The Trump Administration’s disgraceful hatred and bigotry have plunged our nation’s immigration system into chaos and continues to hurt Dreamers, their families and our country’s standing in the world.
I support an immigration policy that protects DREAMers and provides them a path to citizenship that allows them to stay in the only country they know. I would create a path to earned citizenship for the 11 million immigrants who have been here for decades and have become part of our essential workforce so they can come out of the shadows, pay into the social safety net and contribute even more to the national economy. And I would reform our immigration system to attract science and technology talent and bolster our workforce throughout the economy, that includes uniting families and keeping families together. I vehemently oppose an immigration policy that separates children from their parents, and one that shuts the door on immigrants from certain countries based on their religion as the Trump Administration has done. I support common-sense immigration reform, like the U.S.A. Act, which would modernize our border security to protect us from those who want to smuggle guns, drugs and people across, as well as fixes several of the problems with the Trump Administration’s policies that I described above.
How would you address the massive national debt hanging over America’s future?
According to most economists, the U.S. needs to borrow more money in the near term to address the economic effects of the pandemic, to support businesses, workers and families. However, our national debt is at its highest level since WWII and growing faster than the economy. Every year, interest payments consume a larger and larger portion of taxpayer revenues. That is not sustainable.
Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) and I are working with the Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget and leading a bipartisan group of 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans to call on House and Senate leadership to commit to three policies as part of any future stimulus. First, we must be transparent with Congress and the public on the extent of our deficits and debt through an impartial and professional annual Fiscal State of the Nation report. Second, we would create a bipartisan panel to recommend policies that would avoid the impending insolvency of many of our trust funds, including highways and social security. And third, we would 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. These same ideas have been adopted as part of the budget principles of my 50-member, bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. I have been named a Fiscal Hero by the non-partisan Committee to Fix the Debt three times for my commitment.
Why should voters choose you over your opponent in this election?
I am a member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee which has broad jurisdiction over San Diego’s economic sectors. I have a record of working with everyone, Republicans and Democrats, to get things done. I’ve dedicated my career to serving San Diego as an environmental attorney, community volunteer, City Council member and president, port commissioner and chairman, Coastal Commission member and United States congressman. I have authored several bills that have been passed into law to help purple heart veterans get their full education benefits, to help relieve the burden of college debt for working families, to provide better mental health services, and to cut red tape to speed the development of renewable energy sources. I’ve been an effective advocate for the region and have brought more than a billion dollars in federal investment back to San Diego, for the military, our border crossing and public transportation. I’ve stood up for DREAMers, successfully fought Donald Trump’s attempts to defund services for homeless veterans and I played a critical role in defeating attempts by the Trump administration to take health care away from millions of Americans. I’ve worked with President Trump when it’s been good for San Diego, as when we were allocated $300 million to deal with cross border sewage as part of approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. But I’ve stood up to President Trump when he assaults our interests and values, as he has with immigration and the border. My opponent, on the other hand, made a maximum contribution to Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign and continues to support him.