Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Mueller report, health care underscore Angie Craig town hall

Kim Westra asked Rep. Angie Craig about her plans to improve election security. Jackie Renzetti / Rivertown Multimedia 1 / 3
Elliot Engberg, a high school junior from Red Wing who asked for more transportation funding, speaks with Rep. Angie Craig after the town hall. Jackie Renzetti / Rivertown Multimedia 2 / 3
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig addresses the crowd at her April 23 town hall in Cottage Grove. Jackie Renzetti / Rivertown Multimedia3 / 3

Just after reaching 100 days in Congress, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig held her fourth monthly town hall meeting Tuesday night.

Over an hour, Craig answered nine questions as about 60 people listened from risers in Cottage Grove Middle School's cafeteria. Participants asked about Craig's views on health care and transportation, with some pressing for her support on gun control and pro-life policy.

As with previous town halls, the moderate Democrat emphasized civility throughout the event.

"In the first 100 days, I hope even if you don't agree with me on all the issues, that you can at least agree that I am focused on our constituents, our community and the things that matter most here," she said. "We have to keep listening to each other and we have to keep looking for that common ground."

Before turning the floor over to the audience, she updated the crowd on several pieces of legislation and expressed her support for lowering the cost of health insurance and prescription drugs, supporting farmers, and strengthening the country's transportation and infrastructure.

Up first, Laura Morton wanted to know: Would she support an effort to begin hearings for impeaching President Donald Trump?

"I believe the next step is for the Congress to request the unredacted version of the report. I believe the next step is for the committee chairmen to call a number of folks forward to testify, to fill in the facts for the American people," she said, adding, "I am very troubled by the number of the potential areas of obstruction of justice that are mentioned in the report."

Likewise, Kim Westra asked Craig to begin the impeachment process before asking how the congresswoman plans to improve election security locally.

"I believe so fundamentally that this is not about politics. This is about our democracy in this country," Craig began, adding that the country is vulnerable to a number of entities who could target either party.

"I think it's unfathomable that we have not taken the multiple, $6 million from the federal government and start to apply that to the state," she continued, meeting an applause.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon has requested $6.6 million from the federal government to boost election cybersecurity under the Help America Vote Act, but is awaiting a state Senate vote to approve it, which has turned into a partisan matter. Minnesota is the only remaining state to not accept the available funds.

Craig, a former medical device company executive, gave nearly three-minute, detailed answers to questions about health care policy, reiterating her longtime support to open Medicare for a buy-in.

Mary Nehring, from Hastings, identified herself as a cancer survivor and patient of multiple sclerosis among other chronic diseases before inquiring Craig's specific plans to reduce health care costs, which Craig referred to as the "number one" issue in the district.

"I believe we can do two things at once," Craig responded.

She said she wants to pass legislation that can stabilize the cost of health care while also looking into opening Medicare for a buy-in, a policy idea she has championed as a way to increase competition in the marketplace, resulting in lower insurance premiums. She also said she supports legislation that she says would protect consumers' access to cheaper, generic prescription drugs.

A second speaker who said she was a registered nurse asked Craig to support Rep. Jayapal Pramila's Medicare for All Act. Craig emphasized her desire to focus on stabilizing the health care system.

"I agree with the principle here. The principle is every American should have access to quality health care they can afford," she said. "The question is, what is the best way to get there?"

Because 60 percent of Americans are on an employer-sponsored health care plan, she said, the transition to a government-sponsored health care system would be "incredibly challenging."

"I believe we should explore a number of options, and that's why I have not signed on to that particular bill," she said.

Afterwards, Craig visited with attendees for about half an hour, posing for pictures and following up with some of the speakers.

"I think the main takeaway is that people really appreciate when you show up and you listen to them," she said after she was done mingling.

Her monthly town halls have led her to co-sponsor at least one bill at the request of a constituent, she said.

"I really look at the issues that they bring up. It's always a variety, some of it is driven by current events," she said. "It helps me stay outside of the stuff that happens in Washington and just truly try to focus on the things that matter to our community."

Anna Webber, a high school senior who brought along a paper to finish so she could ask Craig about fixing the federal deficit, said the drive from Northfield was worth the trip.

"I think she does a really good job of making sure she interacts with everyone individually," she said.

Nehring, who asked Craig about reducing health care costs, said although she was disappointed in Craig's lack of enthusiasm for a government-sponsored health care system, she appreciated the chance to speak to her representative.

"It means so much," she said. "It's a relief in many ways."