Pressley hosts town hall, discusses impeachment, gun control

United States Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley speaking on April 22 in Cabot ASEAN auditorium as part of the Tisch College Distinguished Speaker Series. Kyle Lui / The Tufts Daily Archives

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) held a town hall this past Nov. 17 in Somerville, part of the district she represents. Throughout the 90 minute-long town hall, the Congresswoman answered questions from her constituents over a wide scope of topics, including impeachment inquiries, the affordable housing crisis, transportation concerns and gun control

She began with a discussion on the public impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump that have begun in the House of Representatives. Pressley has been publicly supportive of impeachment inquiries since April. She spoke on the outcomes of the House’s public hearings last week. 

“These public hearings have been an opportunity for our nation to hear directly from dedicated public servants, from decorated combat veterans, and career diplomats who confirm the extent of occupant’s abuse of power for personal gain. This testimony was damning and the evidence is piling up higher every day,” she said.

The Congresswoman also updated her constituency on the plan forward in the impeachment inquiry process. 

“Next week, the House will continue to use our efforts to engage in the effective and efficient pursuit of the truth by holding three more hearings, and I serve on two of six committees that have been actively involved in the investigative process of this impeachment inquiry,” Pressley said. 

Pressley currently works on both the Financial Services and the Oversight and Reform committees.  

Later in the town hall, Pressley was asked about her plan on gun control by a student. She referred to the bipartisan bill, H.R.8, that was passed in the House of Representatives on Feb. 27. The bill establishes universal background check requirements. The bill is now waiting to be presented on the Senate floor. 

“I think it has been at the door of Mitch McConnell for 172 days now,” she said. 

The Congresswoman also expressed the need for gun violence prevention in forms other than mass shootings. 

“Whether we are robbed of a life on a city block, gang affiliated or not, whether because of domestic terrorism, at a mosque, at a synagogue, at a church, at a school or at a concert … it is a public health crisis and it’s an epidemic,” Pressley said. 

She urged the need for investment in support for trauma and mental health issues that can lead to gun violence. The H.R.8 bill attempts to deal with this by allocating $5 million dollars for school-based help centers.  

Pressley gave her constituents Mitch McConnell’s phone number and urged them to call his office and tell him to “do your job.” 

The Congresswoman also discussed her position on legislation concerning a pathway to citizenship. She stated that she would not support legislation that would only provide a pathway for Dreamers — people affected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and not for the parents or community as a whole. 

“The truth of the matter is: it is not just DACA recipients who are Dreamers, it is DED [Deferred Enforced Departure], TPS [Temporary Protected Status] holders who have been contributing to civic life, their community, our economy for 10, 15, 20 years. They have dreams too. And so we can’t push just an exceptional immigrant narrative. We can’t think that only one group deserves to dream. We have to continue to be intersectional and vigilant.” 

The final question of the town hall voiced concern on the polarization of the current political climate entering the 2020 elections. Pressley expressed a degree of confidence in the anti-Trump sentiment. 

“I don’t put too much stock in the polls, however I have seen enough polls that affirm to me the electorate’s opinion is changing.”