Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who represents the U.S. House of Representatives 35th District, held a series of town hall meetings throughout the district Saturdays, March 3rd and March 10th, to discuss the first 100 hours of her ninth House term and gather new ideas from constituents.
The 35th District extends from Playa del Rey to South Los Angeles. One of the town hall meetings was held Saturday, March 3rd, at Loyola Marymount University’s Ahmanson Auditorium in Westchester.
“We started [the 110th Congress] out with a bang,” Waters said. “[Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership decided that we will show we can get things done quickly.”
The Democratic Party took control of both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives for the first time since 1994, thanks to major wins in last year’s November elections.
The House of Representatives passed six resolutions during what Democratic Party leaders have called the “First 100 Hours” agenda of the new 110th Congress, which convened Thursday, January 4th:
— H.R. (House Resolution)
1 ñ Implementing 9/11 Commission’s Recommendations;
— H.R. 2 ñ Raising the Minimum Wage;
— H.R. 3 ñ Promoting Life-Saving Stem Cell Research;
— H.R. 4 ñ Requiring Medicare to Negotiate Lower Prescription Drug Prices;
— H.R. 5 ñ Cutting Interest Rates on Student Loans; and
— H.R. 6 ñ Repealing Big Oil Subsidies/Investing in Renewable Fuels.
Five of these resolutions have been sent to the Senate, with the minimum wage bill passing through both chambers and waiting for President George W. Bush’s signature to become law.
Since the first 100 hours, House Democrats have pledged a “New Direction for America” campaign that includes breaking the link between lobbyists and legislators, committing to a pay-as-you-go budgeting plan and increasing oversight of the war in Iraq, Waters said.
“We do not believe in deficit spending and it all comes down to setting priorities,” she said.
“I’m just hopeful that, given all of the money we are spending on the war in Iraq, the pay-as-you-go budgeting won’t harm some of the domestic agenda items I care about.”
Waters was first elected to Congress in 1990 and is currently chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.
She serves on three other Financial Services subcommittees: Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit; Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology; and Oversight and Investigations.
In addition, she serves on the Judiciary Committee and two of its subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.
Waters also leads the Out of Iraq Caucus and was appointed by Pelosi to serve as a chief deputy whip for House Democrats.
“Each of these subcommittees is involved in issues of major importance to the citizens of this district,” Waters said.
“These town hall meetings are a wonderful way for us to interact with our constituents and to share information about the legislative issues which we are involved in Washington D.C. as well as the work we are doing in the community.”
Ongoing district issues that Waters and her staff identified are Los Angeles International Airport expansion, the closure of Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center, healthcare, gangs, crime, housing, housing for senior citizens, community development, education and unaccredited private post-secondary schools.
With these issues in mind, Waters has introduced five bills in the 110th Congress.
— H.R. 647 ñ The Mark-to-Market Extension Act allows owners of affordable housing stock to restructure their loans consistent with market conditions.
— H.R. 822 ñ The Routine HIV/AIDS Screening Coverage Act requires health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings.
“There are more than 1 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS in the United States today and it has been estimated that between 24 and 27 percent of them do not know they are infected,” Waters said.
“Routine screening would allow individuals with HIV/AIDS to find out they are infected, begin life-extending treatments and avoid spreading the virus to others.”
— H.R. 1030 ñ The Cancer Test Act authorizes grants for prevention education, screenings, patient counseling services and treatment for cancer.
Grants would be made available to community health centers and nonprofit organizations that serve minority and underserved populations.
The bill emphasizes early detection and provide comprehensive treatment for cancer in its earliest stages, when treatment is most likely capable of saving lives.
— H.R. 1031 ñ The Minority Diabetes Initiative Act authorizes grants for diabetes prevention and treatment programs in minority communities.
The initiative is modeled after the successful Minority AIDS Initiative, which was developed under Waters’ leadership in 1998.
“Diabetes continues to have a severe impact on minorities,” Waters said.
“More than nine percent of Hispanic Americans, 12 percent of Native Americans and 13 percent of African Americans over the age of 20 have diabetes, and many Asian Americans are also at high risk.”
H.R. 1032 ñ The Alzheimer’s Treatment and Caregiver Support Act authorizes grants to improve treatment for Alzheimer’s patients and expand training and support services for their families and caregivers.
“Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 4.5 million Americans over the age of 65 and places tremendous burdens on the families who care for them,” Waters said.
“These grants will allow more people with Alzheimer’s disease to remain in their homes with their families.”
Information, www.house.gov /waters or Waters’ Westchester Office at (310) 642-4610.