US Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici held a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, where she took questions from constituents who called into the live streaming event. Callers asked about topics ranging from the proposed $15 federal minimum wage, to what’s next for Congress after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Joanne Rideout reports.
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Bonamici represents the First Congressional District of Oregon. She answered voters’ questions for more than 45 minutes. One caller asked how small business owners could afford the proposed minimum wage of $15 an hour, especially in the wake of the pandemic. The caller said the minimum wage was never meant to support families. Here’s Bonamici:
Suzanne Bonamici: “And unfortunately a lot of people are living on it. And that’s what’s happening, and you have single parents and people trying to support a family on the minimum wage. And right now, nowhere in the country can somebody afford a modest two-bedroom apartment making minimum wage, so a lot of people are working sometimes two or three jobs just to get by.”
Bonamici said the proposed minimum wage hike is gradual and would be phased in. The result, she said, would be that local small businesses would gain customers as families gained financial resources.
Suzanne Bonamici: “I mean what businesses need is they need people with money to spend, and raising the minimum wage puts more money in workers’ pockets.”
Another caller asked about consequences that might be in the works at the Congressional level regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, DC.
Bonamici said Congress is creating a 9/11 type commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6, and the FBI and the CIA are conducting ongoing investigations. She said issues of white supremacy raised during the riot and across the nation are not new, and legislators are taking them seriously.
Suzanne Bonamici: “We are not going to ignore this we will continue to investigate it. It’s a domestic threat, it also is a huge national security issue, as we saw on January 6.”
Bonamici said that while several people died as a result of the riot, it’s not widely reported that there remain about 150 law enforcement officers who sustained serious injuries defending the capitol that day. She said the riot was an attack on the Capitol, and on representative democracy. And also, a source of personal trauma.
“It’s still, honestly, a tough issue to talk about. There’s a lot of trauma that those of us who were there experienced. And I think the nation experienced as well – the vicarious trauma of seeing that happen in the United states of America.”
The caller who asked the question said he felt it was important that the public see justice done with regard to those responsible for the riot and for spreading white supremacist views. Instead of such behavior being, he said – “largely allowed to happen.”
I’m Joanne Rideout in Astoria.