On Saturday, July 13, 2019, Congresswoman Terri Sewell held a “Congress in Your Community” meeting at the Forkland Town Hall, attended by more than 50 community residents.
As part of her report, Congresswoman Sewell announced that she was appointed by Speaker Pelosi, to a special nine member commission, to review the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA 2.0) before its ratification by Congress. Sewell said, “ I will soon be traveling to Mexico City for discussions on this new trade agreement.
I want to be sure American workers are protected with labor and environmental standards.” She said she was particularly concerned about Trump’s proposed tariffs on automobile parts, which would drive up automobile prices and could reduce the American workforce in states like Alabama.
On healthcare, Sewell said she was supporting improvements to the existing Affordable Care Act by reducing deductibles and premiums, including for pharmaceutical drug prices. She says she strongly supports Medicaid Expansion, which Alabama’s Republican Governor and Legislature have refused to adopt. “Due to partisan politics state officials have left $7 billion over ten years on the table to be used by other states,” says Sewell.
Sewell said she was concerned that Republican controlled states were suing in Federal courts to declare the ACA unconstitutional. “This will mean that 1.9 million Alabamians would loose their protection for pre-existing conditions and almost 200,000 would loose their healthcare insurance coverage all together,” said Sewell.
She and Senator Doug Jones have introduced legislation to incentivize states to pursue Medicaid Expansion, but this legislation is tied up in committee because none of the 14 states remaining, who have not agreed to Medicaid Expansion, have indicated interest in changing their positions, “If Alabama wants to adopt Medicaid Expansion, we may be able to get this legislation passed,” said Sewell.
Congresswoman Sewell said she was prepared to vote for an increase in the Federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, adopted ten years ago in 2009, to $15 an hour in stages over the next five years. “ Workers have lost 18% in purchasing power over the past decade. This bill will give 45% of Alabamians a pay raise! While I proposed a regional minimum wage, which would be more equitable and help small businesses to be competitive, I will be voting for this bill,” says the Congresswoman.
Sewell said her bill (HR4) the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores the preclearance provisions stripped from the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs. Holder decision, will soon be voted on and passed by the House of Representatives. The bill would create an updated formula to qualify states for preclearance for voting rights changes.”14 states would be qualified under the new formula for modern day voting rights violations since 1990, “ says Sewell.
“Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate and his colleagues will not allow a vote on any of the progressive legislation, we have passed in the House of Representatives. The voters in 2020 will have to act to change this deadlock,” said Sewell.
The Congresswoman took questions from the audience, posed for photos with many constituents and spoke with officials of the Town of Forkland before leaving Greene County.