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Rep. Ro Khanna Talks About the SEIU Strike, Homelessness, Impeachment

With Congress on a two-week recess until Oct. 15, Rep. Ro Khanna returned to the Bay Area to talk to local leaders and community members about what’s happening on Capitol Hill and what’s happening here at home.

Khanna happened to be at his office in Santa Clara when hundreds of Santa Clara County employees went on strike for the first time in 40 years. He met with those employees during his visit.

“We live in one of the most expensive counties in the nation and in the world. We’ve got Apple and Google and Tesla and Intel,” said Khanna. “We can afford to make sure that we pay our workers who are doing social services who are taking care of patients or who are taking care of the disabled; who are doing powerful work.

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“[We] can afford to pay them a living wage,” continued Khanna. “If that means we have to increase taxes in this county on some of the companies or some of the high earners to be able to provide a cost of living increase and basic raise for workers, then that’s what we have to do.”

The Representative from California’s 17th Congressional District also believes California needs to do more about the homelessness problem.

“We have to look at New York. New York has a right to shelter law and [California] needs to have a right to shelter law,” said Khanna. “Yes, I would prefer a housing first policy, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need more temporary shelters. You can’t just wait for the perfect solution before attempting to constructing steps on a positive solution.”

During his time in the Bay Area, Khanna met with a local Head Start program, the SEIU leaders, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and members of the Indian American community.

He’ll return to Washington D.C. in a few days, where he’ll deal with the looming question of impeaching President Trump.

“The President is taking the impeachment inquiry very personally, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” said Khanna. “Nixon, when he was at the height of his impeachment hearing, Congress still passed the Endangered Species Act. They passed the War Powers Act. They passed the Federal Highway Act. Things were getting done.

“When Bill Clinton was at the height of impeachment, things were getting done,” continued Khanna. “The question is, does this president have a capacity to put politics aside and to put the animosity aside and work for the good of the American public. I know Speaker Pelosi does.”

Back on Capitol Hill, Khanna will also deal with a number of bills House Democrats are working on. A bill designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs is expected to be voted on before the end of the year.

Lawmakers are also tackling the issues of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), campaign finance reform, affordable housing and increasing support for veterans.

“One of the bills we’re working on came from a person in my district who came every month and said the veterans who are in the cockpit, or who face injury based on their back or neck, those aren’t classified as disabilities,” said Khanna. “Those should be classified as disabilities. We’ve been working on that on a bipartisan basis.”

“There’s a lot of work that we do, probably 80 percent of my time is on active legislation, the problem is that no one will call me on CNN or MSNBC to talk about that,” said Khanna with a laugh. “The perception is that the Democrats are just issuing subpoenas and holding the President accountable. We have to do that, it’s our constitutional responsibility, but it’s what consumes the media conversation, it’s not what consumes our day-to-day work.”

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