VISTA — Seemingly every day a new explosive development comes out of Washington, D.C., as the embattled Trump administration fights off numerous scandals and possible impeachment.
On Oct. 19, Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA), who represents the 49th District, which spans from Torrey Pines to southern Orange County, held his 10th town hall at the Vista Civic Center. He hosts one town hall per month at various locations in the district.
He covered much of the turbulence surrounding Trump, blasting the president for his actions regarding Ukraine, withholding $391 million in aid to prevent further aggression by Russia and Attorney General Bill Barr’s actions and role in the impeachment process.
Levin said he was one of the first to call for impeachment hearings, doing so several months ago.
“There was no independent counsel or special prosecutor for Ukraine because Bill Barr, the attorney general, after receiving the whistleblower’s report … decided not to proceed with any type of investigation,” he added. “By default, we are doing that work behind closed doors that Bill Barr refused to do. It’s being done fairly and objectively, and it’s what need to get to the truth.”
Oceanside resident Katy Quigley, an independent, said Levin’s openness at the town hall was a chance for her to hear about the issues and work being done to solve those. She was appreciative of his attention to SONGS and how democrats and republicans alike are against offshore drilling.
Quigley said she also supports Levin’s charge to reform state and local income taxes (SALT) and lower itemized deductions on income taxes, which were increased under Trump’s 2017 tax plan.
“I thought it was good and it’s my first town hall,” she said. “I wanted to see what he was all about and what was going on. I think he did a nice job.”
Levin, though, also ripped President Donald Trump for abandoning the Kurds in Syria leading to mass killings of Kurds by Turkish forces. As a result, reports detail the escape of hundreds of terrorists from ISIS.
American forces, it was reported on Oct. 21, were also pelted with vegetables from Syrian Kurds for leaving the country.
Still, with all the dramatics surrounding Trump, Levin said good bi-partisan work is being done, citing work on veterans’ issues such as reforming the G.I. Bill, securing funds for homeless veterans and refinancing Veterans Affairs home loans.
But for the freshman congressman and former environmental attorney, he said his focus has been on issues specific to the 49th, with the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) at the top of the list. He stressed it is vital for the spent fuel of the retired plant to be removed as quickly as possible.
One challenge he said, is finding a suitable location for storage. The federal government invested billions into building Yucca Mountain in Nevada, but efforts to relocate spent fuel from across the country has been stonewalled.
Levin cited two reasons. First, potential groundwater contamination was identified, and also former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) successfully prevented spent fuel from being stored in his home state for decades.
Additionally, Levin said other states have come forward for potential temporary storage but will not commit as they are concerns it will become permanent.
“What’s Plan B if we’re not going to use Yucca Mountain?” he asked.
Other big issues, he said, concern the Tijuana River and allowing California to stay with its emission standards.