1st Congressional District Representative Walt Minnick said it's time for Congress to debate immigration reform and that Democratic leaders will likely wrap up health care deliberations in the next two weeks. Minnick, a Democrat, said he favors new immigration policy with tighter borders and expanded temporary work programs in some fields. As for health care, Minnick said he wants new regulations to spur competition, and said he will discuss the U.S. Senate's health care bill with his staff on Saturday.
Minnick fielded questions from citizens at a crowded town hall event in Nampa Thursday night. The event lasted over an hour, and IdahoReporter has video of Minnick's answers to some key questions.
First is Minnick's response to questions on immigration. He lays out what he'd like to see Congress do, and how his ideas match up with policies from President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush.
Congress hasn't taken up the immigration debate since President Obama was sworn in, but it's already a contentious issue among Minnick's opponents in this year's election. Eagle State Rep. Raul Labrador has received criticism from fellow Republicans for his work as an immigration attorney. Minnick, Labrador and Republican candidate Vaughn Ward all support more border security. Ward says on his campaign website that he also opposes a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
At the Nampa town hall, Minnick gave a short overview of where the Congressional health care reform plan currently stands before asking the crowd where they stand on the issue.
A large majority of people that came to the town hall opposed the Senate health care bill. Minnick voted against a similar plan in the House in November. He said he hasn't decided how he would've voted on the Senate version or whether he will say yes or no to the revised plan that emerges from the current House and Senate meetings.
Minnick also gave a brief overview of what he would like to see in a health care reform package.
Minnick told opponents of health care reform that they should lobby members of Congress from other states to vote no on the pending final health care plan. He said he regularly reached out to senators and representatives from other states when he was a private businessman. All of Idaho's delegation in Washington, D.C. voted no on health care legislation at the end of last year.
Other topics came up at the town hall. Minnick told the crowd that the biggest problem in Congress right now is the expanding federal deficit. Because of the multi-trillion dollar deficit, Minnick said it would be irresponsible to lower the capital gains tax or offer other corporate tax relief.