WESTPORT, Conn. – U.S. Rep. Jim Himes was blunt as he spoke to a packed room at the Westport Public Library on a hot and sticky Sunday afternoon.
“Between now and November you’re not likely to see an awful lot of substantive legislation in the Congress,” Himes said, adding that it made him mad that this was the case.
Himes, a Democrat representing Connecticut's 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, spent a brief time talking about the “Bush tax cuts” and the health- care law before opening up the meeting to questions from his assembled constituents in the McManus Room of the library. And while he got a wide range of questions, many of them were about the health-care law and how it would affect and has affected them.
In response to a question involving the individual mandate, Himes said, “We pay for each other’s health-care today, don’t think you don’t,” adding that purchasing health- care is a personal responsibility.
Part of what Himes said he wanted to do was to create a legislation to go along the health-care laws that was “co-conscious.” He hopes for a compromise for the religious affiliated groups dealing with the insurance mandate, while also providing for female employees specifically, the opportunities and insurance for contraception and abortion.
During one back and forth between Himes and a constituent who questioned his voting record on the economy stating that Himes’ votes contributed to the $15 trillion deficit the country has, specifically the stimulus package.
“I will take ownership of the Recovery Act … I won’t say it was perfect,” but, he said the stimulus package and the spending kept the United States from facing a depression closer to what Europe is currently facing and what this country faced in 1929.
He admitted to knowing only the bare bones of the controversy surrounding Attorney General Eric Holder being found in contempt of Congress and told one woman that he would be happy to look further into the issue and become more familiar with the background for her.
“We’re in a very polarized time right now,” Himes said, evidenced by the crowd cheering and jeering responses to questions posed to Himes and his answers to them.
However, Himes said that he is optimistic for the future, especially about the budget and spending. “I’m actually optimistic that what happens in December, we obviously won’t know until the other side of the election, who the new president will be, we won’t know who’s got control of the House, we won’t know who has control of the Senate. But I will tell you that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter too much,” because no one will like what happens, except he said that ultimately it will work out.