Congress comes to Keizer

(Since this piece was written, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has been impeached by a house vote, 214-213.)

(The print version of this story incorrectly attributed the Minsk Accords as the reason for nuclear de-proliferation in Ukraine. The correct agreement was the Budapest Memorandum, signed in Hungary in 1994. Keizertimes apologizes for the mistake.)

Congresswoman Andrea Salinas as she lays out her foreign and domestic positions as Oregon’s 6th District representative in Washington D.C. in the Keizertimes newsroom.

From the hallowed auditorium of the House chamber to a small newsroom, the United States Congress has come to Keizer.

And in a Keizertimes exclusive, U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 6th District, Congresswoman Andrea Salinas, sat down to discuss her job, the country, Oregon and everything in between. 

For reader ease, the interview has been broken down into the categories of conversation as well as highlights of how the Congresswoman responded to questions. 

Domestic issues

With a failed impeachment vote last week and another possible vote upcoming this week, House Republicans attempted to call out Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas via impeachment for “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law,” stemming from allegations that he violated current immigration laws by failing to detain enough immigrants, according to an interview conducted by  The Hill

Salinas responded initially that, in the case of this impeachment, creating stalemates are important as they can prevent further issues from occurring. 

“I think a stalemate matters as it is [preventing] bad things from happening,” Salinas said. 

Salinas described how, similar to elections in the past, the upcoming one is another contest where the results are some of the most consequential in recent history. 

And in a consequential election year, how she presents herself and her actions to constituents is important. 

With a relatively even political split in the 6th district, (42% Democrat, 35% Republican and 23% Independent) politicians must appeal to a diverse electorate in Oregon to be politically viable. 

For Salinas, the divide, as well as how to bridge it, comes down to better understanding her voters. 

“I see a couple of reasons for political divisions,” Salinas mused. 

“Many aren’t truly listening to voters, not acting in their interest when listening and in some cases, politicians are not communicating what they are doing that’s good, well enough.”

In order to make that divide smaller, Salinas proposed showing voters that, regardless of party, there are relatively few differences between them. 

Noting that the registration divide closely correlates with the breakdown of where constituents live, rural, suburban and urban, Salinas described her goal as relaying that regardless of where you live, many want the same result when it comes to things like drug abuse or homelessness in that they want less of it. 

The fight often only comes down to how to achieve that goal.

Salinas spoke to the national debt, which currently stands at around $34 trillion and noted that “serious conversations” need to be held to understand what people “are willing to do in terms of both revenue and spending. 

Salinas also noted the current level of debt was largely a product of the Trump tax cuts from 2017, which primarily benefited high income earners through rolling back the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. 

In fact, over the course of his presidency, Trump created an additional $8.4 trillion in debt with $3.6 trillion coming from COVID relief funding as well as $2.5 trillion coming from tax cuts. 

When asked about how she keeps the needs of her constituents in mind when working on national legislation, Salinas stated that, first and foremost, she tries to identify that many Oregonians are still struggling financially, emotionally and in some cases physically. 

Salinas mentioned the daily struggles Oregonians deal with when trying to utilize healthcare or feed their families or when trying to access affordable childcare as well as how she has attempted to alleviate it. 

“Gas prices have dropped. We have put investments into creating additional jobs but wages have not kept up with inflationary prices and we have to recognize that,” Salinas said.

In order to address these issues, Salinas described the billions of federal dollars given already such as by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, was introduced in 2023 which will give out more than $800 million in investments to workforce development and updating outdated infrastructure such as road ways.

The issue in regards to support for this aid, as Salinas previously noted, is that many constituents may not know or have heard about the exact ways this money has helped or affected their lives. 

In terms of immigration, Salinas described how, for many, resolving the issues they have about immigration means putting out more information about how integral immigrants are to the Oregon economy as well as culturally. 

Salinas went on discussing how despite having many undocumented workers in the state, the issue is one of not properly providing a path to citizenship for all those here as, according to Salinas, undocumented migrants are already working here, living here, sending their kids to school here and being active members of the community. 

When voting on immigration bills, Salinas highlighted the notion that many different concerns come into play such as the financial aspects. 

“If there’s a reason that I can’t vote for an immigration bill it’s probably because you’re not doing anything on H1B or H2A [work] visas for my growers, because we are hearing from them that they need some continuity,” Salinas said. 

For farmers, Salinas recently voted to pass the reauthorization of the Farm Bill a legislative package that aids farmers through things such as crop insurance to provide aid to low-income families who are struggling. 

For Salinas, farmers matter and as they create around 686,000 jobs, $29.7 billion in wages, $12.12 billion in taxes and $2.85 billion in exports to the state, according to a 2022 Oregon Agricultural Statistics & Directory report. 

She described how she has helped pass legislation for wineries, specifically those that have been affected by the wildfires by introducing bills such as the Insuring Fairness for Family Farmers Act, a bicameral bill from 2023. 

Foreign Issues 

Salinas also spoke about her perspectives on a variety of foreign issues affecting the country. 

In terms of aid to Ukraine, Salinas was resolutely in support. 

“We are a member of NATO and as a member if we don’t send money, we will need to commit troops and that is a really scary prospect,” Salinas said. 

Her reasoning revolves around the message of support for NATO countries against foreign interests from Russia, China or North Korea as well as remaining true to held alliances. 

For Ukraine, the U.S. pledged to protect them via the Budapest Memorandum, an international treaty of protection for Ukraine as they gave up their nuclear arsenal in 1994. 

Salinas spoke as well about aid to Israel noting that while aid could be on the table in the future, she “would need to see significant humanitarian aid connected to any aid that goes to Israel.” 

As of now, the conflict between Israel and Hamas has claimed more than 25,000 civilian lives in Palestine or nearly 1 out of every 100 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. 

Salinas noted that this stipulation is likely to be seen coming out of the Senate for any upcoming aid offered. 

When it comes to the current administration’s overall foreign policy, Salinas described how she is more sympathetic now to the president’s critics than before, but understands the complexity of the matters at hand. 

“I think the president has a very difficult job in terms of Israel. Israel is an ally, and the president is responsible for messaging out and signaling to the world what that relationship continues to look like,” Salinas stated. 

“But we also have our own interests in the region.” 

These self-interests primarily revolve around the U.S. wanting a country to have positive relations with in the area, counteracting perceived negative influences on Arab countries as well as a desire to protect the “strategic platform” of Israel. 

For context, since Israel’s inception in 1948, the U.S. has given around $300 billion to the country in economic and military aid, according to the Council on Foreign Affairs

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-105

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