Palm Beach Post: Here are three takeaways from Rep. Ted Deutch’s town hall

Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch held two town halls in South Florida Wednesday evening. Here are some takeaways.

Before Congress is back in session on Sept. 9, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, held two town halls in South Florida Wednesday evening.

The first, at the Highland Beach Library, brought a standing room-only crowd of about 100 people. Deutch spoke for about 20 minutes and took questions from the audience for the remaining half-hour.

These are the top three takeaways of the Highland Beach town hall:

1. What’s happening in Washington

Deutch opened his town hall by listing three things he and his fellow representatives were working on in Washington D.C.: climate change, money in politics and gun reform.

“In Florida, climate change is not a partisan issue. Everybody acknowledges that we have to deal with climate change because we all see it,” he said.

Ways that Congress can address climate change, Deutch noted, included restoring the Everglades and putting a price on carbon emissions.

Deutch told the crowd that he felt money in politics led to special interests being heard over the American public, and is why “so many good [pieces of legislation] get held up.”

“Money in politics is not a partisan issue in any place except Washington,” he said later.

Deutch said the way to address it is how the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said: amend the constitution so Congress can limit the amount of money that influences elections.

Last, on gun reform, Deutch said his greatest frustration before the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland was after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, when Congress “couldn’t find a way … to do anything to help prevent gun violence.”

The congressman touched on the student activism that became March For Our Lives and how the U.S. House passed universal background checks but the legislation sits in the U.S. Senate.

Deutch said wanted to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump to pass universal background checks.

2. Condemning anti-Semitism on both sides

Deutch, who is Jewish, had been vocal about calling out anti-Semitism on both sides of the aisle. He addressed it when a constituent wrote a long-winded question about Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar using anti-Semitic tropes.

“When ‘Jews in America’ is trending on Twitter, as it has been in the past couple of days, that’s never a good thing,” he said.

Deutch refrained from saying Omar’s name, instead saying “my colleague.” He said he and 40 Democratic representatives recently took a trip to Israel, and wished he had the opportunity to point out his disagreements to Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who have been critical of the Israeli government and supportive of Palestinians. Both congresswomen were barred from entering the country.

Deutch also used a recent example from Trump, who said Jews who vote for Democrats “shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

“It needs to be condemned on both sides. That’s the point I’ve been trying to make. Too many people will see a threat only where they choose to see it. We need to see it wherever it exists,” he said, followed by applause.

3. Preventing meddling in elections

Another question posed by a constituent inquired about Russia’s hacking of two Florida counties’ election systems during the 2016 election.

Deutch was briefed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but he said the bureau withheld information about which counties were hacked because it would compromise sources and methods of collecting information.

The congressman said the reasons were “invalid.”

“The best way for us to prepare for the next election is to know where the problems were in the previous election,” he said.

He said this issue was at the top of his priority list when he returns to Washington D.C.

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