By John Zippert
Congresswoman Terri Sewell of the Alabama's 7th District spent her day last Friday, July 13, 2012 in Greene County visiting with community and business leaders, touring the RockTenn box factory and holding a "Congress in your Community" meeting at the William M. Branch County Courthouse.
At the Courthouse meeting, Sewell spoke about her work during the past few months in Congress working on legislation like the 2012 Farm Bill, the Affordable Care Act, and the censure of Attorney General Eric Holder.
Sewell who is running for reelection in November said she was humbled to represent her home area in Congress. She said during her first term she had to learn patience since she is new and lacks seniority and how to balance partisanship as a Democrat, when her party is in the minority in the House of Representatives, with her role as a "whip" in generating votes for her party's positions.
She said she appreciates the three days a week she gets to spend in the District. Sewell said she had helped individuals to secure $1.9 million in benefits like Social Security and Veterans funding. She said she also helped local governments and community agencies to get $55 million in Federal grants during her first term. Sewell introduced her staff members and some of her regular publications which are available through her website and by mail.
Sewell said she was pleased that the Supreme Court has found the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) constitutional. "I supported this law from day one. It has helped 30,000 more children in the 7th District to get health care, even those with pre-existing conditions; $1 million in preventive care has been provided to senior citizens; 7,400 seniors in the District benefited from the closing of the Medicare drug donut hole and gained other benefits to reduce their health care costs," she said.
"We ask people who drive to have car insurance. If you buy a house, your mortgage holder requires that you have fire and casualty insurance, so it seemed logical to require people who may get sick or be injured to have health insurance. That is why the Supreme Court decided the law was constitutional," said Sewell. She indicated that she was unhappy that the House of Representative wasted seven hours last week debating the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. "This was our 31st vote to repeal the ACA which was not going anywhere, since the Senate will not vote to repeal," said Sewell.
Sewell reported on her work to make the 2012 Farm Bill better. She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and spent 18 hours on the mark-up of the 2012 Farm Bill. We made some changes to help catfish farmers, outreach for socially disadvantaged farmers and other things but said she had to vote against the full bill coming out of committee because it cut too deeply, $16.5 billion over 5 years, into food stamps (SNAP), WIC and the school lunch program. 70% of all the cuts in the Farm Bill were from nutrition programs.
Sewell said she had a monthly meeting with the Alabama Congressional Delegation and although she is the only Democrat in the nine person delegation has found some issues to benefit the State of Alabama, like the RESTORE Act for the Gulf Coast, adjusting environmental regulations for coal burning power plants, support for catfish farmers and assisting Airbus to locate in Mobile, on which she cooperated with Republicans to pass in a bi-partisan manner.
Sewell said she followed the lead of Civil Rights veteran and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis and walked out of Congress rather than voting to censure Attorney General Eric Holder for his role in the "Fast and Furious" gun-walking investigations on the Texas-Mexico border. Sewell said Lewis quoted Ghandi that " nonviolent non-cooperation with evil is sometimes as important as cooperation with good; as the explanation for not voting on the censure of the first African-American Attorney General."
Sewell took some questions from the audience and then concluded by urging everyone to participate in the upcoming elections, especially the November General Election, which will be critical in determining the direction of the nation for the next four years.