More than 200 residents gathered for a Houston-area town hall event with Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-7) Sunday afternoon, where the congresswoman highlighted what she believes are House accomplishments and defended her procedural vote for the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.
In her opening remarks, Fletcher sought to highlight bipartisan accomplishments in the U.S. House of Representatives this year, saying that of 417 recorded votes taken since January, 97 percent of those were bipartisan, and 88 percent were “overwhelmingly bipartisan.”
“I’m working hard and other people in Washington are working hard to be bipartisan and work together,” said Fletcher.
The freshman lawmaker cited multiple examples of legislative priorities passed by the House, including expanding or restoring portions of Obamacare, a Climate Action Now bill, and the controversial Equality Act.
The Equality Act prohibits an individual from being denied access to a restroom, locker room, or dressing room in accordance with the individual’s stated “gender identity.” The legislative text also prohibits business establishments, including those who provide health care services, from discriminating based on an individual’s professed “gender identity.”
This language has led to concerns that federal law would force doctors to perform surgeries or provide hormone therapy for people regardless of whether the doctor believes the procedures are the correct treatment. Prominent critics like Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) have said the bill “would dangerously undermine the First Amendment and the freedoms it was designed to protect.”
Fletcher also noted the House had passed background check legislation, which she says is the number one issue for which constituents call her office.
H.R. 8, officially titled the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” establishes new federal background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties. While not identical, the proposal is similar conceptually to ideas proposed by Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in the aftermath of the El Paso and Odessa shootings.
Answering a question on increasing congressional action on climate change, Fletcher expressed frustration with a debate that “vilifies people” who work in the energy industry and “who care about climate change just as much as anybody else.”
In representing a district that extends along the west side of Houston and includes the Energy Corridor, Fletcher has taken a more moderate approach to environmental issues than many of her Democratic colleagues. Earlier this year she partnered with Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) to pen an editorial explaining their opposition to restrictions on offshore drilling, and she co-chairs the bipartisan Natural Gas Caucus.
However, Fletcher did express disappointment in President Trump’s plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
In responding to several requests for her to support so-called “Medicare for All” legislation, Fletcher said she did not think that was the right answer for the district. She added that most people want full access to healthcare, but also want to maintain choice and control rather than the government “dictating some of the terms for care.”
She said she prefers solutions that restore taxpayer-provided subsidies for care and reducing prescription drug prices, and emphasized her support for a bipartisan bill on “surprise medical billing.”
Several constituents questioned Fletcher on her vote for the House resolution formalizing an impeachment inquiry.
“We’ve gone two to three years and four attempts…to find a crime so we can impeach,” said one man.
“Do you really view this overwhelming, non-stop seeking a crime to attempt to impeach the president, unifying and good for the country?” he continued. “Let’s get on with what needs to be done for America.”
Fletcher acknowledged the divisiveness of the issue saying, “That’s really the concern; we are so divided in ways that we shouldn’t be, and that is a huge risk for all of us right now.”
But Fletcher added that she thinks the president is “thwarting the Constitutional authority and responsibilities” of Congress and the judicial branches, and that Congress should be asking questions.
“There has not been a vote to impeach the president,” Fletcher clarified, and again emphasized that most members of congress were still working together on other issues.
In response to concerns about the secretive nature of impeachment inquiry hearings so far, Fletcher said the process would become more open in the coming weeks.
“I believe when we go back, there will be open public hearings.”
Representative Fletcher won her first term by defeating nine-term Republican Congressman John Culberson in the 2018 “blue wave” that swept Houston and Harris County offices.
Several Republicans are vying for the chance to unseat Fletcher in 2020, including Army veteran and West Point graduate Wesley Hunt, Remembrance Project founder Maria Espinoza, and former Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel.
Correction: A previous version of this piece stated that Rep. Fletcher joined her fellow Democrats and voted to ban fracking. This was incorrect. The vote in question was a procedural vote preceding final passage of a resolution on national heritage areas. There was no vote on binding legislation that would have impacted fracking.
We have corrected the mistake and apologize for the error.
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Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.