Over 30 members of the Leagues of Women Voters in the Massachusetts 3rd Congressional District–Acton Area, Andover/North Andover, Concord-Carlisle, Chelmsford, Greater Haverhill, Harvard, and Westford—met virtually last month with Mark McDevitt, Congresswoman Lori Trahan’s chief of staff, and Alexandra Karabatsos, Rep. Trahan’s education and healthcare Legislative Assistant.
LWVUS encourages local Leagues to meet with their Representative to discuss the League’s legislative priorities and to learn about their representative’s priorities and how our Leagues can work to support them. After the meeting we reported back to LWVUS, which will collate the results of our meeting with the results of similar meetings across the country in order to continuously refine their congressional lobbying strategy.
The hour-long conversation covered a wide range of issues important to the League, and Mark’s and Alex’s responses were extremely well-informed, detailed, and candid. We thanked Rep. Trahan for supporting several bills that are among the League’s highest priorities for this legislative session and that the House has already passed, including H1–the For the People Act, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. Mark explained how the current filibuster rule obstructs Senate passage of these bills and why filibuster reform is so important. (LWVUS has called on the Senate to reform the filibuster rule, which, it says, “continues to stand in the way of progress for the American people.” LWVUS’s full statement is here.)
We also asked Mark and Alex about the Congresswoman’s positions on several other League legislative priorities.
- The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Mark explained that proponents are holding off refiling the bill in order to gather data about voter suppression efforts during the 2020 election cycle.
- Environmental legislation
Rep. Trahan is a member of both the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. She supports the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s (LIFT) America Act, an infrastructure package that invests in protecting public health, combatting climate change, and expanding broadband access, and the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act, that authorizes $565 billion in spending over the next decade to reach specific decarbonization goals, including reducing pollution by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- Removing the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment
Mark explained why this is a complex issue, and even if the Senate passes a resolution similar to the one passed by the House, which Rep. Trahan supported, it may well end up in the courts.
- D.C. statehood
Rep. Trahan agrees with the League position on the creation of the 51st state from the residential and commercial areas of the District of Columbia, preserving a smaller federal district as the nation’s capital.
- Women’s reproductive rights
Rep Trahan supports access to safe and legal abortions and believes that the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions with limited exceptions, should be repealed.
Detailing Rep. Trahan’s other priorities, Alex told us that Rep. Trahan has cosponsored the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, legislation aimed at addressing opioid addiction treatment and training. The bill would ensure that all prescribers of controlled medications nationwide have baseline knowledge in evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment. Rep. Trahan also supported the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed by President Biden last month.
We also asked two questions submitted by League members who were on the Zoom call. The first asked about Rep. Trahan’s position on the Protect Community Television Act and similar bills. These bills would address the growing problem of local cable stations providing more vital services to communities than ever before on increasingly smaller budgets due to a tightening of policies, the increase in streaming services, and a decrease in cable subscriptions. Mark replied that he did not know Rep. Trahan’s position on these bills but he would research them.
The second attendee-submitted question asked about several provisions in HR1 that the questioner believes will penalize third-party candidates. These provisions include increasing the minimum amount that presidential primary candidates and Congressional candidates must raise to get matching funds; doubling the cap on the amount of money national party committees can contribute to presidential candidates; and ending private-money spending caps for presidential candidates who opt for public matching funds. Mark replied that he didn’t think that was the intent of the bill, which he said is focused on getting corrosive elements out of politics, but he will look into it.
After the event, several League members emailed to let us know how much they appreciated the conversation and wished it could have gone on longer than an hour. As one attendee wrote, “I learned a lot and came away from the evening with positive feelings for Lori and the folks she’s chosen to support her.”