Representative Jake Auchincloss is the newest and youngest member of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation. He represents the Fourth District, and has been on the job for three weeks. We take a moment to get to know our new representative, and take listener calls.
On what has been surprising about the job so far:
"Quite an orientation, huh? My colleague from New York — Ritchie Torres — noted that our first Wednesday was an insurrection, our second Wednesday was an impeachment, our third Wednesday was an inauguration, and this is our fourth Wednesday. So I don't know what's going to happen before close of business. It's going to be exciting."
"I think you're right that I went into it eyes wide open. I was unfortunately not surprised that there was a mob on the Capitol steps. I was unfortunately not surprised that so many of the Republicans in Congress refused to demonstrate moral leadership. I was and remain stunned at the complete failure of Capitol security that allowed for the insurrection to breach the Capitol grounds, and there must be accountability about both misconduct as well as potential collusion, no matter how high up it reaches."
On who he believes are the country's domestic enemies:
"Well, those who breached the Capitol grounds are a very good exemplar of them. They are those who, one, reject the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and who seek to insert instead of the rule of law, the rule of demagogs and would-be fascists. And they are, unfortunately, those who are installed in elective office who aided and abetted those insurrectionists, including, unfortunately, members of Congress and even the president himself."
"People who directly incite political violence are leaving the guardrails of constitutional democracy. I welcome good faith, vigorous debate on all issues. That's what people sent us to Congress to do. But we need to have clear red lines as a democracy about what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not acceptable. And it's not acceptable to cross from debate and even passion, vigorous debate into directly inciting political violence. And that's what happened."
On the topic of the presidential election, if it was "stolen" and whether a bipartisan commission needs to look into it:
"Here's the approach I would take to that: is that actually a bipartisan commission to investigate - what that implies is that there are facts in question. There's actually really are not facts in question. Numerous courts of law and many elected officials — including many Republicans at the state level — have said repeatedly in multiple forums that this was a free and fair election."
"I mean, we have now vetted this election more thoroughly than any election in the history of the United States. And repeatedly what has come back is that not only was this free and fair, but by many metrics, this was one of the freest and fairest ever. What we need is not a commission. What we need is Republican leadership in this country to demonstrate the moral leadership of saying to their base, 'This president was lying to you. This was an election that represented the will of the people. And in democracies, we accept defeat and we work in good faith with the incoming administration.' Like I will say, Senator Mitt Romney did to his credit."
On other big needs for the Fourth District this year:
"It begins with COVID, as it must everywhere in the country. There are really two elements of that that I'm focused on: the first, and this is obviously quite salient today, is we've got to vaccinate more people faster. There are then two elements of that. One is sort of the logistics, the sign ups, the sites, the number of people to do it. It's been a little rocky at the beginning of that. But ultimately, actually, I'm less concerned about the logistics, which I'm confident the state can handle than I am about the supply. We can have the best logistics distribution system in the world, but if we don't have the supply, it's moot. And the supply is not big enough. We're getting about 85,000 a week that might go up to north of 100,000 in February. Back of the napkin math will tell anybody who's listening that that's just not enough, not fast enough to get the state where it needs to be."
"We've got to do a host of things. So Johnson & Johnson's approval is going to go a long way. They're saying they can bring a billion doses this year and those are single doses. That's going to be incredibly important. We can use the Defense Production Act to boost the supply of of the non-actual biomedical elements like the syringes and the plastics that will help. And then just having competent government at the federal level in the White House goes a long way. I mean, the Trump administration left a complete shambles behind. And just having people who are invested in actually doing this the right way and having science and public health be in the driver's seat is going to be an enormous issue."
"I just want to quickly touch on, though, that the second big aspect of this, there's vaccinations — more people, faster — but then there's also testing. And I've really made testing, especially for public schools in the district, the flagship issue for me in the first couple of months since the election. We are going to need robust testing infrastructure for our public schools, I believe, for at least the next 18 months. And that means every public school should have access to free weekly surveillance, testing of all teachers, staff, students. That's really going to be the enabler for full in-person learning, which to me is an issue with both moral and economic dimensions."
This segment aired on January 27, 2021.
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