Health care, immigration reform, water hot topics at O’Halleran town hall

June 3, 2019
In The News

CLIFTON — When it comes to “health care for all,” U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., won’t vote in the affirmative until someone can explain how the program will be funded.

That was one of his messages during a town hall in Clifton last Thursday.

“We have 30 million people without health care, and we have a gap when it comes to poverty. We have to find a way to close that gap and provide choice, but I’m not on the bill because they can’t tell me how much it will cost or what it will cost into the future,” he said.

O’Halleran said mental health care and substance abuse treatment must also be part of the discussion when it comes to health care, as well as how to get more physicians working in the rural parts of the country.

One of the ways to expand health-care options, he said, is making broadband available throughout the country — not just in major metropolitan areas — which would allow for expansion of telemedicine.“We have a group on both sides (of the aisle) that want to get something done,” O’Halleran said. “Urban America doesn’t survive without rural America.”

He also addressed the president’s proposal to levy a 5-percent tariff on all products coming in from Mexico over the issue of immigration. While O’Halleran has gone on record opposing such a move due to the damage the Arizona (and American) economy would suffer, he said comprehensive immigration reform needs to be addressed.“We have to control our border, control who comes in,” O’Halleran said. “But we know we can’t send 11 million back. And how do we address refugees and the people who travel back and forth across the border daily to work in Nogales and Yuma? We have to create a comprehensive visa and work system.”

He also talked about his bill to withhold the pay of Congress when a government shutdown occurs, his support of a woman’s right to choose and that Congress needs to eliminate dark money from the electoral system.

On the issue of access to water — specifically access to Gila River water by ranchers and farmers in Greenlee and Graham counties — O’Halleran said he’s working with local stakeholders as well as Native American tribes to find a solution. He said he only became aware of the issue a few weeks ago during a town hall in Safford.

“There is no reason for any town, county or government official to not call me when their constituents have a problem; I’m only a phone call away,” he said.

Speaking with the Copper Era after the town hall, O’Halleran said he stands with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when it comes to the issue of impeaching the president.

“We have to wait for all the factual content to emerge; right now, we have too many gaps,” he said. “I agree with the speaker, and leadership is aware of my position.

“Partisanship has to be put aside,” he continued. “Thirty-eight percent of the public says to do it (impeach) while 62 percent say no. If it gets down to enough evidence, then it’s time to move forward.”In addition to his town hall in Clifton, O’Halleran spent the day touring the Morenci mine and visiting with constituents in Duncan.