Several dozen residents filled the Cottage Grove High School cafetorium on May 5 but Senator Ron Wyden only got a handful of questions that did not relate to the current debate on health care in America.
The town hall, which marked number 817 for Wyden, was open to all residents but its first question went to a Cottage Grove High School student who asked if Wyden would commit to beginning impeachment procedures should democrats gain control of Congress in 2018. While the question elicited cheers from the audience, Wyden was quick to inform the student that impeachment proceedings must be originated in the U.S. House of Representatives, not the Senate. However, the senator encouraged residents to hold all public officials accountable.
Students were given blue tickets for the privilege of asking a question while other residents were assigned red tickets. According to Lane County Commissioner Gary Williams, red far outpaced blue, thus creating a string of questions related to the current state of health care and concern over the House's repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Questions ranged from whether Wyden would commit to fighting the effort to pass the House's health care bill now that it was headed to the Senate to requesting the senator confirm he would support a single-payer system.
"I respect Senator Sanders and I will take a look at his bill," Wyden said, noting that he hadn't seen the proposed legislation has of yet.
He also expressed his doubt that a single-payer bill would make its way through the republican controlled Congress.
"We can either try to get a bill passed Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell or residents in Oregon, a progressive state can walk out of this hall right now and contact their representatives and let them know they want to use what I wrote to do it right now," Wyden said.
Other questions posed to the senator included the 'Know before you go' movement that would allow college-bound kids to see graduation rates and student loan averages before choosing a college and the ongoing investigation into Russia. He noted, "As long as I'm your man on Russia, this investigation will not be swept under the rug."