New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney held a telephone town hall Tuesday night, answering questions from constituents in his 18th District. Topics ranged from the Trump presidency to health care to heroin.
The telephone town hall happened to take place on the same date as the one-year anniversary of Newburgh coming under a state of emergency due to PFOS drinking water contamination in Washington Lake. Lena from Wappingers Falls in Dutchess County said her daughter had applied to a number of colleges for nursing and wanted to attend Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. However, Lena is concerned about the water.
“That’s going to make our decision. She got accepted to seven colleges and I really wanted Mount Saint Mary, but the water…” Lena said.
“Well, let me put your mind at ease,” Maloney said.
“OK,” said Lena.
“Right now the water in Newburgh is perfectly clean and perfectly safe to drink,” Maloney said.
The city draws water from the Catskill Aqueduct while a carbon filtration system is under construction. Sean from Stormville, also in Dutchess County, had a question about health care.
“The question I have is the new health bill, the old health bill and the health bill that the senators and congressmen get and their staff. Will it be one bill that is good for one is good for all?” asked Sean.
“I’m on Obamacare. I’m on the D.C. exchange. My staff is on the D.C. exchange,” Maloney said. “That’s the way it is right now.”
The Democrat talked about a provision in the GOP’s American Health Care Act to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“That would have exempted congressmen from the types of waivers that states can get by virtue of that fact that we’re on the D.C. exchange and D.C. isn’t a state,” said Maloney. “I don’t want to run up the score on them, I don’t know that they did it intentionally, but it’s just one more reason why the thing they’ve come up with is half baked and not ready for prime time. But, no problem for me, man, we shouldn’t get any special treatment.”
Nancy from Middletown said her 24-year-old son is addicted to heroin. And she does not believe enough is being done to stem the heroin and opioid crisis.
"I’m so glad you called in. I mean it’s so important that people listening know how serious this is,” Maloney says. “You’re right. I don’t go to a community anywhere in the Hudson Valley that hasn’t lost somebody to this terrible thing.”
Maloney asked how her son became addicted.
“My son was a football player. He hurt his leg,” Nancy said.
“You hear that all the time,” Maloney said.
“Started with pain pills and met a couple of kids that played baseball, and they introduced him to the fine drug of what we know as heroin,” said Nancy.
“You should know that we’re going to pass this week in Washington a budget deal — looks nothing like what the president wanted, by the way — but a bunch of us, in a bipartisan fashion, are going to pass a budget deal that will include a lot more money for heroin treatment programs, prevention programs,” Maloney said.
Kay from Middletown expressed overall concern about President Trump.
“I’ve got a lot of concerns about this president, too. I am absolutely determined to find ways that we can work together to get something done. But we only have one president at a time, and I’ve said many times, Kay, that we don’t have a presidency to waste. We need to get after the infrastructure we need in this country. We got real problems we got to work on. And so I hope the president settles down,” said Maloney. “I really do think that he could get some things done if he worked across the aisle a little bit, I mean, that’s what I try to do. What do you think” Maloney asked.
“I don’t think that’s going to help, to be quite honest with you, because his determination to be a dictator is by far greater than what he feels should be the right thing to do,” Kay said.
“I’m glad the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution they way they did,” Maloney said. “The system is bigger than any one man, including Donald Trump.”
Jill from Poughkeepsie, who started a coalition of scientists called TRED, or Tick Research to Eliminate Disease, applauded Maloney for Lyme disease legislation he and former Congressman Chris Gibson worked on that was included in the American Cures Act, but pleaded with Maloney to do more.
“There are so many brilliant tick research scientists but they’ve never been given any funding to bring their ideas to stop the ticks. Either reduce the population or block their ability to transmit pathogens to us, our children, pets and the wildlife that potentiates the disease process. So I’m kind of asking you is there any way that you can help us to get some of these…” Jill said.
“Yeah, I’m happy to dig into that now that we’re getting going on that,” said Maloney. “I think you make a lot of sense. I totally agree with that so, yeah, let me take a look at it.”
Maloney says more work is needed to combat Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses — another reason not to cut funding to the National Institutes of Health, among cuts proposed in President Trump’s 2018 budget. Maloney’s telephone town hall followed one he held a month ago.