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Rep. Gerry Connolly's Takes Questions on Health Care, Election '09

Northern Virginia U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly took readers' questions earlier today, discussion transportation, health care plans, the environment, Creigh Deeds vs. Bob McDonnell and more. Excerpts follow.

Washington, DC: What are your views on DC voting rights? Will you help move the bill through this session?

Rep. Gerry Connolly: I support D.C. voting rights. It is unconscionable that 600,000 Americans living in the District of Columbia do not having voting representation in Congress.

I am a cosponsor of legislation to give D.C. a vote in Congress and will do everything in my power to make it happen as soon as possible.

Tampa, Fla.: My 2 questions concerns redistricting.

First, do you expect redistricting after next year's census to affect the balance of power in the House? Specifically, do you expect that many districts formerly drawn by the GOP to be right-leaning will be drawn by the Dems to be left-leaning? If so, could this push the House a bit to the left? As I understand it, the Dems will be running the redistricting in more than a few states that were formerly run by the GOP.

Second, what effect on the House might you see if next year's ballot initiative in Florida to move to non-partisan redistricting passes? As I understand it, non-partisan redistricting moves politics to the center. Conservatives become less conservative, and liberal less liberal. given that Florida has the 4th-largest delegation (and may have the 3rd), how much might this affect the House?

Rep. Gerry Connolly: Redistricting most certainly will affect the numbers in the House but will not shift the balance of power. I favor taking the power to redistrict out of the hands of the politicians. Formation of non-partisan panels has worked well in Iowa, for example, and created competitive districts which we need many more of.

Reston, Va.: Will Stimulus funds be used to fund metro extension to Dulles Airport?

On health care, there is no way the Federal government should be involved, as it is clearly not among the enumerated powers expressed in the Constitution. Leave that to the states and quit making it worse.

Rep. Gerry Connolly: We were able to secure advance funding of $77 million from the stimulus package, which will save the project at least $15 million in financing costs. We hope to do more.

On health care, your understanding of the Constitution and mine differ considerably. Following your logic, Medicare, Medicaid, the federal student loan program, and myriad other long-standing federal programs would be nullified.

Merrifield, Va.: Although my income would apparently deem me rich by most of the Democratic party, here in Fairfax I'm decidedly middle class. Could you tell me what steps you're taking to ensure that your middle-class constituents like me will not be unfairly burdened with the costs of the many initiatives being pushed by the Pelosi-Hoyer wing of the party?

Rep. Gerry Connolly: The 11th District is the wealthiest Congressional district in the nation, as measured by median household income. That said, we are not a community filled with Beverly Hills millionaires. Here in Northern Virginia, we have a high cost of living and a large percentage of two income households.

Recently, I led a group of my colleagues to the White House to express our concern with the proposed surtax on higher income households. I was concerned that proposal would hurt my constituents and small businesses. We were successful in convincing House leadership to reevaluate that proposal.

Falls Church, Va.: Given that Medicare for All would provide better health care at lower cost than massive Government subsidies for the mandatory purchase of private health insurance, will you vote for Rep. Anthony Weiner's floor amendment to substitute HR 676 for the first part of HR 3200?

Rep. Gerry Connolly: Health care reform will build on the system of private insurers and private medical providers. There are some Democrats who would prefer a universal, single-payer system similar to Medicare. However, that kind of proposal does not have the requisite support to pass in the House or Senate. I'm focusing my efforts on the reform proposals that are on the table because I believe we can expand coverage and lower costs, while ensuring that Americans who like the private coverage they have now can keep it.

Northern Virginia: I am horribly depressed and outraged by Governor Wilder's decision not to endorse a courageous fellow Democrat like Creigh Deeds, supposedly over a trumped- up gun issue (when McDonnell is far more pro-gun) and over the fact that Deeds has a realistic plan to actually grapple with our zeroed-out transportation funding in lieu of McDonnell's dishonest math. I feel betrayed by a man I looked up to. I think we're about to see a return of the Gilmore administration, which almost destroyed our financial standing.

Do you think there is any chance Governor Wilder will change his mind again? What's the effect on the outcome of the election and why would Governor Wilder do such a thing?

Rep. Gerry Connolly: I would hope Governor Wilder would reconsider. I was a Delegate pledged to Governor Wilder when our party nominated him for Lt. Governor and for Governor, offices to which he was successfully elected. Had a number of us withheld our endorsement of him, he might never have achieved the political pinnacle in Virginia.

Read the full discussion transcript.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  September 24, 2009; 5:31 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2009 , Gerald E. Connolly , Transportation  
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