Ask any American what their most cherished part of the Constitution is, and chances are the answers will vary. Some might say the Bill of Rights; others might specify a specific Amendment.
This was not one of the questions the Gazette recently posed to Rep. Katie Hill. However, her emailed answers imply that she is keenly aware of the Constitution’s separation of powers.
When one branch of government does something the other branches can’t resolve, a constitutional crisis arises. Many believe we are in one right now because of President Trump falsely claiming exoneration from the Mueller Report, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refusing to turn over Trump’s recent income tax returns and Attorney General William Barr refusing to testify in the House.
Asked if we are in a crisis now, Hill wrote, “We’re seeing a breakdown in how our country is supposed to operate and what the founders set up within the Constitution, which is a system of checks and balances. I don’t believe in unchecked use of executive privilege and I believe the Constitution only works if we have three separate but co-equal branches of government.”
The New York Times reported that Trump’s tax returns showed he lost about $1 billion through 1994. Hill (D-Agua Dulce) wrote she wants to see Trump’s more recent returns to ensure his only allegiance is to the United States “and that there are no foreign entanglements. That’s what we want to see and I believe it’s necessary on the grounds of national security.”
She wrote she would be willing to let the process play out, but she expects there will be votes to hold Barr and others in contempt of Congress “if individuals are unable to comply with the rules laid out in the Constitution.”
She also doesn’t see how it would be helpful to anyone for Barr to order an investigation into how the Russia-meddling investigation began.
Finally, she wrote that she didn’t run for Congress on an impeach-Trump platform, instead wanting to improve the cost of prescription drugs and housing. “But we also swore an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, and it is our responsibility to ensure that there is accountability for the president’s actions,” she wrote. “If we let this continue, what does this mean for the future of our democracy?”
Other topics she discussed:
-On the trade war with China: “I’ve heard from Republican businessmen who didn’t support me, but who reached out because they are having to lay off staff and upend their business plans due to these trade wars. The burden of this policy is on the backs of American business, and I take huge issue with that.”
-On a push for family-leave legislation: “Family leave is hugely important, especially because the cost of caretaking is so expensive. We see it not only for new parents, but also for children taking care of their aging relatives. Paid family leave is not only good for individuals, it’s good for communities, and I’m proud to support legislation addressing the gaps within our system.”
-On a photo of four teachers from Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale holding a noose: Hill released a statement on Facebook, which incorrectly stated the school principal was in the photo. In fact, the principal took and distributed the photo.
“Make no mistake about it, hatred has no place in our schools and no place in our community,” Hill’s statement said. “Our office is in contact with the Palmdale School District’s superintendent, who has put those involved on leave while the incident is investigated. The strength of our community is in its diversity.”