December 25, 2022

Auchincloss reflects on first term, what lies ahead in US Congress

On the third day of Jake Auchincloss’ first term in Congress, he walked across Capitol Hill and was struck by an image.

“It looked like a patrol base in Afghanistan,” with police and National Guardsmen at the ready, the Marine Corps veteran told The Sun Chronicle the day after the Jan. 6, 2001, riot. “We had to turn a citadel of democracy into a fortress.”

Next month, the Newton Democrat starts his second term as a member of the minority party in the House, with a GOP majority promising a series of relentless investigations of President Joe Biden, his administration and his family.

Not an easy way to start a new year.

Auchincloss, 34, says he’s ready.

“I feel like I’ve aged in dog years in Washington,” he said in a year-end interview with The Sun Chronicle.

The former Newton city councilor, whose Fourth Congressional District covers the Attleboro area, says he’s prepared to work with Republicans as he’s shown during his freshman term in office.

“The last two years have been the most bipartisan in my lifetime,” he said, noting that Congress managed to pass clean energy and electoral reform acts with support from both parties.

He said that can continue, but the Republicans are at “a fork in the road.”

The GOP “can work on ways to lower housing and health care costs, promote clean energy independence and immigration reform,” or, he said, “engage in conspiracy theories.”

If Republicans in Congress cater “to a constituency of one at Mar-A-Largo,” referring to former president Donald Trump’s Florida estate, “they are going to suffer at the polls,” Auchincloss said.

In addition, he said, “They will meet with ferocious opposition from myself and others” in Congress.

“This is a Democratic caucus that is battle hardened from the Trump years. We have demonstrated that we are extremely effective in holding the GOP to account,” he said


In a statement issued last week, following the release of the report of the Congressional committee investigating Jan. 6, Auchincloss said: “The bipartisan January 6th Committee has affirmed, via thorough and transparent fact-finding, that Donald Trump committed insurrection. The Department of Justice should prosecute him.” He also said the former president should not hold office again.

Auchincloss won a narrow plurality in his first run for Congress in 2020, emerging from a field of nine Democrats to take his party’s nomination. This year, he faced no primary challenge and was the only member of the state’s congressional delegation not to have a Republican opponent in November.

He cites his office’s constituent services and his keeping in contact with the district as factors in that.

Over the past two years, he’s met with municipal officials in all 34 cities and towns in the district, visited more than 75 businesses and nonprofits and hosted town hall meetings around the area.

As for his own legislative priorities in the year ahead, Auchincloss said they include “creating a path for clean energy independence, lowering costs for drugs and taking on pharmacy benefit managers,” the third parties who administer prescription drug programs.

Clean energy will “take us off this roller coaster” of what costs of driving or heating are dependent “on what Saudi Arabia or Russia do.” Offshore wind power, he said, “particularly in Southeastern Massachusetts, will put us on a path of energy independence.”

He’d also like to see the state and federal governments address the creation of more housing, “the single biggest problem in Massachusetts.”

Social media, currently operating under federal law known as Section 230, which provides companies a level of immunity when it comes to third-party content, should be treated more like public utilities, the way broadcasters were under the former Fairness Doctrine, he said.

But when it comes to regulation of another kind of free-for-all, Auchincloss has faced criticism for his stands on cryptocurrency and accepting campaign donations from a failed crypto manager.

“I’m not a crypto bull or a crypto bear,” he said. “My job is to be a referee, ensure market integrity and that the U.S. dollar remains the world’s reserve currency.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission, he said, needs to be given the resources it needs to regulate the crypto market.

As far as the donations he has received, he said, “We are going to follow Department of Justice guidance to make whole creditors who were scammed by FTX,” the failed crypto company. “When we get legal guidance, we will do that.”

By:  Tom Reilly
Source: The Sun Chronicle