Press "Enter" to skip to content

Senator Feinstein on defense at San Francisco town hall

Feinstein spoke on Trump administration policies and how to best represent her constituents. (Emily Burian)
Feinstein spoke on Trump administration policies and how to best represent her constituents. (Emily Burian)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) held her first town hall of the Trump Administration, Monday, April 17, to a sold-out auditorium and a crowd eager to hear her positions on the current administration.

The California senator of 25 years, who has paved the way for many as the first woman to hold many of her past political positions, was on the defense for most of the hour-long town hall that took place in San Francisco.

Feinstein gave a brief speech on the context of the current political climate in the Senate before answering any questions, which were called out randomly by ticket numbers handed out at the doors.

“The party in power controls absolutely,” Feinstein said. “Unless you have 60 votes to bring an item to the floor and the item is somewhat major and controversial, you’re likely not going to be able to move it.”

She also addressed the president’s current proposed budget by explaining that the budget will likely go to continuing resolution, an unusual step in the budgetary process. While holding a paper from the podium with a graph of the federal budget and expenditures, she emphasized the permanence of entitlements being a rapidly expanding 63 percent of government spending; the 15 percent allocated to military and 16 percent to domestic spending are what’s decided in the budget.

One moment of contention came when the senator was answering a constituent’s question about the Senator’s commitment to making sure conflict in the Middle East does not continue. She instead raised security concerns about North Korea and Syria.

“Answer the question,” an attendee interrupted. “How many wars will we have?”

This was greeted with a chaotic mixture of booing and clapping.

“The point is that this president has taken a step, and that step was to send a number of tomahawk missiles into an airport where planes left to drop off the gas” Feinstein said. “I have no idea what he will do.”

Her defensive position continued with a question to support single-payer healthcare. She laid out the current compilation of health care in Congress, including Trump’s plan to reform, calling it “the existential domestic issue.”

Some attendees proceeded to chant “single-payer now” until the next question was asked.

Constituents gather to address the senator. (Emily Burian)
Constituents gather to address the senator. (Emily Burian)

Resistance to Trump was also a hot topic at the town hall.

A speaker from Indivisible SF questioned Feinstein’s stance against the administration, and advocated against using the existing political processes as a way to resist against the current administration. The senator responded with the question: “What would you substitute it with?”

“We cannot work with these fascists in the White House,” the representative from Indivisible SF said. “We cannot normalize it.”

She said he gave her an idea to explore and went to take the next question, until the audience erupted in dissatisfaction.

“You can sit here and pound your fists and I can show you what I’ve done,” Feinstein said. “I’d be surprised if you found too many senators, if any, that have got more done.”

She was also questioned on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and her position on the filibuster that preceded this.

“First of all, I was not on the fence. I knew that if we went there, we would lose the filibuster. 51 votes it took. 51 votes to do away with the filibuster of the Supreme Court forever,” Feinstein said. “They had the votes and it was done away with.”

Following that was a question on the nominees put forward by the Trump administration and her commitment to vote against them.

“I have with Gorsuch, with Sessions, and I’ll continue to.”

The crowd applauded mainly in response to answers to questions that revolved around current or future policies; she proposed a bill to pose a tax on carbon and a wish to overturn Citizens United, in order to regulate campaign finance money and take corporate influence out of elections.

In the last of the twelve questions proposed in the town hall, she made a commitment to have more town halls in the future, at more accessible times and on the weekends.