Issues both local and global weighed on U.S. Rep. Jason Crow’s mind when he held an online and telephone town hall event to answer questions from the public.
Those issues included his concerns with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, an act Crow called “illegal and just atrocious.”
“One of the things we’ve seen with Putin’s (war) is how much we really rely on dictators and autocrats and strongmen around the world for our energy. It has to stop,” said Crow, who represents a large part of the south, east and north Denver metro area in Congress.
He was proud to support a bill that prevents the United States from purchasing Russian oil, he said.
On April 8, President Joe Biden signed the Ending Importation of Russian Oil Act, a law that prohibits the importation of energy products from the Russian Federation, along with another law that suspends normal trade relations with the Russian Federation, according to a White House news release.
During Crow’s April 25 town hall, the House member also discussed efforts to bolster U.S. manufacturing, fill health-care staff shortages for veterans and address concerns about anti-Asian racism.
Crow represents Colorado's 6th Congressional District, an area shaped like a backwards C, whose largest city is Aurora. The district also includes south metro suburbs such as Centennial, Littleton and Highlands Ranch, and to the north, Brighton and part of Thornton.
Here’s a look at what Crow, a Democrat of Centennial, said during the event and what bills he has been supporting.
One of the biggest problems the nation is facing regarding inflation is a “workforce shortage,” but supply chain issues also play a role, Crow said.
Microchips — a part used in making many types of electronic devices — are a product that the U.S. relies on Asia to provide, and a slowdown in production has caused economic problems, Crow said.
Some lawmakers want to “bring back manufacturing to the United States” with a proposal called the America COMPETES Act of 2022, Crow said.
Referred to in full as the Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength Act, the proposal aims to make new investments to accelerate U.S. production of semiconductor chips and “strengthen the supply chain to make more goods in America,” according to a summary provided by a spokesperson for Crow.
The bill would “re-onshore that manufacturing,” Crow said.
While it wouldn’t literally remove manufacturing jobs from other countries and replace them with jobs in the U.S., it would encourage more job creation in American manufacturing, according to Kaylin Dines, a spokesperson for Crow.
A member of the public asked Crow during the town hall about the health care system under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, known as the VA.
“As a veteran myself, this is something that I take very personally,” Crow said. He added: “One of the biggest issues right now with the VA is the lack of staff within the VA health care system.”
In May 2021, Crow was one of the members of Congress who introduced bipartisan legislation — the Veterans Improved Access to Care Act — to address hiring shortages in the VA, according to a news release.
The bill “would create pilot programs around the country to cut the red tape and speed up the hiring and onboarding of medical professionals,” Crow said during the town hall.
Another question centered on what a caller described as an economic gap experienced by minority-owned businesses.
Crow was among a bipartisan group of congressmembers in December 2020 who introduced the Next Generation Entrepreneur Corps Act, a proposal to spur new business and job creation in “underserved communities,” according to a news release.
The bill aims to identify talented entrepreneurs through a national competition and directly support the creation of more than 320 new businesses each year, the release on Crow’s website said.
“There’s nothing that will make our economy healthier, frankly, than making sure we’re growing small businesses but doing it in an equitable way and making sure everyone in our community can access that,” Crow said during the town hall.
A caller told Crow about an instance of anti-Asian racism they experienced at a grocery store and how it affected them. Crow pointed to an “anti-Asian hate surge” that the House member said stems from “irresponsible and hateful rhetoric” surrounding the origins of COVID-19.
Crow expressed support for a bill signed by Biden to attempt to address the issue of hate crimes.
“You can always count on me to stand up against hateful rhetoric,” Crow said.
Following overwhelming support from both chambers of Congress, Biden signed legislation in response to hate crimes that have occurred during the coronavirus pandemic — with emphasis on violence against Asian Americans, according to a National Public Radio story in May 2021.
The legislation — the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act — aims to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels by boosting public outreach and ensuring reporting resources are available online in multiple languages, according to NPR’s story.
The act also directs the Department of Justice to designate a person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and authorizes grants to state and local governments to conduct crime-reduction programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes, NPR reported.
An organization named Stop AAPI Hate has said it recorded 6,603 reports of hate incidents from March 2020 to March 2021, according to a summary report by the organization. “AAPI” is a term for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Of the selected couple dozen incidents for which Stop AAPI Hate included quotes in the summary report from people who experienced the incidents, several of them allegedly were related to mentions of COVID.
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