Brandon Kamerman sat down with Congresswoman Val Hoyle to discuss her goals and priorities for Oregon's 4th district.
Brandon Kamerman, KVAL news: Well, you were here first as a candidate for Congress, then you were here as congresswoman elect. Now, we can officially welcome you back to our studio as Congresswoman Val Hoyle. Thanks for coming back up.
Val Hoyle - U.S. House of Representatives, Oregon's 4th Congressional District: Well, thanks for having me. It's exciting.
It's it's been a very exciting that may be one word to describe how the start of your congressional career has gone. I spoke with Peter DeFazio last month when he was still congressman, and he said if he could talk to himself 36 years before freshman Congressman Peter DeFazio, he said the one thing he would say is beware of all the travel.
And so in your first week, well, I guess two months since you were elected. How much have you been to Washington and back to Oregon?
VH: I think I've made six trips because the campaign was on the Tuesday, November 3rd, and that Sunday I had to go to D.C. for orientation and come back for Thanksgiving. So it's been six times and this is one of the longest trips in the contiguous United States, although I have colleagues from Alaska and Hawaii who, you know, I don't I don't complain too loud.
And, you know, we also have colleagues who get to go home at night. And that's you know, but that's part of that's just part of the job.
Is it something that Congressman DeFazio had mentioned to you? I mean, over in aware.
VH: Congressman DeFazio did say that was one of the hardest things, is you have to spend so much time on a plane. But you can get work done and read things. And I use the time well, as did he.
Hopefully you are okay being on a plane. I know some people don't like it, so you spend a lot of time. But it was an unusual start to your congressional career. 15 votes to elect a speaker and you had to wait for Kevin McCarthy to finally get the votes before you could actually be sworn in as congresswoman. Doesn't set a great example for the 118th Congress.
How does this play out? How did you view that chaos?
VH: I it was it was bizarre, but I felt like it was embarrassing for the institution. We had the 117th Congress ended and that day, the 118th Congress should have started and we should have sworn in a speaker. We didn't have a Congress for four days, four and a half days, because Kevin McCarthy decided that, A, he wanted to be speaker more than anything else.
VH: So he continued to embarrass and debase himself by giving away the power of the speakership because he wanted that title. And instead of coming to us and working with us like I think the American people wanted, because they were clear on both sides saying, stop the crazy. What he did was he went to the most extreme members of his caucus, people to the right of Marjorie Taylor Greene and decided those were the people he wanted to negotiate with.
VH: Those are the people he wanted to give power to in order for him to get the name of speaker. So we got sworn in Saturday at 1:30 in the morning after 15 votes. And I really wish we'd have been like Oregon when in 2010 we were tied. So we had a Republican and Democratic speaker who worked together like Ohio, just did they?
VH: Democrats came together to elect a moderate Republican with the Republicans to actually focus on governing and who knows how long he'll be a speaker, because one of the things he gave the extreme wing of his party was the right to call for a speaker vote at any time. But I really spent the time on the floor talking to colleagues on both sides of the aisle to figure out how we could work together, because I know that's what people sent me there to do to get work done.
And it's it's largely a split Congress, you know, I mean, it's very close. Obviously, Republicans have the majority, but it's closer than maybe a lot of people expected before the election. We're going to get into how to deal with this divisive situation that you are walking into. But we're already seeing some of the turmoil and some of the chaos.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's warned about the consequences of hitting the debt limit this week and that it could become catastrophic by June.
VH: Catastrophic for the world economy. It will crash the world economy and the debt ceiling didn't used to be something that was politicized. And let's let's be clear. The debt ceiling is being raised to pay for things that we've already bought. So this is just about paying our bills and why this kind of brinksmanship and this kind of polarization of our, you know, of the debt ceiling in our economy, we're literally putting the world economy at risk.
VH: And you've got a group of people that are more interested in crashing the economy so they can blame President Biden and the Democrats than actually making sure that, you know, business is will be strong. People can get to work and Americans can do what they ran on, addressing inflation, making the economy better. And they're literally doing the opposite.
VH: Again, this is not what people sent us there to do. But there are some Republicans that have said that they want to work to make sure that we address this, but will have our credit rating downgraded again, which will cost the American taxpayers more money. And that is not what I was sent there to do.
And House Republicans have said that they want spending cuts. They want some concessions from Democrats in order to raise the debt ceiling. Is that something that they can ask for? Is that something that Democrats will be willing to negotiate with them.
VH: So they can ask for many things and they put it out as if it's reasonable. But the things that they're asking for is to privatize our Social Security system. That is not something that's supported by the vast majority of people that they want to, you know, undermine our ability to have a military that is ready to defend our shores.
VH: Not something I'm willing to do. They want to pick and choose programs that, again, they do or don't like, for instance, the IRS, where they want, you know, millionaire tax cheats to be able to get off scot free while the rest of us. Right. Have to pay our taxes. Those kinds of things we're not willing to negotiate on.
VH: But fundamentally, this is paying for things we already bought, right? So you got to pay your bills. I have to pay my bills. You have to pay your bills. The United States needs to pay their bills. Going forward. We can actually talk about decreasing spending. And I would love to do that. I think government should we should look at the tax dollars and how they're spent, spend them efficiently on the best return on investment for the American people.
VH: You know, but that's something going forward right now, we have to pay our bills. And I don't want to see us go into a recession or depression because someone wants to play politics. And that's that's just fundamentally wrong.
You do mention, though, about going forward being in the House minority. What are your goals and priority and what do you think can get done for the 4th Congressional District?
VH: So there are a number of things. And again, I've talked with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. There's a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, and we've talked about how do we support rural public safety and mental health services right in rural communities, working with law enforcement and working with, you know, again, the safety net for mental health services.
VH: We can do that. Building the Port of Coos Bay, the company Northpoint that is building the Port of Coos Bay is based in Republican Sam Graves district in Indiana. He is the incoming chair of Transportation and Infrastructure. I would love to serve on that committee much the way Peter DeFazio did. And he said to me, because I had a lot of time to talk to people on the floor during the 15 votes, and he said, look, this committee, my committee, the transportation infrastructure under Peter DeFazio, is one of the committees that still works together in a bipartisan manner.
VH: So fixing bridges, fixing roads, fixing the 42nd Street levee or, you know, the earthen dam, a new port or building a intermodal container port, those are things that are not partisan. Those are things that I think I'd like to work on. And I know that we can get done. But I will point out that Democrats had a four seat majority, much the same as the Republicans have now.
VH: We passed some of the most transformational big legislation since the New Deal, right? Over 900 pieces of legislation, Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, right, the Inflation Reduction Act. It's so many other things Republicans haven't even been able to. They barely elected a speaker. So I just want to point out, I'm there to govern. I will work with anybody to get things done for the 4th Congressional District.
VH: But fundamentally, I, I question the leadership of Kevin McCarthy in that he was willing to give away all of his power to the most extreme, extreme people in his caucus. Again, the people to the right of Marjorie Taylor Greene.
One of the issues that we hear a lot about from people in the 4th Congressional District is homelessness, which is something that is being addressed at so many different levels, whether it be from the county, from the city, from the state, and even from the federal level. President Biden has said he wants to cut homelessness by 25% by 2025.
That would seemingly require help from Congress. What will be your priorities to help Oregonians address the crisis of the House?
VH: Right. I think that's one of the first things that Tina Kotek did as governor was declared homelessness an emergency. And homelessness looks different in Eugene and Springfield than it does in Coos County or Curry County. So, you know, we have to address the issue in the way that reflects the needs and the resources in the community. So whether it's expanding the use of Section 8 housing vouchers, working with the state, city, county and federal government to make sure that we can invest in programs that work for those for those communities.
VH: I think it's important working with HUD to see what we can do. And fundamentally, we need to build more housing stock. For instance, if we build the port of Coos Bay, that will be 9000 jobs in Coos, Douglas and Lane County. We need to house those people. So I think we need to expand our use of apprenticeship, bring more people into the trades, build more housing stock, and again, make sure that we're using our resources.
VH: Well, I'm very proud of the work that we've done in the 4th Congressional District within the six counties, and I'm looking forward to working with the local local groups and the state to be a federal partner.
I don't mean to hammer in the idea of how the Congress is working, but I think a lot of people see it, and it can be frustrating for a lot of people. Voters, it is a split Congress and that inevitably comes with either negotiation or stalemate. What will you do to push for negotiation so that things can get done and we can avoid inaction?
VH: So my my reputation is someone who's I'm a Democrat, I'm a strong Democrat, and my reputation is someone that will work across the aisle to get things done without compromising my principles. And I said that as a candidate. It's what I did as labor commissioner. It's what I did in the House of Representatives. It's what I did as a union member.
VH: And when I worked in business. So the first thing that I did in Congress was use the time while we were on the floor to start getting to know and building relationships with my colleagues, with you talked with Lori DeRemer might have seen us. We were out there on the floor during in between the multitude of votes for speaker with Cliff Vance.
VH: We worked together in the legislature and then I got to know different people again, going to Sam Graves, the chair of Transportation infrastructure, to say, how can we work together? And he was there. People were very open to that. And I think in D.C., part of the problem is you get to see people who are on your committee.
VH: You get to see people in your particular caucus, which is, you know, maybe they're Democrats or Republicans. You don't actually get to talk with or visit with people who do things that are different than you. So I'm going to make a concerted effort to do that. And again, I know what my priorities are. They're the priorities of the people of this district, and I'll work with anyone to get them done.
Now, one of the priorities of House Republicans has been to investigate oversight. They've said this of the President, of Democrats, of the FBI. How to you view this? They will claim it's a double-standard, for instance, this classified documents situation that there's an investigation into former President Trump's handling of classified documents, and they say, well, there should be an investigation into President Biden's handling.
Is this a double standard? Is this something that's fair from their perspective to look into this?
VH: So I think in terms of classified documents, we should have a standard way that we make sure that we track classified documents. There is an investigation into the documents that President Biden had. I will note that there is a difference which this whole both sides well, this is exactly the same. President Biden, they found some documents. He handed them over and alerted the agency that was responsible for it.
VH: And now there's an investigation. He cooperated every step of the way and was transparent. Former President Trump actively took documents, knew he took documents, proactively did that, and then wouldn't cooperate with the agencies that were trying to get them back, had them in a closet for, you know, many people to have access to. And then when they asked for him back, wouldn't cooperate and then didn't turn over everything that is different.
VH: It is. It is different in terms of the volume. It is different in terms of the intent. But we all need to have every federal document with classified information. We need to keep track of those better. So we should have standards. I think there should be investigations. But, you know, when you look at the George Santos's of the world, right, when you look at people who literally tried to overturn our government and a free and fair election versus people who were private citizens, and we're going to investigate them or, you know, again, it just bringing up these conspiracy theories, whether it's about election fraud or about the coronavirus being real, I can assure you it is real.
VH: So I am concerned because when I look at who's on homeland security, the Republicans have put again, the most extreme people in their party who's on oversight. I think that the American people in this election, the reason that that Republicans didn't get more seats was people were people the American people were sick of the extremism and the craziness.
VH: And they said, stop, we want our government to work. So for them to go do that, focus on investigations, focus on anti choice, you know, bills, right in the first week, things they said they wouldn't do. I think it shows that they're not there to govern. They said they wanted to deal with inflation. They said they wanted to deal with the economy.
VH: Well, then let's do that. That's not what they're doing. So they said one thing in the election, in the campaign, they're doing a different thing now that they're there. And I'm going to look to find the people that actually want to get work done.
Congresswoman Val Hoyle, thank you so much for taking. All right. Thank you. Hope to have you back soon.
VH: All right. Hey, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.