Perspectives from a liberal and a conservative

Pro & Con: Lois Capps knows how to get things done

May 25, 2014 

Zaf Iqbal

JOE JOHNSTON — The Tribune

  • Editor's note:

    Democrat Zaf Iqbal and Republican John Peschong write monthly about issues of local, state and national importance. If you have comments or suggested topics for future columns, email letters@thetribunenews.com.

The issue: Should voters return Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, to Congress?

Click to read a conservative's perspective »

A liberal's perspective:

Since 1998, Congresswoman Lois Capps has been an effective representative of the district that includes San Luis Obispo County. Her legislative accomplishments have benefited our community and the country in multiple areas.

The current Congress has earned the dubious honor of being the most unproductive in the history of our country because of the Republican Party’s hijacking by its bullying Tea Party faction. Their rabid tactics and intransigence, which put ideology above public good, has resulted in acrimonious polarization. Despite this, Congresswoman Capps was able to cross the aisle; the meager 55 bills passed by this Congress include two authored by Rep. Capps and sponsored by a Republican colleague.

Some of Congresswoman Capps’ accomplishments include:

  • Recently introducing with a colleague the Caring for America’s Heroes Act, a bill that would increase access to quality mental health treatments for military retirees and military family members. Currently, 22 veterans die by suicide daily.
  • Introducing the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act for expanding wilderness in Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, as well as adding 158 miles of new wild and scenic rivers.
  • Helping to obtain funding to rebuild Highway 46.
  • Supporting inclusion of organic and specialty crops in the bipartisan farm bill passed this year.
  • Working with a Republican colleague to pass legislation making the Los Osos Watershed Project eligible for federal funding.
  • Securing research funds to eradicate Pierce’s disease.
  • Promoting environmentally sustainable vineyard practices.
  • Obtaining federal funds for building Cal Poly Technology Park that offers numerous advantages to the participating companies, the community and the university.

Rep. Capps has made economic growth and job creation her top priorities in Congress. She strongly supports government investment in high technology research and development, transportation, telecommunications, clean energy, education and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. Rep. Capps believes in growth of small businesses by increasing their access to credit and reducing unnecessary regulations.

Congresswoman Capps is committed to rebuilding crumbling infrastructure — that involves improving roads, bridges and waterways, resulting in creation of high-wage construction jobs.

Congresswoman Capps’ priorities on immigration include creating a pathway to citizenship by allowing meritorious and productive people to become members of our society, and keeping families together. She was the original co-sponsor of the Reuniting Families Act to reduce family immigration visa backlogs to unify families.

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill last year. Congresswoman Capps co-sponsored a House version based on the bill passed by the Senate. The Republican majority in the House has chosen not to act solely for political reasons. Consequently, the bill has never been brought up for a vote, despite the fact that, according to a report by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, 63 percent Americans favor legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. A research report by the Congressional Budget Office in March concluded that the House bill, modeled after the Senate bill, would reduce the federal deficit by approximately $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Civility seems to be a scarce commodity in the capital these days. An obscure congressman boorishly yelled at president of the United States during the State of the Union address, calling him a “liar.” The speaker of the House expressed his disdain for the Senate majority leader by uttering an obscenity when they ran into each other in the White House.

By contrast, Washingtonian magazine’s “Best and Worst of Congress” poll of congressional staffers named Capps as “the nicest member of Congress.” One wishes, for the country’s sake, that others in Congress would emulate her. Restoration of civility would be the first step toward ending constant bickering and, hopefully, end the gridlock. After all, didn’t people elect members of the Congress to serve by doing what is good for the country? Surely, it is not too much to ask.

Zaf Iqbal is past associate dean and professor emeritus of accounting at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. He volunteers with local nonprofits, including Wilshire Hospice and Caring Callers. He is past president of the San Luis Obispo Democratic Club.

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