Decisions on Syria, U.S. budget, await returning legislators

Congressmember and La Jollan Scott Peters (D-52nd)

By Pat Sherman

During the home stretch of Congressional representatives’ August recess, La Jolla resident and Congressmember Scott Peters (D-52nd) spoke with La Jolla Light about his focus upon returning to Washington this week.

At the top of his to-do list will be a briefing on the situation in Syria (Last Friday, a “war-weary” President Obama said that while the U.S. should hold Syria accountable for a chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed more than 1,400 of its own citizens, he is leaning toward a limited response).

“People are horrified by the notion that a government might be gassing its own children to death — and that’s something that deserves serious attention,” Peters said, adding that, if the United States gets involved, it should “not act unilaterally.”

“I don’t think it would be appropriate to go it alone,” Peters said. “To the extent that we (take) any action we have to be absolutely certain that it is the government that’s using chemical weapons. We also want to be certain what the mission is and how we exit.

“I suspect that people, like me, while they’re concerned about the situation, have a lot of questions about what the objective would be and what success would look like if we were to take any kind of action. … I don’t think anyone’s proposing an extended boots-on-the ground kind of campaign.”

Peters and his colleagues will also grapple with the budget and sequestration, hoping to broker a compromise between the House and Senate.

“So far the House leadership has refused to appoint negotiators,” Peters said. “I don’t expect to be appointed a negotiator as a freshman, but I think one of us could put together a deal that would make sense and end the sequester.”

Congress will also revisit the Senate immigration reform bill.

“It’s not perfect,” Peters said, “but it would do a lot for San Diego and for California. I’d love to see (us have) a chance to talk about that. … I think the Senate gave us something that we can work with.”

Then there’s the student loan rate compromise Congress struck this year (a previous deal would have fixed the student loan rate at 6.8 percent after a temporary reprieve rate of 3.4 percent had expired).

“I, along with a lot of people, thought that that was awful high,” said Peters, who himself made his way through college on student loans. “The (recent) compromise was that loans will be able to increase with market rates, but within certain constraints, so families would be able to plan for their kids’ education without facing drastic changes in the rates and payments.

“For my part, I think we are underemphasizing the affordability of college,” Peters added.

“Part of it is trying to hold down increases in costs at colleges and universities, which has exceeded the rate of inflation. I’d love to see us take that up as part of our budget negotiations, but have a bigger discussion about how to make sure that college is affordable for every American kid who qualifies.”

The former two-term San Diego City Councilmember said he was saddened by the sexual harassment scandal that led to last month’s resignation of Mayor Bob Filner (he reportedly left a phone message for Filner early on, asking him to resign with a modicum of dignity).

“Clearly, I think everyone wished he’d called me back,” Peter said, while expressing his confidence in the city’s newly appointed chief operating officer, Walt Ekard, and Interim Mayor Todd Gloria.

Peters said he’s weighing the field of potential mayoral contenders in the upcoming special election.

“I expect to be engaged in helping to find the right mayor,” he said. “It’s important for the city and I’ll probably get involved with a candidate in the next couple of weeks.”

Though former city councilmember Carl DeMaio was considering dropping his intended challenge of Peters’ congressional seat to run for mayor (he made it to the general election in last year’s mayoral race) DeMaio announced Sept. 3 that he will instead remain in the race for Congress (Republicans are backing Councilmember Kevin Faulconer in the Nov. 19 mayoral special election).

At press time, asked if Peters would rather see DeMaio challenge him, or vie to take San Diego’s mayoral reins, Peters chuckled, “I’m enjoying watching him go back and forth like everybody else.”

Peters said he is sticking by his campaign promise to be a public servant who builds bridges, and eschews hard-line partisanship.

“I’m the fourth most independent Democrat, according to the National Journal,” Peters said.

“We take for granted the California culture of collaboration and cooperation,” he said. “It’s very common for us to sit around the table and figure out problems without regard to rank or hierarchy.

“When you go to Washington, D.C. you really notice how they could really use a dose of our leadership style … (being) less worried about what your title is than what your idea is.”

Related posts:

  1. Scott Peters to host open house at new district office near La Jolla Feb. 16
  2. Mayoral candidates debate in La Jolla
  3. Election 2012: Congress 52nd District
  4. Election 2012: Who is John Subka?
  5. Election 2012: Who are Wayne Iverson and John Stahl?

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Posted by Pat Sherman on Sep 4, 2013. Filed under La Jolla, News, Region. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “Decisions on Syria, U.S. budget, await returning legislators”

  1. Bernard King

    Pat, I wish that you would have asked Mr. Peters why he voted against the bipartisan Amash-Conyers amendment to end the NSA’s domestic spying program that collects the phone records of every single American. No Congressman that voted to continue that program should be re-elected.

  2. John

    i don’t buy into the “we need to do this to maintain norms against the use of WMD” thing that they’re pushing in the press conferences. every single bomb is a WMD and we drop those all over the world like they’re water balloons.

    we’re the only country to have detonated a nuclear weapon in a war, let alone on a civilian population, and there is a special irony in the nation that dropped napalm and agent orange on civilians in indochina lecturing others on the use of non-artillery weapons.

    it makes no sense that we don’t care about the first 100,000 dead in syria, or whatever the number is, because they died with bullets and bombs but we all of a sudden magically care because a thousand people supposedly died from chemicals. to me, dead is dead. don’t risk the lives of young Americans to keep President Obama from having to do the hard work of diplomacy. bombs don’t solve anything.

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