Dan Newhouse discusses issues on Othello visit

Staff Writer | August 20, 2020 8:00 PM

OTHELLO — Representative Dan Newhouse said he does see a possibility for bipartisan action in Congress to help undocumented young people brought to the United States when they were children. Newhouse said what he called a “window of opportunity” may exist following the 2020 presidential election.

Newhouse, Washington’s Fourth District representative in the U.S. Congress, was in Othello for an interview with Daniel Garza, president of the Libre Initiative. The Libre Initiative promotes limited government and free markets to help the Hispanic community maximize opportunity, according to its website.

Newhouse said a bipartisan solution is the only way to get lasting reform, and he didn’t see any opportunity for that solution prior to the election. A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited the administration of President Donald Trump from ending a program that provided a temporary solution for people who qualified.

That ruling took away any urgency from the issue, Newhouse said, and in his experience it’s hard to get Congress to act without that sense of urgency.

“We’re past due on this one,” Newhouse said.

Questions of immigration status affect more than the people covered by the current executive orders, Garza said. He asked about legislative solutions for them.

Newhouse said it’s easy to see the dimensions of the issue while living in Central Washington, but it’s not so easy for other members of Congress. He urged people in other parts of the country to contact their members of Congress and talk to them about immigration and the importance of the issue.

Garza asked about the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and how those restrictions have added more barriers to mobility for Hispanics, especially when it comes to health care, and to making a living.

Newhouse said the pandemic has proved just as difficult a challenge for Congress as for ordinary Americans.

“There’s limitations here. Every solution we’ve tried to come up with has some challenges within it,” he said.

But Congress has been working to remove some of those barriers, he said, citing the changes to regulations around telemedicine. “I think everybody has seen the tremendous advantages, being able to reach out to more people,” he said.

Congress is working on ways to support telemedicine, which can be an important tool especially in rural areas, Newhouse said. “But we’ve identified some challenges, even with that solution, and one of those challenges is broadband capability,” he said. “Not everyone has great internet access.” Internet connectivity also affects education, he said.

Garza asked about small businesses. Hispanics have been starting businesses at a much higher rate than other groups, but the outbreak has done a lot of damage to small business, Garza said.

Newhouse agreed there will be damage to small business. “What we’ve done in Congress is try to provide some resources for businesses, give them a bridge over this pandemic until we get to the other side,” he said. But the ultimate solution will be reopening the economy, he said.

“That’s why I think we need to do all we can to open up the economy as fast as we can,” he said. People in the audience were wearing masks, and Newhouse said that was one way people could help stop the spread of the disease.