Auchincloss Discusses Clean Energy, Gun Violence, and Mental Health At Virtual Round Table in Newton

Rep. Jake Auchincloss, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District, hosted a virtual roundtable with Newton residents on Tuesday. 

Auchincloss began the session by speaking about some of the congressional bills he has been involved in passing, including a climate action and clean energy bill and a bipartisan gun safety reform bill. 

“My first term in office was like aging in dog years in Washington, certainly I feel like I learned a lot,” Auchincloss said. “I was able to participate as your voice and vote in so much historic legislation.”

Internationally, Auchincloss said he hopes to continue to provide strong support for Ukraine and chart a long term path for U.S. competition with the Chinese Communist Party. 

“I’m a member of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the Chinese Communist Party and the United States,” Auchincloss said. “We really try to think long-term strategy on how this defining ideological contest in the 21st century can be to the benefit of the American people and to people the world over who seek freedom and democracy.”

Newton resident Fred Gross asked Auchincloss how he plans to bridge the steep partisan divide in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“I am one of the most proactive Democrats in the House and I think my colleagues would support me on this, in literally crossing over the aisle to spend time with Republicans,” Auchincloss said. 

He said this tactic helps him to build relationships in Congress, which allows him to serve his constituents more efficiently.

“I spend a huge amount of time just walking across the aisle, sometimes for very specific policy things for very specific people, but sometimes just to sit next to a Republican and ask them questions about their districts, or how they got to that job, because the currency of effectiveness in my role is relationships,” Auchincloss said. 

David Backer, a Newton resident, asked Auchincloss how he hopes to work against colleagues who oppose offshore wind development, such as Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who represents the 2nd Congressional District in New Jersey.

“He is such a headache,” Auchincloss said. “I am on a subcommittee with him, and I don’t know if an offshore wind turbine scared him as a kid or something but he hates offshore wind. We have a long roster of scientific evidence refuting the bogus claims he’s putting forward about the degradation that offshore wind turbines impose on marine ecosystems and I’m absolutely fit and fighting.”

Karen Sherman, a social worker who does school-based counseling at Boston Public Schools for the last four years, asked what can be done to increase mental health resources for students as a result of increasing gun safety issues. 

Auchincloss said this is a topic that is discussed at every roundtable he does, and he discussed the funding coming out of the American Rescue Plan as well as increasing remote mental health services as possible solutions. 

Tony Broh, a Brookline resident, asked Auchincloss about his pro-Israel stances, and how he hopes to stand up against Netanyahu’s recent political stances that endanger democracy. 

“I think that an independent judiciary is critical for the health of a democracy, and while it’s within Israel’s right as a self-governing entity to choose its own laws, anything that takes it away from an independent judiciary would be to me something that would undermine our shared democratic ideals,” Auchincloss said.

At the local level, Auchincloss said he is working with Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller on fully upgrading the Newton commuter rail stations in West Newton, Auburndale, and Newtonville. 

“I feel very strongly that those stations are not worthy of the city of Newton, or of the people who use them,” Auchincloss said. “They are not accessible, and they do not support either the housing that we want and are planning to build around the area, nor do they support the regional rail transportation network that the state envisions.”

April 16, 2023