Impeachment, Obamacare and water storage - here’s what Cox had to say at town hall

Rep. TJ Cox walked a political tightrope Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Sanger where the freshman Democrat fielded questions ranging from impeachment and taxes to healthcare and water infrastructure.

Cox , D-Fresno, is gearing up for a rematch with former Rep. David Valadao, the Republican Cox narrowly unseated in 2018. He’s been identified as one of the most vulnerable Democrats heading into 2020.

Tuesday night’s town hall in Sanger was his third such meeting in the district since taking office, keeping him on track to fulfill a campaign promise to host at least one each quarter.

While Cox opened the meeting discussing improvements to programs for veterans, he was quickly forced to pivot to national politics and answer a question about impeachment: “Suppose the House and Senate dump Trump. Would the House accept Pence as President?”

With Congress in recess this week, Cox said he hasn’t heard much concern in his district about impeachment. Seeking some middle ground on the polarizing issue, Cox repeated his stance, saying he “didn’t go to Washington to impeach a president” and also said he believes former Vice President Joe Biden has “been exonerated by anybody who matters.”

He said he wants to see where the facts of the impeachment inquiry lead, and if President Donald Trump “quits,” the Constitution determines Vice President Mike Pence will “step up.”

Cox said he hopes to introduce a bill that would provide money for water storage and conveyance. He also discussed the need for infrastructure improvements in rural communities such as San Joaquin and Delano where drinking water is contaminated.

Cox also said he and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, are crunching numbers to determine whether the San Joaquin Valley is receiving its fair share of federal investments.

He spent a lot of time talking about the Affordable Care Act and how it has benefited people in his district — the number of uninsured people was slashed by two-thirds, he said. He acknowledged that for some, the cost of healthcare has increased. To fix that, the ACA needs to be stabilized, he said, noting the Trump administration is suing to scrap the ACA altogether.

Related stories from Fresno Bee

Brianna Calix covers politics and investigations for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable and shine a light on issues that deeply affect residents’ lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State.