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U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer discusses redistricting, spending cuts

During a recent visit to Willamette University, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., told law students he has introduced legislation that would create a national independent redistricting commission to draw congressional districts every decade.

“I find it offensive that we have politicians picking their voters rather than voters picking their politicians,” he said.

“Ensuring a measure of political competition is healthy,” Blumenauer told members of professor Norman Williams’s election law class. “Having districts drawn to marginalize participation of independents and minority parties — and insulate incumbents — could overturn grotesquely gerrymandered districts.”

Blumenauer was in Salem to talk to the Democratic caucus of the Oregon Senate, which meets across the street from the law school. He is headed back to Washington, D.C. to deal with $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts slated to go into effect March 1 unless Congress agrees to delay or change the cuts.

He also is working with Republicans to “rationalize policy on marijuana” and said universal background checks for prospective gun owners and restricting the size of magazines are some “common sense solutions” to gun violence.

“It’s fascinating to contemplate how we got to the point where everything is a crisis,” Blumenauer said of the spending cuts. “The long-term solution is to raise revenue. We pay less in support for government than people in 31 countries.”

Students asked Blumenauer about changes to the filibuster system, corporate personhood and immigration reform.

He said Congress likely will pass some version of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), which would provide conditional residency to certain illegal aliens who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country before the bill’s enactment.

“I think the business community realizes this can’t be hand-to-hand political combat,” Blumenauer said. “Hopefully we will get a more comprehensive deal.”



02-22-2013