For an hour and a half last Wednesday evening, more than 60 residents of the 7th Congressional District filled the basement of the Forest Park Village Hall, sharing their thoughts and listening to Representative Danny Davis (D-7th) articulate his stance on the Affordable Care Act, president, courts system and more. 

Davis seemed to connect with most in the audience, partly because of the folksy, grand-fatherly vibe he sends out, and partly because he and the audience seemed to be on the same middle-left political page.

Regarding the marijuana legalization bill which, as of the Review’s print time was waiting on the desk of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Davis said he had “reservations” about the recreational use of pot. 

“There is no greater problem in this country” than substance abuse, he said, adding that he believes using cannabis can lead to that. He also worried about society’s need to feel good without knowing when to set a healthy guideline. 

Davis also brought along a one-page statement on the issue of impeaching President Donald Trump. He noted that the House of Representatives has the constitutional duty to oversee the Executive Branch and that “President Trump has repeatedly and blatantly attempted to defy the authority and thwart the oversight responsibilities of the House.” He said the House should proceed with its inquiry but be aware that the Senate will certainly not convict the president and that the impeachment process could very well have consequences unintended by the Democrats leading the charge. He said he would add his voice to those demanding to receive the full Mueller report on president Trump’s alleged dealings with Russia. 

“I used to think that whatever the law is, that’s how judges would make decisions,” he said, drawing a laugh from the audience. He said that to move anything forward in the federal government you need agreement in the House, Senate, Executive Branch and courts.    

In that sense, he said, judges have become part of the legislative process.

“The House is passing lots of good stuff,” he said, “but when it gets to the Senate it’s dead on arrival.”

Davis is also a co-sponsor of the bill now being proposed in the House which provides funding to “expand the trauma-informed workforce and increase resources for communities” trying to treat children who experience traumatic events like witnessing violence or living in fear of being abused.

He responded to a question about problems at the state Department of Child and Family Services by noting that DCFS is a state agency that is not directly his responsibility, but that he can give advice and work to get federal funding for its programs. Davis pointed out that the 7th District has the highest number of children not living with their parents in the state. He said that he is aware of “lapses” in the services DCFS provides, but added that the problem lies partly with parents not knowing how to be good parents.

Davis also acknowledged problems with the Affordable Care Act. As an example, he said that it sometimes places an unfair burden on small businesses. But, his bottom line is that 20 million people who had no insurance now have it and that pre-existing conditions no longer prevent people from being insured.

He also noted that he’s been an advocate for single-payer health care for 40 years. 

“In that regard, you could call me a socialist,” he said, adding: “But you’ve gotta find a way to pay for it.”

Several people in the audience also asked Davis where he stood on the issues of sanctuary cities and the separation of families.  

“We are the richest nation on earth,” he began, “and there are people in Latin America making $4.70 a day—not an hour but a day.”  

Davis said the money used to keep people out of the U.S. should be spent instead on placing many more immigration judges by the border, so as to more quickly process claims for asylum.  

“There are some African Americans who claim that immigrants will take jobs away from low income people. I don’t agree,” he said.