U.S. Sen. Bob Casey visited the Lehigh Valley late Wednesday afternoon, holding a town hall meeting at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem.
Northampton County, roughly 60 miles north of Philadelphia, swung for President Donald Trump in 2016 after supporting President Barack Obama four years earlier. Casey, a Democrat, received a friendly audience at the community college’s Lipkin Theatre, where he fielded questions for more than an hour.
The three-term senator fielded questions on several topics, including Medicare for All, the Electoral College, election security, transportation infrastructure, the environment and the potential for impeaching Trump. On the latter subject, he even held up his notated copy of the Mueller report and read a brief section of it.
“The House, I know, is wrestling with this,” Casey told crowd. “There's a substantial number, I don't know the exact number now, of House Democrats in favor, and I can understand why they have reached that conclusion among themselves, those who have made that decision."
Regarding the environment, Casey told the crowd they need to keep talking about climate change and how the threatens the country. Not just through environmental changes here, but he also noted that environmental changes that lead to food insecurity could spawn new terror threats.
Casey told the crowd he’d keep fighting on the issue, but he added the next critical step takes place next year.
“The most important result we have to achieve is, we have to get it right, the 2020 presidential election,” he said.
Casey also took a question on gun control, in which he spoke on the subject for more than seven minutes. He said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote on a universal background check bill that passed the House earlier this year. However, he said he feared that McConnell or other Republicans may try to water down the bill, especially since he said the president has backed off on initial comments he made about background checks.
“What the what the majority leader should do to give this issue the kind of debate and the number of votes that it warrants is schedule time for debate and voting on a whole series of other matters for other measures, like a ban on the military-style assault weapons,” he said.
Earlier this month, McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told a Louisville radio host that he’s pressed three committee chairmen to engage Democrats in discussions that hopefully can lead to something being passed. But that will take 60 yes votes in the Senate.
“We’re going to begin the discussions during the August break and when we get back (in September), hopefully we’ll be in a position to agree on things on a bipartisan basis and go forward and make a law,” McConnell told WHAS-AM’s Terry Meiners.
Other gun control measures that should be brought up include the ban on sales to anyone on the federal terror watchlist, also known as “no fly, no buy,” and closing the loophole that allows gun sales to go through because the timeframe to complete a background check expired.
Casey rejected viewpoints that claim no gun control law can reduce mass shootings.
“America doesn’t surrender to a problem,” he said. “We didn’t have that point of view when we had other crises or when we’re confronting an enemy. We came together as a family and said, ‘This is a problem.’ In this case, a uniquely American problem of gun violence at epidemic levels that no country in the history of the world has ever seen. We can come together as Americans and fight back against it. We will not surrender. We should never surrender to the scourge of gun violence.”