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Congresswoman Underwood Hosts First Town Halls

Sarah Jesmer
DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith asks Congresswoman Lauren Underwood her thoughts about potential legalization of cannabis in Illinois and the state's minimum wage increase.

Freshman Representative Lauren Underwood (D-14) held a series of town halls throughout her district. She fielded questions about health care, climate change and border security at her last stop in Sycamore.

Congresswoman Underwood answered questions from a crowd of nearly 150 people at a DeKalb County high school Tuesday night.

Underwood sits on the Committee of Homeland Security. She said President Trump’s emergency declaration to bypass Congress for funding for a border wall is unconstitutional.

“I have significant, significant concerns with that approach,” she said.


Underwood stressed that border security is important. She also said she suspects some federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security have been withholding records about families split up at the border.

“There are records. We just need to make sure they get into the hands of the folks in charge of the reunification,” said Underwood.

Underwood said she’s preparing for a March hearing when Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will testify in front of the committee.

The former nurse also weighed in on opioid addiction and access to health insurance. She said she wants to help direct funding to curb opioid abuse. Underwood says there needs to be a redistribution of federal dollars to counties given grants to combat addiction. She says funding is disproportionately given to communities with hospitals when counties without those health  facilities need extra help.

“And if we’re going to be offering resources to communities to help move people into treatment and recovery, those resources need to be offered to every community,” she said.

Underwood said opioid addiction prevention must be paired with better access to mental health care. She also spoke about legislation she’s co-sponsoring, like the FAMILY Act, which would create a form of paid time off for families with a new child.