Auchincloss reflects on a first year in Congress unlike most any other

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS, the newest member of the state’s congressional delegation, is finishing his first year in the House. To say it’s been a tumultuous initiation to Congress would be an understatement. His first days in office saw a mob-led insurrection in the Capitol building, and he faced a vote soon after on impeachment of a sitting president. 

Auchincloss, a 33-year-old Newton Democrat who won the seat vacated by Joe Kennedy, says on The Codcast that the jarring events of his early days in office have cast into sharp relief the natural tension that exists between staying true to the values of the constituents you represent while also working to advance their priorities.  

“I think I knew heading in that it was going to be a volatile year,” he said. “I think I knew heading in that Trump’s hold on the [Republican] party was not going to slip away. But I still have been surprised by how many Republicans were willing to vote to decertify the election results. That, to me, standing in the House chamber on January 6, literally on top of broken glass and watching Republicans stand up and object to Arizona and Pennsylvania, is a moment that’s just never going to leave me for its demonstration of political cowardice and for reflecting the exact opposite of the ideal of country before self.” 

Auchincloss decided that the values he represents mean not working with any of the 139 Republican House members who voted against certifying a fairly conducted election. At the same time, he said, working to advance priorities of importance to his district means trying to find common ground with other Republicans where he can. “If you voted the right way on January 6, even if we may disagree on a number of other things, we will roll up our sleeves in good faith and, and try to find solutions [with you],” he said. “And that’s kind of the dividing line I’ve drawn.”

Auchincloss is a vocal supporter of President Biden, and he has repeatedly expressed optimism that the president’s sweeping social safety net and climate bill – dubbed Build Back Better – will ultimately pass, a view he continues to hold even after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin effectively killed the bill in its present form. 

“I’m confident that a number of the priorities embedded in Build Back Better will pass,” he said, citing its three key pillars of lowering health care costs, the child care tax credit, and tackling climate change.

Though he pointed out that Republicans uniformly vowed to oppose the bill before even seeing it, Auchincloss has been willing to engage conservative thinkers, making regular appearances to offer a Democratic viewpoint on Fox News. 

“I think Pete Buttigieg modeled this effectively during his campaign for president,” he said of Buttigieg’s willingness to spar with Fox interviewers. “We need to talk to each other as a country. And if we cast aspersions on the motives and the character of anybody who disagrees with us on any issue, we are going to continue into this vortex of mutual distrust and polarization and acrimony.”

Auchincloss, a moderate in the nine-way Democratic primary in the Fourth Congressional District, which reaches from Newton and Brookline all the way south to Fall River, won the nomination with just 22 percent of the vote. That immediately led to speculation that he could face a more liberal primary challenger when making his first reelection bid. A first-time candidate, Emily Burns, has declared she’ll make a Republican run for the seat next year, but no Democratic challengers have yet emerged. 

Asked if he thinks he’ll face a Democratic primary challenge, Auchincloss said, “I don’t know and, frankly, I’m not spending a lot of time dwelling on that. I’m going to be judged by my job performance in November, and I am confident that I have done a good job and that I can communicate what we’ve done to voters.” 

He may not be dwelling a lot on a possible primary challenge, but he’s certainly been working hard to be ready for it – or perhaps even try to short-circuit such a move – by bankrolling $1.9 million in his campaign account as of the end of September. Auchincloss has also formed both a federal and state-level PAC, raising money to spend helping fellow Democrats in congressional races around the country and in contests for state legislative seats in his district. 

MICHAEL JONAS

FROM COMMONWEALTH

Housing assistance reduction: With its housing assistance money running short, Massachusetts starts scaling back spending to make the funds last longer. Some housing advocates say the approach is wrong given the COVID surge. “This is not the time for families, households, elders, to be experiencing additional housing instability in the midst of the ongoing public health crisis,” said Kelly Turley, associate director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. Read more.

Hall eyeing DA run: Rahsaan Hall, director of the racial justice program for the ACLU of Massachusetts, says he is considering a Democratic run for Plymouth County district attorney against incumbent Timothy Cruz, a Republican. Read more.

OPINION

Show some compassion: Douglas S. Brown, a health care executive at UMass Memorial Health in Worcester, learns firsthand the value of compassion in medicine after suffering a terrible fall just prior to his father’s funeral. Read more.

Make unvaccinated pay: Hayward Zwerling has an idea for increasing vaccinations and boosters – assess a $500 tax surcharge on the unvaccinated and a $500 tax break on the vaccinated. Read more.

More care at home: Home is where more health care should be provided, says Jane Pike-Benton, the chief operating officer of VNA Care. Read more.

Retaining teachers of color: Ralph Saint-Louis, a biology and chemistry teacher at Lowell Public High School, says affinity groups are a way to retain teachers of color. Read more.

 

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

Attorney General Maura Healey, who is weighing a run for governor, has a mixed record when it comes to prosecuting public corruption cases. (Boston Globe

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Big changes are coming to the face of Lowell city government, where three Cambodian-Americans will take office as city councilors next month as will the first Black woman elected of municipal government when Stacey Thompson takes a seat on the school committee. (Boston Globe)

Springfield and Chicopee ban gas stations from selling gas to illegal dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles (and Holyoke may soon follow), part of a regional crackdown on the vehicles that residents say are ridden loudly and dangerously. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Boston hospitals are on an “unsustainable” trajectory of rising COVID admissions, says a Brigham and Women’s Hospital ER physician. (Boston Herald)

A proposal heading toward the 2022 ballot seeks to improve dental insurance coverage by requiring insurers to spend at least 83 percent of their revenues on dental costs rather than administrative expenses, a similar standard to one that already applies to health insurers. (Gloucester Daily Times)

City and state officials hope a pop-up community of 17 “sleeping cabins” on the grounds of the Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain will be part of the solution to the tent encampment they are trying to dismantle at Mass. and Cass. (Boston Globe

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A state tax deduction for charitable donations, which voters approved in a 2000 ballot question and was supposed to finally go into effect this year, is delayed again by the Legislature. (Salem News)

Some companies are going remote permanently. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

On the 50th anniversary of the Red Line coming to Quincy, the Patriot Ledger looks back at five decades of train service and how it changed the city. 

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Cape Cod Times explains how researchers discovered why right whales abandoned the Gulf of Maine and where they ended up. 

Two initiatives that could reduce energy bills for lower-income customers and also help the climate are being held up by bureaucratic delays at the state Department of Public Utilities. (Boston Globe

An Appeals Court judge dismisses a lawsuit by neighbors seeking to overturn an approval given for the proposed natural gas compression station in Weymouth. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

Dan Kennedy has an internal Boston Globe memo reporting on how the newspaper is exploring multimedia projects. (Media Nation)

PASSINGS

Desmond Tutu, a leading voice of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, died at age 90. (New York TimesSarah Weddington, the Texas lawyer who successfully argued the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion rights case, dies at age 76. (NPR)