Pete Stark isn't happy with what's happening in Congress.
"I’ve not seen it as bad as it is today," said the local congressman, who represents , which inlcudes Union City, Newark, Fremont, Hayward, Alameda, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Sunol and portions of Oakland and Pleasanton.
Stark, a Fremont Democrat, appeared before an audience of almost 70 at the during a town meeting Saturday morning where he listened to audience members' comments and answered questions.
During the meeting, the audience expressed concern with the contentiousness being demonstrated in the House of Representatives and the influence of the Tea Party. Stark confirmed the sharp differences in Congress and echoed audience concern.
"We used to argue about things all day long. Then we’d go out and maybe have a drink or dinner together and argue about football at night,” said Stark, who has been in Congress for 38 years, working with several Republican and Democrat administration. "Some of us are trying to change that (contentiousness).”
Asked specifically about the influence of the Tea Party on Congress, Stark said, "The Tea Party will, in time, run its course."
He added that, “I haven’t seen procedure so screwed-up.”
It's "a time of rancor," he said. "I’m not proud of what Congress has done."
Senate, on the other hand, has been working hard on policies, he said.
Stark took to the floor of the House last week and spoke in opposition to HR 2587, the "Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act." The bill, which eventually passed with 236 votes, was created in response to the recent Boeing move from Washington to Alabama because of a labor dispute and a subsequent lawsuit by National Labor Relations Board. The bill would prohibit NLRB from ordering employers to close or relocate under any circumstances.
"This bill dismantles key functions of the NLRB and guts more than 70 years of established labor law in our country," Stark said on the House floor. "If this legislation becomes law, it would eliminate nearly all worker protections when companies illegally fire workers and close or move plants in retaliation for union activities.” In so doing, jobs can be outsourced overseas, he said.
"Once jobs go overseas, we’re not going to get them back," Stark told his Union City audience.
Several people asked about the American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama in his speech last week. Like other Congressional Democrats, Stark seemed skeptical of its success and told the audience that he hasn’t seen it yet.
"I have to vote for it. I might not like all of it. There are things I might want to do differently. We’ll see," he said.
Stark voted against the debt ceiling deal and opposed the idea of a super committee to close the $1.5 trillion debt.
"If the super committee fails, there will be automatic cuts to Medicare and additional draconian cuts on top of the draconian cuts that will be made when this bill is signed into law," he said in August.
On the topic of Free Trade Agreements with countries like Columbia, Stark said he opposes doing anything with that country "until shooting union members stops."
On the idea of new campaign finance laws, Stark laughed. "I wouldn’t hold my breath until that passes."
Stark will hold another town meeting next month.