AS A COUNTRY, OUR POLITICS FEEL OUT OF SYNC WITH OUR POTENTIAL.
We're divided, angry, and talking past one another. I don't believe the average American voter, Republican or Democrat, can see him or herself reflected in either party right now.
It's time to take a step back from the political breakdown, and step up the political courage. When political courage meets hard-fought compromise, we achieve statesmanship. And American needs more statesmanship.
Read below to find out where I stand on certain issues.
For even more detail on a wide range of topics, please read my responses to the 2018 Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board's Candidate Questionnaire.
I am strong supporter of quality education for all of America's children.
I would like to introduce programs that ensure that nobody graduates high school without taking a basic course in personal finance. The ability to balance a checkbook, save for the future, understand credit and debt, and the significance of taking out student loans are the kinds of foundational knowledge that our high schoolers must have as they enter adulthood. This kind of knowledge also helps students bound for college and young families protect themselves from predatory lending schemes - which in turn helps protect our economy from another crisis.
Similarly, I believe American tradesmanship is second to none in the world. But, as the pressure increases for high school graduates to go to college, the number of Americans entering the trades and construction industry is dramatically declining. Not everyone needs to go to college, because college isn’t necessarily for everyone. I support initiatives that incentivize vocational training and the revival of a strong and proud workforce. I believe this is essential to ensuring that "Made in America" means the best products, materials, and equipment on the planet.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Our District is a literal crossroads for the American economy: the BNSF rail line is among the busiest freight rail passageways in the nation. The 3rd District is also home to a major international airport, intra- and inter-state waterways, heavily traveled highways, and dense residential areas surrounding the city of Chicago. Each of these systems is heavily used by families, commuters, and businesses every day - and each of these systems is in serious need of maintenance.
On his campaign website, it appears that Congressman Lipinski claims that, in his thirteen years in office, he has “brought home more than $375 million in federal money for local transportation projects.” A recent report from the Metropolitan Planning Council, which tracks regional transit and infrastructure issues, found that Illinois has approximately $40 billion in deferred maintenance problems. (“Deferred maintenance” means repairs and necessary projects that have been ignored and put off.) The Council estimates that it will take $4 billion per year just to keep Illinois’ transportation systems in a good and safe state of repair. The Transportation for Illinois Coalition, composed of labor, construction, and business interests, says that Illinois needs $1.8 billion per year to keep our roads, railways, and transportation systems safe.
I grew up working for a family business that was reliant on this robust and functioning shipping infrastructure, so I know firsthand how important it is to the health and livelihood of our District's economy. I will support policies which protect and improve our District’s varied infrastructure needs while maintaining quality of life in our communities. If elected, I will meet with each and every stakeholder who will be a part of the efforts to restore these important infrastructure and transit systems. Further, I will bring industry experts with me to inspect every system in our District that needs attention. I will advocate aggressively for Illinois’ funding needs as a priority in the American transit landscape, and I will bring a hands-on approach to my representation of our District to strengthen the fight for the funding we need.
I believe in smart, modern border enforcement. If you think of America as a house, Americans have a right to know about and control who is coming through its doors. Yet our current immigration laws have been inconsistently applied and are rife with loopholes. Congress must finally pass comprehensive immigration reform. It should be rooted in preserving the dignity of all migrants while reestablishing respect for the American border, and it should pursue consistency and continuity in U.S. immigration laws. I believe we can all agree that our nation’s laws and borders should be respected; at the same time, it is incumbent on our elected officials to preserve empathy and dignity in our treatment of those who seek out the United States for a better life. Congress must work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform. At the same time, the President must work harder to form lasting partnerships with neighboring countries to address the flow of migrants.
Too many of our federal immigration laws are inconsistent. For example, we provide federal funding for sanctuary cities yet also enforce a brutal “zero tolerance” policy at the border that separates small children from their parents. I am firmly opposed to policies that separate migrant children from their families. It is not the American way to use children as leverage to advance our objectives. Policies that separate children from their families and place them in cruel conditions can only be understood as a deliberate effort to frighten and deter immigration through threat. This is unacceptable, unconstitutional, inhumane, and un-American. This is not who we are and we must do better. This policy is wrong under any administration of any political party. President Trump can make it right, and I sincerely hope he does.
Congressional leaders must also revisit and renew their discussions with the President about creating a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and other migrants who came to the United States as children. These individuals have known no other country than the United States, and they have been positive and contributing members of American communities. The United States should honor our past by signaling to the world that we will always welcome and embrace individuals who are willing to work hard, obey our laws, and contribute to the American way of life.
Big Money in Politics
I am firmly opposed to the presence and influence of “dark money” in politics. I believe unlimited giving by any entity into the political sphere skews that entity's influence and diminishes the voice of the average voter. Our democracy is healthiest when political and policy outcomes are not unfairly influenced by those with the deepest pockets.
Fighting for Equality
It is hard to believe that in America in 2018, so many people are still fighting for basic equality under the law.
This is simple: I will always advocate for the rights of women and minorities in their fight for equal pay, and equal treatment under the law. I am now and always will be an ally and friend to the LGBTQ community and an advocate of their civil rights. I believe that the same rights to equal treatment under the law extend to religious freedoms.
This is a complex issue for many voters, including me, as I was raised Catholic. When considering policy, however, I ultimately believe this decision must remain with women and not the government. Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for over 40 years and should remain so. I did not reach this decision lightly.
I am encouraged that the number of abortions sought in the U.S. is decreasing every year, and I will support initiatives that empower women and continue this downward trend.
Gun Rights - 2nd Amendment
Time after time, we end up in the same cycle:
First, a tragic mass shooting happens. Then thoughts and prayers are posted on social media. Next, a national debate occurs about what Congress needs to do to finally stop the loss of innocent life. Soon after comes the failure of Congress to do anything. And the nation shakes its head in frustration. Then we start over, mourning in the wake of the next preventable mass shooting.
This cycle needs to end.
I am tired of special interest campaign contributions compromising the courage of lawmakers and influencing votes on important issues like common sense gun control. To be clear, I am specifically talking about the NRA. I will not accept funds from the NRA or groups like it. Ever.
I believe that responsible Americans have a protected right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, and should be able to hunt and own a firearm for home defense, should they feel it is necessary. But there has to be a balance. I support reasonable measures that will keep illegal guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, and prevent those who pose any risk of harm to others or themselves from obtaining guns.
To curb gun violence, Congress must start where building consensus and agreement among Members should be most possible: Enacting real background checks. I support comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases, increased limitations on the sale of semi-automatic weapons, limits on the size of ammunition clips, and a ban on bump stocks.
Our current background checks still permit people with most kinds of violent misdemeanor convictions to purchase guns. This is because the current law is narrowly written to screen only people with a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction. The “domestic” language means only individuals convicted of physical violence against a spouse or a co-habitant are red flagged when they are trying to purchase a gun. People convicted of other violent misdemeanors are not flagged and thus can still legally purchase a gun. I would fight for laws that ensure nobody with a violent misdemeanor is allowed to purchase a gun.
Relatedly, I would also fight to require gun-seller licenses on every gun sale. We need to close the gun show and private gun sale loopholes. Every gun sale must be made by a licensed seller, and every gun sale must be reported and subject to a real background check. In some states, it is more difficult to get a marriage license than it is by buy a military-grade assault rifle. That’s unacceptable. Our police officers facing these guns on the streets deserve better. Our children and co-workers being killed by these guns deserve better. And the millions of responsible gun owners in America deserve better.
Healthcare is one of the main areas where political partisanship in Congress has truly hurt Americans. Our representatives in Congress have the responsibility to ensure that each law passed prioritizes the common good and not partisan victory. I believe the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) was a step in the right direction. I think everyone can agree that increasing access to coverage for low- and middle-income Americans, as well as our most vulnerable, is an important goal. So too is ensuring that people with preexisting conditions can't be denied coverage.
Before the ACA's passage, more than fifty million Americans lacked access to meaningful preventive health care and coverage for delivery of healthcare services under emergency or life-threatening disease situations. Yet the ACA, similar to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act recently signed into law by President Trump, included flaws and unclear provisions which put significant responsibility in the hands of implementing agencies to clarify. The recent efforts by House Republicans to repeal the ACA and dismantle its core provisions are misguided. More pointedly, these efforts are an example of political grandstanding that forgets that real peoples’ lives are in the balance.
The reality is that medical costs remain the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in our country. Medical bills are typically unexpected, involuntary, and large. Patients still lack the ability to compare or negotiate prices with providers and to know that their insurance will truly insure their protection against enormous out-of-pocket burdens. The Third District is no different from the rest of America: we all worry about medical bills, even when we have insurance. And this has got to change.
Improvements are necessary to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare - this is going to require buy-in from all sides. I believe no parent should have to make a decision between feeding their family or accessing care for their children. As a Member of Congress, I would work with my fellow Members to ensure that legislation addressing the remaining opportunities for improvement within the ACA is prioritized, debated, refined, and brought to the floor for a vote. Voters can no longer afford for Congress to sit on its hands on this matter.