Bill Foster: 2024 candidate for U.S. House 11th District Representative


Party: Democrat

Office Sought: 11th District U.S. Representative

City: Naperville

Age: 68

Occupation: Scientist and Businessman

Previous offices held: U.S. Representative, 14th District of Illinois (2008-2011) U.S. Representative, 11th District of Illinois (2013-current)

What must be done to achieve a consistent national policy on immigration, not just in terms of what such a policy should be but also in terms of getting a policy through the Senate?

One of the great tragedies of the past decade was in 2013, when the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have passed the House with a bipartisan majority if then-Speaker John Boehner would have allowed it to come up for a vote. Unfortunately, he caved to the far-right and blocked it.

The only way we can finally address our broken immigration system — including protecting Dreamers, establishing a fair pathway to citizenship for workers our economy relies on, ensuring students and high-skilled workers can contribute to our economy, and running a just asylum process — is to forge a bipartisan agreement. It’s been disheartening to see far-right Republicans, including Donald Trump, call for Congress to do nothing because they’d rather score political points. I hope that serious Republicans will reject this cynicism and work with Democrats to finally get this done.

Do you believe the nation's election system and those of the individual states are secure and fair? If not, what must be done to improve them?

Americans’ faith in our elections is among the most crucial issues facing our democracy. Extensive studies have shown there is near-zero voter fraud from someone voting multiple times or on behalf of someone else. As the son of a civil rights lawyer, I believe that we should not put up barriers to voting in the name of preventing fraud that is exceedingly rare. The bigger threats to our elections are the influence of dark money and foreign influence programs operating via social media. I’ve been proud to support bills like the For the People Act and the DISCLOSE Act to shine light onto the dark money donors, and I’ve supported a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and reign in campaign donations by special interests. These bills would also help limit foreign influence, as dark money groups often obscure illegal funding from foreign donors. We also must invest in our government’s ability to detect foreign disinformation campaigns so we can stop them before they spread.

What responsibilities does the United States have toward protecting the security of our allies or other countries where democracy may be threatened? In particular, what are our responsibilities toward Israel and Ukraine?

The United States has a moral obligation to assist Ukraine in its self-defense. Ukraine agreed to turn over their nuclear weapons in the 1990s in return for a guarantee that their territorial sovereignty would be defended by the international community. Reneging on that agreement would set a dangerous precedent in our efforts to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, allowing Putin to illegally annex Ukraine will endanger our allies in eastern Europe, as well as show China that territorial aggression can be tolerated.

With regard to Israel, I believe we must supply them military aid on the condition that it is used in accordance with U.S. and international humanitarian law. Hamas is a terrorist organization and must be defeated. However, Israel’s tactics in Gaza have created a mounting and unnecessary civilian death toll and a humanitarian crisis. I also support increased Palestinian humanitarian aid, and have joined two letters to the President to that effect.

Is the world in a climate crisis? If so, what role should the federal government play in addressing it?

We are in the midst of a climate crisis, and it is more critical than ever that the federal government take bold action to move our country toward net-zero emissions. The role of the government here is twofold: We must help develop the technologies that enable our country to run on clean energy, and we must enable our communities and businesses to adopt these technologies. On the first point, I was proud to see my Better Energy Storage Technology Act become law in 2020, which supports federal research funding into how to improve energy storage on the electric grid — a necessary step for us to transition to intermittent energy sources like solar and wind. I’ve led the House on funding this program in the years since. On the latter point, I was proud to support the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in clean energy technology in our nation’s history, which builds up our green infrastructure and helps families and businesses afford to make the switch.

How would you describe the working relationships in the U.S. House today? What can be done to promote more effective government in Congress, and what will you do personally to work toward this goal?

Relationships between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House are certainly strained, but I’ve been committed to bridging these divides to create meaningful bipartisan policies. There are three different approaches that can be taken here. First, we can move forward on issues like funding scientific research that are popular on both sides of the aisle because we all recognize its importance for American competitiveness. Second, we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and pair moderate policies supporting Democratic priorities with those supporting Republican policies. Our recent passage of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act, which paired an expansion of the Child Tax Credit with common-sense changes to small business taxes, is a great example of this. Finally, we must push forward policies like the For the People Act that will limit the influence of special interests in Congress, which I believe will make it easier to reach bipartisan compromise.

What role should the United States play in NATO?

NATO countries are our key allies. As one of the most influential countries in the alliance, we have a key role to play in ensuring our adversaries do not threaten the free democracies of the world. To that end, I’ve advocated for significant increases in U.S. aid to Ukraine. Though Ukraine is not a NATO member, it’s essential that NATO help support Ukraine’s democracy and stop Russia in its tracks before it begins to encroach on member countries like Poland. That said, the United States must also do more to ensure other member countries pay their fair share in defense spending to support the alliance. It isn’t fair to American taxpayers that the U.S. military is having to fill in these allies’ gaps — money which could be better spent on government programs for working and middle-class families.

How do you perceive the financial health of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid? To the degree you may see problems with these programs, what should be done about them?

The Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds are certainly struggling, but these programs are essential to ensuring that seniors, who worked hard their entire lives, are taken care of as they age. Therefore, I support the Social Security 2100 Act, which would ask the wealthy to pay into the trust funds at the same rate that everyone else does, shoring up the trust fund for generations to come. I’ve also voted for efforts such as authorizing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which will go a long way to not only lower costs for seniors, but also lower the program’s expenses and make it sustainable into the future. Medicaid’s finances come from the general treasury rather than a trust fund, meaning it does not face the same threats as Medicare and Social Security. That said, I support containing the program’s costs by encouraging more preventive medicine and addressing social determinants of health, such as unstable housing, that drive up medical costs.

How do you assess the state of the national economy? What should be done to make it stronger or more stable?

Measures like the health of the stock market and GDP growth are important economic indicators, but what really matters is whether this money is flowing into the pockets of the average American family, not just those in the 1 percent. Therefore, I look to measures such as the unemployment rate, median and lower percentile incomes, and the proportion of Americans who are living paycheck-to-paycheck or feel financially stable enough to weather an emergency. To help working and middle class families, which in turn boosts the economy, I support policies both to boost wages and to make life’s essentials more affordable. To that end, I support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which protects the right to form a union, and the Raise the Wage Act, to raise the minimum wage. I also support policies to restore the Child Tax Credit expansion, subsidize child care, expand SNAP, build affordable housing, and strengthen the ACA, among others.

What personal qualifications do you bring that would make you an effective congressional representative in dealing with the issues the country will face in the next two years?

My background as a scientist at Fermilab and the founder of a high-tech manufacturing business give me an important perspective on how to deal with the challenges facing our nation. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and I understand the challenges many of those business owners face, especially as their costs rise with inflation and they face increased global competition. From my science background, I also understand the key importance of federally funded R&D; we can only make progress against challenges like climate change and cancer if the federal government helps develop the technologies to conquer them.

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