Mike Quigley: Candidate Profile
5th Congressional District (Democrat)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Family: My wife Barbara and I are proud to make our home in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, where I have lived since 1982. We feel fortunate to have raised our daughters Alyson and Meghan here, though both girls are now college graduates, from Northwestern and Boston College respectively, and are out in the world building lives of their own.
Occupation: Member of the United States House of Representatives
Education: I did my undergraduate work at Roosevelt University, earned a master's degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, and a law degree from the Loyola University School of Law, all in Chicago.
Civic involvement: Public life is predicated on accessibility and transparency. Before being elected to Congress, I attended more than 2,400 public community meetings in and around Chicago. I remain committed to that principle and and have now attended more than 5,000 community meetings to date.
Elected offices held: Immediately before being elected to Congress in 2009, I served as Cook County Commissioner for 10 years, where I sponsored every piece of major environmental legislation adopted by Cook County government and fought for transparency, accountability and fiscal sanity through a series of groundbreaking "Reinventing Government" reports.
How will you work to make Congress more productive and effective? What actions are needed to produce a healthy federal budget? Specifically, what changes do you advocate regarding how revenue is produced or what our spending priorities are? In particular, what effect does current policy have on your district and what changes, if any, are needed?
Bipartisan solutions to our budget woes exist, but talk is cheap. They only work if members are willing to take the hard votes. That's why one of the most important votes I have taken in Congress was for a long-term bipartisan budget plan with only 37 of my colleagues. Introduced by Republican Steve LaTourette and Democrat Jim Cooper, it was modeled after the Simples-Bowles Commission deficit reduction plan. The plan included the three "B's" I believe are necessary for any deficit plan. It was big, balanced, and bipartisan. By authorizing $4 trillion in deficit reduction through a mix of revenue raising and spending cuts, the plan was something that members of both parties should have agreed on.
At the same time, we need to end the harmful impact of sequestration, which has taken a meat-cleaver approach to cutting spending, when what we really need is a scalpel. As the only Illinois member of the House Appropriations Committee, I've seen firsthand the harmful impact of simply cutting spending "across the board" rather than making targeted cuts where necessary and increasing spending on the programs that need it. Across the board cuts are an abdication of Congress' responsibilities, and represents a lazy and inefficient method of budgeting.
Now more than ever we need to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and make smarter investments that will grow our economy and create jobs. For example, we should be investing in Chicago's infrastructure rather than on duplicative federal programs, agricultural subsidies, or tax writeoffs for yachts.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? How will these policies affect your district?
America's strength as a nation is being jeopardized by our broken immigration system. We need comprehensive immigration reform that will secure our borders, grow our economy, and provide hardworking immigrants an earned pathway to citizenship. That's why I support and was proud to introduce a House companion to the Gang of Eight immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013.
In my district, immigrants have come to Chicago for generations to make a better life for themselves and for their families. Immigrants helped build our skyscrapers, provided the hard work for our industries, and established civic and religious organizations.
The failures of our legal immigration system have resulted in millions of undocumented immigrants in this country living in the shadows. Comprehensive immigration reform must provide an earned pathway to citizenship, giving undocumented immigrants the chance to get in line, pay fines and back taxes, earn legal status, and become productive members of our society.
I'm proud that both the Senate and House immigration reform bills also include language that I authored to reform our visa waiver program, allowing allies like Poland the opportunity to join and bring valuable international travel and tourism dollars into the Illinois economy.
Immigration reform should not be a partisan issue. It is time for Congress put politics aside and allow a vote on immigration reform. Every day we fail to pass immigration reform is another day that American families are torn apart, and we deny basic rights to thousands living in detention.
What should be the top priorities in Congress related to the Affordable Care Act? If you want changes, what specifically do you recommend? If you want the act entirely eliminated, please address these questions: Is that politically feasible? If it proves infeasible, where do you see the potential for compromise? If it is eliminated, what would you replace it with, if anything?
I was proud to vote for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA, while not perfect, is achieving many of its original goals. Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years and millions of Chicagoans have been provided access to quality health care, some for the first time. The uninsured rate continues to drop to historic lows as coverage has become accessible and more affordable to millions of Americans. The ACA has instituted a consumer driven healthcare system. Institutionalizing preventive services, removing insurance barriers for pre-existing conditions, ensuring women aren't arbitrarily charged higher insurance rates and allowing coverage to extend until age 26 have all proven hugely popular and contributed to cost savings.
Speaker Ryan's recently announced replacement plan is short on details and compared to the ACA, which is a broad, national policy, the alternative plan offered by Speaker Ryan reverts to piecemeal solutions of the past. I remain open to supporting legislation that improves the ACA, but I cannot support legislation that undermines the benefits being felt as a result of the ACA's implementation.
Moving forward, we must be willing to make changes and technical fixes to ACA. The ACA was designed to reform the entirety of the U.S. healthcare landscape and is succeeding in that goal. I am eager to take up technical fixes and reforms in the next Congress that strengthen the law and don't undermine it, particularly in the areas of risk assessment, the risk formulas and tax credit application.
What military or diplomatic roles should the United States play to promote peace and stability in the Mideast? Under what circumstances should we have military forces actively operating?
The absence of U.S. leadership on the world's stage creates a vacuum of power, which can breed violence and discontent. And while we can't be the world's policeman, the U.S. must lead in concert and compromise with the international community. That is why I support our continued participation and investment in international organizations like the U.N., IMF and NATO. Diplomacy must not be mistaken for weakness. Building international coalitions helps lend credibility to American foreign policy and direct diplomacy is the most effective way to broaden those coalitions.
We must also continue to work alongside our partners in the EU and Interpol to share intelligence, an especially crucial task given the current security situation in Europe. As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I know firsthand how vital good intelligence is to keeping America safe, and we have the best in the world. Sharing intelligence is in the interest of our European allies and our own national security.
The maintenance of a strong, smart, 21st century military aids these leadership goals. Responsible defense spending that demonstrates the best return on investment should be a central goal of our national security policy. That will also require us to continue encouraging our NATO allies to contribute additional resources to meet their defense spending obligations, without threatening to dismantle the alliance and abandoning our European partners. This is clearly necessary in the fight against ISIS and other terror organizations.
Will you uphold the international climate change treaty? If not, what alternative steps would you advocate? If so, what steps will you take to meet U.S. obligations under the accord?
A changing climate is without a doubt a major threat to our economy, to our national security, and to our way of life and standard of living for billions of people around the world. While the House of Representatives isn't tasked with reviewing or approving international agreements like the Paris Agreement, the deal forged by 195 nations last December is an unprecedented show of global resolve to tackle this problem.
I am a strong supporter of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which will encourage states to reduce their power sector emissions by doing things like increasing energy efficiency and the share of their power that comes from clean renewables, all the while creating new, local jobs and preserving energy reliability. But Congress must also act to help the United States meet its carbon emissions reductions targets.
There are many opportunities to stimulate sustainable economic growth while driving down climate harming emissions. I support a variety of proposals that will help create sustainable transportation and infrastructure, a more modern energy grid, and more efficient industry. Businesses across the United States are already leading the way on the transition to a low carbon economy, it's time Congress does its part too.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
One of my top priorities in Congress is to continue promoting efforts to reform government and increase transparency to restore the public's trust in government. As many Chicagoans know, I brought my unique style of reform-minded politics and integrity from my ten years as a Cook County Commissioner to Washington in part by co-founding the bipartisan Congressional Transparency Caucus.
Furthermore, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for the federal funding Chicago and Illinois needs to remain a safe, competitive place for families to live and work. That includes increased funding for Core Capacity grants to assist the CTA, preventing harmful cuts to Homeland Security grants that help protect soft targets, and securing funds for the construction of the McCook and Thornton Reservoir projects to help stem the tide of damaging floods.
Lastly, as the Ranking Democrat of the Emerging Threats subcommittee on the House Intelligence Committee, I am making it a priority to combat terrorism and lone-wolf threats both at home and abroad. We are fighting a war much different than our father's war, so Congress must reprioritize resources that really keep Americans safe against today's threats. That also means doing everything I can to help end the tragic gun violence epidemic gripping the streets of Chicago and the rest of the country by finding ways to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who wish to do us harm.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Fellow congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis inspires me by continuing to find ways to fight racism and bigotry in all its forms.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
My parents taught me that the most important thing you can do is provide a better opportunity in life for your kids.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Sorry, there are no do-overs in life. We all have to do our best to get it right the first time.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
History because it teaches us that we can't understand current issues, like those in the Middle East, without understanding what came before them.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
As Atticus said to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view."