Lauren Underwood: Candidate Profile
14th District U.S. Representative (Democrat)
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.
Family: Candidate did not respond.
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), University of Michigan
Masters Of Science in Nursing/Masters of Public Health (MSN/MPH), Johns Hopkins University
Civic involvement: Girl Scouts of the USA, Lifetime Member
City of Naperville Fair Housing Advisory Commission, 2003-2004
Empowerment Health, 2009-2014
New Leaders Council, 2014
Young Democrats of America - Credentials Committee, 2015
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
What do you think is the government's responsibility in assuring that citizens have health care? To what extent does the Affordable Care Act address this responsibility? What, if any, changes are needed in the act.
Every American has the right to high quality, affordable health care. This fundamental belief, in healthcare as a human right, is at the core of my nursing practice. As I approach my run for Congress, backed by a decade of experience as a nurse, I remain focused on ensuring all families across the Illinois 14th, and throughout America, can lead healthy lives.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we saw a historic drop in the uninsured rate, which means millions of families no longer have to worry about being one bad diagnosis away from bankruptcy. In the 14th district, 37,000 hard working folks have coverage through Obamacare. It was an incredible honor to work at the federal level to implement this program. I am committed to ensuring that all Americans maintain the coverage they rely upon, and that we continue to work to expand coverage to those who cannot currently access or afford it.
The Affordable Care Act is not perfect and I support policies that will improve the law, including:
**Stabilizing the health insurance marketplaces by providing a long-term commitment to cost-sharing reductions, and an incentive for all Americans to maintain insurance coverage
**Properly funding risk pools so that more insurers will offer plans on the marketplace
**Helping more middle class families afford coverage by expanding eligibility for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions
**Reigning in the soaring cost of prescription drugs
**Investing in comprehensive mental health coverage.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? What, if any, responsibility does the government have toward immigrants referred to as Dreamers who were brought to the United States illegally as children and are now adults? How will these policies affect your district?
Immigrants have been vital to the cultural fabric and economic success of America since our nation's founding. Our policies must honor and recognize the value and dignity of all of our immigrant communities and I strongly condemn the hurtful and divisive rhetoric that has become commonplace under the Trump administration.
Approximately 800,000 immigrants in this country were protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Ã’DACAÃ“) program, which President Trump recently rescinded, thereby threatening these young people with deportation from the only country they have known. This is not only cruel, it is bad for our economy. In the IL-14, the estimated 3,700 DACA-eligible population contributes an estimated $116,400,000 to our local economy, according to national analysis completed by the University of Southern California. These are bright, hard-working people who contribute to our economy and enrich our communities. We must take immediate action to provide all DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship through a clean Dream Act.
Finally, our current immigration system is broken. Simple, structural barriers such as Trump's proposed border wall, will not solve this complex, multi-faceted problem. We must take immediate action to pass comprehensive immigration reform, including re-evaluating which countries receive preferential immigration authority. I am eager to support policies that provide clear guidance around legal immigration, recognize existing economic and civic contributions of our immigrant communities, offer a pathway to citizenship, and decriminalize immigration enforcement action.
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?
Despite progress to contain ISIS, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect Americans domestically and abroad. Central to this effort is continuing to uplift and support our intelligence and law enforcement agencies who serve to keep us secure, often at great risk to our agents' own personal safety. The radicalization of individuals at home and abroad is often influenced by socio-economic conditions, including poverty, inequality, war, bigotry, and islamophobia. We must continue intervene to address these factors, and I strongly support the United Nations' initiative on combating the root causes of violent extremism.
In partnership with other nations, the US entered into a commitment that pooled the United Nations Security Council members' collective leverage of economic penalties, sanctions, and embargoes to halt Iran's progress towards nuclear weapons capability. I support the Congress in their recent decision to honor the nuclear agreement with Iran, and believe this action maintains our credibility as negotiators.
In Congress, I will work to keep the strong bond between the United States and Israel. I strongly condemn the Trump Administration's premature and divisive move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. My priority is to work towards a two-state solution, a pathway whereby Israel and the Palestinians can realize equitable and durable peace.
Finally, our nation must maintain our preparedness against bioterror agents. Our continued investment in countermeasure development and maintaining an adequate pipeline of products will allow our country to be nimble as we respond to future terror threats.
What should the United States be doing to reduce the threat of potential nuclear conflict from North Korea?
Fundamentally, the United States needs to adopt a foreign policy position with North Korea that does not escalate tensions. President Trump's reckless taunting of Kim Jong Un presents a clear and present danger to our national security and to the stability of our relationships on the peninsula.
Diplomacy and leadership, backed by a strong military, are critical to deterring further aggression by the North Korean regime. This means investing in our State Department and diplomatic programs in order to strengthen our relationships with our Pacific allies and work to combat the threat of the North Korean nuclear activity. It also means treating this situation with the gravity it deserves -- and not picking fights with a dangerous, nuclear armed dictator on Twitter.
Congress needs to step up oversight in foreign affairs. At a time when Kim Jong Un has reportedly developed missiles that can reach all of the United States, the Congress must be willing to assert its War Powers responsibilities to ensure we only enter a conflict with North Korea when the data and intelligence unimpeachably suggest an a valid and credible threat.
We must also be ready to defend ourselves, and this means that the United States must continue to invest in radiological and nuclear countermeasure development under Project Bioshield. We must be prepared in the event of an attack.
How would you describe the effectiveness of Congress today? If you think Congress needs to be more effective, what would you do to promote that?
The 115th Congress has not been able to pass legislation that would help families across the 14th district -- and at the time of writing, the federal government has been shut down. Instead, we have a new tax plan that hurts families and small businesses. A health system on shaky footing. And an economy that isn't performing for working families.
This incredible dysfunction and the political polarization that we see in Washington each day are symptoms of a larger problem in our democracy. The voice of the individual has been sidelined by gerrymandered maps, rollbacks of voting rights, increased voter suppression tactics, and the outsized influence that corporations and wealthy individuals have on our elections. So many folks have shared with me how they feel shut out of the system, as if their voice and their vote don't matter to our representative. This must change.
To solve this problem, we must elect a new type of representative. A representative who knows she is ultimately accountable to the people, not corporate special interests. I support policies to expand access to voting and protect communities from voter suppression. I support the full reinstatement of the Voting Rights Act. I will fight for campaign finance reform and strongly support disclosing all secret donations. The status quo just isn't working for us. We need to work to return our Congress back to the people's house that it was designed to be - and that starts with new electing a new generation of progressive leaders.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
For too long, we have seen no movement on a range of non-partisan economic security issues that predominantly affect women. This includes equal pay, paid family and sick leave, affordable child care services, and unrestricted access to reproductive health services. We need representatives who are willing to put their political capital on the line to fight for these issues, not merely talk about them.
I believe that every child deserves a high quality public education. Here in the 14th district we have excellent public schools, but this requires continued investment. Additionally, we should be making it easier for students to afford college by increasing our investment in higher education institutions. I support increased funding for pell grants, increased availability of affordable subsidized student loans, and the continuance of the public service loan forgiveness program. Higher education should not be a privilege of a certain class of people.
Climate change presents both an existential threat to life on earth and also one of our most pressing national security issues. The impact of climate refugees, fights for basic resources like food and water caused by these events, and the increased numbers of public health emergencies and disasters, will pose real, destabilizing challenges -- and we have a responsibility to act in an effort to curb these threats. I support expanded investment in and deployment of renewable energy projects, investment in public transportation projects, and a fully funded and appropriately staffed Environmental Protection.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Senator Gillibrand has been a fearless leader for woman and an inspiration.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Its not what you say to people but HOW you say it. My mother was adamant about tone of voice.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I don't have any major regrets. I make decisions I'm proud of and don't look back.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
A freshmen year nursing politics course changed my life. I was introduced to health policy as a field and started a new career.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
You're not going to please everyone and everyone will not be your friend. Its ok! You are perfect as you are.