Mike Quigley: Candidate profile
Office sought: Congress, 5th District
Family: Barbara (wife); Alyson (daughter); Meghan (daughter)
Occupation: Member of Congress; lawyer
Education: Roosevelt University (B.A.); University of Chicago (M.P.P.); Loyola School of Law (J.D.)
Civic involvement: More than 37 years of community engagement including successful elections to the Cook County Board of Commissioners (3 times) and U.S. House of Representatives (6 times).
Elected offices held: Cook County Commissioner
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected: Yes; 2009
Questions and Answers
1. What have the past three years of Donald Trump's unconventional leadership taught us about politics in the United States? What is the best thing his presidency has done? What is the most significant criticism you have of it?
One of the most important lessons of the Trump presidency is the realization that the efficacy of our system of government relies on the good will and intentions of those in power.
For all my criticisms of his policies and irresponsible rhetoric, my most significant problem with the President is the way in which he consistently places his personal and political interests above the good of the American people. He's made clear that he views the office of the presidency as a vehicle for his own personal enrichment. And he leveraged our national security to help extort an ally into helping him dig up dirt on his political opponents -- an action that led to his impeachment in the House.
The best thing the Trump presidency has done is bring conversations of race and inequality into the open and the mainstream. This presidency has shone a bright light on some of the most insidious problems in our society, and ultimately, that is the first step toward solving them.
2. What needs to be done to get Congress to work constructively, whether that be senators and representatives of both parties working with each other or Congress itself working with the president?
It's clear that Washington, D.C. remains dysfunctional as ever. President Trump has yet to identify a constructive way to work with a Democratic controlled House. His administration refuses to acknowledge our constitutional responsibility to conduct legitimate oversight over the executive branch. It also has failed to produce a policy agenda that can attract bipartisan support. In the face of these challenges, Congress must work harder to put partisanship aside. That will require us to seek common ground wherever possible. It also means rejecting the idea that politics is a zero sum game or that compromise is a bad word.
I've always understood that to get anything done in Congress, it will require moderate voices that can bridge the divide between the two parties and do what we believe is in the best interest of our constituents and the country. When necessary, I've been willing to differ from my party. For example, I supported a long-term bipartisan budget bill based on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan. I've also voted for intelligence and defense bills that, while not perfect, will help keep our nation safe. I will continue to demonstrate the courage necessary to make tough choices like that moving forward.
3. What do you see as the most important issues to address regarding immigration reform? If you oppose funding for a wall, what steps do you support to try to control illegal immigration?
President Trump has used the debate on immigration as a partisan tool to divide our country. I believe that building a wall makes little sense and is not achievable. It is a policy rooted in fear and will ultimately prove to be a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. Although the President claims that building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would cost $12 billion, many experts believe it would cost at least $25 billion. This does not include annual maintenance costs, which would cost tens of millions every year. To make matters worse, the President has diverted billions of dollars from military priorities toward building the wall. Not only does this costly proposal undermine our military readiness, it does nothing to prevent illegal immigration. Instead of continuing to pursue this misguided policy, we should focus on passing comprehensive immigration reform that would provide an earned pathway to citizenship and give undocumented immigrants the chance to get in line and pay fines and taxes so they can earn legal status and become productive members of our society. This will better reduce the flow of undocumented immigrants into this country and will bring out millions living in the shadows.
4. Please define your position on health care reform, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.
Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I strongly support the goal of universal health care coverage for all Americans. After nearly a decade of attacks from Republicans, ACA has demonstrated that the government can play an effective role in the health care system and is more popular than ever.
Despite leading on innovation, until passage of the ACA, the U.S. struggled to bring down the uninsurance rate. Now, 25 million more Americans have coverage and the uninsured rate is at a historic low. In the face of the Trump Administration's efforts to undermine the law and starve the ACA of necessary resources, record numbers of beneficiaries continue signing up for coverage.
I believe the Democratic Party must continue to be aspirational in our goals, but we must also be pragmatic about what we can achieve in a divided government. The need for health care is urgent and cannot be compromised in this moment by making the perfect the enemy of the good. I've co-sponsored bills that would add a publicly-operated health insurance option to individual and small business markets. These proposals empower individuals with low-cost, government-run alternatives, which introduces new competition to the market and helps to drive down premiums.
5. What is your position on federal funding for contraception, the Violence Against Women Act and reproductive rights?
Women's rights are human rights. Yet, this administration has chosen to attack those rights in an unprecedented way. At this moment, Roe v. Wade is under the most serious threat since it was decided almost 50 years ago. Despite decades of legal precedent and polls showing 7 in 10 Americans support Roe v. Wade, this administration has made its repeal a signature goal. We will never accept a world where abortion is criminalized. Congress has a responsibility to fight back against the erosion of reproductive rights at the state level. I am a proud, longtime member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus and have used my position on the Appropriations Committee to secure funding for family planning, teen pregnancy prevention and have fought to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
I have consistently voted in favor of the Violence Against Women Act. Having lead on domestic violence issues during my time in Cook County, I find it shameful that the Senate has failed to act on this crucial legislation. The fight for women's rights must not fall solely on women's shoulders alone. As allies, men must also work to change the culture and defend the gains we have made toward gender equality.
6. What do you consider America's role in world affairs? What are we doing correctly to fill that role? What else should we be doing?
Too often we are given a binary choice when it comes to American leadership. It is not simply a matter or policing the world or not. We are at our strongest when we are working in cooperation with our global partners. We can acknowledge our complex differences and work to achieve consensus on the most pressing issues.
Unfortunately, the stable and prosperous world order established in the aftermath of World War II is being dismantled by its principal architect. The United States is a powerful leader, but we cannot stand alone in the world. Despite the current administration's preference toward an "American First" policy, we need allies. My work on the Intelligence Committee has demonstrated this fact firsthand.
The Trump administration's incredible inconsistencies -- and its degradation of these values at home -- has significantly weakened our ability to promote democracy abroad. When the President of the United States solicits foreign interference in our elections, attacks public servants and law enforcement, unilaterally withdraws from long standing international agreements, fails to implement policies that protect civil liberties, traffics in bigotry, conspiracies, racism and nepotism; it should come as no surprise that democracies around the world have been shaken and autocrats continue to ascend.
7. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
That climate change is occurring and is principally driven by man-made greenhouse gas emissions is an empirical and verifiable fact. Climate change is an unprecedented threat, potentially impacting our food production, transportation, housing, immigration and our national security. Urgent action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a resilient, low carbon economy. We must invest in the research and development of the new and improved technologies that will be needed to reduce emissions in line with what science demands. This includes increased investments that will spur more renewable energy production as well as a renewed focus on less heralded projects to help prime our electric grid for the unique demands of a low carbon power generation mix. In the past two congresses, I've authored legislation designed to help the Department of Energy pave the way for the energy sector to address some of these foundational, but less flashy, challenges.
Modernizing our energy grid is important, but ultimately we need to continue the decarbonization of our power and transportation sectors and start accounting for the astronomical costs of carbon pollution on society. An economywide price on carbon would be an effective policy to catalyze this transition.