Brad Schneider: Candidate profile
Name: Brad Schneider
Office sought: U.S. House of Representatives, IL-10
Family: Married to Julie Dann with two adult sons, Adam and Daniel
Occupation: Member of Congress
Education: BA, Northwestern, '83; MBA, Kellogg School of Management, '88
Civic involvement: Involved with Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and American Jewish Committee.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Trustee
Waukegan Public Library Foundation, Board Member
Civic Leadership Foundation, Board Member
Elected offices held: U.S. House of Representatives (2013-2015; 2017-present)
Questions & Answers
Did you support or oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017? Why or why not? Please outline your basic view of what the national economic policy should be?
I voted against the federal tax plan passed last year because it recklessly explodes our debt to reward those already at the top at the expense of many of my constituents and our state. Nearly eighty-three percent of the tax benefit of the bill goes to the top one-percent of earners, while many working families in my district will see little benefit or even tax increases through restriction of the State and Local Tax Deduction. Additionally, by repealing the individual mandate and further undermining the Affordable Care Act, the bill raised health care premiums on constituents.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this bill will add $1.9 trillion to our debt. This will burden our children's generation, and I also fear the deficits created by this bill will cynically be used as justification for harsh cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other safety net programs.
While there were some portions of the tax bill that I supported -- including modernizing our corporate tax structure to make American more competitive - I view last year's partisan tax reform effort as a costly missed opportunity. Particularly while our economy is growing, we should instead pursue responsible, bipartisan reform that is fair, spurs economic growth and reduces our deficits without accounting gimmicks. We still need real tax reform, and I will continue to reach across the aisle to achieve it.
How strong is the threat of so-called cyberwarfare? What should the U.S. be doing in response to that threat in addition to what is now being done?
The threat of cyberwarfare is serious, and I accept our intelligence community's assessment that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election. We must constantly work to protect the integrity of our elections from any foreign interference, and this should be a bipartisan cause.
Most recently, after the recent Mueller indictment of Russian operatives revealed more about interference in our state, I led a letter that gained the support of all 18 members of the Illinois House delegation (Democrats and Republicans) requesting a briefing from the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security on ways to improve Illinois' election security. This rare show of bipartisanship in our state yielded results and we received a briefing on September 7th.
When I learned that the Global Engagement Center (GEC) within the Department of State (the office tasked with countering foreign disinformation and propaganda campaigns) had yet to spend the funds it had been allocated to counter Russian information warfare efforts, I introduced a bill clarifying responsibilities for the GEC, expanding its hiring authorities, and establishing stronger congressional oversight. This bill was incorporated into the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law by the President.
I also introduced bipartisan legislation that would impose harsh automatic sanctions on Russia for future interference, have questioned Attorney General Sessions and other Department of Justice officials on the Administration's election security efforts, and have met personally with the County Clerks of Cook and Lake Counties to discuss our local election defense efforts.
Please outline your position on immigration. What should the nation's philosophy be on the issue? Should there be a wall along most of the country's southern border? What should the nation's philosophy be on how the government treats and responds to undocumented immigrants?
Reforming our broken immigration system is not just the right thing to do, it will also grow our economy and make our communities stronger.
We are a nation of immigrants, and I strongly oppose efforts by the current Administration to restrict legal immigration, limit our acceptance of refugees and asylum seekers, separate undocumented families, and build a wall across the border with Mexico.
I supported the bipartisan 2013 comprehensive immigration reform effort that included border security, reform to legal immigration processes, e-Verify, and permanent legal status and eventual pathway to citizenship to those here illegally, after they pay back taxes and meet other requirements.
This Congress, I have worked to find a bipartisan solution for DREAMers in the wake of President Trump's decision to end the DACA program. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the USA Act, a bipartisan compromise bill that would pair permanent legal status for DREAMers with smart investments in border security. I also signed the discharge petition that would force a vote over the objections of House Republican leadership on this proposal (as well as 3 others) and was disappointed to see this bipartisan effort stall just a few signatures short of the required number.
I oppose President Trump's border wall because it is wasteful and unnecessary -- there are both smarter and more effective ways to secure our border.
What is your evaluation of President Trump's job performance? Please specify what you view as its highs and lows.
I strongly disapprove of President Trump's job performance. I believe his domestic policies are hurting American families, his foreign policy is weakening our alliances and international standing, and his behavior is debasing the high office he occupies.
Among the lows of his presidency were the abhorrent family separation policy that tore apart children and parents at our border, and whose consequences we continue to deal with. The child separation policy goes hand in hand with other terrible immigration-related decisions undertaken by the Trump Administration, including ending DACA protections, limiting entry to refugees and asylum seekers, and instituting a travel ban. Similarly, the politically motivated sabotage of the Affordable Care Act continues to raise health care costs and limit coverage on Americans, and his rash decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement threatens our environmental future and abandons our global leadership role.
Despite these strong objections, I have great respect for the office of the Presidency, which is why I attended the inauguration and the President's State of the Union addresses. In some areas such as addressing the opioid crisis, investing in infrastructure, and supporting the US-Israel alliance, President Trump and I do share similar views, and I have worked to find common ground. I will not hesitate to stand up to the President when he is wrong, but my opposition will never prevent me from working together to make progress where possible.
How important is Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation? What's your assessment of its fairness and professionalism?
I support the investigation, because we need to understand what happened in the 2016 election so that we can take steps to protect our future elections from foreign interference. To date, I have been impressed by the thoroughness and professionalism with which it has been undertaken, as evidenced by the lack of leaks.
I have serious concerns by the words from President Trump and some Republicans in Congress disparaging the investigation, which is why I have co-sponsored the Special Counsel Protection Act to prevent a politically-motivated firing of the Special Counsel.
If President Trump were to fire Mueller, Congress must take immediate action to ensure the Special Counsel investigation can continue to completion, with or without Mueller, and that its findings will be released publicly. It is imperative that the Mueller team be allowed to finish their work, and to follow the facts to wherever they lead.
Do you support Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court? Please explain.
I have very serious concerns about Judge Kavanaugh's record of opposition to the Affordable Care Act and women's reproductive rights. Furthermore, while our President is subject to an investigation, I am also troubled by Kavanaugh's expansive views on executive privilege and whether Presidents are required to comply with subpoenas.
The next Supreme Court Justice will help shape our government for decades to come, deciding cases affecting a woman's right to choose, equality for the LGBT community, the right of all citizens to vote, the influence of big money in our elections, gun violence prevention, and more. It is crucial the individual nominated for this lifetime appointment holds views that reflect our nation's values, as well as a commitment to settled law.
While the House does not have a vote on Supreme Court nominations, Senators of both parties should vigorously and thoroughly examine Judge Kavanaugh's views and qualifications, and reject his nomination if he is not committed to protecting the rights of all Americans.
Would you vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Should there be a penalty for those who do not comply with the individual mandate?
I have consistently voted against repeal and will do so going forward. However, while the Affordable Care Act was an improvement, it is far from perfect. The best path forward is continuing to build upon what is working and reforming what is not, rather than wholesale repeal of the law.
Last year, with my colleagues in the Problem Solvers Caucus, I helped develop a proposal to stabilize the insurance markets and provide relief to consumers. Our proposal included fully funding cost sharing reduction payments, creating a dedicated stability fund, modifying the employer mandate, repealing the medical device tax, and allowing states to innovate on the exchanges and create regional compacts. Released during the height of the polarizing effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we brought together 44 Democrats and Republicans to endorse a proposal with practical solutions to improve our health care system. This proposal became the basis of the Alexander-Murray draft legislation in the Senate last fall, which had broad bipartisan support before President Trump blocked it.
I am deeply disappointed that since the collapse of the GOP health care repeal effort, the Trump Administration continues to seek to undermine the Affordable Care Act, including fighting protections on pre-existing conditions, creating uncertainty, cutting funding for health care navigators and most recently rolling out misleading and discriminatory "junk" plans.
I support the individual mandate as a necessary tool to promote the health of insurance markets, keep costs down, and ensure the continued protection of individuals with pre-existing conditions.
What other issues are important to you as a candidate for this office?
My top cause as a Member of Congress is to represent the values and priorities of my constituents. Over the course of 27 Congress on Your Corner town halls, 12 telephone town halls, and countless other individual meetings and casual conversations, I know the first issue Tenth District voters focus on is ensuring our economy is growing in a way that helps all Americans, not just those at the top. When our economic trajectory is positive, solving the myriad of challenges we face becomes more achievable, from providing quality affordable health care to all Americans and protecting Social Security and Medicare to finally passing comprehensive immigration reform and addressing global climate change.
I have also made fostering bipartisanship one of my top priorities because I believe the challenges our country faces require solutions from both parties. As a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus and Bipartisan Working Group, I have helped put forward bipartisan legislation to improve health care and address immigration reform.
On a personal level, reducing gun violence in our communities and across our nation is an extremely important issue for me. There are policies supported by the vast majority of Americans that would save lives -- including universal background checks, a ban on the sale of high capacity magazines and assault weapons, and making trafficking of weapons across state lines a federal crime - and I will continue to push my colleagues to find the political courage necessary to pass gun safety legislation.
In addition, here a few questions meant to provide more personal insight into you as a person:
What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?
A recent difficult decision was deciding to run for office again after losing my re-election in 2014. I ultimately felt that there was still much left undone from my first term and there was more I could contribute to issues from promoting economic opportunity to addressing gun safety to fostering bipartisan solutions in Congress.
Who is your hero?
I have the honor of serving alongside one of my personal heroes -- Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. When he was a young man, John was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, including organizing the 1963 March on Washington and facing attacks during the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. I had the opportunity accompany him last year on his annual pilgrimage to Selma and walk with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Especially now, we need to elevate and listen to the voices of justice and tolerance in our public life, not those who seek to spread hate and division for political gain.
Each amendment in the Bill of Rights is important, but which one of those 10 is most precious to you?
For me, the First Amendment is the most important of the Bill of Rights. As a Jew, this protects my right to practice my religion and puts all Americans on equal ground regardless of their faith. It also protects the right of all Americans to speak their mind, to assemble, and of the press to seek out the truth and report without fear.
What lesson of youth has been most important to you as an adult?
A lesson learned in pre-school continues to be important: treat everyone with respect. As a representative, I often encounter people who disagree with me, whether they be colleagues or constituents. Having an open mind and treating everyone with respect is a prerequisite to finding common ground and areas where we can make progress.
Think back to a time you failed at something? What did you learn from it?
My favorite quote on this topic comes from Winston Churchill: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." We all face failures in our life. This was certainly true for me when I lost the election in 2014. And remains true as I work to represent the people of the 10th district. What is important is how we respond to that setback, that we learn from it, and that we get back up and try again.