Raja Krishnamoorthi: Candidate profile
Office sought: U.S. House of Representatives, 8th District of Illinois
Family: Priya (wife) and three children
Occupation: Member of Congress
Education: Princeton University, B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering, Certificate from the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs, 1995. J.D. Harvard Law School, 2000
Civic involvement: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 2017-present; Deputy Treasurer for Illinois, 2007-2009; Special Assistant Attorney General for Illinois, 2006-2007; Member of Board of Illinois Housing Development Authority, 2005-2007; Member of the Village of Hoffman Estates Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee, 2005-2007; and Judicial Clerk to Judge Joan Gottschall, U.S. District Court, Northern District of IL, 2001-2002
Previous elected offices held: U.S. House of Representatives, 2017-present
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected: Yes, 2016
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?
President Trump has sought to govern by appealing to his political base instead of the entire American populace. I have a fundamental disagreement with that approach to governing and have taken a different tack for the past three years in Congress. I have worked on bipartisan legislation to improve the lives of Illinois residents and our community. I am particularly proud that, even in a hyper-partisan environment exacerbated by the President's unconventional leadership, I have been able to stay focused and work closely and cooperatively with some of my Republican colleagues on matters of mutual concern. In particular, I am proud to have co-authored with a Republican colleague from Pennsylvania the first rewrite in a decade of our nation's career and technical education programs. This legislation, which passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Trump, is providing 13 million students with a higher quality skills-based education than before. Addressing the "skills gap" that has left 7 million jobs unfilled because American workers lack the skills and education to fill them, this law took effect on July 1, 2019.
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?
While the President and Members of Congress may disagree on certain issues, we must find areas where we can work together. I serve as Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, where I am leading bipartisan investigations into pressing public health issues facing millions of Americans. For example, after learning that middle-school and high school student vaping rose by 218% and 135%, respectively, in the past two years, I launched the first congressional investigation into the youth vaping epidemic. I have worked in a bipartisan fashion with Members of Congress and the FDA to limit e-cigarette marketing to young people. In fact, after the findings of our committee's investigation into their marketing and advertising practices, JUUL halted all forms of domestic marketing and advertising. I have also introduced bipartisan legislative proposals to address youth vaping, including a bill (the PREVENT Act) with Senator Durbin and Republican Congressman Peter King that would provide $200 million annually for youth e-cigarette prevention programs in schools funded through a tax on vaping products. I am committed to protecting our children from e-cigarettes, which are particularly harmful to the health of our youth.
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?
I do not support a border wall, but there is no question that our current immigration system is seriously broken and needs repair. The outlines of a solution were contained in comprehensive immigration reform legislation that passed the U.S. Senate a few years ago. They included reasonable enhancements in our border security while providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers -- many here on expired visas -- provided they pay any taxes and fines and go to the back of the line. While a comprehensive resolution of our immigration problem may be years away, I strongly believe that we must provide a path to citizenship for the so-called DREAMers who were brought to this country as children and now face deportation through no fault of their own. As the son of legal immigrants who was brought to this country as an infant, I closely identify with the 700,000 DREAMers across America who love this country and are contributing to its future through $2 billion each year in state and local taxes alone. The DACA program not only benefits DREAMers and their families but also business development and national economic growth.
4. Please define your position on health care reform, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.
I support the Affordable Care Act that has afforded millions of Americans who formerly lacked health insurance the coverage they need while preventing insurance companies from excluding those with pre-existing conditions, and I have voted consistently against Republican attempts to repeal the law. Healthcare in this country should be a right, not a privilege, and I believe we must continue to strive to attain universal coverage. The best way to accomplish that is adding a public option under the Obamacare health insurance exchanges, so that people and families have an affordable alternative to private insurance. Such an option would provide competition for private insurance and, in so doing, could help drive down overall costs.
Congress should also end the current ban on the federal government's ability to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry for recipients of Medicare and Medicaid. This would utilize market forces to drive down prices and make prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans -- just as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has done successfully on behalf of millions of veterans who served in our military.
5. What is your position on federal funding for contraception, the Violence Against Women Act and reproductive rights?
I was proud to vote in 2019 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that included two amendments of mine to (1) launch a public information campaign to research and share best practices of employee assistance programs that strengthen supportive services for survivors in the workforce, and (2) ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor analyze and report on the barriers survivors face on the path of upward mobility. The legislation passed on a bipartisan basis, and VAWA provides crucial services for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The Senate should call a vote immediately to pass the legislation and send it to the President.
I am proudly pro-choice, and I believe decision-making about a woman's reproductive choices should be a private matter between a woman and her doctor. In addition, government-funded health insurance plans should provide women with access to contraception and a full range of reproductive health services.
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?
The United States must play a critical role in preserving and promoting democracy at home and abroad. While I do not believe the United States can or should serve as the world's police force, supporting democratic leaders and institutions benefits American security and promotes international human rights. Those efforts are most effective (and least costly) when they involve our democratic allies as partners.
I am proud that legislation I co-authored with Republican Chris Stewart, the KREMLIN Act, recently passed Congress and was signed into law by President Trump. It requires the Director of National Intelligence to create several "intelligence assessments" to better prevent Russian aggression toward our NATO allies. Importantly, it directly calls out the Russian government for its efforts to weaken democratic institutions globally and deploys our intelligence community to prevent further Russian aggression.
As a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I have grave concerns about the Trump Administration's foreign policy, which has driven a wedge between us and our long-standing, democratic allies while cozying up to autocrats such as Putin in Russia, Orban in Hungary, and Kim in North Korea.
7. Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should government be taking to address the issue?
Climate change is real, it is significantly man-made, and it is one of the gravest threats to American health, safety, and prosperity. As co-founder of the Congressional Solar Caucus and a member of the House Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment, I am working on initiatives to address climate change by investing in renewable energy development. For example, I helped craft and pass a Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations bill that invests approximately $3 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, including a requirement that at least $35 million be allocated toward programs that lower costs to implement solar technology. I am also a proud cosponsor of climate-forward legislation, such as the 100% Clean Economy Act, which sets a nationwide goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
It is also important to note that, rather than harming our nation's economy, investment in renewable energy could boost our economy and create millions of good-paying jobs. As the former president of a small business that, among other things, researched solar cell technology, I saw the domestic potential of this industry -- along with the competition it faces from competitors like China that are investing far more in these sectors than we are.