The issues of Economy and Jobs are important to our district and to my work in Congress.
No single issue is more important to the future of our community than jobs. Most of us know someone – be it a friend, relative, or colleague – who is looking for work right now. Young people are especially hard hit. At a time when they should be looking towards a bright and promising future, they are instead seeing their hopes diminished and their dreams deferred. This problem must be solved.
While we must address our government’s deficit spending it cannot be done on the backs of hardworking Americans who at this critical time need lower taxes, consumer protection, and the ability to obtain fair financing to keep their homes and grow small businesses.
Education policy remains one of my top priorities as a Member of Congress, as I know through my own personal experience just how important a role a quality education can play in an individual’s life. That is why I am committed to providing the best possible educational environment for students in the 1st Congressional District of Illinois and beyond. I am working to alter the multi-generational cycles of despair that have affected so many families and communities. I support robust investment into the public education system, as well as programs and policies that can help close the achievement gap between white students and students of color.
Some of the policies that I strongly support include improved early reading skills and effective reading interventions for low-performing students, after-school and summer programs, rigorous college and career-ready curriculums for all students, and increased parent and community participation, especially in low-income schools. I continue to advocate for the resources and guidance needed to increase graduation rates, reduce dropout rates, and re-engage students who have already left school. Our education policy must also include, strong vocational and technical education that will give students employable skills, which will improve their career options and provide economic security. Additionally, in order to provide well-rounded schools that cater to the interests of all students, it is also imperative that we provide funding for the arts, music, languages, the humanities, and physical education.
Making these investments in our children’s futures now will help us reap the rewards of shaping intelligent and productive members of society later. Providing safe schools that equip our children with a quality, well-rounded education is, has, and always will be, a top priority for me and I will continue to work to meet that goal.
I am committed to protecting our nation’s air and water supply by fighting efforts to reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as any attempts to overturn the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or any additional environmental protection laws that have been under assault.
With the Trump Administration and House Republicans’ reckless attacks on the EPA, I am more determined than ever to fight any proposals that would defund the agency and repeal clean air and clean water laws that have been on the books for over 40 years. I believe in a balanced approach that promotes clean energy and efficiency, protects the environment, and provides for commonsense rules and regulations that allow industry to plan and prosper.
Research tells us that low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by dirty air and water. Low-income communities are more likely to be located closer to coal-fired power plants and, therefore, are more likely to suffer from health issues resulting from dirty air and water. According to a 2002 Clean the Air report 68% of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.
Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “low-income populations, minorities, and children living in inner cities experience more emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths due to asthma than the general population.” In fact, according to the American Lung Association, asthma attacks send African-Americans to the emergency room at more than three times the rate of white Americans and almost 1 in 10 African-American children suffer from asthma. These results are not limited to African-Americans. According to a 2006 CDC study, 12.7% of Hispanic children have asthma compared to 8% of non-Hispanic white children.
Now is not the time to defund and attempt to dismantle the EPA or repeal commonsense laws that were enacted — with bipartisan support — to protect the American public, especially those most vulnerable communities. We need a sensible approach that promotes clean and renewable sources of energy, encourages investment in new energy technologies, and helps employ more Americans by making our country more energy efficient and independent. I am committed to fighting towards this goal and I vow to never let profit come before health as we shape our energy policy for the 21st century.
Healthcare is such a critically important issue and I have heard from many of you who have shared your thoughts and concerns regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While I agree the ACA needs improvement, depriving 24 million Americans of affordable healthcare is not the solution. As you may know, the ACA contains provisions intended to allow more Americans to access quality healthcare by increasing the primary care and public health workforce, promoting preventive services, and strengthening quality controls, among other things.
The Republican alternative has many deficiencies including eliminating coverage for preexisting conditions and undoing Medicaid expansion; which are just a sampling of what is vital to so many individuals in our district. Additionally, their cruel and reckless plan would rob too many Americans of the healthcare coverage they now have.
It is my firm belief that access to healthcare is not a privilege, but a right. Therefore, I am in strong opposition to attempts to deny Americans the healthcare coverage they deserve and will continue to fight any efforts to undermine their healthcare.
SAFETY AND GUN CONTROL
I know firsthand the terrible toll that crime and violence takes on our community and nation. In 1999, my youngest son Huey was shot and killed in Chicago. For my family and me, our lives were forever changed by this tragedy. I know we are not alone.
Gun violence is an epidemic in our country. Over the past several years, we have all seen the horrors of gun violence perpetrated against our nation and many of us have witnessed the less publicized displays of gun violence on our city streets.
I firmly believe that proposals before the Congress to regulate the purchase of firearms do not infringe on the rights afforded by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. As the late Justice Scalia wrote in the Majority Opinion for District of Columbia v. Heller, “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on … laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” (District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008))
As a proud U.S. Army veteran, I know the sacrifice that our nation’s men and women in uniform continue to make on our behalf. As we mark nearly two decades of non-stop war, it is even more important that we honor the commitment that we have made to those who have given so much for all of us.
My number one priority for our nation’s veterans includes ensuring they have adequate access to the health care they need and have earned. In the over 15 years of war, our nation has asked much of our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen. It is only fair, then, that we provide them access to the treatment they need to address the wounds — both physical and mental — that they have borne on our behalf. Too many of our veterans have been forced to self-medicate, which has led to unfortunate decisions and errors in judgement that harm them, their families, and their communities.
Beyond healthcare, many of America’s veterans need help to transition back into civilian life. Whether they pursue an education or employment, we must ensure that they have the tools, resources, and support they need at their disposal without interference or delay. That is why I advocate for benefits that include both education and job training programs that help veterans take their indispensable military skills and successfully apply them to the civilian sector.
With this in mind, I will continue to do everything I can to stand up for Veterans, as they have bravely stood up for America’s interest every day.