Democratic candidate for Congress, D4
Residence Bowie, Prince George’s County
Occupation Member of Congress
Education Harvard College, 1984, BA (Government); Harvard Law School, 1992, JD
Previous political experience
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (2017- current); Lt. Governor of Maryland (2007-2015); Majority Whip of Maryland House of Delegates (2004-2007) and Member of the House of Delegates, representing District 25 (1999-2007)
Why are you running for office?
I am running for re-election to Congress to continue my life-long public service of expanding affordable, quality healthcare to every American; providing a world-class education to every child regardless of zip code which starts by placing a highly-qualified, well-resourced teacher at the front of every classroom; addressing climate change and environmental justice so that each and every person can live in a healthy world that we can leave Earth more healthy to the next generation; and, ensuring that we live in a nation where we respect the dignity of every individual, where we understand that each of us has the ability and responsibility to contribute to the greatness that is our country, and where diversity and inclusion are not only considered our greatest strength but are embraced in all that we do and all that we are.
How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.
The Trump Administration has been a failure, both domestically and internationally. One positive is that President Trump called off the retaliatory strike against Iran in June 2019, demonstrating a modicum of restraint, because he decided there would be too many deaths for a proportionate response to the downing of a US drone.
2017 TAX CUTS
What effect do you believe the federal tax cuts of 2017 have had on the economy thus far or will have in the future and why? Do you support the cuts?
I voted against the 2017 GOP tax cuts for many of the reasons later to be proven true by the independent, non-partisan Congressional Research Service in its 2019 report. The CRS reported that the tax cuts were for the richest Americans and largest corporations, and that they simply did not work to spur investment and increase output. Businesses did not use the windfall to increase investments and workers did not see the increases in pay promised over the longer term. The Federal budget deficit has ballooned as a result.
Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and why or why not? What, if anything, should the federal government do to address it?
Yes, income inequality is a problem and addressing it is a moral imperative for the United States. In our country, the top 20% receive more than 50% of total income, and the top 5% receive nearly 25% of total income. Moreover, the black-white income gap in the United States has persisted over time, and the wealth gap between America’s richest and poorer families more than doubled during the past quarter century. The federal government could reduce income inequality by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, increasing access to high quality pre-K, expanding employment training and apprenticeships, offering universal paid family leave, allowing for student debt refinancing and making college more affordable, and improving retirement security.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?
Federal gun laws should be changed by establishing universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, banning bump stocks and assault weapons, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines, and expanding the no-buy list to domestic violence perpetrators and people on the no-fly list. Red flag laws and funding for quality, affordable mental health services is integral to addressing gun violence in our communities.
What should Congress do with respect to the Affordable Care Act, how and why? If you believe it should be scrapped, what, if anything, should replace it?
The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction and needs to be strengthened by creating a public health insurance plan that would compete with other private health insurance companies, and where participation in the public option would be voluntary for those who choose to do so.
What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?
The federal government should help cities like Baltimore by investing in federal programs that create employment opportunities in high unemployment communities, investing in aging infrastructure and affordable housing programs, providing summer jobs and year-round training to at-risk youth, addressing food insecurity by combatting food deserts, and implementing the Congressional Black Caucus’ 10-20-30 formula whereby federal agencies commit 10% of their budgets in communities where 20% of the population has been living in poverty for the last 30 years.
Do you back Elijah Cummings’ bill -- which Republicans say is too expensive -- to provide $100 billion over 10 years to fight the opioid epidemic? Why or why not?
Yes, I am an original co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act sponsored by my late colleague and friend Representative Elijah Cummings. Congress must increase funding to state and local government to support community and evidence-based programs to address the opioid epidemic, and develop opioid prescribing practices to reduce opioid misuse and overdoses.
What changes, if any, should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies? Should the DACA program be preserved? Why or why not?
Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform that promotes family reunification and diversity, strengthens our workforce and economy, and provides refuge for asylum seekers and refugees, while at the same time protects our borders. I strongly support the DACA program, in large part because of my own family’s experience. My grandmother came to this country as a domestic worker, without proper documentation. She did this so that my father could become the first member of our family to go to college. He became a doctor and dedicated himself to serving those most in need in some of the poorest neighborhoods in our country. My family’s story can be told by generations of families who have come to this country either by force or fear or voluntarily.
How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?
President Trump is losing on trade with China. Most experts agree that China is a bad actor in global trade, including currency manipulation, subsidies for domestic companies, overproducing products like steel and dumping it on the global market, and stealing foreign companies’ intellectual property. Experts have also pointed out that President Trump’s chief mistake was to go it alone. European leaders offered to join forces with the United States against China, yet President Trump declined, instead criticizing and attempting to punish Europe for running trade deficits with the United States, and imposing tariffs on our allies in the spurious name of national security. He also withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that would have put pressure on China.
Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?
No. The Iran Nuclear Deal was a framework agreed to by Iran, the United States, and a group of world powers. Admittedly, the framework did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program, its malign activities throughout the Middle East, and its arms sales to state and non-state actors that pose a threat to the United States and our allies and partners. The framework also was weak in the areas of inspecting Iran’s compliance and with next steps when the framework terminates. As a member of Congress, I support addressing these issues. However, at the time that President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, his own State Department had, and continued to, certify that Iran was abiding by the terms of the deal. President Trump’s decision has made America less safe regarding Iran and has jeopardized our credibility and standing in the world to act and negotiate in good faith.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
The United States should emphasize diplomacy, supported by a strong military posture, with the goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Diplomacy should include our allies and engage China.
How should the United States address climate change?
The United States, as one of the two largest energy consuming nations in the world, has a practical and moral obligation to address climate change. We must recommit to the Paris Climate Accord, and take a leadership role in reducing global GHG emissions; minimize market barriers and empower and incentivize private-sector efforts to decarbonize by leveling the playing field; encourage innovation and deployment of existing and next-generation technologies through federal investment and support; support growth for the United States workers by ensuring the climate-forward economy creates good, family sustaining jobs with strong labor standards; resolve inequities and put communities first by developing holistic and just climate policies together with vulnerable and frontline communities to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to adapt and succeed; ensure United States policies focus on both future threats of climate change as well as existing impacts; foster adaptation and resilience through risk mitigation, disaster response, relief, and recovery, and nature-based, resilient, and climate-oriented infrastructure.
GREEN NEW DEAL
Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?
As set forth in the Green New Deal, the federal government should seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers; to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States; to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century; to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment; and to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth. I have been fighting for these actions, ideas and initiatives for my entire career as a public servant.