Representative for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District (2017-current); Majority Whip for Maryland State Senate (2012-2016); and Maryland State Senator for District 20 (2007-2016).
Why are you running for office?
I’m working to restore the federal government as an instrument for the common good, rather than selfish interests, and to provide the best constituent services to people in Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll Counties. As a law professor, I passionately defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the rule of law and strong democracy.
How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.
The Trump administration has been a disaster and a nightmare for our country. The current Coronavirus crisis exemplifies the incalculable social costs of wrecking the machinery of government for ideological purposes. From the moment he got into office and proposed slashing the NIH medical and scientific research budget by $5 billion to his dismantling of the White House’s pandemic response team to his resistance to paid family and medical leave to his constant offering of misinformation and disinformation to the American people to his rank incompetence in managing and administering government, Trump has left us dangerously exposed to a catastrophic public health crisis. It is the same thing across the board in government as it relates to every serious public problem, from college student loan debt to the opioid epidemic to the rise of authoritarianism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism around the world. The President has converted the presidency into an instrument of self-enrichment and reduced it to near-rubble as an instrument of the public good.
The major positive of the Trump administration is that it has reminded everyone of why we need real government and real political leadership. It has also gotten a lot more young people interested in the Constitution and how it is supposed to work.
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?
The GOP tax scam gave massive corporations and the wealthiest 1% outrageous tax cuts, while increasing taxes on millions of middle-class families. This plunder has added hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit while doing nothing but giving a quick sugar rush to Wall Street. I voted against it.
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?
Economic inequality is a profound drag on both economic growth and social development. It correlates with negative policy outcomes across the board, including on public health, infant mortality, teen pregnancy, high school and college graduation, public safety, and political corruption. We need to bolster working families by increasing the minimum wage—and all wages by promoting the right to organize and bargain collectively, lowering prescription drug prices and healthcare costs, providing paid family leave, promoting debt-free college education and expanding affordable housing. Economic inequality in this country is at an all-time high, and we need to close our dangerous wealth.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?
Yes. I support enacting a universal background check for violent criminals and the dangerously unstable; a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and restoration of federal research on gun violence as a public health epidemic; and will not rest until we hold the gun industry legally accountable for its role in deadly firearm-involved violence. As a Judiciary Committee member, I worked and voted to pass several gun safety bills out of Committee including HR 8, HR 1186, HR 1236, and HR 2708.
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?
Access to healthcare is a basic right of citizenship that should not depend on a person’s income, wealth or pre-existing condition status. I have consistently fought to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including its protections for millions of individuals with preexisting conditions against repeated efforts by this Administration to sabotage it. While I fight to protect and strengthen the ACA, I support moving towards universal health care to cover all Americans with high-quality affordable care.
What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?
As Elijah Cummings taught us, government must be an instrument for advancing the common good and welfare of all. Our cities and towns depend especially on government policies that promote health security and housing for our people, economic development, environmental and workplace safety and fair immigration policies. As a Maryland Member who does not represent Baltimore City or County, I nonetheless work closely with our Baltimore-area Members to fight for policies that will enable Baltimore to thrive.
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?
The opioid epidemic takes the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year. I am a proud cosponsor of Elijah’s bill, the CARE Act, which authorizes $100 billion in long-term funding over the next decade to prevent and treat substance use disorders.
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?
We need to end the cruel treatment of families at our border and stop funding the president’s profligate fantasy border wall; restore full protections for refugees and asylum seekers and people who helped us in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, like interpreters; and pass HR 6, the Dream and Promise Act, to provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and to families that have lived here for years due to disasters in their home countries.
How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?
I believe in free trade that is fair trade. We should encourage trade with nations around the world, including China when it is premised on a floor of human rights, environmental and labor regulation which lifts up people in the participating countries.
Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?
No. The President’s decision to topple the Iran Deal was dangerous folly. The deal provided the international community with tools to confine Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and subjected Iran’s nuclear program to rigorous inspection and monitoring. Without the deal in place, it is easier for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. The whole debacle undermines American credibility and influence on the world stage, and creates instability.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
I continue to believe that active diplomacy and participation in strengthening our nonproliferation treaty are our best tools to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and prevent the risk of miscalculations that could lead to use of nuclear weapons.
How should the United States address climate change?
With global temperatures, drought, flooding, forest fires and sea levels shattering all records, we must think like first responders and reorganize the federal government to effectively confront this spreading civilizational crisis. I am championing policies to price carbon, transition to a green economy, invest in clean energy technologies and provide fossil fuel industry workers retraining and transition assistance. We are also working on a green infrastructure plan to revitalize America’s ailing transportation, water, and electrical systems in a way that advances our environmental goals.
GREEN NEW DEAL
Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?
Yes. I am an original cosponsor and called for a “Green Deal for America” in my first campaign for Congress in 2016. The Green New Deal guarantees five years of pay and assistance for fossil fuel workers displaced by a shift away from a carbon economy. This must be an essential component of the Green New Deal, and labor unions must be at the heart of our coalition.