Elected to the US House of Representatives in 2018
Why are you running for office?
Now more than ever, we need pragmatic leaders who can guide our country through difficult times. As we face a global health crisis unlike any other in our lifetime, it’s important that our leaders take the appropriate actions to keep our communities safe and healthy, protect our economy, and stand up for our most vulnerable populations. We also need a government that thinks long term, ensuring that we are better prepared for future challenges and bolstering the systems that we rely on during difficult times. Since taking office, I’ve fought for those vulnerable communities and those without a voice by writing and passing legislation aimed at improving education, reforming the criminal justice system, and ending the opioid epidemic that is crippling our communities. Growing up, I watched as my family’s farm went bankrupt and we were forced to make some tough decisions about our future. While attending graduate school, I started a small business with just one store to help support my struggling family. Using innovative solutions and with the help of my team members, I was able to take that store and turn it into a national brand creating over 7,000 jobs. It is that entrepreneurial mindset that I bring to Congress, focused on tackling our toughest challenges with long-term solutions. In my first term, I introduced more than 10 bills, amendments, and resolutions, nearly all with bipartisan support. We passed legislation through the House to provide $7.5 billion dollars in federal funds for states to respond to the opioid crisis, introduced legislation to incarcerated individuals have access to education and training, and formed the Bipartisan Freshman Working Group on Addiction. While we’ve had some successes over the past year, we know that there is much more to be done. That’s why I’m committed to remain in this fight, and that’s why I’m running for Congress.
How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.
With few exceptions, the Trump administration has adopted a vision and implemented policies that are cruel and harmful to our most vulnerable communities. Stripping rights from our immigrant neighbors, cutting taxes for corporations and America’s most wealthy individuals, and slashing investments in public health and education all go against the values of inclusion and diversity that define this country. While I am pleased that the administration has taken steps to reform our criminal justice system with the First Step Act, we have much more to do in order to ensure a just criminal justice system. Incarcerated individuals, returning citizens, and their families have been struggling for decades as a result of our unjust and antiquated criminal justice system. We need to build on the progress from the First Step Act and work to eliminate cash bail, implement fair sentencing reform, end mandatory minimums, and support those returning citizens as they re-enter society.
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 opposed the Trump administration’s tax cuts and continue to believe they are unfair and counterproductive. This law gave massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and our country’s largest corporations. At the same time, the law did next to nothing for working families while adding nearly $2 trillion dollars to our nation’s already staggering debt. As we face a public health crisis and the need for an expensive economic recovery looms over us, the benefit of an increased tax revenue is ever-apparent. The President promised that businesses would use the savings from this law to grow jobs, increase wages and invest in supply chains; instead we have seen that the largest corporations have simply padded the pockets of their investors through stock buybacks. We should reverse these tax cuts and reform our outdated tax code to create greater investments for those who don’t have lobbyists and PACs. We need long-term solutions to prepare younger Americans for the future, by increasing access to education and job training.
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, economic inequality is a problem. The richest Americans continue to get richer and acquire a larger share of our national wealth, while the bottom 50% continues to struggle to get by every day. For most Americans, a $400 surprise expense would lead to financial ruin. And, the gap between the rich and the poor is even more stark when you compare the wealth of families of color to white families. Inequality in this country has become a crisis, and we must act. I was proud to fight for the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour and lift millions of Americans, particularly women and black and brown families, out of poverty. This is a long overdue step to improve the economic stability of Americans who need it the most. We also need to reverse the Trump administration’s tax cuts and write a more equitable tax code to ensure that wealthy Americans pay their fair share.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?
I, like so many others, am sick and tired of the lack of progress on sensible gun reform in this country. I made the promise two years ago that I would stand up for common sense gun reform and work to protect the lives of the thousands of innocent Americans killed by guns every year. I am a proud cosponsor of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and stand in support of solutions like closing the gun show loophole, banning military-style assault weapons, and implementing universal background checks. It was an honor to have Congresswoman Lucy McBath -- my colleague and a renowned gun violence prevention advocate -- join me in my district last year to meet with concerned citizens and hear the stories of how gun violence impacts communities across Maryland. More than anything else, I learned that the thoughts and prayers of politicians have done and will continue to do nothing to protect Americans from gun violence, suicide by gun, and mass shootings. Smart regulation from Congress will, and I will work to make sure that happens.
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 (ACA) has helped millions of people access quality health care, and this landmark law plays a crucial role in our progress towards universal coverage. At a time when health coverage is at the top of everyone’s minds, the ACA has helped quell the fears of Americans by ensuring that they can get the coverage they need. While we work to stop the administration from sabotaging the ACA, we also need to work to build a healthcare system that lives up to our values and guarantees healthcare as a human right. I support building on the progress of the Affordable Care Act by creating a public option, allowing millions of Americans to buy into Medicare, expanding Medicaid in every state, and cracking down on price gouging by pharmaceutical companies by allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices. We can and must ensure every American has quality, affordable health care.
What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?
Our nation’s cities play a key role in driving economic growth, and we need to ensure the federal government is doing everything possible to support the innovation and economic development happening in cities across the country. Our cities face unique challenges across a host of areas, including access to equitable transportation, affordable housing, and quality healthcare. As we know all too well, gun violence is also a major issue plaguing our cities. We need a national strategy to invest in smart transit options, dramatically increase housing stock with a focus on affordable housing, ensure every resident has access to health care, incentivize broad-based economic development, and tackle gun violence. Providing a quality education for every child in every community must remain one of our major goals. Good schools are the best investment we can make, and this will continue to be my focus as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor.
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. Elijah Cummings was a once-in-a-generation leader, and I am honored to have called him a friend and mentor. I was proud to stand beside him in the fight against opioid addiction, and I am committed to continuing his efforts. I’ve met with dozens of experts on addiction and substance abuse, and studies show that $100 billion is on the low-end of the investment we’ll need to make to end this epidemic. We need to implement long-term solutions, like Congressman Cummings envisioned, to make real progress. That’s why I was pleased to have passed through the House a bill to provide $7.5 billion in funding for states to respond to the opioid crisis. This is just the start of what needs to be done, but with effective leadership, and with Elijah’s vision in mind, we can end this scourge
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?
Immigrants are vital to maintaining the success and spirit of our nation. The cruel and inhuman policies of the Trump administration go against the inclusivity and diversity that make America what it is today. DACA should be preserved, and we should honor the rights of those with Temporary Protected Status. I was proud to help the House pass the Dream and Promise Act, which does just that. This is just one of the many bills sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk, waiting for consideration in the Senate. It’s time for them to take action on this. The policies of family separation, travel bans, and deportations should be reversed immediately, and we must keep in mind the values of tolerance and respect upon which our nation was founded. Under a new President and with a new Congress, we must pass comprehensive immigration reform that keeps our families safe, protects our borders, and grows our economy.
How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?
The President’s trade policies have been a disaster for American workers and consumers, but his obsession with medieval trade tactics have particularly devastated our farmers and farm economy in Maryland and across the country. Agriculture remains one of the largest industries in Maryland, and it is essential to our success as a state. We see the impact of the Trump administration’s tariffs especially in the Port of Baltimore, which is critical to our economy and the driving force behind our imports and exports from the state. The President claims that China is paying the price for his tariffs, but there is no question that American consumers are the ones who have been hit with the bill. Chinese imports of American agricultural goods have dropped 50%, and the President simply responded with billions in bailout money. American farmers don’t want a bailout, they want to export their goods and support their families. We need a sensible, 21st century trade policy that levels the playing field for American workers and writes strong rules of the road with regard to environmental and labor issues.
Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?
I did not support President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, because I did not think it was the best deal we could get. However, I was disappointed that President Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran. It is imperative now, more than ever, that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon. All options must be on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb that threatens not only Israel, but also other allies in the Middle East and beyond. The next president must make preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon a key policy priority, and as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I stand ready to support this effort.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
North Korea is a serious threat to the United States and our allies in the region, including South Korea. President Trump’s actions with respect to North Korea defy logic and have thus far failed to deliver any measurable results that would bring us closer to a complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction. Rather than engage in strongman bravado, the United States must pursue smart and strong diplomatic efforts by working with our allies, strengthening our diplomatic corps, and relying on the advice of our State Department professionals.
How should the United States address climate change?
I’m proud to be endorsed by the Sierra Club, and I am honored to serve on the subcommittee of the House Foreign Relations Committee that is focused on developing sound international environmental policy. Climate change is real and it creates a major threat to our way of life. We need to take action now before it is too late. I, along with my Democratic colleagues in the House, have worked to pass the Climate Action Now Act, which would require the federal government to remain in the Paris Climate Agreement and fully meet its requirements. I am also working to pass the 100% Clean Economy Act, which would ensure economy-wide, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Beyond these actions, we need to ensure that we fully fund the EPA, strengthen and enforce our environmental laws to keep our air and water clean, and radically increase our investments in clean energy research.
GREEN NEW DEAL
Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?
Climate change is a crisis that threatens the future of our planet. We must act with resolve and rally around realistic solutions that meet the severity and scale of this crisis. While the Green New Deal does include some good ideas for how we can invest in our future and secure a clean and healthy climate for our children, I am focused on fighting to pass the 100% Clean Economy Now Act and the Climate Action Now Act and ensure we have a Democrat in the White House in 2021 who will use the full weight of the federal government to fight climate change.