Candidate Full Name: Tammy Duckworth
Office: U.S. Congress, 8th District
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Site: www.tammyduckworth.com
Campaign Name: Duckworth for Congress
Campaign Office Mailing Address: PO Box 59568, Schaumburg, IL 60159
Phone: (630) 855-5120
Survey Questions (Character limit of 2,000 per response)
1. Please tell us about yourself, your background and why you believe you are qualified to hold this office.
I draw on my experiences in the military and in state and Federal governments to effectively serve my constituents in Congress.
My continued service in the military has led to a focus on Veterans advocacy. If you are willing to risk your life for your nation, our country should be there for you with not only the best equipment and training, but also to support you when you come home. While serving as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, I implemented many first in the nation programs to alleviate Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, improve traumatic brain injury screening and reduce homelessness among Veterans. At the U.S. Department of Veterans affairs I headed the department's effort to end Veteran homelessness, created the Office of Online Communications and was a leader in initiatives for Native American and female Veterans. In Congress, I helped pass initiatives to help Veterans transfer their military skills into civilian licenses, easing the transition into the private sector and to extend maternity leave for military mothers.
It's my mission to cut the waste and fraud in government so we can protect vital programs lime Medicare and Social Security. And so we can invest in critical building blocks of economic prosperity like infrastructure and education. With many middle class families still struggling to make ends meet, I continue to promote manufacturing and small businesses to grow our economy. I'm proud of the bipartisan work I was able to accomplish in my first term in a gridlocked Washington - but so many important issues like immigration reform, tax reform and the minimum wage remain unanswered. We must continue to reach for common ground to tackle the issues facing our nation.
2. What are your thoughts on President Obama's plan for military action in Iraq and Syria?
ISIS poses a real and immediate threat to U.S. interests and potentially to our homeland if left unchecked. They must be contained and destroyed. I am not opposed to military action in Iraq and I think that to destroy ISIS, we will ultimately have to follow them into Syria to deny them any sanctuary. However, Congress must do its job and provide clear parameters and be responsive to the American people about any future plans for U.S. military involvement in the region.
Recently, I voted against the amendment that allows for a reprogramming of $500 million in the Defense budget in order to train and arm Syrian rebel groups over the next twelve weeks. Having sat through numerous briefings from Pentagon, Department of State and
Administration officials, too many questions remain about our vetting process and the ability to identify reliable partners, many of whom have questionable allegiances. There are too many questions about the long term implications of arming and equipping rebel forces and how this action fits into our broader strategy in destroying ISIS. I believe supporting these Syrian rebels - who ultimately want to remove Assad from power - will lead to a much longer and costly level of engagement. Congress failed to properly discuss and weigh the long term consequences of this military action and because of this, I cannot support it. As a Member of Congress, it's my responsibility to make sure we don't commit resources, the most precious of which are our men and women in uniform, with no comprehensive plan for our involvement.
I am also disappointed by the failure of Congressional leadership to have an honest debate and vote on the overall strategy to defeat ISIS. We should not be holding a vote on one part of the strategy in the region that will have irreversible long term consequences in the form of an amendment to a stop gap spending bill. This is no way to govern. It is a failure on the part of Congress to do its job. There are no easy answers to this discussion, but as a Veteran, a Member of Congress, and an American citizen, I strongly believe that Congress must have the courage to have the difficult debate and yes, a difficult vote, on authorization that sets clear parameters and clear support for our military. Congress needs to debate and develop a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) before voting on authority for one piece of that strategy that will inevitably lead to further involvement across multiple national borders. As they have done for three hundred years, the men and women who wear our country's uniform will execute our plans though it may cost them the last full measure. Congress owes them an honest debate and a clear plan.
3. Several major retailers recently disclosed they experienced data breaches. What can Congress do to help prevent this?
The success of our 21st century economy depends on a secure digital marketplace. The growth of cyber threats to both our public and private sectors is a major challenge that will require a robust response from all branches of the government and the private sector. This response must also ensure civil liberty and consumer privacy.
To increase data sharing between companies and government agencies, I voted for the Cyber Security Information Sharing and Protection Act to take a step towards stopping these data breaches before they occur. However, with the recent reports of hackers stealing 56 million customers' credit card information from Home Depot - and other major retailers being comprised - we can no longer afford to delay action.
It is time for Congress to debate and investigate this issue and for retailers, banks and credit card networks to put aside their differences in the interest of a solution that protects the entire "payment universe." Otherwise, our constituents will pay the price and the overall economy will suffer.
4. Can the budget deficit be controlled only by spending cuts or does the federal government need to raise more revenue? If you favor more revenue, should there be a general tax hike?
I support a balanced approach to government spending that eliminates waste and fraud, promotes job creation and encourages entrepreneurship and innovation. Congress must responsibly manage government spending in a manner that reduces our national deficit while investing in the future of our country.
We are in need of a deficit reduction plan that eliminates waste in government spending while protecting the key safety nets that millions of hard-working Americans depend on. I cosponsored the bipartisan PRIME Act with Peter Roskam (R-IL) to address the $60 billion a year of Medicare waste and fraud. Additionally, I've not been shy about going after waste in the Department of Defense, such as the faulty procurement of the F-35 fighter jet. After introducing an amendment to insert greater protections against overspending on the F-35, the DOD initiated many of the same reforms I originally proposed, such as withholding $231 million from the F-35s contractor until the company fixed the planes already delivered to the U.S. military.
I passed several provisions to cut waste in military spending. In 2012, DOD auditors found $900 million worth of Stryker vehicle parts sitting unused in a warehouse. I successfully passed an amendment to the defense budget limiting funding to the Stryker vehicle until the Army examines what to do with the unused parts. As of July 2014, the Army has developed a plan to recoup all $900 million.
I believe we should go after this type of waste and fraud rather than simply calling for the elimination of the Medicare guarantee or privatizing Social Security. Middle class families cannot afford higher taxes, but I do support closing tax loopholes, raising the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax for the top 1.3% of earners and ending subsidies for oil and gas companies. These are common sense steps we can take to lower our deficit without comprising vital safety net programs or important investments in infrastructure and education.
5. What are your thoughts on immigration reform?
I support comprehensive immigration reform that is practical, fair and humane. Our current immigration system is broken and the U.S. is in need of long-term legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, secures our borders and keeps families together. I've met with dozens of organizations across the 8th District, from law enforcement agencies to the Chambers of Commerce. They all stressed to me the importance of comprehensive immigration reform. By moving forward with reform, Congress can not only better the lives of so many hard-working families living in the United States, but also secure America's future global competitiveness and boost our economy. The Congressional Budget Office has stated that comprehensive immigration reform will reduce our national debt by nearly $1 trillion dollars over 20 years and help small businesses in the 8th District grow and create jobs.
I support the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate and it would pass the House today if Speaker Boehner would bring it up for a vote. Immigration reform is right for our businesses, our families and our economy. This should include a pathway to citizenship only after paying fines, passing a criminal background check, learning English and paying taxes owed.
I am continually working to address this critical issue. I co-introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act with Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA). It would provide a way for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents as children to become Legal Permanent Residents of the U.S. by serving in the U.S. military. Those who are willing to defend America and die for our nation deserve the opportunity to legally live in the country they are defending.