Bill Foster, Candidate for U.S. Congress (IL-11)

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Candidate Full Name: Bill Foster

Office: U.S. Congress (IL-11)

Party: Democrat

Email Address:

Web Site:

Campaign Name: Bill Foster for Congress

Mailing Address: PO Box 9104, Aurora, IL 60598

Phone: 630-310-6588

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 am a scientist and businessman, and now have the privilege to represent the 11th District of Illinois. When I was 19, I started a business with my younger brother from scratch in our basement. Starting with $500 from our parents, we built a company that now manufactures over half of the theater lighting equipment in the United States and provides hundreds of good jobs - with good pay and benefits - here in the Midwest.

I came to Illinois in 1984 to raise my family and to pursue a scientific career at Fermilab, home of the world's most powerful particle accelerator. During 22 years at Fermilab, I participated in leading-edge scientific research, designed and built state-of-the-art physics experiments, and led teams of people to help build Fermilab's giant particle accelerators. I continue working to ensure scientific research and development remains a priority in Congress.

My background as a businessman and scientist gives me perspective on what our economy needs to continue to build on the success of the last seven years. The company I founded with my brother shows that good-paying manufacturing jobs serve as the backbone to a strong, profitable company and, in turn, create a strong economy with opportunity for everyone. Likewise, I know that it is through sustained investment in research and development that we grow the economy and position the United States to lead the world in new products and innovation.

As a scientist, I rely upon empirical evidence to inform my policy views, and the lessons of the last two decades are clear. Our economy grows best when the middle class is strong, which is why I support investments in infrastructure and education, and tax cuts for the middle class.

2. With this being a presidential election year, who would you like to be elected President and why?

I am proud to support Hillary Clinton for President.

I support Secretary Clinton because of her record of effective leadership and because I believe she will continue the policies that have led to the economic recovery and growth we have seen in the last seven years.

The U.S economy created 22 million jobs in the Clinton years, zero net jobs in the Bush years, and more than 12 million jobs since the economic recovery that began under Obama. Business profitability, economic growth, and the net worth of American families show similar results. This is not an accident. I support investments in infrastructure and education and tax cuts for the middle class because they are shown to be much more effective at stimulating growth than the Republican agenda of increased spending on foreign wars and tax cuts for the wealthy.

3. The fight against ISIS is on everyone's mind, especially after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. What would your plan be in the fight against ISIS and for the national security of the U.S?

ISIS presents a serious threat that cannot be ignored. There is a broad bipartisan consensus that ISIS should be attacked by a U.S.-led coalition using U.S. and foreign air power and coalition ground forces with very limited special-forces intervention. This could be done without significant numbers of US ground combat troops, who have already been asked to sacrifice too much.

However, to do that Congress needs to pass an explicit Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to define and support the powers that the President can use to combat ISIS. Unfortunately, the current leadership of Congress is refusing to even debate such an authorization, because they prefer to stand back and criticize the President for pursuing policies that do not differ greatly from their own positions.

This lack of a clearly articulated national position through an AUMF makes it much more difficult to assemble the coalition that will be necessary both to defeat ISIS and to govern the former ISIS-held territory once it has been defeated. It is crucial that we combat terrorism without becoming the world's police.

The threat of homegrown ISIS-inspired attacks is made far worse by the bigoted rhetoric heard from some of our political leaders. We should make it clear that the United States is an inclusive democracy that does not discriminate on the basis of religion and accepts peaceful members of all religions.

4. Do you support a federal assault weapons ban? Why or why not? What other federal gun control measures would you support?

Yes, I do. You do not have to be a scientist to see that these weapons are not about hunting or self-defense. Assault weapons serve no other purpose than to take lives brutally and quickly. By some counts, we've seen more than one mass shooting incident per day in this country. And this is unacceptable. That is why President Reagan supported the assault weapons ban that President Clinton signed into law.

We cannot continue to put our heads in the sand and hope that this problem to go away. We need Congressional action.

I am a cosponsor of H.R. 4269, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015, legislation that would prohibit the sale, transfer, production, and importation of new military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. The legislation also includes new safeguards on the sale or transfer of assault weapons already in circulation.

The Supreme Court has determined that the second amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms, but that opinion noted that an assault weapons ban would be a reasonable restriction and the Supreme Court rejected an appeal challenging Chicago's ban of assault weapons in December 2015. Banning these weapons should cross city and state lines to ensure that we adequately protect our citizens while preserving access to weapons allowed under the Supreme Court's decision for legitimate uses, like sport.

I also support closing the gun show loophole immediately. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1217, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015. This bill would expand the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet, or in classified ads while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friend transfers.

This bill has bipartisan support and is something we should accomplish now. It improves our system for background checks by incentivizing states to improve reporting of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and by directing future grant funds toward better record-sharing systems.

This reflects compromise by both sides to help make our communities safer while protecting the rights recognized by the Supreme Court.

5. What are your thoughts on what has been done so far with immigration reform?

Immigration reform remains one of the most obvious and imperative issues the Congress needs to tackle, and I am very disappointed in the lack of progress to fix our broken immigration system.

During the 113th Congress, the Senate passed a comprehensive reform package that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 68 to 32. While not perfect, the Senate bill included a plan to secure our borders, a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, and a more secure and efficient system for legal immigration. I was especially glad to see that the Senate's plan includes an expedited path to citizenship for DREAMers and provides access to federal student aid for these talented young people in the only home most of them have ever known.

The pathway to citizenship included in both bills was tough but fair. It allows undocumented immigrants who maintain jobs and play by the rules to earn citizenship over 13 years, while also ensuring that immigrants who have committed serious crimes or pose a public safety risk are deported. In addition, it provides DREAMers with an expedited pathway to citizenship, which I strongly support.

I cosponsored the House version of this bill, which had the support of a majority of members of the House as well as the majority of Americans. However Republican leadership did not allow it to be voted on or even debated. I have called upon Speaker Ryan to immediately bring up comprehensive immigration reform for a vote.

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