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Bobby Rush, 1st Congressional District Democratic nominee profile

He wants the federal government to focus on assisting individuals and small businesses to stimulate economic recovery.

Bobby Rush, 1st Congressional District Democratic nominee and incumbent.
Bobby Rush, 1st Congressional District Democratic nominee and incumbent.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Candidate profile

Bobby Rush

Political party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign website:

The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing their districts, the state of Illinois and the country. Bobby Rush submitted the following responses:

Are you satisfied with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Why or why not? What grade would you give President Donald Trump for his handling of the pandemic, and why?

I am completely dissatisfied with the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all of the programs that Congress has created and appropriated money for, the Trump Administration has completely mismanaged these programs, just like it has mishandled the crisis, at large. For example, instead of focusing on small business relief, the Administration directed relief efforts to large, multinational companies. Instead of ensuring that Americans across the country received their stimulus checks, the President was more focused on ensuring that his signature appeared on these checks. From the health perspective, Trump’s insistence and focus on shams and scams has done nothing to save lives but has endangered them even further. All of these point to one overarching problem: The Trump Administration has no national strategy on how to address this crisis. Instead, every action is piecemeal and inconsistent. For these reasons, I give Trump an “F” for his handling of this crisis.

What should the federal government do to stimulate economic recovery from the pandemic shutdowns?

The Federal Government must be willing to spend the money necessary to help our economy recover. From assisting individuals and small businesses to ensuring the viability of critical industries, we must ensure that our economy remains strong and people have the ability to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. It calls for the creation of a database to track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct, federal grants to encourage police departments to meet higher certification standards on use of force, and the greater involvement of social workers and mental health professionals when the police respond to calls dealing with homelessness, mental illness and addiction. The order also calls for police departments to ban the use of chokeholds except when an officer feels his or her life is endangered. Will this be enough to address concerns about police brutality? If not, what other steps should be taken?

While the Executive Order seems like a good first step, I am skeptical of this Administration’s desire to see meaningful change on this issue. That is because, at every turn, the President has done nothing but stoke racial tensions, increase disparities, and disparage those who stand up for what America should be. If the President is truly committed to achieving real change in policing practices in this country, I would encourage him to call on Senate Republican to take up and pass — and for him to sign — H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020.

Also in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the House passed the Justice in Policing Act, which would ban police departments from using chokeholds, develop a national standard for use of force, limit the transfer of military weapons to police departments, define lynching as a federal hate crime, establish a national police misconduct registry, and limit qualified immunity, which protects officers from lawsuits over alleged misconduct. Do you support this legislation? Why or why not? What other steps, if any, would you like to see the federal government take on police reform?

I am proud to have voted for this legislation. This bill represents an important and significant step forward in the struggle for police reform. While this bill works through the legislative process, the Federal Government — and the Department of Justice, specifically — must resume “pattern-or-practice” investigations. The Trump Administration has not initiated a single one of these investigations that serve as an important tool in holding perpetrators of police misconduct accountable.

What’s your view on President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone?

I am extremely disappointed by this decision. While I am no longer surprised by the level of nepotism displayed by this President, I am continually amazed by the President’s blatant disregard for the rule of law or his ability to deviate even further from norms and precedents.

Bobby Rush submitted the following responses before the March primary:

Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or other paid or volunteer work to improve your community.

Over the past two years, I have introduced legislation that addresses the community impact of the discriminatory and debilitating war on drugs, the exorbitant rates charged to prisoners to stay connected with their families (which is tied to reduced recidivism), the legacy of unsolved crimes of the civil rights era, and the scourge of lynching (which still is not illegal under federal law).

I have also introduced legislation that addresses gun trafficking at a federal level (which is responsible for the influx of illegal guns in to Chicago and remains legal under federal law) and legislation that reduces the unfettered and illegal access to guns.

In the healthcare field, I have introduced legislation that addresses the soaring cost of insulin, increases competition to address the rising cost of prescription drugs, the lack of diversity in the healthcare workforce, the increased rate of prostate cancer among black men, and the unknown side effects of prescription medication.

As Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, I have introduced legislation that enhances pipeline safety (especially since Will County, in my district, has one of the highest concentrations of pipelines in the nation) and that creates jobs and trains people for the green economy.

To increase access to financing and financial stability, I have introduced legislation to address the phenomenon where a mortgage lender sells the mortgage without notifying the homeowner and to address the widespread closure of black-owned banks. Furthermore, I have introduced legislation to address the ongoing and extraordinary number of breaches of private information and to address the lack of adequate high speed broadband coverage in low-income and minority communities.

What are your views on the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump? Has the impeachment process been fair or not? How so? If, in your view, the president should not have been impeached, would you have supported censure? Please explain.

I voted to impeach President Trump because he has left us with no choice. Impeachment is the only recourse we have in the face of such an egregious and illegal abuse of power. This President has abused his oath, and his office, by soliciting assistance from a foreign government in a clear attempt to undermine the results of the 2020 election.

Furthermore, he has willfully obstructed Congress’s constitutionally- endowed rights and obligations, and for that, I voted to impeach. The American people cannot have confidence in our Constitutionally-established democratic process if the President — the sworn protector of that very process — is actively working to undermine it. Simply put, the President is a clear and present threat to our democracy and our national security, and although I took no pleasure in his impeachment, it is what was required both morally and by the Constitution, which I have sworn an oath to defend and protect.

Furthermore, I do believe this process has been fair because the investigatory committees conducted 100 hours of depositions and received 40 hours of testimony from bipartisan witnesses, including those appointed by President Trump. In the face of such clear facts, I continue to believe that it was both our moral — and Constitutional — imperative to impeach President Trump.

How would you reduce the federal budget deficit, which now stands at about $1 trillion for 2020? What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?

I would reduce the federal budget deficit by repealing the Republican tax scam. This legislation was nothing more than a modern-day smash and grab carried out by the President and his enablers in Congress, amounting to a massive giveaway to the wealthiest tax bracket while middle- and lower-income Americans were left footing the bill.

Ultimately, this was responsible for increasing the federal deficit by $1.9 trillion over 10 years. That is why I was proud to vote for legislation that rescinds the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions, which overwhelmingly harm residents of states like Illinois. Furthermore, I have voted for, and remain committed to advancing, legislation that helps the least amongst us — by, for example, increasing access to health care and reducing prescription prices — without increasing federal debt.

What changes would you like to see made to our nation’s healthcare system? Would you shore up the Affordable Care Act or work to repeal it in full? What’s your view on Medicare for All? And what should be done, if anything, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs?

The number one change we need in our nation’s healthcare system is to bring down the cost of health care for individuals. We can achieve this by shoring up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), reversing provisions instituted by the Trump Administration to weaken the ACA (measures that ultimately increase costs for consumers while reducing access), and lowering the cost of prescription drugs, particularly life-saving drugs like insulin.

I remain committed to increasing access to affordable health care for everyone which is why I have cosponsored legislation to implement Medicare for All since 2005 and why I voted for legislation to reform the prescription drug pricing system in the United States. It is ridiculous that we are responsible for many of the world’s innovations yet continue to pay outrageous rates for prescription drugs. Further, I have introduced legislation that brings down the price of prescription drugs by increasing competition, eliminates out-of-pocket costs for insulin, and increases access to screening for vulnerable populations. I was also proud to vote for the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which, for the first time, allows Medicare to negotiate reduced prescription drug prices, institutes a cap on out-of-pocket costs for seniors, and provides vision, dental, and hearing benefits for Medicare recipients.

The Trump administration is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether it can end the DACA program — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Do you support or oppose DACA and why? Should a path to citizenship be created for the so-called DREAMers? Please explain.

I support DACA because we must not penalize individuals that were brought to the United States through no fault of their own and are trying to do what most Americans take for granted: go to school, earn a livable wage, and provide for themselves and their families in order to improve their lives; in short, those who are trying to achieve their American dream. Rescinding this program not only deprives our country of nearly a million talented and driven individuals, it also opens the possibility that program participants will be deported to a country that is foreign to them. A country where they may not know anybody, not speak the language, and not have anywhere to go. Simply put, this is mean- spirited and inhumane.

DACA recipients should have a pathway to citizenship because, for many, the United States is the only home they’ve known. A home where they are an integral part of their communities and where they contribute to the diversity of our nation.

What are the three most important issues in your district on which the federal government can and should act?

Violence Prevention


Increased access to educational opportunities.

All three of these issues are interconnected. A lack of educational opportunities leads to a lack of jobs, which is a key factor in the rise in violence. That being said, we must do what we can to stem the violence that exists today while we work to prevent future violence. That is why I was proud to host the Subcommittee on Health at Kennedy–King College in my district where we discussed the epidemic of gun violence and possible solutions.

What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent(s)?

I have a lifetime of service to my country, community and the constituents in Illinois. As a young adult, I enlisted in the army during a turbulent time where Civil Rights was beginning to shine light on the social injustices in our nation. It led me on a path of making real change by serving people who needed a voice they could trust and fight for them in Washington, D.C. I have built long-lasting relationships which has spanned nearly five decades fighting for people’s rights as a community activist, and later as a 2nd Ward alderman to serving in the US House of Representatives for the 1st Congressional District.

What action should Congress take, if any, to reduce gun violence?

The number one thing Congress should do is close the gun show loophole and require background checks on all private sales of firearms. That is why I was proud to have voted for legislation that enacts these provisions and why I have introduced legislation to require mandatory firearm owner registration and ban firearms trafficking.

Is climate change real? Is it significantly man-made? Is it a threat to humankind? What if anything should Congress and the federal government do about it?

Climate change is real.

Human activity has, undeniably, played a significant role in accelerating this phenomenon. We have now reached a point where climate change poses an existential threat to many at home and around the world, particularly since both Cook and Will Counties have some of the worst air quality — and some of the highest asthma rates — in the country.

Congress and the federal government must act immediately to mitigate this threat by reducing our nation’s carbon output and focusing our investment on a cleaner and greener economy. That is why I voted for legislation that would institute a cap on emissions. Further, as Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, I am proud to have led hearings on energy efficiency standards and to reduce carbon output by some of our nation’s biggest polluters and to play a leading role in the House of Representatives’ effort to address the climate crisis. I have also introduced legislation that will build a green energy workforce to support the renewable economy by creating much-needed jobs and supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

What should Congress do to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare?

Many seniors depend on Social Security as their only source of income, therefore Social Security must be protected and enhanced to ensure its solvency. To protect Social Security, we must fight against privatization and lift the cap on Social Security contributions for the highest income levels without reducing benefits. Instead, I believe we should expand benefits and increase cost-of-living adjustments. To protect Medicare, we must make the system more efficient. We can do this by lowering prescription drug costs, including by allowing direct negotiations to reduce prices.

What should Congress do to address the student loan crisis? Would you use the word “crisis”?

This is, without a doubt, a crisis and one that particularly impacts the African-American community. Congress must enact legislation to forgive student loans, institute caps on interest rates on Federal student loans, and provide refinancing opportunities for private borrowers. That is why I am proud to cosponsor legislation that achieves these goals.

What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?

While we should have a positive relationship with Russia, in today’s climate that is not possible. Russia was directly responsible for hacking the 2016 election, has violated its neighbors’ sovereignty, and has resumed posing a threat to the United States. We must approach Russia with caution and limit their ability to threaten the United States.

What’s your view on the use of tariffs in international commerce? Has President Trump imposed tariffs properly and effectively? Please explain.

While tariffs have the ability to level the playing field for U.S. companies and consumers, President Trump has not used them in a way that benefits the United States. Instead, his use of tariffs has led to reduced exports and more expensive imports which, ultimately, have raised prices on consumers and hurt our nation’s — and particularly Illinois’ — manufactures and farmers.

Does the United States have a responsibility to promote democracy in other countries? Please explain.

The United States should promote democracy in other countries but that does not mean we do so by military force. Instead, soft power tools (such as diplomacy) are more effective at promoting democracy and ensuring stable relationship with our international partners. That is why I have voted to increase funding for the U.S. State Department and development programs that increase our international partnerships, particularly with the developing world.

What should Congress do to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms?

It is vital that Congress plays an active role to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms. We must encourage the administration to pursue international agreements that would mitigate the nuclear threat. That is why I supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and from which President Trump, unfortunately, withdrew.

Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.

Jeffrey Rush, my son is currently one of our campaign consultants. He consults on field operations.

What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.

We recently lost a Rev. Clay Evans, who I consider a person who has served Illinois as one of our most notable faith and community leaders. I have always admired Rev. Evans’s commitment to his community, bridging people from around the city from various faiths, race, and cultures to build a better life.

What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?

There are too many good shows to mention. I love watching a good action-filled movie.