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Brad Schneider, 10th Congressional District Democratic nominee profile

He wants a second round of $1,200 direct checks to individuals, expanded assistance for small businesses, and extended unemployment benefits to keep the economy going.

Brad Schneider, 10th Congressional District Democratic nominee and incumbent, 2020 election
Brad Schneider, 10th Congressional District Democratic nominee and incumbent.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Candidate profile

Brad Schneider

Running for: Congress, IL-10

Political party affiliation: Democrat

Political/civic background: Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Occupation: Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Education: B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University, M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management

Campaign website: schneiderforcongress.com

Facebook: SchneiderforCongress

Twitter: @Schneider4IL10

Instagram: schneiderforcongress

YouTube: youtube.com/user/schneider4il10


The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees 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. Brad Schneider 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?

After more than 160,000 deaths in the United States, the President has repeatedly failed the American people with one of the worst COVID-19 responses in the world. It didn’t have to be this way. Look at almost any other developed country and see how their well considered, science-based response to this pandemic saved lives. Sadly, as a result of the President’s botched response to a health crisis, America is now facing an economic crisis, with small businesses closing, families being evicted, and cities facing bankruptcy. The Trump Administration continues to fail to provide Americans with sufficient guidance to safely and confidently reopen our schools this fall. It’s part of a consistent pattern of a failure by President Trump and the federal agencies under his management to prepare and to lead. At least thus far, the President deserves a failing grade.

Congress, and in particular the House of Representatives, has tried to ease the pain with legislation such the CARES Act, which provided direct checks to individuals, PPP loans to businesses, and expanded unemployment support, and the HEROES Act which would extend and expand support through the end of the year including much needed money for local governments to pay teachers, firefighters and police. The foresight of that legislation was undeniable and I firmly believe that such support must be expanded on in any new relief package.

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

Before we can get our economy on the path to recovery, we have to effectively beat back the virus. If we solve the public health crisis, kids will go back to school, people will eat out, travel and re-engage in the service-driven economy again. Solving the public health crisis is the single best thing we can do to help the economy. Meanwhile, to put the economy in the best position to fully recover and once again grow, we need to help our nation— American working families, small businesses, health care providers, state and local governments—navigate this period until we get either therapeutics or a cure. The HEROES Act the House passed in May had the solution to defeating the virus and safely reopening our economy. In a new pandemic relief bill, I am fighting for a second round of $1200 direct checks to individuals, expanded assistance for small businesses, more money for testing and contact tracing, and extended unemployment benefits to keep Illinois families above water. We also need significant funding for state and local governments to support schools, frontline medical professionals and first responders — many of which have been brought to the brink by this crisis.

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?

The President’s executive order takes half steps and offers little more than a chimera of reform. I hope the Senate will pass the Justice in Policing Act so that we can send real reform to the President’s desk [see answer to question #4].

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?

In the weeks following the gruesome murder of George Floyd, I attended more than a dozen Black Lives Matter vigils, marches and other gatherings here in the northwest suburbs. I listened to my constituents’ stories, heard them share their fears and their visions for a better America. I had many of my own assumptions challenged, and I saw firsthand how important it is that we achieve real reform in our communities.

One month to the day after his murder, the House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This sweeping bill would be the most significant police reform in a generation, with real change that will have a positive effect in our communities.

I was proud to help introduce and then vote for The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It ends racial profiling, bans chokeholds, and creates a national register of police misconduct so that a bad cop can’t go from one jurisdiction to another continuing that racism. It’s real reform, but we can’t stop there. I will continue to fight to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice and fight for all Illinoisans.

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

In the commutation of Roger Stone, the President showed us once more that he has no regard for the rule of law. It is particularly disturbing because Stone was convicted of lying in order to protect the president. The president’s commutation is an outrageous abuse of power and further evidence that Trump is unfit for any office, especially the highest office in the land.

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.

In the 116th Congress I have sponsored more than 40 bills and cosponsored hundreds more. I have helped introduce and pass critical legislation, including the Equality Act, the Dream and Promised Act, and many others. I have also worked in a leadership role within the Democratic Caucus, the New Democrat Coalition, and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

In response to the COVID crisis, since March alone, I have introduced 14 bills in the U.S. House of Representatives that fight for Illinois and against this virus. I am proud of my COVID PREPARE Act, which is building bipartisan momentum in the House, most recently with the endorsement of the Problem Solvers Caucus. The bill would force the Administration to be transparent with the American people about how they are planning for a potential resurgence of this terrible virus.

I supported the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act, which would restore the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction and cut taxes for Illinois families.

I am also fighting for forgotten communities like Zion, where nuclear waste has been left stranded for the town to manage the economic consequences. My STRANDED Act will help communities that have been stuck holding the bag on nuclear waste such as Zion. And I am actively advocating that this legislation be included in the next round of COVID-related bills.

I have also been a local and national leader on ethylene oxide (EtO) which directly affects Waukegan and Gurnee. I founded the bipartisan Congressional Ethylene Oxide Task Force in the House, which has met with EPA Administrator Wheeler and pressed the EPA for more stringent regulations of EtO. I have also met with local elected officials, public health leaders, and activists throughout our community to discuss how we can work together to address EtO emissions.

What are your views on the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump? Was the impeachment process 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 ‘yes’ on two articles to impeach President Donald Trump. It was a decision I did not take lightly, but a decision in which I am confident. The President of the United States corruptly put his own personal and political interests ahead of our nation’s security and foreign policy interests. In doing so, he dangerously jeopardized our national security and the integrity of our elections. Only two times before in our nation’s history has the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach a President — and never before for threatening our national security. Our Founders built our system of checks and balances for a reason; it was prudent for Congress to do our duty.

The evidence to convict President Trump was clear and overwhelming. It’s shameful that Republican senators chose to ignore it, putting partisan politics ahead of their duty to our country and Constitution. Despite bipartisan support for at least one article of impeachment, the Senate failed to hold the President accountable. The American people must hold President Trump to account at the ballot box this November.

However, the House did not let impeachment proceedings distract from our ongoing work for the American people. For instance, that same week, the House passed, and I supported, the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act. It would restore the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction and cut taxes for Illinois families.

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 voted against the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) because it recklessly exploded our debt to reward those already at the top at the expense of many of my constituents. Nearly eighty-three percent of the tax benefit of the bill goes to just the top one percent of earners, while many working families in my district will see little benefit or even tax increases through restriction of the State and Local Tax Deduction. Additionally, by repealing the individual mandate and further undermining the Affordable Care Act, the bill raised health care premiums on constituents.

According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this bill will add $1.9 trillion to our debt (the law costs the government $2.3 trillion in revenues, which is offset by only $461 billion in economic growth). The claims of the Trump Administration and House Republican leadership that the bill will pay for itself are misleading at best. This debt will be a burden on our children’s generation, and I also fear the deficits created by this bill will cynically be used as justification for draconian cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other vital safety net programs.

I view the overall tax reform effort as a missed opportunity for which we will be paying for years to come. Sadly, the tax reform package left us in a weaker position to respond during our current economic crisis.

I also helped introduce bipartisan legislation that would require the Comptroller General to present annually before Congress the current fiscal state of the nation in order for Congress to be more mindful of our long-term fiscal trajectory as it plans the annual budget and appropriations processes.

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?

As voters went to the polls in 2018, health care was their No. 1 issue, edging out the economy for the first time in more than a decade. I have heard countless stories about people’s desperation to fix a health care system that is failing them and their families far too often.

A key source of their frustration is that nearly a decade after passing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so many of the problems that the law was designed to address stubbornly persist. It is true the ACA provided millions of Americans with access to health insurance, many for the first time in their lives. The law has also offered critical protections to people with preexisting conditions and made steps to constrain overall health spending. But we must recognize that rising premiums, higher deductibles, unpredictable bills, narrow networks, and lack of affordable options are all problems people still face every day. Millions remain un- or underinsured and millions more are afraid to seek the care they need because of overwhelming costs. All these issues have been exacerbated by the chaos and uncertainty created by relentless Republican attempts to dismantle, defund and defeat the ACA — in Congress and in the courts — all without any plan to replace it.

On the Democratic side, there are many different health care ideas under debate. All these concepts share a commitment to the principle that we have a national imperative, and moral obligation, to ensure every American gets the care they need whenever and wherever they need it. More succinctly: health care is, and must be treated as, a right for all, not a privilege for the fortunate few. Simply tinkering around the edges of the ACA is not sufficient to achieve this goal. We need bold solutions that will bring real improvements to people’s lives.

One important step would be creating a “public option” — a government-sponsored health insurance plan that competes in the marketplace with private insurance. A new public plan would promote competition to drive down overall costs and return the focus more appropriately on patients and their needs. It would offer an essential alternative for the nearly 1 in 5 Americans, including my constituents living in Lake County, who get their insurance through exchanges with only one insurance provider.

Two bills currently in Congress would move us in this direction. Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s CHOICE Act will create multiple government-offered health plans on the ACA marketplace. And Rep. Brian Higgins’ Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act will allow older Americans aged 50-64 to buy into Medicare as they approach retirement age. I am cosponsoring both these bills as part of my commitment to shoring up the gaps in the ACA and finding the solutions to make our health care system truly work for all of us.

Do you support or oppose DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and why? Should a path to citizenship be created for the so-called DREAMers? Please explain.

Any attempt to end DACA was always cruel, wrong, and un-American. DREAMers are part of the fabric of our society.

More than 700,000 DREAMers have received temporary relief from deportation and the ability to legally work in, what is for many, the only country and home they know. They have been a part of and contributed to our community for years.

Much work remains to be done. I always have, and will continue to stand up to Republican attempts to defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and fight to make DACA permanent. I was proud to help pass the Dream and Promise Act and I will work to pass comprehensive immigration reform and free people from living in the shadows of fear of deportation to be able to pursue higher education, buy homes, start businesses, expand our economy and fully live the American dream.

I was also one of the first Members of Congress to cry foul when the Trump Administration announced in July—after its initial efforts were knocked down by the Supreme Court—that it would once again attempt to roll back DACA protections. I will continue to fight for DREAMers and will hold the Trump Administration accountable for its egregious record on immigration.

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

My primary goal as a Member of Congress is to ensure our economy is growing in a way that helps all Americans, not just those at the top. When our economic trajectory is positive, solving the myriad challenges we face becomes more achievable, from providing access to quality affordable health care to all Americans and protecting Social Security and Medicare to finally passing comprehensive immigration reform and addressing global climate change. At the moment, that goal would best be served by enacting the HEROES Act into law and tackling the coronavirus.

Second, we must deal with the existential threat of climate change. It requires a whole of government response, but the U.S. can’t solve this global problem alone. The world has historically looked to our nation for leadership and it is critical that we return to that responsibility and rise to the occasion. I helped introduce legislation that will get the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050 and will continue to work at every step to address climate change.

On a personal level, gun violence is an extremely important topic to me. I was named after a great uncle who was killed by a gunman. When first taking office in 2013, I met some of the parents of children murdered in Newtown. In 2018, I’ve met student survivors of Parkland. I have personally taken on the NRA in Congress, challenging their non-profit status, and fighting to have the organization dissolved. There are commonsense solutions supported by the vast majority of Americans that would save lives, and I will continue to push my colleagues to find the political courage necessary to pass gun safety legislation.

In addition, while not an issue as you seem to define it, little can get done if we don’t address the partisanship in our governing. I have made fostering bipartisanship one of my top priorities because I believe the challenges our country faces require solutions from both parties. As the recent disastrous tax reform effort demonstrates, legislation crafted in a partisan vacuum is not crafted to last or to benefit all Americans. That’s why I’ve joined groups like the Problem Solvers Caucus and Bipartisan Working Group to find common ground on issues including health care, immigration, and infrastructure. In fighting the Coronavirus, the Problem Solvers Caucus has become one of the few places in Congress where you can find evident bipartisan agreement. More than 50 members from both sides of the aisle came together to endorse my COVID PREPARE Act to prepare for a potential resurgence of this virus.

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

I am proud to have served the people of Illinois’s Tenth District since 2013 (in and out of office). This has been my community for almost 30 years. It’s where Julie and I have created our home, raised our family and built our careers. As a trusted voice for Lake and Cook counties, I will continue to fight for Illinois as a thoughtful, pragmatic moderate. I’m everywhere in the district and available to constituents. Even in this pandemic, we are holding virtual town halls for constituents, webinars for small businesses, and taking care of constituent casework and concerns. Illinois families understand I am an accessible representative who is willing to work across the aisle and stand up for our values.

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

The most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence is ending the gun lobby’s stranglehold over many members that prevents even the most modest, widely supported gun safety solutions from reaching the floor for a vote.

I support universal background checks, an end to the sale of assault weapons, bans on bump stocks and high-capacity magazines, and making trafficking of guns across state lines a federal crime, among other commonsense ideas.

Last year we passed H.R. 8 that would create a universal background check for all firearms transfers and sales. I was proud to be a champion for that bill and call on the Senate to take it when they return in the fall. Sadly, I expect that Senator Mitch McConnell will continue to block it.

It is incredibly frustrating that so many in Congress continue to bow in fear to the National Rifle Association. I will continue to take on the NRA by uncovering their fraudulent abuses of their non-profit status, including supporting the lawsuit to dissolve the organization. When the President of the NRA is spending millions on his own personal hobbies, homes, and yachts, it’s clear that the organization is no longer a political organization, but rather a corrupt mechanism for enriching its leaders.

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?

I believe the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate-warming trends over the past century have been caused by human activity. In the long-term, climate change is among the most serious issues we face, and it poses a direct threat to our children’s future.

First and foremost, I support reversing the damage caused by President Trump’s policies weakening environmental protections and decision to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement. I also support restoring the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and allowing the EPA to regulate carbon emissions as it does other pollutants.

More long-term, we must continue to support the transition to renewable sources of energy including solar, wind, and geothermal, and lower our greenhouse gas emissions. We must help the U.S. economy to become more energy efficient, support community investments in green infrastructure, and prepare federal and state programs to meet the challenge of climate-driven natural disasters—like the increased flooding we’ve seen in our own community. There is no better example of the direct threat of climate change than the rising water levels we see in Lake Michigan.

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

Both Medicare and Social Security are promises to our seniors and they are worth keeping. Underlying both these programs is the belief that all seniors deserve the dignity of a secure retirement and affordable health care.

The first thing we must do to protect these programs is to stop undermining our nation’s fiscal position. Unfortunately, the tax bill passed last term does just that by adding an additional $1.9 trillion to our debt load over the next decade and accelerating the date of insolvency for both programs. And President Trump’s efforts to eliminate the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare is a further assault on our seniors.

Comprehensive immigration reform is also a way to improve the health of these programs. The CBO estimated the 2013 Senate bill would have helped grow the economy and reduce our deficits. Allowing more immigrants who are in the United States to work legally and pay taxes would thereby help extend the life of Social Security and Medicare and is a step in the right direction.

Without Social Security, 22 million more Americans would be in poverty, and since the enactment of Medicare, the number of seniors living in poverty has declined dramatically. For these reasons, I do not support weakening these programs by unfairly raising the retirement age for Social Security or converting Medicare into a voucher program.

I do believe we can create incentives for Americans who want to work longer to choose to do so and adjust their benefits accordingly. Such approaches can create the “win-win” scenarios that benefit everyone without raising the retirement age.

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

As a college education has become more and more vital to a student’s success, it has become less attainable and less affordable for working families. We must continue to promote quality, public education to unlock doors of opportunity. At the same time, we must reform our student loan system to prevent young people from graduating buried under mountains of debt that hamstrings their ability to save and build a solid financial future. Congress needs to make college accessible and affordable for every student, not cut Pell grants and hike student loan rates.

What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?

I think everyone would agree that the world would be better if Russia were a positive actor in the family of nations. Unfortunately, Russia is not a good actor—from invading neighboring countries and occupying territory to interfering in elections, including ours, to propping up dictators and working actively against U.S. interests. Our relationship should therefore be a reflection of our national security and foreign policy goals and Russia’s nefarious actions.

One example of the current Administration’s failures vis-a-vis Russia is the President’s inexplicable refusal to confront Putin on intelligence that Russia offered the Taliban bounties on the lives of American servicemembers. Our relationship should be such that Russia would never risk such an action knowing with certainty that the U.S. response would far outweigh any possible benefit they might receive.

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

Businesses have clearly suffered from these tariffs and the resulting economic uncertainty, but the damage of the Trump administration’s trade policies goes beyond businesses. A public middle school in my district had to dip into contingency funds because of $2 million in extra costs from the President’s trade war. Seniors are concerned about the inflated cost of drugs because of the tariffs. We need sensible trade policies that protect American producers, exporters and importers, and American intellectual property.

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

The world has long looked to the United States for global leadership and for more than 100 years our nation has risen to the occasion—until the Trump Administration. Among other things, our past leadership has been built on promoting the values upon which our nation was founded. None are more important than the ideal of liberal democracy.

Promoting democracy is in our national interest. The deep alliances and international relationships we have cultivated since our founding have helped our country achieve great prosperity. We will better provide for future generations in a peaceful world with democratic allies.

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

I believe civilization faces three existential threats: global climate change, uncontainable pandemic, and nuclear war. With respect to nuclear arms, it is imperative for Congress to continue to work, with the President and the international community, to thwart proliferation. That is why I support the nuclear test ban, believe we should be renewing and improving nuclear treaties, and actively doing everything necessary to prevent new states, like Iran or Saudi Arabia, or non-state actors from ever acquiring nuclear weapons.

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

No family is, or has ever been, on my campaign payroll.

On public payroll:

  • Our older son is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy.
  • Our younger son is a zookeeper at the St. Louis Zoo, a publicly funded zoo.

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.

I draw much inspiration from Abner Mikva who was the last Democrat to represent IL-10. He was the famous “nobody nobody sent” and spent his entire career serving his country while living by his high moral standard. I was also always touched by his devoted relationship to his wife Zoe. I also have long been inspired by his constant advocacy on behalf of young people, including his support of the Mikva Challenge.

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

Always has been, and I suspect it always will be, M*A*S*H. I will still pull up an episode when I need a shot in the arm.