The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for Congress a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois. Rep. Robin Kelly submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
QUESTION: As a member of the House from Illinois, please explain what your specific cause or causes will be. Please avoid a generic topic or issue in your answer.
ANSWER: Since coming to Congress, I have been keenly focused on working to expand economic opportunity, community wellness, and public safety across the state. I have also championed numerous initiatives to generate job growth, reduce health disparities, and end gun violence.
Running for: 2nd Congressional district (Illinois)
Political/civic background: 2nd Congressional district (Illinois)
Occupation: Member of Congress
Education: B.A. (Psychology) Bradley University, M.A. (Counseling) Bradley University, PhD Northern Illinois (Political Science)
Campaign website: robinkellyforcongress.org
QUESTION: Please list three district-specific needs that will be your priorities. This could be a project that is needed in your district, or a rule that needs to be changed, or some federal matter that has been ignored.
ANSWER: Passing federal background check legislation to reduce gun violence locally and nationally.;
Working to finalize the construction of the South Suburban Airport, which is not only sorely needed in the Chicago metropolitan area but would be a huge economic boost to the South Suburban region;
Creating new jobs, repurposing workers for existing new jobs in the STEM disciplines and attracting business to the Second District (Illinois ranks 47th nationally in unemployment at 5.0%.)
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QUESTION: If you are running as a Democrat, what is your best idea for getting any initiative you may propose advanced if the House continues to be controlled by the GOP after the 2018 elections?
ANSWER: As a legislator, I like to be solutions-oriented first and seek common sense strategies to remedy the issues that confront us. In this highly partisan, gridlocked Congress, I have been successful in advancing a number of common-sense legislative initiatives within one year:
My Modernizing Government Technology Act was signed into law as part of the NDAA;
My Connected Government Act passed the House;
My bipartisan Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act passed the House; and
And my Action for Dental Health Act was referred out of the Energy & Commerce Committee.
TOPIC: President Donald Trump
QUESTION: What do you make of President Trump?
ANSWER: Illinois families are facing real problems. Our unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation, our communities are in need of new economic opportunities, and our gun violence problem is a public health crisis. The American Dream is falling from the reach of hard working families. We need a President who is working to address these issues, not one who seeks to divide us as a nation to score political points. We need action, not tweets.
QUESTION: Which three actions by the Trump administration do you support the most? Which three do you oppose the most?
ANSWER: Support: I was glad that the President signed my bipartisan “Modernizing Government Technology Act” into law. Our government needs to be able to introduce cutting edge technology into their networks to improve operational efficiency and decrease operational cost, which this bill aims to do.
Oppose: His horrific Tax Plan which ultimately will only add to the national deficit and benefit the wealthiest Americans;
Attempts to repeal and/or dismantle the Affordable Care Act;
Nuclear provocation in foreign policy.
QUESTION: What is your view of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 election, including possible collusion by the Trump campaign. Does Mueller have your support?
ANSWER: He has my complete support.
QUESTION: What should Congress do to reduce the threat of terrorism at home, either from ISIS or from others?
ANSWER: Congress should work to ensure that America’s military and diplomatic servants have the best resources available to enhance America’s relationships with our international partners in order to successfully defend us from the threat of terrorism and promote the rights of people across the world.
TOPIC: Guns and violence
QUESTION: What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence in the United States?
ANSWER: Pass the bipartisan King-Thompson background check bill. The King-Thompson legislation would require background checks on all commercial gun sales, such as those made at gun shows, over the internet or through classified ads. It also would permit the government to create a federal gun registry.
QUESTION: Do you favor a law banning the sale and use of “bump stocks” that increase the firing speed of semi-automatic weapons? Why? Do you favor any further legal limits on guns of any kind? Or, conversely, what gun restrictions should be done away with?
ANSWER: Yes, I support banning the sale and use of bump stocks and have supported legislation to do so. I also support banning the sale of guns to those who have been convicted of domestic abuse or stalking. Every day, three women are killed by their abusers, primarily with use of guns. Currently, convicted stalkers can still legally purchase firearms in 29 states.
TOPIC: America’s growing wealth gap
Question: As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation supported by the Republican majorities in the House and Senate is that it lowers taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans at a time of historic inequalities of wealth and income in the United States. We believe in free markets, but it does not look to us like the “silent hand” of the market is functioning properly, rewarding merit fairly. We are troubled that the top 1 percent of Americans own 38.6 percent of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 90 percent own just 22.8 percent of the wealth. Tell us how we are right or wrong about this. Does the growing income and wealth gap trouble you?
ANSWER: The growing income and wealth gap is extremely troubling. As America’s middle class and vulnerable communities flail, President Trump and House Republicans have championed tax breaks for corporate America that are vast and permanent, while our children are left paying the price. The Republican tax plan is bleeding our middle class dry and exploding the national debt. This only serves to pads the pockets of corporate America and the wealthiest one percent.
TOPIC: International affairs
QUESTION: Do you support the Trump administration’s decision to move the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? How will this help or hinder efforts to secure a lasting peace between Israel and its Middle East neighbors?
ANSWER: I was troubled by the Trump Administration’s decision to announce the decision to move the U.S. embassy with out the consultation or confirmation by the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
QUESTION: Is military action by the United States a plausible response to the nuclear weapons threat posed by North Korea? How might a U.S. military response play out for South Korea, Japan and China? What alternative do you support?
ANSWER: The United States has a responsibility to protect the security of American families. If North Korea presents a true and actionable nuclear threat and engages in nuclear aggression against the U.S. and its allies, we have an obligation to respond militarily, if necessary. However, the U.S. should not be engaged in a foreign policy of provoking nuclear escalation.
QUESTION: The Supreme Court has ruled that the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban on eight countries with predominantly Muslim populations can go into effect while legal challenges against the ban continue. What is your position on this travel ban?
ANSWER: I oppose the travel ban.
QUESTION: Has the United States in the last decade been accepting too many immigrants, and does this pose a threat to the American way of life?
ANSWER: America is a wonderfully unique country with a tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world. It is that tradition that has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. The immigrant experience is not a threat to the American way of life; to the contrary, it is ingrained in the American way of life.
QUESTION: Should the “wall” between the United States and Mexico be built? What might it accomplish?
ANSWER: I wholeheartedly oppose the construction of a border wall.
TOPIC: Affordable Care Act
QUESTION: The tax reform plan created by Republican majorities in the House and Senate would eliminate the Obamacare “individual mandate” that most Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine. Does this threaten the viability of the Affordable Care Act? What more on this, if anything, should be done?
ANSWER: The elimination of the individual mandate is another effort by the Administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act. That is why we must look to strengthen the Act, counteract efforts to block grant Medicaid and expand health coverage to Americans.
TOPIC: Your opponent
QUESTION: What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
ANSWER: Simply put, I have amassed a lengthy record of service as an active and engaged Member of Congress for nearly five years. I have and continue to work assiduously to represent each and every constituent from literally every corner of this District.