Elections

3rd Congressional District Democratic nominee: Daniel W. Lipinski

Democratic incumbent Dan Lipinski is the Sun-Times’ endorsed candidate in the 3rd Congressional District race.

Before the March primary, Lipinski visited the Sun-Times editorial board. Watch the video above to find out why he wants to continue representing the state’s 3rd district.

The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board also sent the nominees for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing their district and the country. Lipinski submitted the following answers to our questionnaire.


As a member of the U.S. House, what are or would be your top cause or causes?

Lipinski: Since I was first elected to Congress my priority has been fighting to improve the everyday lives of my constituents, especially middle class families. Even before the last recession, middle class workers were struggling with job loss and uncertainty, along with stagnant wages. That is why the creation of good-paying jobs has been and continues to be my top priority.

I am our state’s most senior member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee because I know how critical a good, efficient transportation system is for individuals to get to work and for businesses to create more jobs. Building and repairing transportation infrastructure, whether it is roads, public transit, rails, airports, or waterways – all of which are prevalent in my district, immediately creates jobs and facilitates further economic development through greater efficiency, and I have been very successful in bringing back funding for specific projects and helping increase levels of federal funding for all these modes of transportation.

I have also been a champion of manufacturing, which produces high-quality jobs and has a significant multiplier effect in creating additional jobs. Thanks to a bill I authored, every four years the presidential administration will need to create a plan to promote American manufacturing; the first one was to be published this year on May 1, but not surprisingly the Trump Administration did not meet the deadline and we still await the required report. When this is published it will be the first American manufacturing strategy since Alexander Hamilton.

I have been able to add and strengthen Buy American provisions in a number of bills in the Transportation Committee so that our taxpayer dollars create American jobs. I have also fought against bad trade deals that have resulted in the outsourcing of millions of manufacturing jobs, many in the Third District. I will continue this work and more to lead in promoting manufacturing jobs.

Finally, I will continue my work on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to facilitate the creation of jobs through technological innovation. I helped establish and expand the Innovation Corps program, first at the National Science Foundation and now throughout the government, to provide university, national laboratory, and government researchers with the necessary skills and tools to take their ideas from the lab to the market, enabling greater small business job creation. With Argonne National Lab in the district and many great research universities in the vicinity, I will continue to work on ways to advance American research and technology and facilitate the creation of new jobs.


U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 2016 South Side Irish Parade Sunday, March 13, 2016.

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 2016 South Side Irish Parade Sunday, March 13, 2016. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Who is Dan Lipinski?

He’s running for:  U.S. Congress in the 3rd District.

His political/civic background: Current U.S. Congressman (7th term), former university professor, former congressional staff

His occupation: U.S. Representative, 3rd District of Illinois

His education:

  • BS – Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University
  • MS – Engineering-Economic Systems, Stanford University
  • Ph.D. – Political Science, Duke University

His campaign website: www.lipinskiforcongress.com

Recent news: Dan Lipinski

Please list three highly specific needs of your district that you would make priorities.

Lipinski:

  1. Improving local transportation Our region is a transportation hub for the nation but we have some of the country’s worst congestion on our roads, rails, and airports, which means lost time, wasted energy, more pollution, and a less competitive economy. I have brought home hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money to improve local transportation, including funding for roads, bridges, public transportation, sidewalks/path, and airports. Most recently, in June I helped secure a $132 million grant for the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project as part of CREATE rail modernization program. I will continue to fight for district funding for road, transit, and bike/pedestrian infrastructure; expanded transit options; and Midway Airport, a vital economic engine in our community.
  2. Growing local job opportunities We need to grow more good-paying jobs locally. I will continue to help local job growth by getting additional policies passed that promote manufacturing, improve educational opportunities especially in STEM, facilitate technology transfer from universities and national labs, advance better trade agreements, and strengthen Buy American laws. I will also continue direct action when necessary, such as when I was able to help a local manufacturer in Bedford Park win a federal contract by promoting their appeal of a contract unfairly granted to a foreign company.
  3. Protecting retirement security Social Security and Medicare are vital programs for so many people in their retirement. It is critical that we maintain the long-term viability of these programs and the retirement security for so many middle class and working class individuals is not threatened. As companies have closed or moved overseas, pensions that many workers have earned have been left in doubt with possible benefit cuts. To prevent this and protect retirement security, I support legislation that would provide federal financing to multiemployer, union pensions to protect retiree benefits and better ensure the long-term solvency of these plans.

Bipartisanship is virtually non-existent in the House. What would you do about that?

Lipinksi: I have always sought to work across the aisle on proposals that improve the lives of members of our community and all Americans across the nation. No matter what happens with the 2018 midterm election, I will continue to do so. In particular, I will continue my work in the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is a group of 41 members of Congress – roughly divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans – who work on solutions to important problems our nation faces. I helped develop a plan endorsed by the caucus that would have significantly lowered, by approximately 30%, premiums for insurance available through the Affordable Care Act.

I also worked to develop a caucus consensus on a compromise plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to this country as children, as well as an infrastructure plan. Through my bipartisan relationships, I have also helped engage Republican members on key issues, including climate change and gun control. I have helped bring Republican members to the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and my outreach resulted in Republican members joining as cosponsors to a bill improving gun safety. Recently the Problem Solvers Caucus developed and endorsed a set of changes to the rules of the House to open up the legislative process and break the gridlock. We hope to get these changes implemented at the beginning of the next year. I will keep on reaching out across the aisle on key issues like this and helping find common ground so we can advance the interests of the American people.


SUN-TIMES 2018 ILLINOIS VOTING GUIDE


Are you convinced that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election in support of the candidacy of Donald Trump? Please explain.

Lipinski: There is overwhelming evidence that there were efforts by the Russian government to interfere in and influence our election. Based on an assessment provided by multiple intelligence agencies — the FBI, the CIA, and the National Security Agency (NSA) – there is high confidence that this interference was carried out in support of Donald Trump’s campaign. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone in the Trump campaign actively collaborated with the Russian effort, a subject of ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. But given current evidence, there is no room for doubt that this interference occurred. We must take action to protect our democracy from further interference, especially as additional evidence has emerged showing that Russia continues to attempt to intervene in the elections of other countries and in the 2018 US midterm election.

Do you support the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller? Please explain.

Lipinski: I support Robert Mueller’s work because we need to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign colluded or in any way coordinated with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. It is important for the United States government, and the American public, to have an honest and clear understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 election. We need to know what the Russian government and others connected with the government did and attempted to do, and whether there were links or coordination with any Americans – especially anyone connected with the Trump campaign.

The Trump Administration will remain under a cloud of suspicion and we will remain unprepared to counter any future attempts at interference in our elections until we have a trustworthy report on what happened and who was involved. For these reasons, it is critical that Special Counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to continue and complete his investigation without interruption or interference. I believe that Mueller is the right person for this role because he served under two Presidents of different political parties as the Director of the FBI, has a stellar reputation, and can most ably and accurately establish the facts and, if necessary, pursue justice.

If President Trump were to fire Mueller, directly or indirectly, what should Congress do?

Lipinski: It is unacceptable for Mueller to be fired for reasons other than good cause. A completed independent investigation is absolutely critical to definitively establish what occurred during the 2016 election and who exactly was involved and how. For this reason, I believe Congress needs to act early, not just react to events as they occur. Congress should swiftly take up and pass the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, of which I am a cosponsor. This bill says that the Attorney General may only dismiss the special counsel for good cause such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, or conflict of interest. The bill also allows the special counsel to challenge any removal in court in case of a politically motivated dismissal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If Trump were to pardon his former campaign aide Paul Manafort, what should Congress do?

Lipinski: A pardon for Paul Manafort would represent an unacceptable abuse of presidential power as it would undermine the rule of law and public trust in our legal system. There is no evidence of errors, omissions, or unique extenuating circumstances in Paul Manafort’s first trial. Having been indicted by a grand jury on the basis of the findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation for the crimes of filing false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy, Paul Manafort underwent a trial and the evidence against him was examined and deliberated by an independent jury of his peers. That jury found him guilty on 8 out of 18 charges.

Paul Manafort will also face a separate trial later this year on charges that include obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, money laundering, and failure to register as an agent of a foreign government. As with the first trial, the only appropriate course of action is to allow the judicial process to play out independently without any outside interference. A pardon of Manafort would weigh heavily against the President if Mueller has any other evidence implicating him in a crime.

Which three actions taken so far by the Trump administration do you most strongly support?

Lipinski: It was challenging to come up with these, but here are three actions by the Trump Administration that I can voice support for. First, while the Trans-Pacific Partnership – which I fought hard against – was politically dead when Donald Trump became president, I applaud his formal removal of the United States from the deal. The TPP would have been terrible for American jobs in manufacturing and other industries, and provisions of it would have jeopardized our health and safety regulations and given foreign corporations means to undermine American rule of law and courts.

I am also cautiously hopeful about the Administration’s efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As a long-time critic of NAFTA, which has cost hundreds of thousands of middle-class Americans their livelihoods, I have long called for this trade agreement to be revised. Now that we have seen reports of a new bilateral trade deal with Mexico having been reached, we have a better chance of engaging Canada in the renegotiation process and encouraging a better agreement. The Administration’s work is by no means complete — we still need to review the details of the agreement with Mexico and the situation with Canada must still be resolved. I look forward to reviewing the proposal to make sure it serves middle class families and helps American workers.

Finally, I think that the President’s nomination of General Jim Mattis as the Secretary of Defense was a wise choice. He has unchallengeable experience leading U.S. troops in battle, is reportedly a ‘soldiers’ solider’ seeking to understand and appreciate the needs of rank and file service members, and he appears to be serving as a steady and calm hand in leading the Defense Department in challenging times.

Which three actions taken by the Trump administration do you most strongly disagree with?

Lipinski: Keeping my list of Trump administration actions I oppose to only three is an evergrowing challenge.

First, it was terrible policy to separate children from their parents at the border. While it’s important to protect our borders and enforce the law, it’s apparent the Administration did not understand or care to consider the implications of their actions before undertaking them. Now, even though the President has backed off the policy, hundreds of families still remain apart as the Administration failed to plan for how to reunite families after the separations.

Second, the nomination of Scott Pruitt to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency was dangerous to our environment and public health. Pruitt brought an extreme agenda to the EPA, casting out important environmental regulations related to clean air, clean water, and climate change, while attacking the integrity of science. He had obvious ties to the oil and gas industry as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, and his service showed a fealty to industry over protection of the environment. Pruitt’s tenure was marred by numerous ethics violations and scandals, including his wasteful spending on first class air travel, a below-market sweetheart deal on housing in Washington, DC, falsification of the official records of his work, and use of his position to inappropriately benefit his associates. While Pruitt has resigned, he laid a foundation with substantial attacks on the environment that are expected to be continued by his successor, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and which will require vigorous oversight.

Finally, I believe the President has generally lowered the standards for truth and decency in politics. The harm here cannot be overstated – the American people had low levels of trust in government and elected officials already, and he has made this worse. We have big problems to solve on behalf of the American people, and if we steer towards bullying, locker-room name-calling, and denigrating compromise and bipartisanship as ‘weakness’ then we will be less able to reach resolution of the challenges we face.

The Trump administration has taken action to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at curbing climate change and limiting environmental pollution. The administration has done so in the name of supporting business growth and making the United States more energy self-sufficient. Most notably, the administration has begun to dismantle Obama’s federal rules over American coal plants, weakened automobile fuel-economy standards and ended American participation in the Paris climate agreement. What is your take on all this?

Climate change represents a serious threat and there is strong evidence that it is being driven by human activities. This assessment was driven home once again by the fifth assessment report of the UN Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that “it is extremely likely [95 percent confidence] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” In addition, predictions of impacts like sea level rise were revised upwards. In short, the science is clear and global action must be taken to avoid the worst effects of climate change. In spite of the need for action, federal policy in the U.S. has been mired in Congress by the same tired debates over scientific issues settled long ago. Worse, the current Administration has been systemically rolling back progress on this issue by exiting the Paris Agreement and rolling back coal plant and fuel economy rules, among other environmental protections.

I have supported federal regulations to address carbon pollution such as the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to reduce emissions from the electricity sector by 32% by 2050. While the Clean Power Plan (CPP) by itself would not be sufficient to rein in the worst effects of climate change, it would be a good start if implemented and if we built on it further. I am deeply disappointed in the Trump Administration’s so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule, a wholly inadequate replacement proposal for the CPP that would let polluters off the hook and lead to 1,400 more premature deaths annually by 2030.

I also spoke out against America exiting the Paris Agreement, which gave us a clear opportunity to constructively negotiate with other nations on greenhouse gas emissions while safeguarding our nation’s interests. Likewise, in the wake of the Trump Administration’s effort to roll back fuel economy rules, I have cosponsored legislation to codify the 2012 light-duty vehicle fuel economy standards. These important rules are expected to reduce US oil consumption by 50 billion gallons, save American drivers $92 billion at the pump, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 540 million metric tons. Furthermore, I have been a leading voice in Congress against the EPA’s proposal to selectively suppress scientific evidence in environmental rulemaking. This proposal aimed to prioritize industry-sponsored research at the EPA at the expense of public health studies, which would undermine numerous pollution reduction efforts, including efforts to combat climate change.

To what extent is climate change a man-made phenomenon? How serious is the threat to our children’s future? What should be done?

Lipinski: As mentioned in the question above, I agree with the scientific consensus that climate change is a critical threat and that its dominant cause is human activity. Addressing climate change will require long-term sustained action on a global scale. While this may seem a daunting task in the current political environment, we owe it to our children and future generations to keep fighting to address this critical issue.

I am committed to finding bipartisan solutions to address climate change; we cannot solve a problem of this magnitude if we filter it through a partisan lens. To this end, I am a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus and have brought Republican members into the group to advance conversation on this issue and promote effective policy solutions to deal with the climate threat.

As one example of my work, together with Representative Faso, I introduced the Caucus’ first legislative proposal, the Challenges and Prizes for Climate Act. This bill would set up competitions to address climate change, taking advantage of existing federal prize authority. Clean energy prize competitions have the potential to yield major technological advances and transform industries and markets. A prize that I championed a few years ago has led to a quantum leap in hydrogen fuel cell car refueling technology, and there’s another competition that’s currently in progress that has already identified 23 technologies that can convert carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial facilities into useful products.

But more needs to be done. As I continue my work in Congress, initiatives to address climate change and help transition to a clean energy future will remain a top priority for me.

What is the single most important action Congress can take to curb gun violence?

Lipinski: Our communities and families have borne far too much pain from senseless gun violence. Gun violence is a multifaceted problem and no one solution will solve the problem. But one step we need to take is to do more to keep guns out the hands of criminals and those suffering mental health challenges. While the vast majority of gun owners in the U.S. are responsible individuals who are not threats to their community, any irresponsible, unstable, or dangerous individual with a gun poses a great risk to others and to themselves.

I have strongly supported measures to improve our background check system, and I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 4240 to require background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows and between private individuals. We must also do more to maintain sufficient information in these systems about who cannot or should not be allowed to buy a weapon. Many states and even some federal agencies are not updating their systems with sufficient criminal background and mental health status information, and that leaves background checks less able to prevent gun sales to risky individuals. That’s why I opposed H.Con.Res. 40 and H.R. 1181 which would weaken the federal background check system.

Is the media the “enemy of the people”? Please explain.

Lipinski: The media are not the “enemy of the people.” Simply put, a free and independent press is necessary to our democracy and to a vibrant civic society. The freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution because the Founders recognized that a free republic would only succeed if the government can be held accountable for its actions through independent public discussion and dissemination of the news of the day. President Trump’s attacks on the media as the “enemy of the people” are dangerous and degrade public debate. Certainly no one enjoys being criticized in the media and members of the media do make mistakes. But if President Trump feels that he is unfairly criticized, the solution is to respond to and address his concerns to the American public.

As an editorial board, our core criticism of the tax overhaul legislation pushed through Congress last December 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 the ‘silent hand’ of the market does not seem to be rewarding merit fairly. What’s your position on last December’s rewrite of the tax code? Would you push for further changes, or for the law’s repeal?

Lipinski: The growing income and wealth gap in our nation troubles me, and the new tax law is likely exacerbating that situation to the detriment of our nation. There was general agreement that our federal tax code needed to be reformed. I set out my principles for tax reform that started with prioritizing the middle class, fixing the broken trust fund that pays for roads and transit, helping small businesses, and not adding to our federal debt. I voted against the Republican tax bill because it doesn’t serve these principles and shifts the tax burden from corporations and the wealthy to middle-class families.

The Republican tax law gave large permanent tax breaks to corporations while keeping changes for middle-class individuals and families temporary in order to claim the cost of the legislation was “only” $1.5 trillion over ten years. The corporate tax rate permanently went down from 35% to 21% without cutting many deductions, which shifted the tax burden away from corporations and to individuals. Tax relief for families gets eroded and becomes smaller and smaller over time even before the provisions expire in 2026. Once temporary provisions fully expire, families in the bottom 80% of income will generally see no tax relief or tax increases, while the top 1% are estimated to see continued effective tax cuts according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.

The capping of the deduction for state and local taxes also hurts families who pay high taxes locally including many in our area. We are already seeing the effects of the tax law’s favoring of corporations in the latest monthly budget report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In that report, the CBO’s preliminary estimate for FY2018 corporate income tax revenue stands at $167 billion, representing a 28.3% decrease from FY2017. Meanwhile, wage increases for American families can’t even keep up with inflation. Furthermore, by piling on at least $1.5 trillion onto our national debt over ten years, the Republican tax law creates more pressure to cut programs that help the middle class. The 2017 tax law is just another example of Congress not being focused on the needs of middle class families and exacerbates disproportionate gains made by those at the very top.

For these reasons, I believe tax law will need to be changed in order to truly reform our tax system. In analyzing any future tax reform proposal, I will focus on whether proposed legislation follows the principles I laid out above. Furthermore, any successful reform of the tax code will require consideration of difficult trade-offs, and will need to be analyzed in the context of overall budget discussions and congressional decision-making on national priorities.

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and Marie Newman, who is running against him in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary.

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski defeated primary challenger Marie Newman in a hard-fought race. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Speaking of income inequality, top executives of America’s biggest companies saw their average annual pay surge to $18.9 million in 2017, even as the pay of ordinary workers has remained flat for a decade. What, if anything, should be done to address the growing gap in wealth and income?

Lipinski: In a competitive and vibrant economy, there will always be some who reap outsize success from innovative ideas and new ways of doing business. There is nothing wrong with financially benefiting from success when it is based on real competition and merit. But we should be worried when we see evidence that everyday Americans are losing the opportunity to better their lives and ensure their families’ economic wellbeing.

The stock market may be booming and CEO pay may be rising, but millions of families continue to struggle with flat wages, unpredictable or unstable jobs, and the ballooning cost of core needs like housing, healthcare, childcare, and education. This means that families face tough obstacles when planning and saving for the future. Good policymaking should help families who are hurt by these rising costs. Government should also help provide middle class families, especially children, with the skills they need to compete in our rapidly changing economy. Committing resources to our kids will help not just the families themselves, but also represents a long-term investment needed for economic growth in the future.

As I outlined above, I have and will remain focused on the creation of good-paying jobs in my work in Congress. My priorities to this end include investing in transportation infrastructure, promoting manufacturing and fighting outsourcing, and fostering technological innovation. These are the policy priorities we will need to focus on if we are to have an economy that creates real value instead of leaving a few lucky individuals reaping the benefits of economic growth.

Would it be appropriate at this time for President Trump to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House? Why so, or why not?

Lipinski: An invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House at this time would be disturbing and inappropriate. Not only did Russia interfere in the 2016 US election, we have also seen evidence of Russia interfering in the elections of other nations and the 2018 US midterm elections as well. Meanwhile, Russia has shown no signs of changing its behavior after years of threatening peace and stability in the Western world. It continues to be a direct threat to our NATO allies, has deployed treaty-violating nuclear missiles, has grown increasingly close to Iran, and helped slaughter innocent civilians in Syria. The Russian government continues to attack dissidents and critics, with the brazen attempt to murder Sergei and Yulia Skripal on UK soil with a banned nerve agent being a recent notable example.

These facts are made worse by the clear lack of strategy on the part of President Trump for addressing these critical issues with Russia; furthermore, the prudence of the President Trump’s actions with regard to Russia remain under question given the as-yet unresolved independent investigation into his campaign’s possible cooperation with the Russian government. These concerns were only exacerbated, not alleviated, by the President’s summit with Putin held in Helsinki this July. At the Helsinki meeting, President Trump clearly put his own self-interest and defense of his election victory ahead of defending the interests of the United States. I call on the President to change course, and not invite Vladimir Putin to visit the White House at this time.

How would you assess and grade the Trump administration’s efforts to recalibrate our nation’s relationships with Korea, NATO and Russia?

Lipinski: Across all of these areas, President Trump has chosen inconsistent or poorly thought through actions that at best reflect lack of vision and strategy and at worst have strained relationships with our friends and allies on the global stage. President Trump has explicitly questioned our NATO commitments, at a time when, as I mentioned above, we are facing serious threats from Russia. With regard to North Korea, while the President has moved away from the playground name-calling and bluster that had previously reflected his posture toward North Korea, he has vastly overstated the results of his efforts and is at odds with his own Secretary of Defense over the status of joint military exercises with South Korea which are critical to maintain preparedness and readiness in the region.

North Korea presents an increasing and alarming threat to the US and its allies, and its development of more capable intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons is a danger to the United States. We need to take the threat from North Korea seriously and be prepared to react if North Korea poses an immediate threat of armed conflict. I do not have confidence that President Trump is approaching any of these issues with the seriousness and gravity that they deserve.

In late June, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban on visitors and immigrants from seven countries, five of which have Muslim majorities. What is your view on this ban?

Lipinski: While modestly more limited in response to court rulings, the third version of the Trump Administration’s travel ban built on and continued the bulk of the policies developed through the previous versions. It added new restrictions on North Korea and Chad, as well as certain Venezuelan government officials, while dropping Sudan from the list of restricted countries. But it continued an overall restriction on immigrants and visitor visas to nationals of five nations covered by previous travel bans with limited exceptions. The initial orders were ill-conceived and harmful to innocent individuals, and the Trump Administration continues to fail to explain how it makes us safer, not less safe with the amended version. This appears to be another policy designed to send a message rather than an effective strategy to keep Americans safer, and in doing so it makes us less safe. And just because the Supreme Court upheld the President’s authority to institute such a ban does not mean that this is a good policy. It’s still a bad policy.

What three major reforms should be made to United States immigration policy?

Lipinski: America is a nation of immigrants. Throughout our history, most immigrants have been hard-working people who come here to make a better life for themselves and their families. Despite some of the rhetoric we have heard recently, it is not only impossible to remove all unlawful immigrants it is not in the best interest of our nation to try to do so. Congress should develop legislation that continues to allow immigrants to contribute to and become a part of our nation, while also deterring illegal immigration with increased border security and reforms of visa policies, protecting American workers, growing the economy, and not driving up the national debt. But this should not be done in a piecemeal fashion. Congress should do immigration reform in a comprehensive manner because that is the best way to include all the necessary components of reform and to facilitate the compromises that will be needed.

However, there is one reform that likely needs to be enacted before we have agreement on comprehensive reform. Congress must address the needs of immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, many of whom have been provided temporary relief under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. I’m one of the ten members of a working group within the bipartisan Problem Solvers’ Caucus that worked on a compromise caucus proposal to give DACA beneficiaries a pathway to citizenship. We also prioritized specific border security measures – without building a wall – in tandem with this pathway to citizenship.

Do you support or oppose the family-based immigration policy sometimes called “chain migration”? Please explain.

Lipinski: Family is the fundamental unit of society, and family reunification should be part of our immigration system. Under the current system, U.S. citizens can petition for a visa for a spouse, a parent, an unmarried child under 21 years of age, or an adopted orphan. People who get these visas do not become citizens right away. Rather, they must hold permanent residency in the US for at least five years before being allowed to apply for citizenship. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration. In addition, a limited number of visas are available for adult children of U.S. citizens, spouses and children of permanent residents, and siblings of U.S. citizens. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of visas each year, the applicants must wait before they can enter the United States. Waiting periods can reach as long as 20 years or more for applicants from certain countries.

Most serious recent immigration reform proposals have sought to emphasize and prioritize merit-based immigration over family-based immigration, while compassionately allowing immigration based on family connections to continue. I agree with this general approach. We are a generous nation, but we can and should prioritize the needs of our country and our economy in setting immigration policy. For example, a 2013 bipartisan Senate immigration proposal would have prioritized factors like education, experience, and skill in a reformed immigration system. That proposal would have also eliminated the visa pathway for siblings of U.S. citizens. While the exact scope of family-based immigration can vary in comprehensive reform proposals, I believe we can find compromises that both protect U.S. national interests and support families.

What would you do, as a member of Congress, to improve race relations in the United States?

Lipinski: One of the many failures of leadership on the part of President Trump has been his failure to distance himself from and fully condemn white supremacists. The President has stoked division across racial lines instead of building bridges of understanding, particularly with his terrible reaction to the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. President Trump is not the first to spark division for political gain, but he has taken it to a new level on the national stage that we haven’t seen in decades. As Members of Congress, we must speak with one voice against hate groups and hateful rhetoric to demonstrate that the United States must stand for the dignity and equality of all people. People need to hear this message so that we can rebuild trust and work together for the good of our nation.

What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent?

Lipinski: Every individual has an inherent dignity given by God. No matter any disagreements over policy, I have always sought to treat every person and group with respect. Unfortunately, this is not the way that many people in government and politics act today, starting with the President. My opponent takes this to an even lower level. He is a bigot who denies that the Holocaust occurred. He and his views do not deserve to be given a platform.

PolitiFact is an exclusive partnership between Chicago Sun-Times and BGA to fact-check politicians

Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, the Sun-Times is teaming up weekly with the Better Government Association, in print and online, to fact-check the truthfulness of the candidates. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.


RELATED

Recent news: Dan Lipinski

• ENDORSEMENT: Dan Lipinski for Congress in the 3rd District

3rd Congressional District Republican nominee, Holocaust-denier Art Jones

• 3rd Congressional District write-in candidate: Kenneth Yerkes