Creating Good Jobs
I’m proud to have helped build a successful and innovative family-owned business. I believe I can use that experience to help create federal policies that will create good jobs and help our economy grow. We have to do more to provide opportunities for young people, and that starts with improving education at every level.
As a business owner, and when I was Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, I worked tirelessly for economic development in Northern Virginia. Over the years, our area has been the home to innovative start-ups and the expansion of existing businesses, and has attracted national firms to choose Northern Virginia. We must continue these efforts, and I’ll use my business experience to make it happen.
I am a cosponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, a bill which would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. The nation’s minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation, and the current hourly minimum is simply not sufficient or fair. A full-time worker earning the minimum wage makes $15,080 a year, which is below federal poverty guidelines for a family of any size.
Improving Our Schools, Universities And Community Colleges
I know well the importance of education as a ladder to a brighter future. As the co-founder of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, I also know that an educated workforce plays an essential role in our region’s economic success. That’s why, after serving as Lieutenant Governor, I became the chairman of Jobs for Virginia Graduates – the state’s most successful high school drop-out prevention program. In Congress, I am working to make sure Virginia’s students – and America’s – get the strong education they deserve.
We must do more to address student loan debt, college affordability, and to create successful post-secondary pathways that recognize career and technical education. I am a strong supporter of student loan refinancing, all-year access to Pell grants and allowing subsidized Stafford loans to graduate students.
Supporting Stronger Gun Control Laws
Gun violence and mass shootings have become all too common in our society, and we in Virginia have felt the tragic sting. We must make our communities safer.
Last year, U.S. gun deaths totaled 11,419 – a heartbreaking statistic. This is the price we pay for the political fear some have of the NRA. When I ran for Governor, the NRA made me a target, and you may remember that Charlton Heston came to Virginia and campaigned against me. But that won’t deter me from passing new and sensible gun laws. In fact, it makes me even more determined.
We need enhanced background checks now. Too many criminals, and those who are dangerously mentally ill, can obtain firearms at gun shows.
We have to close the gun show loophole, which allows people to purchase guns without background checks. I can’t understand why the NRA opposes enhanced background checks, but we need to make this a priority.
I also favor banning high capacity magazines. These magazines, in the hands of dangerously mentally ill people, have caused tragedy after tragedy. The shootings at schools, like Sandy Hook in Connecticut and Virginia Tech, must stop. After every mass shooting, there is a lot of support for banning high capacity magazines, but then the months go by and Congress does nothing. I’m committed to pushing for this sensible reform, and I’ll stand up to the NRA in Congress.
Supporting Equal Pay For Women And Expanded Family Leave
On average, full-time working women earn just 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. It’s unfair to women and illegal. And it’s unfair to families, who in many cases depend on a woman’s salary to make ends meet.
That’s why I strongly support and am a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform equal work.
I also support expanding family and medical leave, and I am an original cosponsor of the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which would guaranteed federal employees six weeks of paid leave after the adoption, birth or fostering of a new child.
The United States is the only industrialized country that does not guarantee paid time off to care for a new child, and one of very few industrialized nations not to guarantee paid time off for other types of family care. The unpaid family and medical leave act that passed in 1993 only covers about half of all employees, given various exemptions such as the employee’s status and the size of the business. It is past time to give American workers the ability to care for their loved ones without economic hardship.
I strongly support a woman’s right to choose and also believe that access to affordable, reliable birth control is a fundamental component of health care. I have always worked toward both of these issues, which I believe are central to women's equality, and I will continue to do so.
I also stand firmly with the longstanding Democratic principle of providing the best possible care we can do the developing world and women and families in those nations. President Trump's reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy - also known as the global gag rule - which bars organizations that receive United States foreign assistance from discussing abortion services with patients in need, is an abomination and an embarrassment.
While serving as President Obama’s Ambassador to Switzerland, I saw firsthand the glacial melt caused by global warming. Despite the urgency of this situation, there has been no successful congressional legislation to address the crisis of climate change.
The most effective way of reducing carbon emissions is to put a tax on carbon pollution. That is why I am the House sponsor of the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act, a cap and dividend approach that returns the dividends to every American electronically each quarter.
In addition, we will continue to further incentivize investments in clean energy and in energy efficiency.
Climate change is the single most important issue of our time, and we need to act now. We owe it to future generations.
Defense and Veterans' Issues
Virginia’s 8th district is the home of the headquarters of the United States military, housing the Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, Fort Belvoir and Fort Myer, as well as thousands of defense-related jobs. This congressional district has a special responsibility on defense and veterans’ issues.
For me, this obligation is also personal. My dad is a West Point graduate who served in Korea and then was part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Trieste, where I was born. My father-in-law fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded two Purple Hearts. I know we owe veterans and their families the best our nation can offer.
We must work swiftly to fix the deficiencies at the Veterans Administration and veterans’ hospitals, we must do more to help ease the transition for military veterans to civilian life, and we must continue efforts to maximize opportunities for and adequately support military families, who sacrifice so much.
We must have an outlook of engagement toward the world and be vigilant in meeting our special responsibilities abroad. Simultaneously, we must be wise in our defense spending. Sequestration weakens our military; the United States government must not employ arbitrary sequestration again. We can achieve efficiencies in our large defense budget while maintaining a robust and well-prepared military.
All Americans should have access to quality healthcare. In this, one of the wealthiest nations in the history of the world, no one should face economic ruin because of a health crisis, or have to choose between a trip to the emergency room and heating their home for the month.
President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) was an incredible leap toward that goal, insuring many millions of previously uninsured people.
Yet millions of people still fall into the gap between Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA’s lowest rate plans. America remains one of only two countries in the world without paid family leave, and women are still at risk of losing their right to choose.
I will fight for further improvements in the U.S. healthcare system, especially for the neediest populations. I will work to provide paid sick, maternity, and family leave for all American workers. And I believe that a woman’s health care choices are her own and should never be dictated by her employer, or by any government.
Protecting Social Security And Medicare
Social Security and Medicare are important commitments we’ve made to senior citizens, and we must keep both programs strong.
Over the last few years, many Tea Party Republicans have attacked both Social Security and Medicare, and we must stand firm in opposition to these attacks.
I oppose any effort to privatize Social Security. Privatization schemes would link Social Security to the stock market, and that means monthly benefits could go up or down with the market.
I support full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. As a member of Congress, I would support legislation that bans job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I believe the institution of marriage should be available to committed, same-sex couples, and I would work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe equality is not complete until it reaches every aspect of our society, including adoption and immigration sponsorship.
The two political parties need to come together and meet our national responsibility to bring millions of immigrants out of the shadow economy. It is time to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As a businessman, I’ve heard tales of hardship from many people who crossed borders to find a safe home here in the United States. One such friend, Manuel, had a choice in his Salvadoran village between joining a death squad or being killed by it. He fled in the middle of the night and today is an American citizen with a happy life full of opportunity.
There must be a path to citizenship for the hard-working people who contribute to our communities. They help keep our economy strong and deserve the opportunity to become new Americans. We also need to ensure that children who came to the United States early in life have the chance to attend college, receive in-state tuition, and work toward their dreams just like every other hard working student. I fully support the DREAM Act and would urge my colleagues in Congress to do the same.
In the spirit of bioethicist Peter Singer, I believe one element of a civilized society is the humane treatment of all species. I am working toward this goal on many fronts.
I have continued Congressman Jim Moran's work to promote humane cosmetics testing, free of any use of animals. For four years, I have been the sponsor of this legislation in the House.
I also am a leader in the House on endangered species issues, pushing back against the Trump Administration efforts to weaken provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
I opposed the Bush tax cuts that reduced the highest personal income tax rate from 39.6% to 35% and supported the restoration of the 39.6% rate by President Obama. I worked for years for a reasonable estate tax limit that would allow family farms and businesses to pass to the next generation, instead of having to be sold to pay taxes. (There were many fine proposals to put in place $3 or $5 million exclusions, but they were always blocked by Senator Jon Kyl.) I also strongly support closing corporate tax loopholes. I will fight to eliminate the oil depletion allowance; no country subsidizes fossil fuels the way the United States does and our subsidies are a peril to the planet.
Supporting Federal Government Employees
Between sequestration, a government shutdown, a three-year pay freeze, and reductions in retirement benefits, the federal workforce is under enormous strain. Through all of these trials, federal workers have performed our nation’s most critical work with the utmost professionalism and skill.
As the representative of a district with one of the largest populations of federal workers in the country, I pledge to champion their interests and to work diligently to protect them from unfair targeting in future budget battles.
Native American Issues
As Lt. Governor of Virginia, I was honored to work closely with the six State recognized tribes of Virginia in the preservation of their culture and traditions and I will continue to support their efforts at the Federal level in their quest for Federal recognition.
Under the U.S. Constitution and Federal law, the United States has a unique obligation to uphold the sovereign status of its Tribal Nations and to work with them on a government to government basis. I will respect and uphold that obligation.
I also recognize that, while a number of tribes have become financially prosperous through their trust resources and economic diversification, there are still too many tribes and tribal members who, disgracefully, are at the lowest end of our Country’s economic scale. Our Nation’s Indian tribes still suffer from the Country’s worst health care, infant mortality rate, unemployment levels, dropout rates, domestic abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, housing and education levels. I pledge to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue Congressman Moran’s advocacy, in his role as Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, on behalf of our Country’s First Americans.
The 8th District faces some of the country’s most difficult transportation challenges. Nevertheless, building a robust transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of commuters, local businesses, and the nation’s capital is critical to creating new jobs and opportunities.
The issues are many: I helped secure funding for the restoration of the iconic Arlington Memorial Bridge. I am working with local and state governments, as well as the regional delegation in Congress to modernize Metro and make it safe and reliable. I am watching changes and improvements in bus rapid transit, HOV and HOT lanes, as well as improved and additional bike lanes. I am a proponent of light rail, and hope that our region sees an expansion of this system in the near term.
As the regional economy continues to expand, our regional transportation and congestion issues will only grow more complex. I will work with all public and private partners on the many faces of this problem to keep the Washington area a workable, commutable region.