CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) RESPONSE
As I have written in The Journal News, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed many of the deficiencies within our existing safety net, and these deficiencies have made our public health crisis worse than it would otherwise be.
- We need Medicare for All. The global pandemic we face demonstrates the need for everyone to have health care as a right, regardless of income or employment. Essential to stopping the spread of coronavirus is timely testing and treatment. But for the 87 million Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured, cost remains a barrier to necessary medical care, which increases the likelihood that the virus will spread. In March alone, 10 million people lost their jobs and now face life without health insurance in a healthcare system where insurance is tied to employment.
- We need paid family sick leave in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Because the FMLA does not require employers to provide paid sick leave, sick people are forced to go to work, subjecting everyone to heightened risk. Those who are diagnosed with coronavirus are told to self-quarantine for 14 days, but millions of American workers cannot afford to do so. Shamefully, the United States is one of only 13 countries worldwide without mandatory paid sick leave. (Compare that to the United Kingdom, which mandates paid sick leave of up to 28 weeks.) Add to the fact that the vast majority of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and you can see why many Americans feel they must work while they are sick.
- We must end homelessness and poverty. One reason for the delay in closing down New York’s public schools in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is that hundreds of thousands of public school students are either homeless or food-insecure, including tens of thousands of students in Rockland and Westchester Counties. School is the only place where these students can seek shelter or a hot meal. The delay in school closures exacerbated our public health crisis in New York State.
We would all be better off if we learned lessons from this crisis to strengthen our safety net. As I wrote in Nyack News and Views, we must in the meantime deal with the crisis at hand and minimize the economic pain inflicted by the virus.
- Send monthly checks to every American — $2,000 per adult and $1,000 per child.
- Implement a nationwide moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, and provide emergency rental assistance to ensure that those hit by the economic shock do not fall hopelessly behind on their rent during the moratorium.
- Forgive at least $10,000 of student debt per person, and freeze interest accrual and payments for the duration of the crisis.
- Require corporations who take public assistance to maintain payroll at a mandatory $15 minimum wage, refrain from engaging in share buybacks, cap executive compensation at 50 times that of the median employee, and allow a workers’ representative on union boards.
- Extend cash assistance to small businesses to cover expenses like rent, utilities, and payroll.
- Work to rapidly decarcerate in jails and prisons to curb the spread of COVID-19, prioritizing people who are elderly, have underlying conditions, and who are incarcerated for non-dangerous offenses.
Medicare for All
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that we are all adversely impacted when 87 million Americans are either uninsured or underinsured, preventing them from getting necessary medical care. In the richest nation in the history of the world, health care should be a right, not a privilege.
- 137 million Americans — almost half of our nation — have faced financial hardship this year solely due to the cost of medical treatments.
- We spend more money on health care than any other developed country; 61% of that money spent is public money. 30,000 people die every year from a lack of health insurance. Many more skip necessary treatments that their insurance company refuses to cover, or that are still too expensive to pay for out-of-pocket.
- Unlike my opponents, I support the Medicare for All Act (H.R. 1384), co-sponsored by our current Representative, Nita Lowey, that would guarantee health care — including mental health care, dental care, and at-home care — to all Americans as a human right, without premiums, deductibles, or co-pays, and while capping the annual cost of prescription drugs at $200 per person.
- This is the only proposal that would bring down our ridiculously high systemic costs, eliminate barriers to treatment like premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, and ensure that everyone is covered and can see their doctor even when they lose their job.
Restoring the SALT DeductionIn 2017, Donald Trump and the Republican Party imposed a $10,000 limit on the SALT Deduction, effectively raising taxes on many people in New York’s 17th Congressional District, in order to fund tax cuts for corporations and his billionaire friends. That the federal budget would be balanced on the backs of the people of Rockland and Westchester, who already pay the highest property taxes in the nation, is outrageous. I will fight tooth and nail to lift the $10,000 cap and fully restore the SALT deduction.
$15 Minimum Wage
When you adjust for inflation, the average American worker in 2019 made less than the average American worker in 1973. As wages have remained stagnant for decades, the cost of living has soared. I will fight for a $15 federal minimum wage permanently indexed to inflation, for all workers, including tipped workers. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 has not been raised since 2009, and the minimum wage has been raised just twice in the last 22 years. Although New York has seen some increases in recent years, this is simply not enough for families in the Lower Hudson Valley, which ranks among the most expensive places to live in the country.
Protecting Labor RightsI am the son and grandson of working people. For a generation, I have witnessed the rights of American workers become eroded. It’s time to fight back. That’s why I support:
- An end to the misleadingly titled “Right to Work” laws, which the far-right has weaponized to undermine unions across the country.
- Protecting public sector unions by co-sponsoring the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2019 (H.R. 3463).
- The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 2474) to ensure that working people can organize without fear of retaliatory termination from their boss.
- The Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (“FAIR Act”) (H.R. 1423) to prohibit forced arbitration agreements, which prevent people from holding their employers accountable for wage theft, sexual harassment, and other kinds of mistreatment.
- Worker co-determination, or the ability of workers to elect a substantial percentage of representatives on their company’s board of directors. Giving workers a voice in management will improve outcomes, as it has in Germany.
- Legislation to reduce the prevalence of restrictive non-compete clauses that keep working people from seeking better wages and working conditions in the same industry.
Student Debt Relief & Tuition-Free Public College
America faces a crippling student debt crisis. Thousands of people in New York’s 17th Congressional District, despite having college degrees, must live at home with their parents because they can’t afford to be out on their own as renters or homeowners. We must forgive student debt to liberate an entire generation to fully participate in our economy, such as through homeownership, the single biggest generator of wealth in the United States. This will also provide relief to property owners in New York’s 17th Congressional District, where property taxes are the highest in the country, by expanding the population that forms our tax base. In order to have a lasting impact, student debt forgiveness must be accompanied by tuition-free public college.
- In 2017, the average student loan debt for an individual graduating college was $37,172, up from $9,798 in the year 1990, adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, wages have remained stagnant as the cost of living has soared.
- We must forgive college debt. Doing so is the smart thing to do, in addition to being the moral thing to do. Forgiving college debt would liberate millions of people to fully participate in our economy, start families, and own homes, which would provide property tax relief to existing homeowners by expanding our tax base in the Lower Hudson Valley.
- But it is not enough to forgive college debt on a one-time basis. In order to prevent crushing student debt from accumulating in the future, college debt forgiveness must be paired with tuition-free public college.
- Attending some of the best public colleges and universities was practically free 50 years ago. Now, students must pay more than $21,000 each year to attend those same schools.
- A college education is required for the vast majority of good-paying jobs, so no one should be forced to make a choice between getting a college education and taking on crippling student debt. We should make public colleges tuition-free, like we do public K-12 education.
Universal Child Care
15 million children in America live in poverty. Thousands of those children live in New York’s 17th Congressional District. I was one of them. Growing up, when child care was too expensive, my grandmother was forced to take me to work with her in Congers and Hillcrest, where she cleaned homes. Today, in more than half the states in America, a year of child care costs more than a year of in-state college tuition. My mother was lucky to have my grandmother to help take care of me, but many children are not so lucky. We cannot leave our children behind.
- In Congress, I will co-sponsor Rep. Deb Haaland’s Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act (H.R. 3315). Under this legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services must support sponsors (e.g., states, local governments, tribal organizations, and nonprofit community organizations) that provide child care and early learning services for families.
- Families must pay a subsidized fee, based on their income, for the services. The fees are capped at 7% of a family’s income regardless of the family’s income level. Moreover, the fees are waived for children from families with incomes below 200% of the poverty line.
- In Congress, I will also co-sponsor Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Universal Prekindergarten and Early Childhood Education Act (H.R. 4213), which would expand access to free pre-kindergarten through a partnership between the federal government and the states. This has been piloted in New York City to great effect, and will improve outcomes for millions of children across the country.
- I will introduce legislation to provide 36 weeks of paid parental leave, so new parents can care for their child at the child’s most formative time.
Housing For All
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how we are all impacted when we don’t ensure that the basic needs of everyone in our society are met. One of the reasons it took so long to close public schools in New York State, in order to help limit the spread of the virus, is that 150,000 public school students are homeless and rely on schools being open for a stable living environment. Thousands of these students live in New York’s 17th Congressional District. Nationwide, 1.5 million students experienced homelessness in the 2017-2018 school year. Westchester and Rockland, like many metropolitan areas in this country, face a housing affordability crisis. 142,000 households in Westchester and 62,000 in Rockland pay more than 30% of their income toward housing costs, and thus are defined as “housing burdened.” Westchester County’s Housing Needs Assessment recently found that Westchester alone needs 11,703 new housing units and another 75,271 need to be rehabilitated.
I will work to fix our crisis by:
- Co-sponsoring Rep. Cedric Richmond’s American Housing and Economic Mobility Act (H.R. 1737), which would build or rehabilitate about 3 million housing units over the next decade, create 1.5 million new jobs at its peak impact, bring down rents for lower-income and middle-class families by 10%, and produce no long-term deficit impact.
- Voting to repeal the Faircloth Amendment, passed in 1999 by a Republican Congress, which limits the construction of new public housing units.
- Co-sponsoring legislation to build two million new social housing, or mixed-income, units nationwide, which will be built to the highest environmental standards. These units should be built near public transit so their residents can have affordable access to their jobs without having a large carbon footprint.
- Supporting a National Tenants’ Bill of Rights, which would guarantee tenants rights to safe, accessible, sustainable housing; universal rent control; lease renewal protection; and legal counsel in housing court.
- I will co-sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal for Public Housing Act (H.R. 5185), which would invest up to $180 billion over 10 years in sustainable retrofitting of our 1.2 million public housing units, including all needed repairs; vastly improved health, safety, and comfort; and the elimination of carbon emissions by transitioning our public housing stock to solar energy. This would dramatically improve living conditions for nearly 2 million people.
Green New Deal
Our planet is in peril. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we have 10 years remaining to prevent irreversible damage to Earth due to global warming. We must take swift action to decarbonize our economy, which includes:
- Enacting a Green New Deal, which would transition America to 100% renewable energy and avert climate catastrophe, creating 20 million good-paying jobs in the process. A Green New Deal would also ensure that there is a just transition to green jobs for fossil fuel workers who are displaced, hold fossil fuel companies accountable, provide dedicated support to the communities most at risk, and invest in new, sustainable infrastructure across the country.
- Establishing initiatives to weatherize our homes and infrastructure to prepare for the next Superstorm Sandy.
Green New Deal for Public HousingI will co-sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal for Public Housing Act (H.R. 5185), which would invest up to $180 billion over 10 years in sustainable retrofits that include all needed repairs, vastly improved health, safety and comfort, and the elimination of carbon emissions in our federal public housing stock by transitioning them to solar energy. This would dramatically improve living conditions for nearly 2 million people living in roughly 1.2 million public housing units.
Indian Point Power Plant
We must replace the decommissioned Indian Point Energy Center with clean, renewable energy sources and ensure that spent fuel rods are safely relocated from our densely populated community. We must also curb the influence of corporations on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which have failed to make sound scientific judgments, and thus have failed the Lower Hudson Valley. As a recent report by the NRC’s Inspector General makes clear, the NRC failed to adequately consider the safety implications of co-locating the AIM gas pipeline at Indian Point, which faulty information FERC then relied on in granting its own approval. This is unacceptable. In Congress, I will:
- Reintroduce Rep. Nita Lowey’s Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act (H.R. 4441), which would maintain the NRC’s emergency response and security requirements until all of the spent fuel on the site is moved into dry cask storage, which is the safest temporary way to store nuclear waste. This would ensure that spent fuel rods stored on-site at the closed facility remain safe and secure.
- Reintroduce Rep. Nita Lowey’s Redistribution of Fines to our Communities Act (H.R. 4440), which would redistribute safety-related fines to support the local tax base with replaced revenues from the closed nuclear plant, mitigating the economic impacts of plant closure and aiding our communities with economic development.
- Introduce legislation to prevent industry lobbyists from serving on the NRC and FERC.
- Advocate for a citizens’ oversight board to oversee the decommissioning of Indian Point.
Quality Public Transportation
The transportation sector is the single biggest contributor to carbon emissions globally. We need to wean ourselves off of relying on automobiles and transition to high-speed and light rail powered by clean, renewable energy sources. This can be one feature of a Green New Deal. In most parts of Rockland County, an individual has to drive or take a bus to get into New York City or Westchester County. It is a major priority for me to fight for a one-seat train from Rockland into New York City and Westchester. It will make Rockland County a more accessible and attractive place to live, especially for young families, ensuring the future of our community and expanding the population that forms our tax base. I will also fight to restore and expand light rail, which we previously had in Ossining and Peekskill.
Funding for Public Schools
Education is supposed to be society’s great equalizer, but for many school districts in New York’s 17th Congressional District, it is not. As a product of public schools in the East Ramapo Central School District, which helped me rise from humble economic circumstances, I know firsthand the transformative power of public education. This same district has experienced the elimination of 506 teaching and other staff positions since 2009, and as of June 2018, only 185 of those positions had been fully restored. Other of our school districts are underfunded as well, including Greenburgh, Ossining, North Rockland, Peekskill, and Port Chester.
As a member of Congress, I will be a champion for public school students and teachers.
- Drastically increase our funding for public education, including Title I funding for our most under-resourced school districts, Title II funding for professional development for our school administrators, and Title IV funding for technology and other educational resources.
- Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, which Congress has failed to fully fund since it was passed 45 years ago.
- Pass Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Universal Prekindergarten and Early Childhood Education Act (H.R. 4213), which would expand access to free pre-kindergarten through a partnership between the federal government and the states. This has been piloted in New York City to great effect, and will improve outcomes for millions of children across the country.
- Pass Rep. Grijalva’s SYLLABLE Act (H.R. 5764), which expands access to high-quality dual language immersion programs in low-income communities.
- Establish more community schools nationwide. Community schools use the neighborhood public school to weave together community partners to provide all the services and support students and their families need. Studies show that investment in such schools returns $10 to $14 for every dollar spent.
For our entire lives, the government has served the interests of corporations and the super rich at the expense of working people. Until we fix the root of the problem, nothing else worthwhile will get done. That’s why, unlike my opponents, I refuse to take corporate PAC money. It’s also why I pledge to fix democracy by fighting to:
- Reduce the influence of big money in politics by enacting public campaign financing and supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, which treats corporations like people, and Buckley v. Valeo, which allowed unlimited self-funding and expenditures by outside groups.
- Make voter registration easier by passing Automatic Voter Registration.
- Remove barriers to voting by making Election Day a national holiday and opening more polling places.
- End gerrymandering through mandating independent redistricting commissions.
- Add Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico as states.
- Expand the Supreme Court to ensure that the conservative Roberts’ Court cannot strike down Roe v. Wade or further damage our democracy.
- Restore critical aspects of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court.
- End so-called “voter ID” laws, which courts have found to arbitrarily discriminate against people who are low-income or of color.
- Explore the possibility of enacting ranked choice voting, which is in use in cities like Cambridge, Massachusetts, and states like Maine, for all federal elections.
Two bills already before the house — the For The People Act (H.R. 1) and the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) — would be a great start. I pledge to co-sponsor both of these bills on my first day in office.
With local law enforcement officers engaging in miscarriages of justice on both systemic and individual levels, I believe Congress has a responsibility to enact comprehensive federal oversight measures, in conjunction with state action.
I’m grateful for the endorsement of Julián Castro, whose People First Policing plan offers us a way forward. I will champion that plan as a member of Congress. We must honor the memories of people killed by the police by listening to the demands of their family members for justice, ensuring that law enforcement officers are held accountable, and moving towards a society where the institution of policing plays less of a role in black and brown communities. We must reinvest in the things that really make us safe, including housing, education, and health care for everyone.
In Congress, I will fight to:
- End the “qualified immunity” defense under Section 1983 actions, which often lets law enforcement officers off the hook for violating constitutional rights.
- Pass Rep. Hank Johnson’s Police Accountability Act (H.R. 5777), which would make police killings chargeable federal crimes.
- Pass Rep. Hank Johnson’s Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1714), which prohibits the federal transfer of militarized equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.
- Pass Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act (H.R. 4408), which would institute a federal ban on the use of chokeholds.
- Pass Rep. Frederica Wilson’s Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act (H.R.1636), which would create a commission within the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Office of the Staff Director to make a systematic study of the conditions affecting black men and boys.
- Establish a public national database that tracks all police officers decertified in any state or locality, so that there is full transparency if an officer seeks employment elsewhere.
- Improve transparency by requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to report use-of-force incidents to the Department of Justice.
- Establish a database that houses data on all detentions, stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests, with data broken down by race, gender, and other important demographics, as well as all deaths in police custody.
- Invest in civilian oversight boards, investigating police departments that have patterns of racial discrimination, and overseeing consent decrees.
- Incentive programs that provide alternatives to incarceration, including mental health support, drug treatment, and diversion programs for non-violent offenses.
- End “broken windows” policing strategies that disproportionately harm people of color.
- Ensure that officers are trained in de-escalation strategies, racial equity, and how to acknowledge and root out implicit bias.
Criminal Justice Reform
People in this country, especially people of color, are over-policed, over-arrested, over-prosecuted, and over-sentenced. Despite making up less than 5% of the world population, the United States has 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. Jails and prisons have been used as substitutes for investments in education, drug treatment, and restorative justice.
We must overhaul the way that we approach criminal justice policy. We must:
- Repeal the 1994 Crime Bill, which fueled mass incarceration.
- Give judges discretion to consider the totality of a defendant’s circumstances by ending mandatory minimums in sentencing.
- Legalize, and regulate, marijuana.
- Ban the box, or consideration of a criminal conviction in hiring decisions, unless the nature of the conviction is relevant to the job’s duties.
- Fully fund the constitutional right to counsel for defendants.
- Provide support for people who are coming out of prison to help ensure that they are able to find good-paying work, affordable housing, and other vital services.
- Abolish private prisons and detention facilities, and work to make sure that we are reducing incarceration in all its forms.
- End civil asset forfeiture, whereby property can be taken from someone who is never charged or convicted of a crime.
- Abolish solitary confinement, which is a form of torture.
- End slave wages for inmates.
- Reject all new forms of “broken windows” policing that fuel mass incarceration and over-policing of our communities.
- Bolster independent oversight of all police activity.
The Trump Administration and Republican Party have systematically undermined access to the right to safe and legal abortion. The federal government must step in to protect civil rights — and it cannot leave those rights up to the extreme conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
As a member of Congress, I will work to:
- Enact a constitutional amendment and federal statute that codify Roe v. Wade.
- Repeal the Hyde Amendment, which unfairly bars the federal government from using federal funds to pay for abortions.
- Ensure that any Medicare for All legislation that passes includes coverage for abortion and contraception.
- Ensure that sex education is included in any comprehensive reproductive rights reform, because we have a duty to educate children about safe and healthy practices.
- Reintroduce Rep. Nita Lowey’s Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act (H.R. 1055), which would repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule that prohibits international NGOs involved in promoting global health from using their own money to provide safe and legal abortion services (or even abortion-related referrals and information).
Expand the size of the Supreme Court to prevent an extreme, conservative majority from striking down Roe v. Wade.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
I would not be here today had my paternal grandfather not immigrated to New York City from Kingston, Jamaica generations ago. Immigrants are the backbone of our society, from our economy to our personal relationships. Immigrants are our family members, friends, neighbors, and loved ones. We must center our immigration system around human rights, families staying together, and strengthening our economy.
As a member of Congress, I will:
- Fight to end President Trump’s racist and inhumane family separation policy, whereby he locks kids in cages and tears families apart.
- Co-sponsor the DREAM Act (H.R. 6), which codifies DACA, in order to protect our young people.
- Support a pathway to citizenship for individuals currently living undocumented in this country.
- Fight for the ability of people to claim asylum due to gender-based violence such as domestic violence, which the Trump administration has removed — putting countless women, LGBTQIA people, and their dependents at risk.
- Support fully funding our immigration court system, so that it has the capacity to process those asylum claims, and all immigration cases, and have the necessary resources to provide all claimants with legal counsel and hear all cases in a timely manner.
- Work to ensure that our immigration system reflects principles of humanity, justice, and dignity.
- Advocate humane trade policy that does not devastate the economies of other countries and cause people to risk life and limb to enter the United States illegally for a better life.
Racial justice is personal for me. It is my lived experience that people of color face particular challenges in this country that must be specifically addressed. I got my start in politics as a freshman at Spring Valley High School when I reactivated the Spring Valley NAACP Youth Council. At the age of 19, I chaired a committee on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors.
Institutional discrimination touches all facets of life in America, from health care to employment to criminal justice to housing. I will fight to achieve equality and dismantle systemic racism so that we are all able to participate fully in this society. In order to truly advance the cause of racial justice, we must incorporate these principles into every piece of legislation considered before Congress. That is why racial justice is a common thread through all aspects of my platform.
As a member of Congress, I will fight to:
- Restore democracy by passing the For the People Act (H.R. 1) and the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4), to protect the rights of people of color to fully participate in our political process.
- Pass Medicare for All to close the racial gaps in healthcare coverage and outcomes; black people are more likely to be uninsured than white people, and more likely to suffer from treatable, preventable diseases. I will also support the Maternal CARE Act (H.R. 2902) so that black women are no longer three to four times more likely than white women to die from childbirth.
- Enact criminal justice reform by repealing the 1994 Crime Bill, ending mandatory minimums, and legalizing marijuana, because structural racism in this country means that people of color are over-policed, over-prosecuted, and over-incarcerated.
- Pursue educational equity by forgiving student loan debt, which would reduce the racial wealth gap among young white and black households from 12:1 to 5:1, creating a free public option for college, and investing federal funding of public school systems.
- Support a National Tenants’ Bill of Rights, which would guarantee tenants rights to safe, accessible, sustainable housing; universal rent control; lease renewal protection; and legal counsel in housing court. This would protect black and Latinx tenants, who are more likely to be evicted than white tenants.
- Enact a Green New Deal to put an end to environmental racism, which condemns people of color to breathe polluted air, drink toxic water, and experience environmental devastation.
- Pass comprehensive immigration reform so that our country welcomes immigrants of color.
- Ensure that reproductive justice is protected by codifying Roe v. Wade and repealing the Hyde Amendment, because low-income people of color are most likely to have their reproductive rights violated.
LGBTQIA Rights & Equity
This is personal for me. If elected, I would become the first openly gay, black member of Congress in United States history. There is no question that tremendous progress has been made for LGBTQIA people in this country. But we still have so far to go. To remedy that, we must integrate the needs of LGBTQIA people into every area of public policy.
Rising rates of transphobic and homophobic hate crimes mean that all LGBTQIA people live under the threat of danger. LGBTQIA youth are twice as likely to be homeless than their straight and cisgender counterparts. And LGBTQIA students have on average $16,000 more in student debt than their straight classmates and less parental help paying it off. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is considering whether federal anti-discrimination law prohibits employers from firing people for being LGBTQIA.
As a member of Congress, I will:
- Co-sponsor the Equality Act (H.R. 5), which adds federal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Fight for Medicare for All so that no one has to forgo diagnostic testing or life-saving drugs like PrEP because they cannot afford premiums, deductibles, or copays.
- Advocate comprehensive housing affordability so that LGBTQIA youth have a guaranteed roof over their heads.
- Support tuition-free public college so that all students, including LGBTQIA youth, are able to participate in the 21st century economy without incurring crippling debt.
- Fight to decriminalize poverty and center restorative justice instead of locking so many people in prisons, where LGBTQIA individuals are subject to disproportionate rates of sexual violence.
Ending Gun Violence
This, too, is personal for me. I was in sixth grade when Columbine happened. As afraid as I was back then, I never imagined mass shootings would become the new normal. Gun violence is an epidemic. Americans across this country deserve to live without fear of gun violence in what should be safe spaces — schools, movie theaters, nightclubs, synagogues, churches, mosques. Thanks to corruption and partisan politics, Congress has failed to protect the American people.
As a member of Congress, I will support:
- Universal background checks at the point of purchase.
- Banning assault weapons.
- Mandatory buyback of all assault weapons in the hands of civilians.
- A 30-day waiting period for all gun sales.
- Banning high-capacity magazines.
- A nationwide gun licensing system and registry.
- Closing loopholes such as the gun show loophole, boyfriend loophole, and Charleston loophole.
- Civil liability for manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of firearms who negligently market their products to people who should not have them.
- Declaring gun violence a national emergency.
Tens of millions of Americans live with a disability. Millions more care for a loved one with a disability. For too long, their needs have been overlooked; they can and should be incorporated into our broader public policy.
As a member of Congress, I will:
- Fight for Medicare for All to guarantee healthcare services and support without waitlists, or asset or income restrictions, as a human right to everyone in America.
- Expand Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income to end the backlog of over 800,000 cases, which forces people with disabilities to wait years for needed assistance. We will raise SSI to 125% of the federal poverty level, lifting millions of families out of poverty.
- End the subminimum wage — which in some cases is currently less than $1 per hour — for workers with disabilities, while guaranteeing jobs and living wages in the community for all.
- Co-sponsor the bipartisan AIM HIGH Act (H.R. 1772) to ensure online instructional programs are accessible to students with disabilities.
- Pay particular attention to people with disabilities when assessing disaster relief preparedness.
Supporting Our Veterans
We have a responsibility to ensure the well-being of veterans who put their lives on the line to serve our country. Too often, veterans do not receive the care and support they deserve after returning home. 20 percent of veterans experience major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, and many do not receive adequate and timely treatment. Over 40,000 veterans are homeless, and 1.4 million more are at risk of homelessness. I will fight for veterans and their families, and will also help make sure that we do not enter more endless wars that needlessly place them in harm’s way.
When I am elected to Congress, I will:
- Fight to expand veteran access to jobs and training, as well as make it easier for veterans to access education benefits.
- End veteran homelessness. It is shameful that our country has left so many veterans behind and failed to ensure that they have access to housing. I will support programs to specifically ensure that all veterans are housed, in parallel to my broader housing policies.
- Guarantee that all veterans and their families have all of the health and support services they need under a Medicare for All system that includes mental health services and suicide prevention programs.
- Provide veterans who have experienced sexual harassment and assault the support and justice they deserve.
- Ensure that veterans are able to receive care and services that are sexual orientation and gender affirming.
- Invest $62 billion in the Department of Veterans Affairs to fill its large staffing shortages and modernize its crumbling infrastructure, while pushing back against privatization of the VA.
- Protect non-citizen veterans and their loved ones from deportation, while making broader, structural changes to improve our immigration system.
- Provide disabled veterans with quick and streamlined access to the support that they need, which is often delayed due to bureaucratic backlogs.
Animal RightsAs humans, we share our earth with millions of species of animals. All too often animals are not treated with the respect and care they deserve, and instead are exploited and abused for profit and human sport. Our modes of agriculture and economic development have often come at a terrible cost: climate change, environmental degradation, and the destruction of habitats. We must act to ensure animal welfare and protect wildlife habitats.
Stop Endless Wars
The United States has been at war for most of my life — wars that have led to hundreds of thousands of people being killed and millions more displaced. We were led into the disastrous war in Iraq under false pretenses. The war in Afghanistan has been raging for almost 19 years. We are contributing to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, in Yemen, by providing weapons to the Saudi-led coalition. Extreme war powers, and a reluctance by members of Congress to exert oversight, have enabled the current administration to bring us dangerously close to the brink of war with Iran. Climate change is already helping to fuel further conflict and violence, due to its impacts on food and water sources, droughts, and other natural disasters.
Enough is enough. Our national security depends on a sane approach to American foreign policy that centers diplomacy, peace, human rights, and cooperation on the challenges facing our world. We must stop fighting endless wars.
As a member of Congress, I will:
- Fight to finally repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has given the executive branch a blank check to pursue foreign wars having nothing to do with the September 11th attacks, including throughout the Middle East and Africa.
- Work to urgently bring an end to existing conflicts, including the war in Afghanistan, through inclusive peace processes that center human rights, including women’s rights.
- Support barring the sale of weapons to human rights violators, including Saudi Arabia.
- Support creating a peacebuilding fund, which would invest in initiatives to build peace worldwide in countries that have been affected by conflict.
- Fight to increase our cap for welcoming refugees to the United States, which the Trump administration has shamefully lowered, so that we can provide a home for people fleeing conflict and persecution like our allies in Europe.
- Support redirecting funds towards conflict prevention, including through development aid to reduce poverty and inequalities and combat climate change.
Budgets reflect our values and priorities. Currently, the United States has chosen to prioritize investing in war and weapons over providing for the basic needs of our people. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allocates a whopping $738 billion dollars for military spending. We spend more than approximately the next seven countries combined. It is estimated that we have spent almost $6 trillion dollars on the Global War on Terror alone. The United States maintains hundreds of costly military bases in dozens of countries throughout the world. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has gutted funding for the State Department and USAID, making the United States less able to lead on diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to address our world’s biggest challenges.
Why do people ask, “how will you pay for it?” when it comes to health care and stopping climate change, but not unnecessary wars? The American people deserve a government that actually provides the things that really make them safe — such as health care, environmental protection, and education.
As a member of Congress, I will:
- Push to reduce military spending and reinvest this money in the State Department, to strengthen diplomacy and peacebuilding, as well as domestically, in programs that meet the needs of our civilian population.
- Prioritize investment in human security approaches, which focus on meeting the human needs of people and protecting our environment.
Iran Nuclear Deal
Through the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, President Trump has made our world less safe. Iran has resumed its dangerous nuclear weapons program, which poses a great threat to the region, including to Israel. Nita Lowey, for her part, opposed President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal. President Trump’s withdrawal is part of a bigger trend whereby the President is turning away from multilateral cooperation in the field of arms control, where he is risking the safety of our world by allowing key arms control treaties to lapse.
I strongly believe in the power of diplomacy and viewed the Iran Nuclear Deal as a great — although imperfect — accomplishment, as it aimed to remove much of Iran’s nuclear stockpile while keeping Iran in check through extensive monitoring. The deal was working until the United States withdrew, and nothing about the deal would have prevented the United States and our allies from negotiating an extended sunset provision or even permanent terms.
In Congress, I will support all efforts to broker another nuclear agreement with Iran that limits its nuclear capabilities and provides extensive monitoring in exchange for lifting certain sanctions. We must do what we can to center diplomacy as a means to reduce hostilities and conflict in the Middle East.
Why I'm Running
I’m running for Congress to fight for bold, progressive policies that will help everyday people and allow all children in New York’s 17th Congressional District to dream big like I did.