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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 9

Photo of Janice D. Schakowsky

Janice D. Schakowsky

Democratic
US Congresswoman
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Income inequality – building an economy that works for everyone in all stages of life, including retirement, not just the very richest few.
  • Confronting climate change – we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect communities, public health and the planet itself.
  • Protecting and expanding women’s access to health care

Experience

Experience

Profession:US Congresswoman
Congresswoman, IL-9, US House of Representatives — Elected position (1998–current)

Education

University of Illinois BA, Elementary Education (1965)

Biography

Jan Schakowsky has been a lifelong consumer advocate and a champion for, what she sees as, the disappearing middle class.  From her days as a young housewife who led the campaign to put expiration dates on food products to the 2008 passage of legislation she helped write making children’s products and toys safe, Jan has worked to make life better for working and middle class Americans.


Jan was elected to represent Illinois’ 9th Congressional District in 1998, after serving eight years in the Illinois General Assembly.  She is in her 9th term, serving in the House Democratic leadership as a Chief Deputy Whip and serves as one of 16 Members on the Democratic Message Team.  She is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where she is the Ranking Democrat on the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee and she also sits on the Subcommittees on Health and Oversight and Investigations.  Jan also serves as the National Chairman for Candidate Services for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


For decades, Jan identified her top priority as winning affordable, quality health care for all Americans.  In 2009 and 2010, she played a leadership role in writing and passing the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that finally established health care as a right and not a privilege in the United States.  


Working and middle class people see Jan out there fighting for their jobs and paychecks at a time when income inequality has reached record levels.  In 2010, then Speaker Pelosi appointed Jan to President Obama’s 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform where she bucked the majority and offered her own proposal to balance the budget without cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid – or further burdening struggling families.  


Jan is proudly pro-choice, favors marriage equality and comprehensive immigration reform.  Jan was a founding member of the Out of Iraq Caucus in the U.S. House.  She co-chairs the Democratic Seniors Task Force which focuses on addressing the needs of older Americans.


As a Jewish Congresswoman, Jan has a deep personal connection to the State of Israel and has consistently voted for measures to assure Israel’s security and to promote efforts toward a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace.
Jan grew up in the 9th District and returns home every weekend to meet with individual constituents, business leaders, and groups large and small.  The Constituent Advocates in her two district offices work tirelessly to help the diverse range of constituents in the 9th District and are known far and wide for their welcoming attitude and effective problem solving.


Jan lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband Robert Creamer and their two dogs, Ellie and Frankie.  She has three marvelous children, Ian, Mary and step-daughter Lauren, and six exceptional grandchildren – Isabel, Eve, Lucy, William, Aidan and Alice.  She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.  

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (18)

What is your biggest difference with your opponent(s)?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

My opponent and I could not be more different when it comes to policies that affect working and middle-class families.  My opponent believes that "COBRA, paid time off, tax withholding, wrongful termination rules, OSHA, paid vacation accrual, medical leave, HSAs, ADA, workers’ comp, unemployment insurance, extraordinarily complex wage and hour mandates" are "burdens" that are holding our economy back. (http://joanforcongress.com/income-and-wealth-inequality)

Those programs are vital to working families.  I believe that someone who gets hurt on the job still needs to feed their family, I believe that someone with a disability should have the opportunity to live up their fullest potential, and I believe that the out-of-touch, anti-worker policies that my opponent supports would do real harm to families making less than $150,000 per year.  

The economic pressures that we face are real, but as a nation we cannot and will not create economic growth and shared prosperity by eliminating the Americans with Disabilities Act, medical leave, paid vacation, and unemployment benefits.  Working families have enough hardships to handle without gutting basic rights at work.

 

 

Congress has declined to formally authorize America’s undeclared war against ISIS. Should Congress take a vote to authorize the use of military force against ISIS?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I support a new authorization of use of military force (AUMF) to directly address ISIS. During the recent debate of the National Defense Authorization Act, I voted for an amendment to repeal the current AUMF from 2001.  That AUMF addressed the threats our country was facing at the time in the aftermath of the attack on 9/11.  We need an AUMF that addresses the threats we currently face – not those from 15 years ago. I believe that we need narrow authorizations so that Congress truly engages in the debate over our use of the military every time a president wants to go to war. Relying on a 15-year-old authorization fails that objective. I do not believe that any AUMF should exist in perpetuity. 

More generally, what should Congress do to reduce the threat of ISIS abroad and at home? 
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

ISIS poses a significant threat to American interests and to stability in the region as a whole. I believe we need a smart, aggressive strategy against ISIS. Our first priority must be to protect our homeland. I believe the first line of defense has to be working with the Muslim community here in the United States to help prevent radicalization and the creation of home-grown terrorists. Cooperation between the Muslim community and law enforcement requires trust and respect. That’s why it is so critical that we reject rhetoric that divides our communities and encourages hate against specific ethnic and religious groups.

I agree with President Obama's assessment that we need an international response to eliminate ISIS, and I support his actions to pull together a strong international coalition (including many Middle Eastern nations) to do so. We cannot rely on unilateral U.S. action but must build a committed, strong coalition to respond effectively. I support targeted air strikes against ISIS, but I do not support American troops on the ground.

 

I support both military and humanitarian multilateral efforts to stabilize the situation in Iraq and Syria. Our actions against ISIS have halted their advance, but we have not eliminated the grave danger they pose to individuals throughout the region. I believe ISIS can be beaten in Iraq, but as long as ISIS retains a safe haven in Syria, they will continue to threaten stability across the Middle East.

Donald Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. Do you support such action? What restrictions, if any, do you support on the admission of Muslims into the United States? 
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I vehemently oppose any religion-based ban on admission of immigrants to the United States.  Refugees, in particular, undergo the highest level security screenings of anyone who enters this country. They undergo rigorous levels of screening before they even enter the country and typically have to wait for more than one year before they come to America. Those who claim the vetting process doesn’t exist or is insufficient are either unfamiliar with the details of the program or are perpetrating myths.

The choice between security and compassion is a false choice. As a Jew, I’m reminded of when the United States closed its doors on those fleeing the Holocaust, sending many back to their deaths. It is very, very painful to think that we could do the same thing today to Syrians – Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis – who are seeking safety.

I introduced the H.R. 5207, the Freedom of Religion Act, with Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia. This legislation would prohibit the use of religion as the sole qualification for rejecting an application for refugee status. Undermining our values by banning Muslims from entering this country does not make us great. It undermines our strength as a nation by giving in to fearmongering, hate, and division. The First Amendment protects from discrimination based on religion. And this is a freedom we should extend to those seeking refuge or coming to America to start new and better lives. These individuals are victims of war and terrorism and have nowhere to go. They have risked their lives to get to a safe place.

 

I am proud that Chicago is a home for refugees. I could not agree more with the City Council resolution from last fall that stated, “Syrian refugees should to be treated with the dignity, care, and compassion that every person deserves.” Last November, I had the opportunity to have Thanksgiving dinner with a Syrian refugee family who has been resettled in my district. It was a beautiful experience to hear their stories and to listen to their hope for the future. It is my hope that many more families like theirs can be welcomed to the United States. 

The United States’ nuclear deal with Iran turned one year old on July 14, 2016. Should the deal be maintained as it is, revised or scrapped completely? What is right or wrong with the Iran deal? And should the next president feel bound by it?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I support the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and the next President should be bound be the Iran deal unless it is altered through a new negotiation between the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia) and Iran. If the U.S. walks away, the deal will collapse and we will be breaking commitments not only to Iran but also the P5+1, which would severely damage U.S. credibility in world affairs.

I fought for adoption of the Iran Nuclear Agreement in the summer of 2015. As Secretary Kerry led negotiations, I led a letter signed by 151 House Democrats in support of these diplomatic efforts. Secretary Kerry used that letter to indicate Congressional support and keep Iran at the negotiating table. After the deal was signed, I worked to build support in the House and prevent any action by Republicans to undo this historic foreign policy victory.

One year later, the Iran Nuclear Agreement is working. The agreement – negotiated by the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia with Iran – demonstrates the power of multinational diplomacy in addressing a serious security issue. The deal has made the world safer. Gadi Eizenkot, former Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, said, “Without a doubt the nuclear deal between Iran and the West is a historic turning point. It is a big change in terms of the direction that Iran was headed, and in the way that we saw things.”

Since the signing of the agreement, Iran has removed over two-thirds of its centrifuges. Iran has reduced its stockpile of fissile material to less than 300 kilograms — a reduction of 98 percent. The remaining material is far below the level of enrichment needed to create a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency continues to aggressively and intrusively inspect and monitor Iranian facilities, and the core of the Arak reactor has been filled with concrete, rendering it unable to produce the material needed to develop or create nuclear weapons.

 

We must adhere to our obligations under the Iran Nuclear Agreement, but adhering to our obligations under the Iran Nuclear Agreement does not mean that the U.S. will ignore Iran’s bad behavior in other areas. Since the signing of the agreement, we have held Iran accountable for its ballistic missile program, for its support of terrorism, and for human rights abuses. I support the Administration’s actions in January to levy additional sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program. I support the clean reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act to ensure that we continue to pressure Iran on ballistic missiles, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses.

Should the United States build a physical wall along our nation’s entire border with Mexico? Should a “path to citizenship” be created for the millions of people already living here without proper documentation? Would you support legislation to prevent the deportations of so-called “Dreamers” — youth who came to the U.S. illegally as small children with their parents?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

Building a wall along the entire border is crazy. It does not fix our broken immigration system. It does not address the root causes of migration across our southern border. And it would cost billions of dollars. We need real reform and engagement with other nations to fix immigration – not an expensive, ineffective wall.

My parents were immigrants, and I believe that immigration enriches our nation. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Chicago area. We have welcomed immigrants from India, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Italy, Mexico, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, and many other places. Diversity is an incredible source of strength. As the world gets smaller and more interconnected, the richness of our society will give us a great advantage in leading the world. We should welcome diversity and reject proposals based out of fear and hate.

Across our state and in my district, families continue to be torn apart by our broken immigration system. I strongly believe that we must pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who want to come out of the shadows, live here, work, pay taxes, and contribute to our society.  Passing comprehensive immigration reform will also strengthen our borders and increase our security.

In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, I support the President’s executive actions on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Those programs help keep families together. I was disappointed by the Supreme Court’s split decision that continued the judicial stay on these actions, and I support the Justice Department’s decision to petition the Supreme Court to rehear the case.

 

I would support legislation to prevent deportations of Dreamers.  These are children and young adults who had no say in the method of how they were brought to the United States.  I voted for the DREAM Act, passed by the House in 2010, which would give eligible young people the opportunity for to obtain legal status and work toward citizenship.  Nearly 65,000 youth graduate high school in the U.S. each year but find they are unable to work, join the military, or go to college because of their immigration status.  The DREAM Act should become law.

Federal judges in July ruled against voter identification laws in Wisconsin and Texas, concluding that they disproportionately impact minority voters and violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Should voters be required to show a photo ID when voting? And should the federal government have a say in this, or is it strictly a matter for the individual states to decide? 
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

Photo ID should not be required to vote. Our focus should be on making sure that every American who can legally vote is able to do so. While I believe in protecting the integrity of elections, in-person voter fraud is extremely rare. In effect, voter ID laws make it harder for those with the right to vote – especially people of color, the elderly, and students – from exercising that right. Approximately 11 percent of Americans do not have a government-issued photo ID that could be used to vote under a voter ID law, and obtaining an ID that complies with these laws takes time, money, and access to transportation. The IDs that states consider valid can be very arbitrary. For instance, Texas allowed a gun license to serve as a photo ID but not a student ID. I agree with recent court decisions that struck down this and other voter ID laws. As some Republicans have admitted, the real intent here is not to strengthen our democracy but rather to suppress voter turnout.

 

The federal government has a duty to step in to protect the voting rights, especially in states with a history of voter suppression. African-Americans did not truly receive the right to vote until the federal government enforced that right under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  The continued need for the federal government to protect the right to vote become even more clear since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act requiring federal review before certain states implement voting restrictions. Since that decision, states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas have rushed to implement new voting restrictions. I joined my colleagues in calling for a vote on legislation to restore the full strength of the Voting Rights Act. 

Should all or certain federal public lands, including national parks, wildlife refuges and forests, be given to states to control? Do you support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration for oil and other fossil fuels, even if those resources are not immediately developed? 
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

Our public lands are national treasures, and we must protect them for the sake of our environment, important habitats, and future generations. Many proposals to allow state and counties to claim ownership and management are really about opening the door for sale to private owners and development activities in environmentally sensitive areas. These proposals are shortsighted.

 

I also oppose further development of fossil fuels on federal land. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 4535, the Keep It in the Ground Act, which would stop new coal, oil, and gas leases on federal lands and prohibit additional offshore drilling. The threat of climate change is real, and addressing this challenge requires curbing our use of fossil fuels and investing in clean energy and energy efficiency.

What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

Tax reform should raise revenue and reduce inequality. Today, the U.S. is the richest country in the world, and our country is richer than ever before. But not all Americans share in that wealth. While overall income rises, most Americans have seen little increase in their take-home pay. Our individual tax system could do more to fix this problem.

Right now, the highest tax bracket starts at $415,050. That means that someone is taxed at the same marginal rate for $500,000 of income as for $500 million of income. In fact, the top tax rate is lower than it was at any time between 1932 and 1986. I introduced H.R. 389, the Fairness in Taxation Act, to create new tax brackets starting at $1 million, $10 million, $20 million, $100 million, and $1 billion. My bill would also stop special tax breaks for millionaires on capital gains and dividends. These changes would create more fairness in our tax code and raise revenue to support the middle class.

We need sufficient revenue to invest in education, infrastructure, retirement security, and other national priorities. Unfortunately, our existing tax code is full of tax breaks and loopholes that do little to grow our economy.

Our tax code rewards U.S. companies that merge with foreign companies to avoid paying U.S. taxes. I introduced H.R. 2619, the Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act, to reward businesses that do the right thing. Under my bill, businesses could claim a tax credit if they avoid international tax gimmicks such as tax inversions, pay decent wages, provide health benefits, and contribute to their employees’ retirement. The cost of those tax credits would be offset by ending a tax break for foreign-related interest expenses. In other words, the Patriot Employer Tax Credit Act ends an international tax gimmick to reward businesses that stay in the U.S. and create good jobs for American workers.

I support legislation to end tax breaks received by oil and natural gas companies. Instead of costly tax expenditures that promote fossil fuels, our tax code should promote clean, renewable energy that will help in our fight against climate change. That is why I introduced H.R. 3733, the Prioritizing Energy-Efficient Renewables Act, which makes tax credits for wind, geothermal, hydropower, and solar energy permanent while repeal deductions for oil and natural gas production.

 

I will continue to fight for tax reform that promotes the interests all Americans – not just millionaires and billionaires.

What are the most important actions Congress can take to ensure the solvency of Social Security?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

Social Security’s earned benefits are funded through wages – Social Security doesn’t receive general revenues and, by law, cannot borrow or contribute to the deficit.  We need to lift the cap on wages subject to FICA -- $118,500 in 2016.  Eliminating the cap would affect only the top 5% of wage earners but would go a long way toward providing 75-year solvency.  By raising wages – stopping wage stagnation and ending gender-based pay discrimination – we will both help families today and increase Social Security revenues.  Two-thirds of retirees rely on Social Security for most of their income, 1 in 3 for virtually all of their income.  Yet, the average yearly benefit is about $15,600 – lower for women who earn less, take more time out of the workforce to care for family members, and live longer.  I’ve introduced H. Res. 393 to highlight the need to provide better benefits that will enable retirees, disabled workers, families and children on Social Security to meet their basic needs.

The Republican Party platform defines marriage as between a man and a woman. What is your view? The Obama Administration has issued guidelines to schools, saying they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. What is your view? And do you believe parents of LGBT children should be allowed to force their children into conversion therapy?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I support marriage equality for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The Supreme Court settled this issue in 2015 when it determined in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have an equal right to marriage under the Constitution. I am a proud member of the Congressional LGBT Caucus, and I will continue to work to ensure that LGBT Americans not only have the right to marry but also have protection from discrimination in employment, housing, credit and education.

Respect for LGBT Americans must extend to youth. School should be a welcoming, safe place for all students.  I support the Obama Administration’s guidelines mandating that students be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Schools should not be allowed to discriminate against transgender students.

 

I oppose conversion therapy for LGBT minors, and I am proud that Illinois has banned that dangerous practice. So-called “therapy” is harmful and ineffective, and it has been rejected the professional medical and mental health communities. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not mental disorders to be cured. When we tell young people that there is something wrong with who they are, it’s not only wrongheaded but also puts them at unnecessary risk of harm from themselves or others.   

What is the single most important action Congress can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

Congress needs to require background checks on all commercial firearms sales.  Currently, an estimated 40 percent of gun sales go unchecked. In Chicago, 60 percent of guns used in crimes come from out of state – mostly Indiana. In Indiana, private gun sales are not subject to background checks so criminals can easily purchase weapons and transport them back to the streets of Chicago. Without comprehensive background checks, Chicago is weakened in its ability to stop the ongoing gun violence epidemic. 

Proposed background check provisions would simply require that gun store owners, gun shows, and online vendors verify that an individual purchasing a weapon does not have a criminal background. We know that these kinds of background checks work – every day more than 170 felons, 50 domestic abusers, and almost 20 fugitives are prevented from buying a gun by a background check. While no single action will end the gun violence epidemic, background checks save lives and have overwhelming public support.

In addition to background checks, I support increased funding to investigate and prosecute illegal gun trafficking.  We should also end the ban on allowing the Center for Disease Control to conduct gun research. This vital research could lead to breakthroughs in smart gun technology that would keep more Americans and their families safe from the dangers of guns. Congress should also reinstate an assault weapons ban. There is no reason for this type of military-style weapon to be on our streets.

 

I joined my Democratic colleagues in a historic 25-hour sit-in on the House floor to demand a vote on legislation to end gun violence. I will continue to do whatever I can to keep our schools, streets, and communities safe.

The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act” would give the Department of Justice authority to keep suspected terrorists on the federal “no fly” list from buying firearms. The bill was voted down in Congress late last year but pushed again in June after the Orlando massacre of 49 people. Do you support or oppose this bill, and why?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I agree that someone too dangerous to fly on a plane is too dangerous to buy a gun. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1076, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015. This bipartisan bill would authorize the Attorney General to bar the sale or distribution of firearms to suspected terrorists.

 

We do need to ensure civil liberties are protected as the federal government determines who is a suspected terrorist. The bill includes an opportunity for individuals to appeal in cases where individuals feel their rights have been unjustly limited, and I open to further changes to protect civil liberties. We also need to fix problems with the existing terrorist watch list. I have met with Muslim leaders in my district who are concerned that a number of people from their community have been unfairly placed on that list. In my district office, I have worked to help innocent people get their names removed from that list, but we need to reform it overall. I am mindful of these issues and will work to ensure greater accuracy going forward.

Should Obamacare be repealed, left intact, or changed — and if so, how? 
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

We need to build upon the progress of the Affordable Care Act, which I proudly call Obamacare.  Obamacare has made real improvements to health care.  Twenty million Americans are newly insured, 85% of those enrolled through new marketplaces are receiving premium tax credits, and millions are taking advantage of cost-sharing free preventive services.  People with pre-existing conditions cannot be charged more, turned down, or denied coverage.  Women don’t face higher premiums just because they are women, and they are guaranteed maternity coverage.  Prescription drug costs are lower for seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare.  Consumers are getting more bang for their buck because insurers have to spend at least 80 cents out of every premium dollar on health care.  Those guarantees would be gone under the Republican plan to repeal the law.

I agree with President Obama that we need to build on that progress, and I agree that we need to add a public option for health insurance and lower prescription drug prices. I introduced H.R. 265, the Public Option Deficit Reduction Act, to provide more choice and competition.  An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that adding a public option to Obamacare would reduce federal spending by $158 billion over 10 years and reduce premiums by 5 to 7 percent.

I have also introduced legislation to improve competition in drug pricing, reducing from 12 to 7 years the monopoly period during which competition for high-cost products known as biologics is prohibited. H.R. 5573, the bipartisan PRICED Act, is endorsed by the AARP, AFL-CIO and health care industry leaders including the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, Express Scripts, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and CVS Caremark.

 

Finally, we need to provide more ability to prevent unjustified premium increases and require that insurance companies provide more comprehensive networks of providers.  Illinois is in the minority of states that doesn’t give our Insurance Department authority to block unnecessarily high rates, negotiate for reasonable premiums, or even order rebates.  Other states have been able to win significant reductions in proposed rate increases.  That is why I have introduced H.R. 3727, the Health Insurance Rate Review Act, which would allow the federal government to approve, deny, or modify rates in states like Illinois that lack rate review authority. 

A plan to replace Obamacare, presented by House Speaker Paul Ryan in June, would gradually increase the eligibility age for Medicare, which is now 65. Starting in 2020, the Medicare age would rise along with the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits, eventually reaching 67. Do you support this change in the eligibility age for Medicare? 
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I strongly oppose raising the age of eligibility for Medicare (or Social Security which some Republicans have also proposed), which is based on the misguided belief that all Americans are living and working longer.  Raising the age of eligibility for Medicare would impose serious cost burdens on older Americans and would be completely unnecessary if Speaker Ryan and House Republicans were willing to address the real causes of medical spending -- such as higher prescription drug prices -- instead of shifting more costs to health care consumers. 

 

We know that not all Americans are living longer, in fact life expectancy is lower for non-college educated and lower-income women in many counties across the country.  Although many Americans plan to work past age 65 (many involuntarily because they cannot retire with financial security), the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College reports that more than 1 in 3 (37%) of those working at age 58 retire earlier than planned because of health reasons, layoffs or caregiving responsibilities.  More than 12 million older workers are in jobs that are physically demanding or involve difficult working conditions such as working with hazardous materials or equipment.  They are simply unable to continue at those jobs past 65, which is why over 45% of women and over 40% of men take their earned Social Security benefits at 62, receiving lower benefits than if they had waited until their full retirement age.  The reality is that they simply cannot afford to wait for financial and/or health reasons and delaying their access to Medicare would make their situation even more difficult.  

The GOP platform opposes the use of public funds for Planned Parenthood and other groups that “perform or advocate” abortion. It also opposes funding health care that includes abortion coverage. In contrast, the Democratic Party’s platform called for continued funding of Planned Parenthood and repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bars the direct use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Where do you stand?  
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I strongly support a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including if and when to have an abortion.  I have worked tirelessly throughout my time in Congress to protect and expand women’s access to family planning, and I oppose efforts to defund critical health providers or penalize insurance companies or employers who choose to offer coverage for abortion.  

The Hyde Amendment discriminates against women based on their income or where they work. Women who rely on Medicaid or the Indian Health Service, serve in the military, work for the federal government, or are in the Peace Corps are all denied coverage for abortion simply because of the source of their health insurance.  I am committed to ending this discriminatory and harmful policy.  I joined my colleague Congresswoman Barbara Lee in introducing the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, also known as the EACH Woman Act.  This legislation would repeal the Hyde Amendment and ensure that each woman can make her own personal decisions.  It is time for us to restore reproductive health and economic freedom to women whose lives have been impacted negatively by unjust policies like the Hyde Amendment.

I also strongly oppose efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and have actively worked to defeat proposals to do so.  The renewed effort to attack Planned Parenthood was prompted by the fraudulent and deceptively edited videos released by the right-wing Center for Medical Progress, which Republicans have used to further their goals of limiting access to family planning services.  I serve as the Ranking Democrat of a Select Investigative Panel, which I call the Select Panel to Attack Women’s Health, created by the Republican majority in response to those videos.  Since its creation, Republicans have used this panel to intimidate doctors, patients, and researchers, despite the fact that three Congressional committees and thirteen states investigated Planned Parenthood and found no evidence of wrongdoing.  In fact, when a Texas Grand Jury was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, they ended up clearing Planned Parenthood and instead indicted the makers of these fraudulent videos.  Simply put, the Select Investigative Panel is a waste of taxpayer dollars and only serves to further Republican’s partisan agenda to attack women’s health. 

Planned Parenthood provides vital health services to more than 3 million Americans.  More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood health centers offer is preventive and includes lifesaving cancer screenings, routine gynecological examinations, contraceptive services, immunizations and testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted infections.  Planned Parenthood is an invaluable community-based provider, and it is critical to achieving the goal of improving quality health care in this country.  I strongly support the work that Planned Parenthood does and do not support eliminating their funding. 

 

It is time to end the war on women and work towards promoting and enhancing women’s health – not restricting access to vital reproductive health services.

President Obama has proposed making two years of community college free nationally. Do you support or oppose this proposal? If you support it, how would you have the nation pay for it? 
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

I strongly believe that we need to make higher education more affordable.  Most careers require some form of post-secondary education, and without access to that education, many people are simply unable to compete for good-paying jobs.  Unfortunately, the rising costs of tuition are a barrier for many students who wish to pursue higher education.

I support the President’s proposal to make two years of community college free for students who meet certain academic standards.  I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2692, America's College Promise Act, which would provide significant federal funding to states for them to waive the cost of tuition at community colleges for first-time students who meet certain academic standards and enroll in programs that allows them to transition to a 4-year institution or high-quality training programs.  By providing free tuition at all community colleges for first-time students, we can drastically expand educational opportunities for students.

 

We can increase our investments in higher education in many ways, including asking more from those who aren’t currently paying their fair share in taxes, including millionaires and highly profitable corporations that ship jobs overseas. Providing revenue for higher education is a smart investment. It will not only help individuals access a college education but also improve the long-term success of our economy. 

College costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation for about 30 years. What is driving this increase and what should be done about it?
Answer from Janice D. Schakowsky:

As a former teacher and grandmother of teenagers, including one who will be a freshman at college this year, I am very concerned about rising education costs.  Congress needs to get a better handle on why costs are increasing so quickly.  However, as we investigate why costs are rising, we also need to do all we can to ensure that students entering college today can afford their education and are not burdened by insurmountable debt.

We need to increase transparency for college costs.  If colleges want to continue to raise the cost of attendance, they should justify how those funds will be spent.  I know some public schools, like those in Illinois, have seen a reduction in state funds and have been forced to increase the cost of tuition to help offset these losses.  I strongly oppose shortsighted efforts that reduce funding for higher education, such as the budget proposed by Governor Rauner, because education is one of the most important investments we can make.  Moreover, I support investing increased federal resources to make college more affordable and accessible for all students. 

I support the Democratic proposal to provide tuition-free education at in-state public colleges for students with a family income of $125,000 or less.  In addition, I believe that we need to reform our student loan repayment system so that current students and graduates are not overburdened by the cost of their student loans.  Student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion, and has surpassed the amount of credit card debt.  I supported the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which expands income-based student loan repayment plans to an additional 1.2 million borrowers and increases loan forgiveness for graduates who work in public service.  We now need to build off of the success of this law and further reform our student loan system.

I support H.R. 1434, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.  This legislation would allow student loan borrowers to convert their private student loan debt into federal student loans, which have more reasonable and flexible repayment options, including income-based repayment.  It would also allow student loan borrowers to re-finance their student loans if lower interest rates become available.  In addition, I support H.R. 4652, the Clarify Lending in Education and Repayment (CLEAR) Act, which would allow anyone with federal student loans to cap their monthly student loan payment at 10% of their discretionary income, regardless of when they took out the loan.  Furthermore, it would extend eligibility for loan forgiveness after 20 years of repayment for both undergraduate and graduate degrees and would allow loans to be discharged in the case of severe disability or death.

 

We must work to reduce the cost and debt burden associated with higher education.  I will continue to do whatever I can to expand educational opportunities for all Americans.

Who gave money to this candidate?

Contributions

Total money raised: $1,363,187

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

1
Employees of State of Illinois
$21,675
2
Employees of Power Rogers & Smith PC
$11,800
3
Employees of Namtor
$10,800
4
American Association for Justice
$10,000
4
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
$10,000
4
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
$10,000
4
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
$10,000
4
American Federation of Teachers
$10,000
4
Communications Workers of America
$10,000
4
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
$10,000
4
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
$10,000
4
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
$10,000
4
National Beer Wholesalers Association
$10,000
4
Service Employees International Union
$10,000
4
UNITE HERE
$10,000
4
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
$10,000
4
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)
$10,000

More information about contributions

By State:

Illinois 67.00%
District of Columbia 19.10%
Virginia 3.56%
Maryland 2.97%
Other 7.37%
67.00%19.10%

By Size:

Large contributions (85.21%)
Small contributions (14.79%)
85.21%14.79%

By Type:

From organizations (35.13%)
From individuals (64.87%)
35.13%64.87%
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

I am committed to a fair economic policy that builds from the bottom up, not the top down.  We are the richest country in the world – at the richest time in our history.  Yet too many Americans are struggling. They’ve faced four decades of real-wage stagnation while the vast majority of economic growth has gone to the richest Americans.  Nearly 47 million Americans – including 1 in 5 children – live in poverty.  At the same time, the richest 1 percent holds more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, and the 100 richest Americans have more wealth than all 42 million African-Americans.  We now have the biggest income between the rich and poor of any country in the industrial world – a distinction we must end. 

 

Income inequality is rooted in poor policy decisions. I’m fighting to change those policies.  We need to raise wages. That means – moving from the minimum wage to a living wage of at least $15/hour, ending paycheck discrimination that results in women earning 79 percent of what men earn (African-American women and Latinas even less), and promoting unions and collective bargaining rights.  We need to make higher education more affordable, ensuring that no one loses access to educational opportunities because of cost and that students can enter the workforce without enormous debt.  And I am working hard to lower the costs of prescription drugs and other health care costs and to expand Medicare’s benefits to include necessities such as hearing aids and dental and vision care.

 

We need to create good jobs by investing in our national needs: repairing our schools and bridges, building affordable housing, and creating green energy sources like wind, solar and greater efficiency.  And we need to invest in our workforce – for everything from teaching our children to providing quality home care for seniors.  We can afford those investments if we ask the wealthiest among us to contribute their fair share. That is why I’ve introduced the Taxpayer Fairness Act to raise rates to 45% on income over $1 million, rising to 49% on income over $1 billion.

We must end discrimination to make sure that every child and every adult is able to rise to their full potential and take advantage of full opportunity.  I am fighting to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, pass legislation like the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, pass comprehensive immigration reform, and improve employment protections against pregnant women and older workers.    

 

We must end discrimination to make sure that every child and every adult is able to rise to their full potential and take advantage of full opportunity.  I am fighting to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, pass legislation like the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, pass comprehensive immigration reform, and improve employment protections for older workers and workers with disabilities.

 

I am particularly concerned about discrimination against women's health and the accelerating effort to restrict access to reproductive health services.  The Affordable Care Act worked to eliminate some problems -- preventing insurance companies from charging women more just because of their gender, ensuring that health insurance policies have to include maternity benefits and contraceptives (without cost-sharing requirements), and ending pre-existing condition exclusions.  But pregnant women still face discrimination in the workplace -- and many women don't have sick leave that allows them to take care of their and their family's health needs.  I am working hard to change that.

 

We  need to make sure that women-- not politicians -- have the right to make their own health decisions, based on their own beliefs and personal circumstances.  That includes access to abortions.  House Republicans have created a Select Panel -- on which I serve as the ranking Democrat -- that is attacking that right.  This is part of an assault that has included 11 votes to defund Planned Parenthood and a budget that would eliminate Title X family planning funding.  I will fight to make sure that we guarantee women's access to all the medical care they need -- including access to reproductive health services. 

 

As the former executive director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens and the current co-chair of the House Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force, I am focused on ensuring that older Americans are able to retire with financial and health security.  That is why I am laser-focused on not just protecting Social Security but also expanding its earned benefits.  Today, 2 out of 3 retirees rely on Social Security for a majority of their income – 1 in 3 for 90 percent or more.  Yet, benefits are modest  and many seniors – especially older women who earn less and live longer – are struggling.  We can improve benefits and fund those improvements by lifting the cap on wages subject to Social Security taxes. 

Reversing past policy mistakes to create an economy that works for all requires a political system that works for all.   Instead of making it harder for Americans to vote, we need to pass a new Voting Rights Act.  We must undo the Supreme Court’s harmful decision in Citizens United, which has resulted in corporations and wealthy individuals having undue influence in elections.  We need to stop the role of money in politics that allows highly-profitable corporations like big pharmaceutical companies to benefit at the expense of the middle and working class. 

I am committed to raising wages, providing opportunity, improving retirement security and giving Americans a voice through unions and the political process.  I am proud to serve the 9th Congressional District by fighting for these policies in Washington and by working every day to solve my constituents’ specific problems, whether it is by helping a small business get a loan, handling a visa request, or working to solve a health care problem.  

 

 

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Jan Schakowsky tells why she should remain the congresswoman from the 9th district.

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