Lauren Underwood: 2022 candidate for 14th Congressional District
Occupation: Member of Congress, IL-14
Previous offices held: N/A
Q: What is your reaction to the results so far presented by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and what should Congress do next as a result of them?
A: The January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol was a despicable, un-American act of terrorism that nearly caused the collapse of our democracy.
Thanks to the outstanding work of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack, we know:
President Trump was repeatedly told he lost the 2020 election, yet he
chose to directly engage in efforts to overturn the election results,
President Trump asked people to travel to DC on January 6th, and his calls to action on social media motivated violent right-wing extremists like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to mobilize and work together.
President Trump planned to join the march to the Capitol and knew that many people in the crowd were armed.
Republican members of Congress were involved in planning the attack and sought pardons from President Trump for their criminal activities. Still, these members of Congress have defied their subpoenas and refused to cooperate with the Select Committee.
Q: What is America's role in foreign affairs, particularly related to two separate crises: Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Israel's conflict with the Palestinians.
A: Putin's unprovoked war against the sovereign nation of Ukraine violates international law and threatens global peace and security. As a founding member of NATO, the U.S. must uphold its commitments to the transatlantic alliance. I support continued actions to defend Ukrainian sovereignty, assist the Ukrainian people, and hold Putin accountable. As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I have supported security, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, temporary protected status for Ukrainian nationals in the United States, and steep economic sanctions on Russia.
In stark contrast to Trump and the MAGA loyalists who publicly sided with Putin, our support for Ukraine has effectively minimized the risk of escalation and direct engagement by American service members.
I have voted to affirm the strong bond between the United States and Israel. I support a two-state solution, a path by which both Israel and Palestine can achieve equitable and durable peace.
Q: Mass shootings at schools and public gatherings are generally a uniquely American phenomenon. What should Congress do to address the problem?
A: Everyone should feel safe in our communities. Weapons of war have no place in our schools, libraries, workplaces, or houses of worship. In the 14th district, we witnessed the devastating terror of mass shootings firsthand -- in 2008, at Northern Illinois University. In 2019, at the Henry Pratt factory in Aurora. And at the July 4th Highland Park parade.
I support common sense, popular, mainstream legislative solutions like universal background checks and banning sales of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. I support red-flag laws, like those on the books here in Illinois, to temporarily remove access to firearms for those who are deemed a danger to themselves or others by a federal court. I proudly voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities law that disarms domestic abusers and cracks down on gun trafficking.
Together, we can overcome Republican obstruction and their endless cycle of thoughts and prayers to pass responsible gun laws to save lives.
Q: The Supreme Court has made it clear it considers abortion a states' rights issue and has suggested it may rule similarly on same-sex marriage and other social issues. What should the response be from Congress? How do you define whether such issues should be governed by federal authority or state authority?
A: I support the unrestricted right to the full range of reproductive health care services, including access to safe, legal, and affordable abortion care. In the wake of a devastating Supreme Court decision to end reproductive freedom, we have seen Republican-led states criminalize abortion, banning exceptions for rape, incest, or to protect the mother's life.
Congressional Republicans promise to vote for a federal ban on abortion, blocking the protections Illinois has already put in place. Republican politicians want to control and punish women's most intimate decisions, no matter what state they live in.
That is why I voted for the Women's Health Protection Act to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law and the Ensuring Women's Right to Reproductive Freedom Act to protect all Americans' ability to travel to get the care they need. Bills that every Republican in congress voted against.
We have a choice when we vote this fall. Our reproductive rights are on the ballot!
Q: Are you concerned about the impact of all the recent federal spending on inflation, and what is the role of Congress in managing the economy? If you favor spending cuts, where specifically would you want to see spending reduced?
A: In Congress, I have been focused on helping our community recover from the pandemic by creating jobs and getting people back to work, and lowering costs for northern Illinois families.
I am fighting inflation to lower costs for working families in northern Illinois. I wrote the Health Care Affordability Act, which was signed into law and saved families an average of $2,400 yearly on health care premiums.
Congressional Republicans offered a plan that increases taxes on retirees and even cuts Medicare and Social Security. Meanwhile, I voted for the new law that allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and caps annual out-of-pocket medication costs -- helping our seniors on fixed incomes save money. Despite unanimous Republican opposition, we got the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law -- legislation that will finally require corporate tax evaders to pay their fair share and reduce the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Q: Are you confident that elections and voting access are free and fair in America? If not, why not and what should be done?
A: The right to vote is the most fundamental right we have as Americans, but across the country, we have seen a rapid erosion of our ability to participate in elections and a similarly sharp decline in Americans' faith in our election security systems. These GOP-led efforts have yielded at least 148 election interference bills in 27 states and 393 voter suppression schemes in 39 state legislatures since the beginning of 2021.
We need to make it easier for Americans to have their voices heard at all levels of government, not harder. I am a proud co-sponsor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, essential legislation to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. We should all agree that there is no place for voting discrimination in a healthy democracy.
Q: Whether your party is in the majority or the minority, what is the key to being a successful congressman and what are the characteristics about you that would make you successful?
A: On day one, I promised to be accessible, transparent, and responsive as I served our community. Since swearing in, I've shown up in our big cities and small towns to help solve long-standing challenges, like Joliet's transition to a sustainable drinking water source, upgrading runways at the DeKalb municipal airport, extending Metra service into Kendall County, and expanding affordable child care options across our community.
I've heard directly from so many of you -- and we've solved your visa and immigration issues, and veterans affairs challenges, and have gotten millions back to you from Social Security and the IRS. I've applied this same collaborative approach in Washington, introducing ten pieces of legislation that have been signed into law -- six under President Trump and four under President Biden.
We need serious and effective leadership to meet the unprecedented challenges facing our community and our country. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve each of you.