These responses were provided by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, the Republican candidate for the 13th Congressional District. See more candidate responses.
Why do you want to represent the 13th District?
I have always been committed to making Washington work for the people. You send me to Washington to fight for our shared priorities and to work with both sides to get things done. I’m proud to say I’ve done that, but we clearly have a lot more work to do.
I’ve worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of prescriptions drugs; cap co-pays for prescription drugs; expand access to healthcare for Americans who lose their jobs; protect nurses from furloughs; support the Postal Service; protect our parks and public lands; provide student loan relief; protect students from predatory for-profit colleges; create jobs; support small businesses, family farms, and rural communities; invest in our local infrastructure like roads and bridges; provide relief from the negative effects of COVID-19; and the list goes on.
I pride myself on working with lawmakers - Democrats and Republicans - on issues big and small. That’s why the Lugar Center, which is the gold standard for ranking bipartisanship in Congress, has ranked me the 13th most bipartisan member of Congress in the entire country and the most bipartisan member from Illinois.
Our communities deserve an independent leader who is willing to work with lawmakers from any party to get things done and make Washington work. I have a record of doing that in Congress. Next year, some of my top priorities will be continuing our bipartisan work to get our country through this COVID-19 pandemic and bringing back our economy. I will work with anyone - Republican or Democrat - to get the job done.
COVID-19 will be part of our lives in 2021 and beyond. What should be the next Congress’ top priorities related to the pandemic?
Obviously for at least the next year, our top priority must be getting our state and nation through the COVID-19 pandemic. We can do that in two ways – enacting policies to protect the public health and grow our local economy. I’ve certainly made that my top priority in Congress since the beginning of the pandemic.
I believe we need to provide relief to local governments to ensure vital services continue and first responders are able to stay on the job; stimulate the economy by supporting small businesses and supporting out-of-work Americans; expand testing and work to find a cure for COVID-19; expand funding for schools and election authorities to make sure educators and election officials have the resources they need; provide targeting assistance to individuals so they can keep their health care coverage (which I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation on), afford quality child care services, manage their rent or mortgage payments and student loans; and more.
This COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest public health crisis our nation has seen in nearly a century, and it has created one of the worst economic recessions in our lifetimes. Getting through this will take many months, or even many years, but I hope both Republicans and Democrats can come together on a bipartisan basis and do what is necessary to get our country through this, just like we did earlier this year to pass several bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages.
What are three things you would do to improve access to affordable health care?
It’s clear that Obamacare has failed. A decade ago, we were promised that it would lower insurance premiums. That hasn’t happened. Since both parties have been unable to reform our broken healthcare system on their own, it’s clear that we need a bipartisan solution.
To improve access to affordable health care, three things we should do are: 1) protect coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions; 2) lower the cost of premiums and prescription drug; and 3) ensure local hospitals and health care centers are adequately funded and that the health care workers who work there are protected from furloughs or layoffs.
In Congress, I’ve worked with lawmakers from both parties to do just that. Legislation I’ve co-sponsored or supported has increased support hospitals, sought to protect healthcare workers, lower the cost of prescription drugs, lower insurance premiums, protect coverage for those with preexisting conditions, and more. It’s time for both parties to work together to increase access to healthcare.
What we do not need is a massive government-run health care plan like Betsy Londrigan has proposed. Her plan would cut funding to local hospitals, doctors, and nurses and may force the closure of up to half of America’s rural hospitals, including 39 in Illinois. For someone who claims to support expanding access to health care, Londrigan’s plan does the opposite. It would put your care in danger because it may close many rural hospitals that our communities rely upon. We should all do more to support our regional and rural hospitals, but Londrigan’s plan would take us backwards and limit access to care.
What should be the federal government’s role in making college more affordable?
In Congress, I’ve made it one of my top priorities to make college more affordable for students because a college education is one of the many pathways to achieving the American dream. We should be doing everything we can to address the growing student loan crisis and prepare students for worthwhile careers post-high school and college.
I believe we can reform our tax code to help Americans deal with the challenges created by the pandemic. One way is by easing student debt. I introduced legislation that allows employers to make tax-free payments to their employees’ student debt, up to $5,250 a year. A temporary version of this proposal was included in the CARES Act, but we should make this benefit permanent and expand it.
When Congress was debating tax reform, I fought to preserve tax benefits for individuals receiving assistance to attend college. Those provisions were ultimately preserved in the final legislation. I’m also supportive of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the GI Bill programs. I introduced legislation to streamline the GI Bill Work Study program because we should be making it as easy as possible for those who served our country to receive an education.
I believe we should also crack down on the bad actors in the for-profit higher education industry. I was one of 6 Republicans to break with my own party and vote to override the President’s veto of the Student Borrower Defense Rule. Students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges should be entitled to debt relief.
What additional steps should Congress take to lower carbon emissions across the U.S.?
Our country is the world’s largest economy, and we only account for 15% of global C02 emissions. From 2005-2017, China increased its CO2 emissions by 70%, while the U.S. increased its emissions by 14% in that same time period. We are clearly doing our part on reducing carbon emissions without enacting costly environmental regulations that would destroy jobs. We should not be giving China and others a pass on their own C02 emissions at the expense of the American economy.
That’s why I oppose the Paris Agreement. The Agreement allows China to increase its C02 emissions by 50%, even though China already emits more CO2 than the United States, Japan, and the European Union combined. That would put our manufacturers at a great disadvantage globally. Recommitting our country to the Paris Agreement would harm our economy and risk our access to low-cost energy sources.
We should pursue new technologies like nuclear small modular reactors (SMR), which allow for reliable zero-carbon nuclear power at a smaller scale, but lower cost. Although the technology is relatively new, it looks like a promising development that would provide reliable, low-cost, zero-carbon energy.
I support an all-of-the-above approach to energy that encourages the use of new to get our carbon emissions under control while also protecting our economy. I believe utilizing all of our country’s energy sources - gas, nuclear, coal, wind, solar, hydroelectric, oil - provides for a reliable and affordable energy system for all Americans.
Should Congress change the way that U.S. technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, are regulated? If so, how?
We need to make sure the privacy of Americans, especially young Americans, is being protected. More and more each day, modern technologies become increasingly embedded in our daily lives. With the huge growth in the daily use of apps and similar technologies, tech companies that operate these search engines and social media platforms possess more personal information about their users than their users may even realize. Owning the data of their users has allowed these companies to monetize and manipulate users in many ways.
My biggest concerns are making sure we have adequate privacy protections for individuals and their data is not being abused by these corporations. We need to make sure we have strong laws in place to ensure these tech companies can’t manipulate personal data and take advantage of the users of their platforms. I’m also concerned about free speech protections on these websites. Given that platforms like Facebook and others are essentially public squares where discussion occurs, we need to make sure that certain viewpoints and opinions are not being unfairly censored.
The growth in technology also gives these companies more influence in our elections, which have enabled our foreign adversaries who use these tech platforms to engage in election meddling and misinformation campaigns. That’s why I introduced the Honest Elections Act, which, among other things, enacts new election security measures to require disclosure for paid online political ads and increases monitoring of election-related spending by foreign nationals. Our legislation does this without infringing on Americans' right to free speech or requiring unworkable standards for digital communications.
What is the best approach to setting U.S. food policy in a way that serves both consumers and producers?
Some of the top priorities for U.S. food policy should be aimed towards opening up of international markets for American farmers and providing an adequate safety net for both conventional and organic producers. This will ensure that American consumers have many nutritious options in the produce they can choose from when they shop at their local grocery stores.
I serve on the House Committee on Agriculture. During my time in Congress, I’ve had the privilege to help successfully negotiate two separate Farm Bills in 2014 and 2018. This critical legislation has helped reform vital crop insurance programs, provided financial certainty to farmers and our ag economy, strengthened research in the ag sector, and more. Given agriculture’s importance to the central Illinois economy, the Farm Bill is hugely important federal legislation for our communities. That’s why I’m particularly proud of the “Friend of Agriculture” endorsements I’ve received from the Illinois Farm Bureau since I first ran for Congress.
The 2018 Farm Bill also included many provisions to protect and expand consumer choice in American-grown produce, including organic produce. In the organic produce industry, the 2018 Farm Bill placed higher scrutiny on organic imports, assisted farmers seeking organic certification, and increased funding for organic ag research. These were among the Farm Bill reforms I advocated for, which is why the Organic Trade Association presented me with their “Organic Champion Award.”
Whether it’s conventional or organic production, having options is good for both consumers and producers and makes for a more robust and resilient food supply. I look forward to continuing our bipartisan work in Congress on supporting our country’s ag economy.
Quality childcare is expensive and can be hard to find. What additional steps should Congress take to make quality childcare more accessible to working parents?
Many families I represent in Congress can only return to work if they have access to affordable child care. The unfortunate reality is that state and local government mandates geared towards mitigating the spread of COVID-19 have decimated child care providers. That’s why we need to do everything we can to make sure child care providers can stay afloat and parents have the resources to afford child care, otherwise our economy will be permanently held back and families can’t return to work.
I’ve worked across party lines and recently supported two pieces of legislation introduced by Democrats to provide access to quality, affordable child care to working families. The Child Care Is Essential Act creates a federal Child Care Stabilization Fund to provide grant funding to child care providers. The legislation also requires providers to continue employing and paying their employees at pre-COVID 19 levels. The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act provides enhanced tax credits for child and dependent care, expands the use of dependent care flexible spending accounts, and creates a new tax credit specific to child care. The legislation also includes a new refundable payroll tax credit for child care providers and incentivizes employers to keep child care workers on payroll, by expanding the employee retention tax credit.
As negotiations over additional COVID-19 relief legislation continue, it’s imperative that significant relief for providers and parents who rely on child care be included in the package.
This summer has shown us again that racism and discrimination is alive and well in the U.S. What should be the government’s role in addressing it?
We have a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone in this country, particularly black Americans, receives equal justice under the law and gets a fair shot at success. Through enacting police reforms, criminal justice reform, improving public education, and elevating black history, we can do a lot in Congress to address racism and discrimination.
I’m co-sponsoring police reforms outlined in Senator Tim Scott’s JUSTICE Act, which improves police accountability and transparency. The JUSTICE ACT improves law enforcement transparency through reporting on use of force and no-knock warrants; provides funding to equip all officers with body cameras; bans the use of chokeholds for situations in which use of deadly force is not authorized; and more.
I also supported the bipartisan First Step Act, which President Trump signed into law in 2018. It reformed federal prison sentencing guidelines, enacted policies to reduce recidivism, and promoted public safety through a variety of means.
Many schools in our country are still facing problems of segregation. That’s why I supported legislation backed by the NAACP to provide grant funding to support voluntary local efforts that encourage diversity and desegregate schools.
It’s also important that we learn from our history. In Congress, introduced legislation to designate the Springfield Race Riot Site as a National Historic Monument. At my request, Interior Secretary Bernhardt added the Site to the African American Civil Rights Network. I believe it’s important to recognize this Site so future generations never forget about the innocent lives that were lost.
Please describe a time in which you displayed independence from or publicly disagreed with those in your own political party. Be specific.
The Lugar Center, which is the gold standard for identifying and ranking bipartisanship in Congress, has ranked me the 13th most bipartisan member of Congress in the entire country. That puts me in the top 3% nationwide. They’ve also ranked me as the most bipartisan member from Illinois.
I have a record of being independent of my own party on many policy issues. I support the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level, allowing states to individually determine their marijuana laws as they see fit. More recently, I worked across the aisle to increase support for the U.S. Postal Service and have also broken with my party to support targeted COVID-19 relief legislation sponsored by Democrats for important things like quality, affordable child care.
I also have a record of standing up and fighting for the men and women of organized labor. There have been times when lawmakers from my own party have attempted to push anti-worker policies like weakening prevailing wage standards in the Davis-Bacon Act or limiting the use of Project Labor Agreements, but I worked across the aisle to successfully oppose those misguided policies.
There have been many times when I was one of only a few Republicans to join the Democratic majority in supporting legislation, big and small. When it means advancing good policy for working families and communities in central Illinois, I will work with lawmakers from any party to get the job done, even if it means standing up to my own party.
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