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The many complex issues facing our nation are inextricably intertwined with each other. For example, we cannot discuss methods with which to grow Virginia and our nation’s economies without discussing the immense opportunities for new investment and job creation which would result from a much needed, aggressive response to the issue of climate change and the future of clean energy production in this country. Similarly, we cannot discuss jobs in these new technology fields without discussing a plan for educating and training our citizens to compete for the same. Job creation leads to discussion of wage equality and child care costs. Education proposals must address concerns like student loan debt and college costs.
Eileen Bedell understands leadership in the 21st century requires both an eye on the problem at hand and how any proposed solution will meet the larger goal of creating an even stronger America. Over the course of her campaign, Eileen looks forward to sharing her position on the most pressing issues facing those in the 7th district and how she hopes to address those issues during her service to you and Virginia.
Economy: In order to build a strong economy, both for today’s workers and for their children and grandchildren, Eileen supports an immediate increase in the federal minimum wage as well as the creation of higher paying job opportunities in the future. Through much needed investment in our nation’s infrastructure and the return to leadership in emerging industries such as science, medicine, and the most obvious opportunity in the 21st century, the transition to clean energy, we can create hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs.
If we invest in the education and job training necessary to produce a highly skilled workforce to fill these jobs, we provide economic security to families for generations to come. In addition, by improving both the skill of our workforce and the quality of jobs available to such workforce, we protect our citizens and legal residents from the perceived threat of job competition from any less qualified applicants who may not possess the skills needed in America’s new, 21st century economy.
Eileen Bedell recognizes increasing wages is only part of the solution for Virginia’s working families. In order to truly flourish, Virginians need to have more money in their pocket after the bills are paid. Increasing the limit on dependent care flexible spending accounts will reduce the tax burden on working families while bringing that benefit more in line with the real life costs of child care for most families. Lowering health care costs and ensuring reasonable and affordable access to such care for all Americans will result in long term economic growth as people are able to focus on acquiring or maintaining job skills instead of how they are going to pay the hospital bills when they decide to start a family.
Healthcare: Affordable health care is a basic human right. The Affordable Care Act is a step towards acknowledging and protecting this basic human right. Just as our Constitution required legislative tweaking, including the addition of the Bill of Rights and numerous other now universally accepted amendments, the Affordable Care Act should be used as a starting point from which Congress needs to continue to work. We must build on the Act’s strengths in order to slow the growth of out-of-pocket costs and bring rising prescription drug prices under control so regular Americans don’t have to consider receiving needed medication as a luxury rather than a necessity.
We cannot go backwards, too many Americans have benefited from and will continue to benefit from the Affordable Care Act and its many patient protections including the extension of coverage to many Americans’ young adult children and the prohibition of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. In Congress, I will continue to work to find common ground to address the immediate need to make affordable, quality healthcare available to each and every American.
In order to succeed in this universally accepted goal, we must also remember the role organizations like Planned Parenthood play in providing much needed healthcare to millions of Americans, both men and women, who otherwise would have no other means of treatment available to them. Women’s access to reproductive healthcare is paramount to their standing as equal citizens of this country. In this 21st century, I refuse to raise my children, both my daughter and my son, in a country which does not respect the former’s ability to make her own decisions every bit as much as the latter’s.
Prevention of Gun Violence: When it comes to the issue of guns, all Americans must agree on a number of things. We must agree the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution protects an individual’s right to own a gun. We must agree the lawful ownership and use of a gun is part of many American families’ heritage and provides services from which we all benefit. For example, in Virginia, our legal hunters help control the spread of the deer population which, if left unchecked, would increase the number of car collisions, destruction of crops, and the chance of disease in the herd.
Further, we must agree persons with a history of threatening behavior such as violent, convicted criminals, terrorists, domestic abusers, stalkers, and the severely mentally ill should not be able to endanger the American people by having access to a gun with which they might be able to harm themselves and many others.
Since all Americans must, and do, agree on these basic principles of gun ownership in our country, all Americans must also agree legislation intended to prevent gun ownership by unlawful or dangerous individuals is the only means available to our civilized society to prevent gun violence against each other. We must protect ourselves and our children by ensuring only responsible, legal gun owners have access to these tools that have too often been used to take human life instead of to protect it as the 2nd Amendment originally intended.
We can only prevent gun violence through laws that make it more difficult for those unqualified to have a gun to obtain a gun. We must close all gun sale loopholes. We must punish anyone who assists in the illegal purchase of a gun and we must hold those who know the risks and knowingly refuse to take steps to protect our families from gun violence accountable.
In the words of Ronald Reagan, speaking in support of the Brady Bill back in 1991, “If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers [referring to the number of murders by gun violence each year], it would be well worth making it the law of the land.” I am committed to taking the steps necessary and permissible under our Constitution to keep reducing those numbers as each life saved from gun violence is well worth making only legal and responsible gun ownership the law of the land.
Immigration Reform: On July 4, 1776, our founding fathers presented a Declaration of Independence which contained an itemized list of the reasons the then thirteen colonies were declaring themselves the thirteen “united States of America”. Among the facts submitted to the world were the following complaints against the English King:
“He has refused to Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance,...
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the
Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither…”
These same complaints could be applied today to Congress’ inaction on the issue of immigration reform so desperately needed in this country. Comprehensive immigration reform is an immediate and pressing need which will benefit our nation as a whole. Many businesses are faced with the inability to meet staffing needs due to the ineligibility of willing workers as a result of our current immigration system. Billions could be added to our economy with responsible and comprehensive immigration reform. Tax revenue would increase with the addition of millions of new, tax paying citizens.
In his Declaration of Independence, Jefferson himself included a reminder to King George that we are a nation founded on immigrants saying, “We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.” Our strength as a country comes from our diversity, our acknowledgement of hard work and commitment to family by people of all backgrounds, and our willingness to uphold the law while simultaneously recognizing the need to continue to support our country’s growth by recognizing the importance of adapting to an ever-changing world.
Congress can no longer sit idle and ignore the need to address immigration in our country. If they do, they are simply adding to the problems our country faces whether it be national security, fiscal responsibility, or job growth, comprehensive immigration reform must be part of the solution to each of these issues.
It’s time to stop trying to scare Americans with imaginary connections between immigration reform and terrorism or criminal activity. It’s time to stop claiming migrant workers will lower wages while simultaneously refusing to raise the federal minimum wage for all Americans. It’s time to start doing the hard work and address the immediate needs of our country with comprehensive immigration reform which will respect what our founding fathers knew was an inevitability for a country created by immigrants, that we would always need pathways to citizenship for those willing to accept the responsibilities which accompany the rights of U.S. citizens.
LGBT Equality: The concept of equality is so fundamental to being an American it was referenced by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence as the first reason, the first self-evident truth, to support the colonies' decision to seek independence from the British crown. In other words, the American commitment to equality of all people existed even before our nation came into existence.
As an attorney with an active family law practice, I have represented clients whose family structure has varied from what many call the most "traditional" with a married mother, father, and children to what is increasingly becoming the more "modern" with an unmarried mother, father, grandparents, step-parents, step-siblings, etc. I have also represented same sex couples who, prior to being able to marry, were even more conscientious than straight, unmarried couples about the need to protect their children from insecurity in the event something should happen to one of their parents.
The most notable part of my experience with such varied forms of "family" is how much they all have in common. The challenges faced by all families, no matter who they include, are the same. If we, as a nation, are going to continue to promote the goals stated in our Constitution's preamble to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, and promote the general Welfare, then we, as a nation, must unequivocally recognize we are ALL equal. That is what our "founding fathers" intended it to mean to be an American.
As the representative for the 7th district of Virginia, I will support the Equality Act and will do everything in my power to use my experience to convince the other members of the House that it is, and has always been, their duty to protect the equality of all Americans.
Clean Energy: If our nation's workers are our priority, as they should be, we need to help them, their families, and their children transition into the 21st century by providing both job training and job opportunities which will be marketable in a world that knows a transition to clean, renewable energy is the only option for our long term future.
Clean sources of power must be our future. We need to help our citizens prepare for this change. For example, coal workers of today need to be able to raise their families but their children need to have the educational opportunities to become the skilled workers necessary to operate, build, and run a turbine to generate wind power or to manufacture the components necessary to generate solar power. In the future instead of hearing families include generations of coal miners, we will be hearing families include generations of clean energy workers and we will thank them.
Democratic Candidate for
U.S. Congress - 7th District