Elections

Candidate profile: Rodney Davis

NAME: Rodney Davis

AGE: 46

IMMEDIATE FAMILY: Shannon, Toryn, Clark, and Griffin Davis

OCCUPATION: Member of Congress

OFFICE SOUGHT: Congressional District IL-13

PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican

PREVIOUS ELECTED POSITIONS: CD IL-13 since 2013

What changes, if any, should be made in the Affordable Care Act?

I do not support the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and have voted several times to repeal this law because, as we have seen, it creates burdensome and costly regulations for individuals and small businesses. In fact, I had one of the few bills to roll back the ACA that was actually signed into law. The Hire More Heroes Act not only provides relief for many small businesses struggling to comply with Obamacare, but it also encourages businesses to hire more of our nation’s veterans. The Hire More Heroes Act received unanimous support on the House floor last year and was signed into law in July 2015.

However, I don't think the work ends with repeal, which is why I have always advocated for both repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Replacement legislation must focus on reducing costs while increasing access. We need solutions that actually reduce the rising cost of health care without limiting choices for families and individuals. It must also include protections that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26.

What are you views on the Trans Pacific Partnership?

I support free and fair trade because it's needed for Illinois agriculture and companies to succeed but believe we must do a better job of enforcing these agreements and ensure American workers are not being cheated by countries like China who break the rules. That is why I fought to include provisions in the Trade Promotion Authority bill passed by Congress last year to strengthen enforcement rules against illegal trade practices, such as the dumping of foreign products like steel into U.S. markets.

Granite City Steel had to lay off its workforce. What should be done to get them back to work? What can Congress do to help those workers?

I worked with my colleagues Reps. Mike Bost and John Shimkus to include provisions in the Trade Promotion Authority bill passed by Congress last year to strengthen enforcement rules against illegal trade practices, such as the dumping of foreign products like steel into U.S. markets which has negatively impacted steelworkers in Granite City. Since our provisions became law, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled in favor of U.S. steel companies several times. Strengthening and speeding up this process will help level the playing field for the steel industry.

On what issues do you disagree with your party’s nominee for president and how would you approach those issues if you both were elected?

I do not agree with anyone a hundred percent of the time. I'm here to represent the people of Central and Southwest Illinois. I vote and advocate for particular policies because I feel they are in the best interest of the people I was sent to Congress to represent; not because they have an R or D in front of them. Some examples are, I fought to include better enforcement provisions for trade with other countries because steelworkers in my district are being hurt by illegal trade practices by China; I supported a Farm Bill that some of my Republican colleagues voted against because it spent too much money despite the fact that it cut $23 billion in spending; I support more trade with Cuba as a way of freeing the Cuban people from the Castro regime; I support states' rights when it comes to medical marijuana and have voted to ensure VA policies reflect that; I support Vice President Biden's 'cancer moonshot' and have advocated for increased spending for pediatric cancer; I've also serve on President Obama's community college advisory panel; etc.

The unemployment rate is 4.9 percent in the country and 6 percent in Illinois. What does that say about our economy? What would you do to improve our economy?

While the economy has improved and jobless rates have declined, people continue to be underemployed. We must focus on helping our economy create the jobs that allow people to save for retirement, take vacations, and see a brighter future for their children and grandchildren. This is done by creating certainty within our regulatory environment and tax code. Overregulation from legislation like Obamacare has forced businesses and some of our universities cut hours, positions, and other benefits.

We also need to reform our tax code. Within my first hundred days in office, I voted for the only budget that will broaden the tax base, bring down rates, close loopholes, and simplify the tax code for individuals, businesses, and families. This plan was further detailed in Speaker Ryan's "Better Way" initiative which was announced earlier this year. With this plan, the middle class will be able to keep more of what they earn, keep more jobs in the U.S., and grow our economy.

Q14: What would you do to protect Scott Air Force Base from closing or from cutbacks?

Scott Air Force Base is well positioned to survive any potential future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) proceedings. Scott AFB is host to several crucial command and control agencies, and continues to expand its operation. I recently brought my colleague Congressman Steve Womack who serves on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which is tasked with directing federal funding to defense-related projects and installations nationwide, to tour SAB and highlight its importance to our nation’s defense system.

Earlier this year, the Defense Information System Agency Global Operations Center came to Scott, which increased its already crucial contribution to our national defense. Due to its location, in the heart of the country, Scott has the potential to expand its mission and infrastructure and can compete to acquire even more projects. SAB has also demonstrated the benefits of public-private partnerships by working with Mid-America Airport to use joint equipment, runways, de-icing, etc. and we need to expand that model of success to other areas of our Defense Department. I continue to work closely with Base leadership and the Southwestern Leadership Council of Illinois to ensure SAB’s critical mission is well understood by DoD.

The country's debt is growing as the nation continues to run a budget deficit. How would you balance the country's budget? At what point, if any, does the continued deficit spell disaster?

Since coming to Congress in 2013, I have continuously supported the only budget that balances, reduces our deficit responsibly, and strengthens social safety nets for all Americans. I have been a strong proponent of going through the federal budget line-by-line to figure out how to reduce and reprioritize the money Washington spends.

I have also supported the No Budget, No Pay Act because I believe passing a budget is critical to holding Congress accountable and putting America on a debt repayment plan so future generations don’t have to pay for mistakes of the past. It’s a very simple principle – if Congress does not pass a budget, Congress should not get paid.

Finally, Republicans in Congress have forced our government to be more fiscally responsible – cutting $176 billion in discretionary spending and making long-term, structural reforms to entitlement programs, which are the true drivers of our debt. While not perfect by any means, the Bipartisan Budget Agreement did make necessary reforms to entitlement programs, addressed drastic cuts made to our military that were never meant to be permanent, and put us on a path to save taxpayers $2 trillion in the coming years.

What changes, if any, need to be made in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare?

I believe Social Security and Medicare are promises made to hard-working Americans — promises that must be kept. We need to get people back to work and paying into the program so our children and grandchildren have access to the same social safety nets. There are also changes we can make now to shore up these programs. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015, which I voted for, made some necessary changes to these programs to ensure these benefits are available for future generations. We must continue to build on these reforms.

The cost of college, and student debt itself, can be a large obstacle to people getting an education, or having a firm financial footing after graduating. What should be done to make college more affordable?

The 13th District is home to eight colleges and universities in the district so strengthening higher education has been a priority of mine since coming to Congress. I support reforming our higher education system to help lower administrative costs that have skyrocketed for many public universities in recent years and change our outdated rules allowing them to use new technology to lower costs for students.

Additionally, we need to make sure students can pay for college. This includes keeping the interest rates on student loans low and supporting Pell Grants. I I've also been working with Treasure Michael Frerichs to reform 529 College Savings Plans so more families can save for their children's futures. We need to make sure there's more transparency when students take out loans--they should know exactly how much they're going to owe and how much their monthly payments will be. I've voted to ensure students and parents have access to comprehensive financial counseling before they take out loans to pay for school.

We also need to deal with our rising student debt problem--which is now the second largest form of consumer debt. This kind of debt hampers economic growth because graduates put off buying homes or saving for retirement. I've introduced the Employer Participation in Student Loans Act, which encourages businesses to offer a tax-free benefit to their employee to help them pay down their student debt. This benefit is much like how employers can pay for an employee's continued education today.

Why should people vote for you?

I have a proven record of advocating for policies important to the 13th District. I've helped craft and pass a five-year Farm Bill, a multi-year water resource bill, and the first long-term highway bill in nearly a decade. These bills are critical to creating jobs in the 13th District. I've listened to the concerns of constituents in my district and took an idea from a veteran and turned it into law. My bill, the Hire More Heroes Act, which makes a change to Obamacare to encourage businesses to hire more of our nation’s veterans, received unanimous support on the House floor and was signed into law last July.

As a member of the House Administration Committee, I was proud to lead a bipartisan review and overhaul of regulations governing how members spend their office allowances. This review produced significant changes to ensure members of Congress are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. These reforms will create even greater transparency and accountability--making Congress more transparent than any other branch of government.

I've also been an independent voice for the 13th District. In fact, I've been rated by National Journal as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress. I vote and advocate for particular policies because I feel they are in the best interest of the people I was sent to Congress to represent; not because it has a Republican or Democrat sponsor.

Some examples are, I fought to include better enforcement provisions for trade with other countries because steelworkers in my district are being hurt by illegal trade practices by China; I supported a Farm Bill that some of my Republican colleagues voted against because it spent too much money despite the fact that it cut $23 billion in spending; I support more trade with Cuba as a way of freeing the Cuban people from the Castro regime; I support states' rights when it comes to medical marijuana and have voted to ensure VA policies reflect that; I support Vice President Biden's 'cancer moonshot' and have advocated for increased spending for pediatric cancer; I was also asked to serve on President Obama's community college advisory panel; etc.

Additionally, I have a record of helping my constituents with break through red tape when they need help with a federal agency. Being responsive to my constituents is an important part of my job and it's one my office takes very seriously. For example, we've helped many veterans get the care they need at the VA, seniors navigate the Social Security office, and families trying to finalize overseas adoptions.

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