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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Santa Clara, Alameda County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
United States Representative; District 17

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Economy and Jobs, Health Care, Energy Policy, National Security, Immigration Reform

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. In this time of high unemployment and budget deficits, what are the most important steps that should be taken to improve our nationís economy and sustain job creation?

Answer from Mike Honda:

The recovery has yet to reach millions of Americans that are still looking for jobs, new businesses are still looking for ways to stay open and retain employees, and other countries are threatening to out-innovate, out-produce, and out-grow us in the years ahead. That is why I have been fighting for policies that support young companies with promising ideas, investments that will promote domestic job creation in high growth industries, incentives to restore our manufacturing base, and initiatives to make our businesses and our workforce more competitive on the global stage.


One out of five jobs in Silicon Valley is in manufacturing, which is twice the national average. I believe that if the nation's commitment to this sector can match that of our region, as it once did, an American manufacturing renaissance is possible all over the country. Some of my efforts include:

- Encouraging businesses to bring their manufacturing operations and jobs back to the U.S. through targeted tax incentives, including my Scaling Up Manufacturing Act
- Championing President Obama's proposed network of manufacturing innovation centers that work with small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers to help them develop new customers, and expand into new markets and create new products
- Pushing for the House Democrats' "Make It In America" agenda, which includes my Market-based Manufacturing Act, to encourage innovation in market-changing technologies


With the country still experiencing a jobs deficit, I understand the urgent need to allow American companies to be more globally competitive. Some of my efforts include:

- Supporting the repatriation and redeployment of the $1.4 trillion in capital American companies have sitting on the sidelines overseas in order to allow that capital to be reinvested while also fueling important pieces of America's recovery
- Strongly advocating for the Research and Development tax credit to be made permanent, which is the best incentive in the tax code to ensure that companies continue to choose to do their R&D here, thereby spurring job growth and innovation that creates entire industries


I believe it is critical that the US develop a highly skilled workforce to ensure our future global competitiveness. Some of my efforts include:

- Introducing legislation that would help prepare the high-tech workforce of the future by elevating the role of STEM education in national policy and improving the quality of STEM education and STEM educators
- Proposing the establishment of an Advanced Research Projects Agency-ED (ARPA-ED) to award grants to support the development of educational technology to improve student outcomes and technological literacy for a 21st Century learner.


I believe in growing the economy through key public investments that are long overdue. Addressing critical public priorities, building a world-class infrastructure, and investing in a clean, green technology future can open up jobs that are desperately needed. I have led efforts to enhance connectivity, support our local economy, and improve our environment by connecting Silicon Valley commuters to the BART rail system. I am a strong believer that high speed rail is the future and have been a leading advocate for bringing federal funds to California High Speed Rail.

While some have criticized federal investments in cleantech like the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program, I strongly believe that the federal government is uniquely positioned to help underwrite science and technology ventures that are inherently risky, but an essential investment for job creation and economic grown today and in the future. Coming from Silicon Valley, I know that not every investment will pan out, but that we must be bold and cannot be afraid to fail if we are going to find the solutions to the challenges we face. Success stories like the 17th District's own Tesla Motors demonstrate what can happen if we take those chances and make the necessary investments.

? 2. What, if any, changes should be made to federal health care policies or programs?

Answer from Mike Honda:


Everyone should have access to first-rate affordable healthcare. Many Americans unnecessarily put off pressing medical care simply because they cannot afford it. I have been a tireless advocate for expanded health coverage, being outspoken on the need for health care reform, proudly standing on the frontlines with President Obama in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I strongly believe in the concept of universal health care because the health of Americans should not be provided on a for-profit basis. Since 2000, I have secured nearly 20 million dollars in federal funds for quality district health care projects.


I have been consistently rated 100% by both NARAL and Planned Parenthood for my passionate advocacy on behalf of women everywhere. I believe that women have the sole right over their bodies. In defending that right, I have co-signed numerous bills emphasizing a woman's right to choose, providing increased access to preventative and pre-natal care, and appropriating nearly a million dollars into necessities such as mammography and ultrasound equipment for District hospitals.


I have championed the Medicare program since coming to Congress, actively fighting for seniors' health rights and ensuring that the guaranteed benefit nature of the program is not removed. During the 112th Congress, I was a leading voice in strongly opposing the Republican plan to privatize Social Security and `voucherize' Medicare while shifting the costs of premiums to seniors. My support for these critical programs has been unwavering. Receiving consistent 100% scores from the Alliance for Retired Americans, I am also vocal in his support for reducing the cost of prescription medication. During the health care debate, I pushed my colleagues to close the `donut hole' as part of health reform and has been on the forefront of efforts renegotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies in Medicare Part D to take advantage of the government's buying power.


As long-time Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I have worked to ensure that the needs of underserved communities are addressed in Congress. I worked with President Obama to ensure historic language access and ethnic disparity provisions in health care reform. I have also been a leader in helping write the Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act; a bill focused on addressing additional racial and ethnic health disparities, advocating for improved data collection, and cultural and linguistic services.


For Hepatitis, one of the greatest health disparities affecting communities of color, I am one of the primary authors on the bi-partisan Hepatitis Testing Act of 2011 and secured a proclamation from President Obama recognizing World Hepatitis Day. With Santa Clara County having one of the highest national tuberculosis rates and 3rd highest in California, I have also ensured education and treatment funding into impacted counties. I am also the co-Chair of the Congressional Hepatitis B Caucus.


I have been a leader in promoting innovation in the healthcare industry. In particular, I have advocated for using technologies and efficiencies forged in Silicon Valley to fundamentally transform the doctor-patient relationship. To achieve this, I introduced the Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HIMTA) to provide clarity in regulations and improve the investment capital environment that has caused stagnation in innovation in healthcare. My work has been recognized by major technology companies and trade associations.

? 3. What are your priorities with respect to our nationís energy policy?

Answer from Mike Honda:

We need a forward-thinking energy policy more than ever. Embracing his role as Silicon Valley's representative, Mike believes that new technologies are the key to our energy future and is an outspoken advocate for clean, efficient and sustainable energy solutions in Congress. I am an ardent supporter of solar energy, supporting R&D to improve efficiency and to reduce manufacturing costs; advanced batteries, which are key to making renewable sources a reliable part of our energy supply; and efficient technologies such as solid state lighting, which can drastically reduce energy consumption.


As a former science teacher, I believe that energy policies shape the health of our economy and quality of life, leading me to help establish the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). SEEC is working to ensure that Congress addresses climate change while creating clean energy jobs. In the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, SEEC ensured that the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act passed by the House in 2010 included provisions to hold Big Oil accountable.


As a Ranking Member of the Energy Subcommittee, I spoke to numerous groups, including the American Council on Renewable Energy, about renewable energy policy issues. I organized a visit to Washington, DC for the US-China Green Energy Council, a business organization with a number of members from the Bay Area, as well as a summit on Climate Change and the Americas, with international experts discussing how countries in the Western Hemisphere are impacted by and can work together to address climate change. I have addressed the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas-USA, talking about what we need to do today to prepare for a future without affordable oil and gas.


I have introduced legislation, The Smart Electronics Act, with the goal of improving the energy efficiency of consumer electronic devices. The proliferation of these devices threatens to overwhelm our electricity supplies unless they are made smarter and more efficient, and this bill helps us green the electronics industry while cooling the planet and keeping Silicon Valley innovative.


Two billion people worldwide are left without reliable heat and light because of the high cost and inaccessibility of fossil fuels, desperate for another more affordable source of energy. Here in the US, we have only 3% of known oil reserves, so we will not become energy independent by more drilling within our borders. My agenda of democratizing energy will not only decrease our own nation's dependence on oil and overseas resources, which will positively affect other countries, but it will also help make alternative energy sources less expensive and more available throughout the world. Energy is a main source of poverty for the poorest nations, where 38 of the poorest countries are net importers of oil, and 25 of them import all of their oil. The more we can invest in clean, efficient energy strategies, the more we will create responsible, self-sustaining jobs in the process and promote the empowerment of all people.

? 4. What, if any, changes should be made with respect to our nationís security, including our national defense or anti-terrorism measures?

Answer from Mike Honda:


I have long been concerned that the measures put in place in the name of national security could be used to infringe on the civil rights and liberties of Americans. That is why I opposed the USA PATRIOT Act when it was first enacted, and have opposed legislation regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). It is vitally important to set reasonable limits on the information being collected to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are preserved in our national security efforts.

I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act, which would enact many of these principles by reining in the dragnet collection of data by the NSA, increasing transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), providing businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and creating an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.

This legislation would strengthen the prohibition on targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American. It reforms the FISC by creating an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court's closed proceedings, which will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.

Regarding the free flow of information, I recently joined with my colleagues in the Congressional High-Tech Caucus in asking U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to continue to prioritize cross-border data flows as a key topic in negotiations with other nations. Some in the EU, Asia, and elsewhere have sought to use the revelations about PRISM to promote protectionist data-flow policies that would harm the development of cloud and hamper competition and access to lawfully available information.


Signed by President Roosevelt in 1942, Executive Order 9066 sent my family and I to Amache, an internment camp for individuals of Japanese ancestry. The internment was the result of prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership. My views are firmly rooted in my experiences and belief that we must not repeat the mistakes of the past. I have since been outspoken in ensuring that discrimination is met at every turn with activism. I authored a resolution condemning crimes against Sikh Americans after 9/11, successfully included language in the FY14 Homeland Security Appropriations Act to push the TSA to report on its use of profiling in airports, have adamantly opposed the PATRIOT Act, was a proud original sponsor of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and a consistent voice against government-sponsored discrimination seen in the NYPD surveillance cases, as well as the Peter King Homeland Security Community Hearings. I have been a forceful advocate on Capitol Hill for the inclusion of Hindus, Sikhs, and Arab Americans in FBI Hate Crimes data collection, pushing Administration officials in subcommittee hearings and letters to implement the change. Similarly, I was the lead sponsor of a letter to the White House urging the convening of a summit on religious diversity to promote greater understanding and develop a federal response to the rise of hate crimes in our country.


I believe that it is time to responsibly end our war completely, currently paid for by American taxpayer dollars we do not have. We end this war, not simply to save massive amounts of money or because this is what the majority of America is polling in favor of, but because this war is making America less safe, is reducing America's standing in the world, and is doing nothing to reduce America's burgeoning energy security crisis. My version of the budget provides a solution to these fiscal, diplomatic and energy crises - leaving America more secure, both here and abroad. My budget also ensures that our country's defense spending does not continue to contribute significantly to our current fiscal burden - a trend we reverse by ending the wars and realigning conventional and strategic forces, resulting in $2.3 trillion worth of savings. This is what security looks like.

Instead of eroding America's hard-earned retirement plan and social safety net, our budget targets the true drivers of deficits in the next decade: the Bush Tax Cuts, the wars overseas, and the causes and effects of the recent recession. By implementing a fair tax code, by building a resilient American economy, and by bringing our troops home, we achieve a budget surplus of over $30 billion by 2021 and we end up with a debt that is less than 65% of our GDP.

? 5. What is your position on the issue of immigration reform? What, if any, changes to legislation or policy would you support?

Answer from Mike Honda:


Since coming to Congress, I have led the constant drumbeat on reforming our broken immigration system so that it is comprehensive, inclusive, and humane, and invests in America's future. I believe in an immigration system that respects the dignity of immigrant communities and recognizes their contributions to American society. As the son of strawberry sharecroppers, I understand the barriers and struggle facing immigrant individuals and families everywhere. I know we can make Silicon Valley, and our nation, stronger by upholding our values and principles and honoring the entrepreneurial spirit of the American dream.


I know that immigration reform is critical to advancing Silicon Valley's and our nation's technological innovation and economic global competitiveness. I also know that enhancing the employment-based visa categories, including higher caps on H-1B visas and foreign students with advanced U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, not only makes sense, but doing so makes dollars and cents for CA-17 and our nation. That is why I support the Startup Act 2.0, which would promote economic growth by encouraging investment in startup companies and offering permanent residence to entrepreneurs who create jobs in the U.S. I also know that the immigrants' spirit is the spirit and story of entrepreneurs. As the Representative of Silicon Valley, I co-sponsored the Attracting the Best and Brightest Act, which would create a green card category for persons with advanced degrees in STEM.


For too long has our immigration system been an exclusionary tool to keep families apart. That is why, in the past four Congresses, I introduced the Reuniting Families Act to reduce the visa backlog for legal immigrants and ensure our families + all our families + can be reunited. Additionally, this bill also eliminates discrimination in immigration law against same-sex binational permanent partners and their families who are seeking to reunite. As Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I successfully led an effort to urge the Department of Homeland Security to provide written policy recognizing LGBT partnerships as family relationships when exercising prosecutorial discretion in removal proceedings. As Immigration Taskforce Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I continue to work with Senate and House leadership, the Administration, and the Congressional Tri-Caucus, to ensure that all families remain the cornerstone of our immigration system. I will continue to champion immigration reform that strengthens our economy and supports the labor needs of U.S. businesses and Silicon Valley.


I have championed the causes of the DREAM students since 2010. As a member of the DREAM Whip Group, a group composed of key congressional immigration figures, I worked steadfastly with my colleagues, Congressional leadership, CAPAC Members, and the Administration to ensure passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act in the House. Despite challenges, I continue to advocate on behalf of DREAM students. I have urged the Administration to ensure that DREAM-eligible students and other low-priority individuals are not deported. I also support President Obama's leadership and compassion in implementing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which shields over a million young immigrants from deportation. This landmark decision was a clarion call to Congress to rise and do its part to make the dreams of the young, hardworking, and high-achieving DREAMers' dreams a reality.


The immigrants' pursuit of the American Dream ultimately strengthens our nation's social and economic fabric. That is why I introduced the Strengthen and United Communities through Civic Education and English Skills (SUCCEED) Act, which will provide opportunities for new Americans to gain the vital English skills needed to succeed and contribute to our economy. This legislation will help our economy remain competitive, protect our workers, and incentivize immigrant integration through English and civics education. As a senior Member of the Appropriations Committee, I continue to fight to protect those programs which positively and inclusively support new citizens and their integration, while holding accountable those programs that threaten our civil rights and justice.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 23, 2015 14:59 PDT
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