US House of Representatives, Congressional District 8 candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the US House primary election.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: Raja Krishnamoorthi
What office are you seeking? Illinois 8th Congressional District
What offices, if any, have you previously held? U.S. House of Representatives, 2017-present
Occupation: Member of Congress, IL-08
Education: Princeton University, B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering, Certificate from the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs, 1995. J.D. Harvard Law School, 2000
Campaign Website: https://rajaforcongress.com
What is your position re-establishing the Child Tax Credit at $3,500 per child as set in the American Rescue Plan?
I am a strong supporter of the Child Tax Credit. In fact, I voted in favor of this provision in the American Rescue Plan, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February 2021 and was signed into law by President Biden in March 2021.
Do you believe that corporations pay enough in taxes?
Not all corporations pay their fair share. For example, there are still companies in America that pay close to zero in corporate taxes- this is not right. As the former president of small businesses in the Chicago area, I believe strongly in tax fairness, which is why I voted against President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which significantly decreased the state and local tax deduction that many families throughout Illinois depend on. We must implement a tax system that is fair and just, while simultaneously encouraging small business growth and entrepreneurship.
Would you support increases or decreases in the amount of taxes corporations pay? Why?
I voted in favor of HR 5376, legislation which passed the U.S. House in December 2021 and which includes provisions to ensure the largest and most profitable corporations pay their fair share. For example, this legislation includes a provision that imposes a minimum tax on the profits of large corporations that for any three-year period has average annual adjusted financial statement income over $1 billion. No profitable corporations should be able to pay zero taxes.
Do the rich, defined as the wealthiest 1%, pay enough in taxes?
I believe the wealthiest should pay more, but the government should also ensure that programs are more efficient and transparent in the use of all tax dollars.
Would you support changes in the tax code that would increase or decrease their tax burden? Why?
Please see the answer to the previous question.
Do you support raising taxes on capital gains and dividends? Why?
Potentially I would support such increases for very high-income earners balanced against the need to incentivize investments, especially in small business.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a breakdown in this country’s supply chain. What would you propose to fix it?
I voted to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was signed into law in November 2021 and will allocate over $1 trillion over the next decade to improve, rebuild and expand our country’s infrastructure, including the highways, railways and ports that form the backbone of our supply chain. After that bill was signed into law, I led an effort urging the administration to prioritize this funding for projects that would increase supply chain capacity in the near-term, and I am also an original cosponsor of the Supply Chain Resiliency Act. Additionally, I have repeatedly supported domestic manufacturing to create US jobs and reduce our reliance on imports. I am an original cosponsor of the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which would create incentives for domestic solar manufacturers, and I recently voted to pass the America COMPETES Act, which would allocate around $50 billion toward domestic microchip manufacturing and help address the current microchip shortage that is driving up electronics and car prices.
How would you bring back manufacturing jobs?
Federal incentives are crucial to bringing back good-paying manufacturing jobs to America. As founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Solar Caucus, I am an original cosponsor of the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which would create incentives for domestic solar manufacturers. I am also a strong supporter of the CHIPS Act, which was included in the America COMPETES Act and which would allocate around $50 billion toward domestic microchip manufacturing. Additionally, I am a long-time advocate for career and technical education, which is essential both for creating pathways to good-paying manufacturing jobs and for ensuring there are enough skilled workers to support the domestic manufacturing industry. I co-authored the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act -- a landmark bipartisan reform of our nation’s federal vocational education programs, which was signed into law in 2018. This law provides 11 million Americans annually with higher quality skills based education than before.
What plans do you have to help the lower and middle class?
Expanding access to high quality career and technical education and aligning our education system with careers in in-demand industries is essential to creating career pathways that ensure long-term financial stability and security. Whether it is manufacturing, business management, or IT, good-paying jobs require expertise and training, and in the current labor market, skilled employees are in high demand. It is important that the requisite training is available to all Americans, not just those who attend four-year universities, and for those who need it, we must provide adequate support services, such as covering living expenses and transportation, to ensure trainees are able to complete the programs.
Do you support the idea that government can require immunizations against COVID-19 or other communicable diseases?
Yes, vaccines are one of the most impactful miracles of modern medical science. From polio to smallpox to measles, vaccines, which are mandated for all school children, have prevented countless deaths. COVID-19 has now killed nearly 1 million Americans and caused the worst economic recession since the 1930s. It was only through widespread vaccination that we have been able to bring the pandemic under control and get on with our lives. Like all prior vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines have been extensively tested and found to be safe and effective. More than 565,000,000 doses have been administered in the US alone, and the CDC is closely monitoring the potential for any serious adverse effects. In the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC did identify a rare reaction affecting 60 individuals who developed blood clots after receiving the J&J vaccine, and as a result, the CDC halted use of the J&J vaccine.
How do you feel about mask mandates?
As a Member of the Congressional Oversight Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, I believe we must take all necessary public health precautions to keep our community safe and healthy. When there is a strong increase in cases, or the rise of a new variant, that will sometimes require social distancing and mask wearing.
Is America prepared for either another round of the current pandemic, or the next one?
Unfortunately, I do not think we are ready. In Congress, I founded the Congressional Global Vaccination Caucus because I firmly believe that COVID anywhere is COVID everywhere. There are currently 2.5 billion people unvaccinated across the world; the longer this situation persists, more deadly variants will form and invade our shores. That is why I am leading a coalition in Congress that is fighting for global aid to vaccinate the world in order to save lives here at home.
Do you support new laws or regulations to safeguard people in the event of another pandemic?
Yes, I believe we must invest in preventing another pandemic. But unfortunately, with new COVID-19 variants forming, we cannot move on from this one just yet. We must ensure we manufacture sufficient PPE, vaccines and boosters, and we must invest to vaccinate the world to defeat COVID-19.
Should Medicare be expanded to include dental coverage for older Americans?
What are the top two threats to our national security?
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and domestic violent extremism; the CCP is our primary global rival, both economically and militarily, but within our own borders, domestic extremism has the profoundly destabilizing and destructive potential to set our country on a path of irreversible decline.
What should be done to eliminate them?
As a member of the Intelligence Committee, I receive regular classified briefings on the threats facing our great nation. When it comes to the CCP, we must continue to stay one step ahead in terms of our military, intelligence and cybersecurity capabilities, but we also must continue to strengthen our diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It goes without saying, there would be no winner in a war between the US and the PRC. We must diversify our supply chain to become less economically dependent on the PRC, but at the same time, a full economic decoupling is not only impossible, it would greatly increase the chances of war. Our greatest strength continues to be our allies around the world. As we have seen with Russia, the combined economic and military power of the US and our allies is essential to containing and diminishing the threat posed by our adversaries over the long-term.
The threat posed by domestic extremism is very serious. Political polarization, rapid social and technological change and economic inequality have created ideal conditions for the proliferation of domestic extremist groups. It is crucial that the law enforcement and intelligence communities fully understand and take seriously the vast scope of this threat and act accordingly. However, we also must address the root causes -- inequality and prejudice -- by providing economic opportunities and by rooting out racism, xenophobia, and other prejudices wherever they exist in our society.
What is your position on climate change and what should be done about it?
Climate change is unequivocally man-made and the greatest existential threat facing our generation. I strongly support the President’s goals of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050. As a founder of the bipartisan Congressional Solar Caucus, I am working to support the American solar industry and expand access to clean, cheap solar power across the US. As Co-Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition Power Sector Task Force, I am also working to prepare the electric grid for the transition to 100% clean electricity by incentivizing and speeding up the construction of new transmission lines, improving the resiliency of the grid, and making it easier to connect new solar and wind farms to the grid.
What is your position on nuclear energy expansion?
In 2021, nuclear energy provided almost 50% of all zero-emission electricity generated in the US. That means that keeping the current nuclear fleet running safely is essential to averting the worst impacts of climate change. That said, since 1996, only 1 new nuclear power plant has been completed, and with good reason, they are extremely costly to construct, operate and maintain. In comparison, solar power is now the cheapest known energy source, and given the concerns about nuclear waste and the constant threat of nuclear catastrophe, it is very unlikely that new nuclear power plants will be built in significant numbers unless the technology changes dramatically.
Should America invest in other forms of renewable energy? Please explain.
Absolutely- we must significantly invest in programs that provide clean energy, such as solar and wind. As co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional Solar Caucus, I am working on initiatives to address climate change by investing in renewable energy development. For example, I am a proud cosponsor of the 100% Clean Economy Act, which sets a nationwide goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. On a bipartisan basis, I passed legislation to invest millions of dollars to reduce solar soft costs, making it more affordable to “go solar” in residential, business, and commercial settings. Further, my bipartisan legislation expanded solar energy research on photovoltaic, heating and cooling, and grid integration.
Should pregnant women have the right to get an abortion?
Yes- ever since the 1973 Supreme Court Decision of Roe v. Wade, women have had the right to choose whether or not to get an abortion during the early stages of their pregnancy. I am a cosponsor and strong supporter of legislation in Congress to codify Roe v. Wade because, unfortunately, it is currently under extreme attack. With a conservative leaning Supreme Court and increased activity in certain states to roll back women’s healthcare rights, it is imperative that we fight to defend a woman’s right to choose now more than ever.
Is the immigration system a problem in this country? If so, what is your plan to fix it?
First, we must enhance border security, which may require more personnel and hi-tech surveillance equipment, but not a wall. At the same time, we should provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers – many here on expired visas – provided they pay the taxes and fines they owe and go to the back of the immigration line. Second, we must provide a path to citizenship for DREAMers who were brought to this country as children and face deportation through no fault of their own. As the son of legal immigrants who was brought to this country as an infant, I closely identify with the 700,000 DREAMers who love this country and are contributing to its future. Third, we must strengthen high-skilled immigration so that the U.S. can attract the world’s talent, including foreign graduate students, to better compete with China. I am the proud cosponsor of bipartisan legislation in Congress which will reform the H1B backlog and enhance the STEM talent pipeline in the U.S.
Do American cities have a crime problem?
The United States has a crime problem, and that includes American cities. Homicides increased by 7% in 2021, and gun violence has steadily increased over the last decade. In fact, deadly shootings in large cities have increased by 80% since 2014.
If so, what is your suggestion to solve it?
While most policies to address crime and police enforcement must be enacted at the state and local level, I have partnered with Senator Durbin, who Chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, in urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to send additional federal resources to Chicago following recent surges in crime and violence. The federal government must send agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to Chicago to increase the number of gun investigations and gun seizures and must also provide additional federal prosecutors to the city to bring additional criminal cases at the federal level. In short, we need to act more swiftly in deploying the resources we already have at our disposal to prosecute criminal cases in the Greater Chicago Area.
Should police officers have qualified immunity in cases involving alleged excessive force or other misconduct?
Unfortunately, the current “qualified immunity” law shields law enforcement from civil liability for misdeeds. As a cosponsor of the Justice in Policing Act, I believe we need to reform the current qualified immunity statute so that individuals are not barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights. At the same time, we must be mindful that law enforcement officers need a degree of protection in order to justly and dutifully carry out their responsibilities without fear of retaliation.
Are there any limits to the Second Amendment?
We can uphold the constitutional principles of the Second Amendment-the right to bear arms- while implementing common-sense gun reform that will make our communities safer.
Do you support any restrictions on gun purchases or other stricter gun control measures including citizens’ access to military style weaponry?
Yes- each year, more than 124,000 Americans are victims of gun violence, and more than 35,000 are killed. I am a proud cosponsor of the Enhanced Background Checks Act, legislation which will fix the “Charleston loophole” to ensure that guns are not sold to individuals while their background check is under review but not yet completed. I am also a cosponsor of the Expanding and Strengthening Brady Background Checks, also known as H.R. 8, which will make it unlawful to sell or transfer a firearm in any transaction without a background check. In addition, I am the author of the COOL OFF Act, legislation which requires a three-day waiting period for all handgun sales. This legislation is endorsed by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Illinois, along with many states across the country, have legalized marijuana making it legal for people to buy and use it. Marijuana, however, is still illegal at the federal level. Do you support legalizing marijuana nationally? Why or why not?
I am supportive of the key pieces of legislation in Congress, which are currently being stalled by Senate Republicans, to implement commonsense marijuana policy reforms. For example, I recently voted in favor of the MORE Act, legislation which passed the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill will remove marijuana from the list of the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures or possesses marijuana. In addition, I am a strong supporter of the SAFE Banking Act, legislation which prohibits federal banking regulators from penalizing banks that finance legal and legitimate cannabis related businesses.
Did Joe Biden win the 2020 election?
Yes, the election of Joe Biden was legitimate and fair. As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I participated in multiple election security briefings pertaining to the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections. Due to concerns about various attempts to interfere in the 2016 election by Russia and other outside interests, protections were put in place that resulted in the most secure election in 2020 in the long history of our democracy. Despite numerous lawsuits and audits since that election, no evidence has emerged of widespread fraud or abuse.
Would you have voted to ratify his presidency?
Yes, I did vote to ratify his presidency in the U.S. House of Representatives.
What is your position on the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol?
January 6th , 2021, will go down as one of the darkest days in our country’s history. I remember this day vividly, as I was evacuated from my office by Capitol Police after a bomb was discovered 200 feet from my office window.
We have considerable work ahead of us to prevent another deadly attack on the Capitol. First, Congress and the Justice Department must deploy all available resources to investigate, prosecute, and convict all those responsible for the insurrection to show that we will not tolerate attempts to subvert our democracy. Second, the bipartisan January 6th Committee must complete its investigation into who planned and ordered this attack. Finally, we must identify key contributors to the spread of extremist violence and stop it in its tracks.
Was it an insurrection?
Yes, it was a deadly insurrection. During the attack, 2,000 insurrectionists breached the Capitol and injured 150 law enforcement officers to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, leading to the death of five people.
Should people convicted of a crime related to their participation in the riot ever be pardoned?
No. As the author and sponsor of the Presidential Pardon Transparency Act, I believe Presidential Pardons, especially under former President Trump, were too often abused and used to circumvent the rule of law. We have a system of laws in this country for a reason, and we must uphold them for the sake of integrity and the health of our democracy.
Should voters be required to show an ID to vote?
I am supportive of efforts to make our election system even more secure. That is why, as a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I have supported robust investments into securing our election system and preventing fraud and abuse. However, we must also establish a set of election rules and regulations that ensure our democracy is inclusive and that our government is truly representative of all constituencies. In this regard, I am concerned that approximately 11% of American citizens do not have a government issued photo identification. If an ID system is developed, it must address the issue of access to such an ID, especially among elderly and underserved populations.
Would you, as a member of Congress, ever vote against certifying presidential electoral votes submitted by states’ official voting authorities?