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Congress, District 8

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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Tammy Duckworth
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 3/12/1968
Occupation: Soldier
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Bryan Bowlsbey

Education:

University of Hawaii, B.A. in Political Science
George Washington University, M.A. in International Affairs
Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Northern Illinois University
Doctoral Candidate, Health & Human Services, Capella University

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Lt. Colonel, Illinois Army National Guard
Daughters of the American Revolution
Public Relations Society of America
Amputee Coalition of America
DAV
VFW
American Legion
AmVets
Military Order of the Purple Heart

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Assistant Secretary -- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2009-2011
Director -- Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, 2006-2009
U.S. Army -- September 1990-Present

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

Husband Bryan W Bowlsbey was an employee of a DoD contractor, teaching ROTC classes at Northern Illinois University -- 2002-2003.

Joe Walsh
Political party: Republican
Birthdate: 12/27/1961
Occupation: U.S. Representative/U.S. House of Representatives (Taxpayers)
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Helene

Education:

I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Iowa and a Master of Arts in Public Policy degree from the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

No

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None

Campaign information
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Duckworth

Campaign headquarters: 5105 Tollview Drive, Suite 120 Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
Website: www.tammyduckworth.com
Campaign manager: Kaitlin Fahey
Campaign budget: In 2006, I raised and spent $4.5 million. We expect a similar level of resources.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Bill Brandt, $5000
John Atkinson, $5000
Heather Steans, $5000
Jack Marco, $5000
Alan Prochaska, $2500

Walsh

Campaign headquarters: 1916 Wright Blvd Schaumburg, IL 60193
Website: www.walshforcongress.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: The campaign's budget is constantly evolving. This will certainly be one of the most high-profile and expensive House races in the country.
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
While we do not release donor information, it is publicly available at www.fec.gov.

What are your top three priorities for the nation?
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Duckworth

My first priority is to develop and expand our economy. I propose a combination of short-term programs that will immediately help accelerate and reinvigorate our economy and long-term policy initiatives that will establish lasting growth. My jobs plan includes significant short-term investment in infrastructure, transportation, schools, communication, utilities and education. Long-term priorities include job training, an extension of the payroll tax credit, as well as business tax credits for research, clean energy development and for companies that hire returning Veterans and those who have been unemployed for more than six months.

My second priority is to address the extreme rhetoric and partisanship that is dominating Washington and prohibiting anything from getting accomplished. Party extremism has pushed our government to the brink of failure because Congress has been placing politics before sound policy and service to the nation. Based on my past successes working in a bipartisan way on Veterans issues, I know I can be effective by working across party lines on bipartisan legislation.

Finally, I will work with both sides of the aisle to develop a sensible plan to balance the budget. I will work to protect those in our society who are most vulnerable. I will preserve critical safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare and others like Pell Grants that give everyone a chance at the American Dream. We must take a hard look at federal contracting excesses, our defense budget and tax loopholes that let companies get away with not paying the corporate income tax or ship jobs overseas without keeping any at home.

Walsh

Americans are talking about two issues today and two issues only: jobs and the economy. How candidates plan to improve both will be the sole determinant of this election, and since they go hand-in-hand, those two issues are my number one focus.

Additionally, Congress needs to ensure that programs like Social Security and Medicare are there to support those who have paid into them and have counted on them to be there all their lives. Seniors on fixed incomes are entitled to these benefits and rely upon them; however, if Congress continues on the current spending path they are on, the programs will be insolvent. How we fix that is the stark difference between Tammy Duckworth and me. It will take creative solutions and making tough decisions, but avoiding the problem will not make it go away.

What are your specific priorities for your congressional district?
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Duckworth

The priorities for my congressional district are the same priorities for the country. We need to give small businesses easier access to capital so they can invest in their future. I have heard from business leaders across the district and one of their main concerns is the difficulty of finding the capital to grow their business. Our businesses also need better access to bring their products to market like the expansion of O'Hare as well as the Elgin-O'Hare expressway. We need to invest in more and better transportation options. Manufacturers in Addison and Elk Grove Village need us to repair and expand our roads and bridges, improve our rail network and increase access to the critical hub at O'Hare airport.

I have met with or spoken to numerous mayors all over the district and one of the most common concerns I hear is that they need western access to O'Hare. I would have joined members of the Illinois delegation who supported the bipartisan Transportation bill recently passed through Congress. People in my district want someone who will work across party lines to find practical solutions to our most pressing problems. I will work with anyone who loves this country as much as I do to get her moving again.

One of the main concerns I hear from my neighbors across the 8th is the need to handle our country's increasing deficit. We cannot afford to do nothing -- or to keep squabbling while families across the 8th district and the country continue to live on the edge. Just like a family trying to balance its household budget, we have to be smart about what we can and cannot afford. I will work across party lines to develop a sensible strategy to balance our budget while safeguarding essential programs like Social Security and Medicare. Good governing is about making tough, but responsible choices to put our country's economy back on track.

Walsh

Congress must reduce government spending and allow small businesses - the number one job creator in America - to flourish in the 8th District. Those measures would include removing the regulatory red tape that strangles businesses and ensuring tax relief for all. Tammy Duckworth's plan calls for government to be the main driver of job creation with more spending, and I think that's wrong. Government doesn't create jobs - the private sector does. Government should get out of the way and let small businesses do what they do best: create jobs.

Many Republican members of Congress have signed the Grover Norquist pledge to not support any tax increase of any kind at any time. Have you, or would you, sign this pledge? Why or why not?
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Duckworth

No. I will not sign this pledge because it is irresponsible and impractical. We cannot reduce our nation's deficit without a balanced approach and we cannot place partisan politics ahead of the national interest.

Walsh

Yes, I said before I signed the pledge and I have said after I signed the pledge that I will never support tax increases. Not because of some pledge, but because that is what I believe. Just like we cannot spend our way out of this four-year economic mess, we can't tax our way out of it either. I am not afraid to give my word to the taxpayers of the 8th District that I will not vote to raise their tax liability. It's disappointing that my opponent, Tammy Duckworth, won't do the same.

Which sitting Supreme Court justice do you admire most and why? Which current justice do you think has been the greatest disappointment and why?
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Duckworth

While I respect and admire all of the Justices, I admire Justice Sonia Sotomayor most because of her personal life story, passion for the rule of law and dedication to public service. She is a champion of disability rights and has worked tirelessly to promote equality and combat discrimination.

I was deeply disappointed in 2010 when the Supreme Court overturned limitations on corporate political spending in the Citizens United v. FEC decision. That decision changed the current political landscape, allowing anonymous, unlimited contributions to influence elections. I believe that due to his previous relationship with Koch Industries, Justice Clarence Thomas was obligated to recuse himself. Justice Thomas's refusal to recuse himself during the case led to the 5-4 decision that overturned the lower court's ruling.

Walsh

Without question, the Supreme Court Justice I admire most is Antonin Scalia. I respect him because like Justice Scalia, I believe the Constitution should be translated literally, as it was written 200 years ago. The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing when they wrote the document that would become the backbone of the greatest nation in the world. Justice Scalia has been revered by members from both sides of the aisle because he vows to interpret the laws of the land based on the intent of the Founding Fathers who wrote them, not his own political agenda. And that's how I vowed to make decisions in Congress when I was campaigning in 2010 -- and I've kept that promise after the 8th District elected me. Today I ask the same questions Justice Scalia does: Is this law Constitutional? Does Congress have the Constitutional right and authority to do this? If either answer is no, then I have my answer too.

Is there a problem of a growing income and wealth gap in the United States? If so, what's to be done about it?
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Duckworth

The bigger problem is a growing opportunity gap. Everyone in this country deserves a chance at success and the American Dream. Life is not always fair, and it is not government's job to make life fair -- but if you are willing to do your part, America will give you the chance to get back on your feet. That shared appreciation for hard work and the opportunity to build a better future for yourself and your family is the American Dream. Right now, that dream is looking more distant for families throughout the 8th District and throughout the country. We must invest in our education to prepare the next generation for the jobs of the future. We need to prioritize infrastructure projects and give our small businesses better access to capitol so we can reinvigorate our economy and give everyone the opportunity to succeed.

Walsh

Engaging in class warfare is a scare tactic and gimmick I refuse to utilize in my campaign unlike my opponent, Tammy Duckworth. We live in the greatest country in the world, and the opportunities for all regardless of race, religion, sex, or locality are protected in the Constitution and through various laws. However, it is no secret that the opportunities for all Americans in the United States have slowly diminished over the past four years. Illinois is still hurting -- our unemployment rate is still higher than the national average and we have the highest number of foreclosures in the nation. The only way Illinois is going to move forward is if we work together, not in a rich vs. poor drama, to ensure that there are opportunities for all.

Is global warming real? What, if anything, should be done about it?
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Duckworth

Yes, the science is clear, global warming is real and there is overwhelming evidence that man-made causes are a contributing factor. Global warming, the environment and energy are major issues of concern for our country. We need to think creatively about how to build an economy that is less dependent on foreign oil and instead champions American clean energy innovations. We need to build the foundation for a clean energy economy.

My concern with preserving the environment started with my childhood. I spent parts of my youth in Thailand, Indonesia and other South East Asian nations. I will not allow the destruction of the environment that I witnessed as a child in South East Asia to happen in the United States. I will work hard to make America a leader in any future international environmental agreements.

In the 8th District, updating the transportation infrastructure to one that is less petroleum-based not only makes sense for the environment, but will also help us become more competitive globally. I support efforts to build a modern power grid that can distribute energy efficiently and reliably, and make way for new and sustainable sources of energy. A new "smart grid" will help us meet the demands of our economy today and as we grow in the decades to come, while helping our energy producers to reduce the impact on our planet.

I strongly support clean energy innovations that begin with conservation, energy independence, and the ingenuity of American business before we irreparably harm the environment for our children and grandchildren.

Walsh

I believe that we need to protect the environment and our planet for our children and grandchildren. To that end, America needs to diversify our energy portfolio with a broad mix of options--including everything from clean coal and natural gas to nuclear power and solar energy. We need to unleash the power of American innovation and end American's dependence on foreign oil. This, however, needs to be accomplished without Washington resorting to targeted tax credits and subsidies for its preferred energy initiatives and their expensive lobbyists that push them. These political decisions misallocate resources, waste taxpayer dollars, and prematurely force expensive technologies into the marketplace, while taking away any incentive to lower costs.

President Obama, working with other nations, has pushed economic sanctions to compel Iran to cease work on a nuclear bomb. Critics say the sanctions are working too slowly and a military strike by the U.S or Israel is necessary. What should be done?
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Duckworth

Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. The US should work as part of an international effort to stop any nation from developing nuclear weapons. Economic and diplomatic sanctions should be the first line of defense in preventing nuclear aggression and while I prefer to avoid military action, all options must remain on the table.

I was disappointed during the Republican Presidential Primary debates to hear the drumbeats for war with Iran starting. As a combat Veteran and member of the National Guard, I will be a unique voice in Congress. I want to be there the next time this nation contemplates another war to ask the tough questions that need to be answered like, "what is the true cost and is this really in our best interest?"

Walsh

It is imperative America stands firmly by our ally Israel, because a strong and secure democracy in the Middle East is absolutely vital to American security. Israel occupies a critical position in the Middle East, and now, with mass protests throwing the entire region into turmoil, her security is more important than ever. Only our unconditional support of Israel will lead to peace in the region.

Israel's greatest threat today is a nuclear Iran. While I believe that military action should only be the last possible resort, it is clear that the international sanctions against Iran are not working -- people like Tammy Duckworth who claim otherwise are simply denying the facts in favor of political optimism. Iran has not stopped its nuclear weapons program, and countries like China and Russia continue to water down and harm the effectiveness of sanctions. If Iran does not stop its nuclear weapons program by the so-called red line, then the United States must intervene tactically and stop this program for both our own national security and for the security of our ally Israel. We cannot forget that Iran is a state-sponsor of terrorism.

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for cutting military spending. Democrats have defended spending cuts as necessary to balancing the federal budget, while insisting they are committed to a strong military. What's your view?
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Duckworth

We must make responsible, reasonable cuts to defense spending like unchecked defense contracts for weapons and other equipment the military does not need. I can speak with experience about the Department of Defense budget, which is the largest of any federal agency. 
As a member of the military, I have the first-hand knowledge needed to ask the right questions and push for better oversight of waste in runaway military contracts, while still protecting our military men and women and making sure they are well equipped and supported.

There are numerous areas we can focus on that will reduce unnecessary defense spending while maintaining a strong fighting force. A recent study by the Truman Commission issued a report to Congress, which claimed that the U.S. lost up to $60 billion as a result of contractual waste and fraud from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can begin a reduction in service contracts as a step in the right direction to identify significant savings. Far too often, taxpayers pay for equipment and weapons the DoD does not need and for which it has not asked. We can save taxpayers money simply by reforming our defense acquisition practices.

Our military also has the most advanced equipment in the world, including advanced fighter jets. I want our troops to have the best equipment available but the cost of producing more advanced aircraft is not something we can afford at this time, especially since we already dominate the skies. We need to reevaluate the necessity of new aircraft such as the Joint Strike Fighter. While it is essential that our military has agile and effective equipment and aircraft, we need to be prudent about how our resources are allocated. Finally, we have nearly 300,000 U.S. military personnel throughout the world, with over 100,000 in Europe and Asia alone. Many of these personnel are located in areas that no longer pose an immediate threat to the U.S. While we should continue to have a strong and accessible military presence in areas of the world necessary for our national security interests, maintaining such a large number of personnel in some areas is unnecessary. I will always be a strong advocate for the military and will make sure our troops have the best equipment, but we also need to be conscious of budgetary costs and our nation's deficit.

Walsh

With a $16 trillion national debt, every area of the government needs to make sacrifices, including the Department of Defense, but Congress has already cut military spending significantly. I personally voted to cut the Alternate Engine Program for the Joint Strike Fighter, America's next generation fighter jet, which saved $450 million initially and will save up to $3 billion over the next several years. The Budget Control Act already contained more than $400 billion in defense cuts before sequestration was ever on the table. To force another $500 billion in indiscriminate defense cuts, while leaving so many other areas of the federal budget untouched, is reckless and irresponsible. Without a doubt this slashing will compromise America's Armed Forces and our national security. Therefore, while cutting government spending and bringing America's deficit under control is imperative, sequestration brings those cuts to almost $1 trillion alone. That is something America cannot afford. Congress must cut spending prudently and thoughtfully, not with aimless hacking of our defenses.

How would you reform the financial time bomb of Medicare? Should there be a defined contribution (where the government decides what it will pay) or a defined benefit (where the government guarantees a level of coverage)?
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Duckworth

I will not support any plan that ends Medicare as we know it by eliminating guaranteed benefits. Medicare is a benefit that our government promised to cover. Turning Medicare into a voucher system, a policy championed by the extreme right, will force people to fight with insurance companies over what treatments may or may not be covered. This will only result in higher costs for prescription medication and will cost the average senior thousands of dollars more per year, forcing them to make terrible trade-offs over life-saving treatments. Also, it is unconscionable to force a sick person to deal with this in a time of crisis.

Medicare should be allowed to negotiate for cheaper drug prices. While I was at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, we were able to do so and the cost savings were significant. It is illogical that a consumer can buy medicines over the counter more cheaply than Medicare, despite its bulk purchasing power. In fact, as a Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, I oversaw significant cost savings for the State's Veterans Homes by using the federal VA's competitively negotiated formulary.

We also need to look at the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. We need a formula that more accurately assesses the true cost of health care and does not continue to add to the deficit. Simply postponing cuts, Congress's current solution, only delays higher costs in the future and makes the problem even worse. Congress needs to find a practical solution to legislatively transition the formula to something that will avert increased cuts to doctors' pay, make sure patients with Medicare are protected and have access to affordable, preventative care and does not contribute to our nation's debt.

Walsh

Medicare is a another program that although it receives overwhelming support today, it won't stay that way for long if we continue to ignore the insolvency problems it faces. In fact, the Medicare trust funds that a large majority of seniors rely upon will be exhausted by 2024 -- only 12 years. This is a more precarious situation than the one that faces Social Security, and finding a solution to the issue will take creativity and open-discussion, not fear mongering.

I find it troubling that the same people who claim to support the President's health care plan, like my opponent Tammy Duckworth does, fail to admit that his plan includes $716 billion in cuts from Medicare that will affect current recipients, not just future retirees.

I have voted several times to extend the patch on doctor fee cuts that are included in the President's health care plan -- cuts Tammy Duckworth supports. I also voted in favor of plans that provide premium support to allow future recipients to choose the coverage they want, instead of a one-size-fits all program that Medicare is today. I believe seniors are better equipped to make their health care decisions -- not Washington bureaucrats.

On the issue of abortion, the two major political parties take very different stands. The Democratic platform supports a woman's right to seek a "safe and legal" abortion, regardless of her ability to pay. The Republican platform states that the "unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed." The Republican platform does not address whether exceptions should be made to a ban on abortions, such rape or incest. Where, if anywhere, do you part company with your party's platform on abortion?
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Duckworth

I fully support a woman's right to control her own body. I do not support any restrictions on a woman's right to choose or her access to safe, affordable reproductive health services. I believe that all Americans are afforded a right to privacy and the right to make personal decisions about their health care without coercion. I trust women to make decisions about their own bodies with the counsel of their doctors, families and religious traditions.

Walsh

I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity of life, and I believe that it is the role of the federal government to protect life. There have been almost 52 million abortions since 1973, and 93% of those were done for elective, not medical, reasons. Furthermore, studies have shown that public funding increases the number of abortions by over 25% in the population covered by that funding. Although the Supreme Court has prohibited any attempt by any state or federal government to outlaw abortion, we can and we must prohibit the federal government and the taxpayer from funding it.

An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortions, and they also oppose the use of late-term abortions unless a mother's life is at stake. Sadly, my opponent, Tammy Duckworth, supports both. Once again, she is out of touch on one of the main things Americans agree on. Instead, I have stood firmly with the voters of the 8th District and have voted against both measures repeatedly. I will continue to do so in the next Congress.

The Democratic Party platform, for the first time, supports civil gay marriage, but adds that churches should be allowed to administer marriage as a sacrament as they see fit, "without government interference." The Republican Party platform calls for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman." Where do you stand?
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Duckworth

The LGBT community is entitled to the same rights afforded to everyone else. My view on marriage equality is rooted in love. While I was recovering at Walter Reed after being shot down in Iraq, my husband Bryan was at my bedside every day. Not only was he offering love and support during such a difficult time, but he was also making critical decisions for me as my next of kin that improved the quality of my life to this day. Often, those decisions were contrary to what my mother would have decided, but as my life partner, my husband knew me better and made the correct choices for me when I could not. I support the freedom to marry because everyone deserves the same level of access, support and love.

Walsh

I believe that marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. However, I do not believe this issue is central to the campaign.

On the issue of Social Security, the Republican Party platform proposes making no changes in the system for "any current or near-retiree" but envisions allowing younger workers to choose personal investment accounts as "supplements." The Democratic platform pledges to "find a solution" and warns of subjecting a retiree's benefits to the "whims of the stock market." What should be done?
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Duckworth

Social Security benefits are a promise the U.S. government made to every American who pays in to the system and needs to be safeguarded for future generations. I am willing to consider raising the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax above $110,100 as a way to strengthen the system. I would also take steps to make sure that the Social Security Trust Fund is repaid in full for the funds it has loaned over the course of decades.

One of the greatest strengths of Social Security is that it is financed by a dedicated revenue stream and is self-funding. Social Security has not contributed to this nation's deficit and we cannot look to the program to solve our budget crisis. I want to ensure that programs or proposals aimed at stimulating the economy or balancing the budget do not undermine Social Security. I strongly oppose any effort to diminish the guarantee that Social Security represents.

I know personally the value of Social Security. As a way to reduce living costs, my mother shares a home with friends. The stability of Social S,ecurity and my father's small government pension allows her to live a modest, but comfortable life. I will oppose efforts to undermine Social Security and will work to ensure that people who rely on these funding sources -- people like my mom -- are protected.

Walsh

For Social Security recipients today, your benefits are secure. There are no proposals before Congress that would change your benefits, and if there were, I would not support them. You have paid taxes into the system, and you deserve the benefits you have planned for and the government has promised. That won't change.

But for the rest of us who haven't reached retirement age, we have a real problem facing us. The Social Security program is on a path to insolvency, and too many people do not want to admit that. The facts are clear: in 1940, less than five years after enactment, there were 42 workers to 1 Social Security recipient. Today, there are only 3. People like to ignore these facts because discussing creative solutions is a political gamble they won't take. Playing it politically safe won't make this problem go away.

Unfortunately, my opponent is one of these people -- Tammy Duckworth has refused to consider any proposal that gives American workers even minimal control over their Social Security earnings. She will not even consider allowing younger workers to invest their tax dollars -- the tax dollars they earned and that that they should have full control over -- to ensure a higher rate-of-return. That attitude is irresponsible. Congress should be able to consider and weigh all options for those 55 and younger, including raising the retirement age, investing a portion of earnings in safe options, and any others that might lead to a solution to the inevitable solvency the trust fund faces.

Do you support "right-to-work" laws, now in effect in 23 states and promoted in the Republican Party platform, that limit the extent to which labor unions can require membership and the paying of union dues as a condition of employment? Or do you agree with the Democratic Party platform that such laws are "attacks" on the right of workers to organize?
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Duckworth

I oppose right-to-work legislation. We need to we rebuild our economy and create good jobs for American workers that will give people the security to meet their needs and support their children. Unions help achieve this goal and will continue to be a significant factor in making sure conditions are there for everyone to achieve their American Dream. As a candidate and public official, I have frequently stood with union members. During my time at the federal VA, I was a champion of labor training programs for Veterans. I will continue to oppose right-to-work legislation as a Member of Congress.

Walsh

Throughout the 112th Congress, I have been unequivocally supportive of the Davis-Bacon Act that guarantees prevailing wages and comparable benefits must be paid to workers under government contracts. This law was enacted in 1931 to ensure government, with its large purchasing power, doesn't undercut wages, and I support it because I think all workers, unionized or not, should be paid what they're owed. I believe in fairness for America's workforce.

Conversely, what isn't fair is forcing union members to pay dues for political causes they may not support. Unions are formed to protect the rights of workers, not advance political agendas held by the upper echelon. Conditioning employment on union membership -- and consequentially financial support of an unsupported political agenda -- is the antithesis of fairness.

What further federal legal restrictions should be imposed on guns of any kind?
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Duckworth

stressed gun safety and to treat a firearm with the utmost respect. I believe that individuals have the right to own guns and I will always protect the Second Amendment, but there should be common-sense restrictions on gun ownership. I support the reinstitution of the Brady Bill.

Walsh

When I was elected to Congress, I put my right hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. I took that oath seriously. That is why since the 8th District elected me to Congress I have fought tirelessly to uphold the Second Amendment that gives all Americans the right to bear arms. Sadly, this country is full of so-called advocates, like Tammy Duckworth, that ignore that Constitution and actively work to block your rights, and that's something I cannot stand for.

America does not need more gun laws that restrict private citizens' constitutionally guaranteed right to own firearms. The Second Amendment is not at all ambiguous -- this right "shall not be infringed," and I do not question the effectiveness of the Constitution. Gun laws across the country and particularly in Illinois infringe upon this right, day after day. Illinois does not need more anti-gun laws; instead, residents should be given the right to defend themselves, their families, and their homes, and I will not stop until this right is guaranteed.

The Republican Party platform calls for a mandatory requirement that employers verify the legal status of their employees and rejects any amnesty for illegal immigrants. The Democratic Party platform calls for reforming the American immigration system to bring "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows" and requires them to "get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship." Which approach do you favor? Most specifically, what should be done?
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Duckworth

My father's family came to America before the revolution and fought for our independence form England. My mother is an immigrant who became a citizen in her 50s. My mother and millions of other legal immigrants have followed the rules. Their hard work and love of this country made us the strong, diverse nation we are today.

Comprehensive immigration reform must be fair, practical and humane. We need a pathway to citizenship. People who came here illegally should step forward, pay fines for violating our laws, pass a criminal background check, learn English and pay their full share of taxes owed. They also must not be convicted of a felony. If an immigrant meets all of those requirements while continuing to be gainfully employed, he or she would be allowed to pursue legal status. The fines paid by those seeking legal status could pay for the investment required to process the requests and ensure cases are handled quickly and fairly. I support the DREAM Act.

Walsh

Like all Americans, I am proud of our country's diverse background and heritage. We owe a debt of thanks to our ancestors who bravely left their country and set out to build better lives for themselves and future generations, like my family. I continue to support that dream of a better life, and welcome those who come here legally, with good intentions and can offer skills and services we are lacking here in the United States.

However, I do not support rewarding those who sneak into America illegally. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there are 500,000 illegal and undocumented workers in Illinois alone. We are the state with the fourth highest number of illegal workers in the United States, and the number of illegal immigrants has grown by 25% over the past decade. This is unacceptable.

Congress does not need more laws to fight illegal immigration; the Department of Justice needs to enforce those already on the books rather than picking and choosing which laws they want to enforce. We also need to stop funding "sanctuary cities" that harbor known illegal immigrants and refuse to work with law enforcement. In fact, the House of Representatives passed an amendment I introduced that did just that. Allowing any kind of immigration amnesty is not the right direction for the United States.

The candidates
Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth

Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh

 

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The district
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