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U.S. House, Dist. 11: Debbie Halvorson


Political affiliation: Democratic

City: Crete

Marital status: married

Occupation/Firm name: No response

Campaign HQ address: 20 East Cass Street, Joliet, IL 60432

Campaign website: www.debbiehalvorson.com

What is your campaign budget- No response

What are your top priorities for the nation-

My top priority is creating jobs and ensuring we don't go back to the irresponsible policies that resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs, tens of thousands of families losing their homes, and 17 trillion dollars of lost personal wealth that included retirement, college, and other savings for hard-working families.

By promoting policies to help small businesses grow, investing in infrastructure, and encouraging investments in emergent American industries like clean energy, we can reduce the need for government spending on unemployment and stimulus and work to restore our economy and reduce our staggering national debt.

I want to bring manufacturing jobs back to America through increased emphasis on a national manufacturing strategy and the elimination of incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas. We can and should give incentives to those who make and produce things here in this country.

My other top priority is ensuring we provide for our military, their families and our veterans. As the daughter, wife, and stepmother to those who have served our country, I take my responsibility as the only member of Congress from Illinois sitting on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs very seriously. I believe we must live up to the promises we made to our service members and their families. We must ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs has adequate resources to provide the necessary services to our veterans, and continue pushing the VA to reduce the bureaucracy and increase their level of service. We must ensure that our veterans have access to the best care when they return home and we must ensure that after serving, our veterans are able to find work to continue supporting their families.

What are your top priorities for your congressional district-

My top priority is providing excellent constituent services for the people of the 11th Congressional District of Illinois. Far too often citizens have to deal with red tape and bureaucracy when trying to access services from federal, state and local government agencies. That is why as Crete Township Clerk, State Senator, and now as a Member of Congress, my goal has always been to bring government back to the people and make sure it is addressing their needs. In Congress I have fought to ensure seniors receive Social Security benefits and veterans receive quality health care from the VA.

My other high priority is creating good paying local jobs that cannot be shipped overseas by providing local businesses the necessary tools and resources to grow and expand.

The 11th Congressional District sits at a crossroads of several modes of transportation--roads, rail, waterways, and more. Continued growth in our district requires new transportation infrastructure to meet the growing population and ensure manufacturers have access to raw materials and customers across the country. By working with state and local officials from both parties, I have made it a priority to fight for investments in projects that will allow local businesses to expand and attract new businesses to the region. One project I was proud to assist in moving forward is the development of a new intermodal facility in Will County. This project has already created hundreds of jobs and promises to create 12,000 construction and long-term jobs by the time the facility is completed. This facility will also attract further manufacturing facilities to the region.

The 11th District has seen a large increase in veterans in recent years and this population is expected to continue growing. I believe that the 11th District should be home to a veteran's facility at the soon-to-be-vacant Silver Cross hospital in Joliet, Illinois. I am working hard with local leaders to ensure the Department of Veteran Affairs moves forward with providing a facility for our community that meets our veterans' needs.

The 11th District has the potential to be the top producer of energy in the country through renewable and clean energy sources, such as wind, solar, and nuclear. Our district is already a top clean-energy producer with three nuclear facilities--more than any other district in the country, and several wind farms, and this trend must continue. By investing in wind, solar, and nuclear energy right here in the 11th District, we can put Illinoisans to work while reducing our reliance on foreign oil, and improving our national security. I have worked closely with leaders at the local level to support the development of wind farms in the 11th District, including a wind farm that broke ground this past summer and will create over 200 jobs. I have also worked with local leaders to support a national strategy to continue to invest in nuclear energy, to continue investing in high-power transmission infrastructure, and to support the development of a spent nuclear fuel recycling facility in Grundy County.

The recession continues. What are its causes and how do we end it- Do you favor more federal "stimulus" spending to create more jobs-

The recession, which was our nation's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, was caused by irresponsible behavior by big banks and large Wall Street firms that gambled with people's hard-earned money. These actions precipitated a downturn in the housing market, which in turn led to the prolonged economic recession and lingering high unemployment rates.

While the Recovery Act or "stimulus" was not perfect, most economists agreed that intervening action by the government was necessary to prevent a depression. The Recovery Act saved and created jobs across the country, including in Illinois and the 11th District, and there are several projects underway in the 11th District that would not have been possible but for the Recovery Act. Investment in our nation's aging infrastructure is spurring economic growth in our manufacturing sector and in the building and construction industry. Higher loan guarantees through the Small Business Administration have increased the flow of credit to America's small businesses, which create nearly two thirds of our country's new jobs. The overwhelming majority of Illinois families receive tax relief from the Recovery Act as well.

We must continue to build on what is working through targeted, fiscally responsible investments and tax incentives that will help the private sector create new jobs, especially for our small businesses and nation's clean energy development. In addition, I would like to see increased pressure put on banks who were recipients of government "bailout" money to extend credit and loans to worthy small businesses and assist struggling homeowners who are unemployed or who find themselves "underwater" on their mortgages. Finally, it is imperative we work to bring the country's budget deficit under control by forcing Congress to abide by pay-as-you-go budget rules and giving serious consideration to the recommendations of the President's bipartisan Debt Commission.

Is global warming real- Is it man-made- What, if anything, should be done about it- And do you favor a national cap-and-trade program to put a price on carbon emissions-

I agree with the vast majority of scientists who have studied these issues--that we have seen changes to our climate caused in part by human activity, and that these changes are supported by documentation across the globe.

However, regardless of one's beliefs about the origins of climate change, two facts cannot be ignored: our major sources of energy, fossil fuels, are not infinite resources and our reliance on foreign oil is directly related to our national security. Thus, we must adopt policies that invest in and support the development of a diverse portfolio of US-produced resources, including nuclear and renewable energy.

I voted in favor of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, because this bill will reduce our reliance on foreign oil while investing in US-produced energy resources that will create jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. The bill invests in nuclear energy and will directly benefit the 11th District, which is home to more nuclear reactors than anywhere in the country employing over 3640 people. The energy bill provides a revolving loan fund for manufacturers so they can retrofit their equipment to become more energy-efficient to compete on a level playing field globally. This bill also encourages the development of wind energy, another field in which Illinois is poised to be a leader.

As a representative, would you favor changes in the health care reforms pushed through Congress by President Obama- What exactly would you change-

I know what it is like to grow up without health insurance. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s and my parents were never able to obtain affordable health insurance coverage again. It is unacceptable that middle-income families are priced out of affordable health insurance coverage, children are denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions like asthma, and those who have insurance are paying an extra $1,100 each year to pay for those who show up in emergency rooms without coverage across the country.

The health insurance reform law will end discrimination due to pre-existing conditions, allow children to stay on their parent's coverage up to the age of 26, and extend Medicare's solvency until 2029. It ensures that Americans have the same health insurance choices as members of Congress. The health insurance reforms will also provide tax credits to small businesses currently being crushed by rising health insurance costs to help them with the cost of providing coverage to their employees.

As with every piece of legislation passed by Congress, including the original legislation that ushered in Social Security and Medicare in 1935 and 1965, respectively, we will implement the health insurance bill and make improvements when necessary.

In fact, I have already voted to ensure that the health insurance reform bill is implemented properly. In July, the House passed a measure that made technical corrections and further clarified Medicare and Medicaid policies within the new law, which is expected to result in a net reduction in the deficit of $12 million over the next 10 years. Additionally, I voted to repeal the expansion of certain information reporting requirements to corporations on the 1099 form and to payments for property. I believe it is necessary to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of each provision of every law passed by Congress, including the health insurance reform law, and if a provision needs changes we should not be afraid to take a second look and make the law more effective so that it can live up to its goals.

Moving forward, I will be paying particularly close attention to the numerous efforts in the bill intended to "bend the cost curve" and slow down the exploding costs of health care. We will need to expand the practices that research shows are most effectively holding down costs to ensure health-insurance expenditures do not continue to threaten the long-term fiscal health of Illinois and our country.

What should the American military and political strategy be in Afghanistan- How would you define "success" for the United States in the war, and at what point could we withdraw our troops-

Last year I had the opportunity to visit Afghanistan and meet with our commanders and troops on the ground. I believe first and foremost that our strategy in Afghanistan should protect our country's national security and we must have a clearly defined mission. "Success" would be to make sure that Afghanistan will not once again become a safe haven for terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda that will plot attacks against the United States.

I have complete confidence in General Petraeus and his ability to accomplish that mission. For years we've been in Afghanistan without proper troop or resource levels. That has finally changed, and Congress needs to give our commanders and troops the full support they deserve. After we have accomplished our mission, any reduction in troop levels must be based on conditions on the ground and recommendations from our commanders.

What should be the American military and political strategy in Iraq-

Now that combat missions in Iraq have ended, we must continue to bring our troops home from Iraq safely and securely, but also responsibly. This is a challenging time for the Iraqi government. We continue to draw our forces down and Iraqi security forces continue to take the lead role in protecting their citizens from terrorist elements. Al Qaeda is going to attempt to capitalize on our drawdown, destabilize the government and reignite the civil war. We are in a crucial phase in this war right now, and I look to our commanders on the ground in Iraq to inform Congress what they need to continue to bring our troops home responsibly.

The Iraqi government needs to understand that our commitment is not open-ended and our presence there is not indefinite. The strategy at this point is to continue to transfer military control of Iraq to the Iraqis. Our combat mission in Iraq has ended, but a residual force will remain in place until Iraqi security forces are able to provide a reasonable measure of stability.

What should be done to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons-

A nuclear Iran is an unacceptable option. If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, it would pose an existential threat to Israel and destabilize the entire Middle East region, while also threatening the national security of the United States. That is why I support strong, crippling sanctions against the Iranian regime. I was a co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, bipartisan legislation signed into law by the President this past July. This new law will impose sanctions on foreign companies that do business in Iran's energy sector. While Iran is a major producer of petroleum, it has inadequate gasoline refining capacity, which means that targeting Iran's energy sector will put real pressure on the Iranian regime to halt its nuclear program. Going forward I will press the Administration to quickly implement these sanctions. We must also work with our allies to enact strong, international sanctions against Iran that will send a message that they must immediately end their nuclear program.

Will the United States ever have a comprehensive policy on immigration- What should it be- And what is your view of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and the recent federal appellate court ruling striking down its key provisions-

We need comprehensive immigration reform, but we must have a secure border if we are serious about immigration reform. Having recently visited the border to speak with border patrol agents and see first-hand their efforts to strengthen our national security, I believe our law enforcement officials have lacked the resources necessary to protect our land and waterway borders. This is why I have consistently voted for increased funding for border protection.

Beyond that, we must address the incentives for illegal immigrants to come to this country unlawfully. I voted to support the E-Verify program because businesses should not be hiring people that are here illegally.

For those that are here, I believe amnesty is not the answer--any reforms must include a mandate to learn English, back payments of taxes, and criminal background checks. Those who are here need to earn their citizenship and prove they have a job and the ability to provide for their family. They need to learn English, obey our laws and pay taxes.

Arizona is dealing with a very difficult problem. As a former state legislator, I can understand their frustration at federal inaction and motivation for wanting to address their growing illegal immigration problem. I believe taxpayer dollars are better spent on border patrol agents than Justice Department lawyers suing Arizona.

Please comment on the president's education agenda, specifically on the Race to the Top competition that emphasizes core national standards and tests and the use of student test data to evaluate and reward teachers

In a recent speech President Obama stated that "education is the economic issue of our time." I could not agree more. Research indicates that the unemployment rate for those who did not go to college is almost double what it is for those with a college degree, and by the end of this decade nearly eight in ten new jobs will require post-secondary education.

We need to make the necessary investments and enact the reforms needed to ensure we are providing our children with a world class education that will enable them to compete for the next generation of jobs in a rapidly changing global economy. I voted in support of the legislation that created the Race to the Top program and I agree with the ambitious initiatives of the president's education agenda. I think that competition can play an important role in incentivizing states to adopt innovative reforms. I am disappointed that Illinois was not selected for the second round of awards from Race to the Top, but I am pleased that we are acting to implement many of the program's goals. While we didn't win this time around, Illinois should be commended for putting forth a great effort and should continue striving to provide an excellent public education for our students. As Congress begins the important work of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we need to build on what is working and fix what is not. The progress being made by the states in developing core national standards is an important step in the right direction. One major flaw of the current No Child Left Behind framework is that it encourages states to adopt low standards in order to avoid punitive measures for failing to make adequate yearly progress. This is the wrong approach. We should be encouraging states to aim for high standards and provide them with the resources they need to meet these standards.

Student scores on standardized tests can be used to evaluate and reward teachers, but they should not be the sole determining factor. Teachers should also be evaluated based on peer review, classroom performance, and student growth. We should work to develop tests that truly evaluate student progress. Too often in the past we have relied on flawed, one size fits all assessments that do not accurately measure teacher effectiveness. Our students deserve high quality teachers, but we should also ensure that our teachers are evaluated fairly.

What is your position on gay marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act-

Family law, including marriage, has traditionally been the domain of individual states and it should remain up to states to decide their own definitions. I support committed same-sex couples having access to legal benefits through civil unions.

What should be our nation's policy toward the manufacture, sale and use of marijuana-

I do not support legalization of marijuana at this time, however, I believe that our national policy should be to allow this issue to be decided by the states on an individual basis.

The United States continues to hold "enemy combatants," uncharged, at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Is indefinite detention without charges acceptable- If so, for how long- And are military commissions an acceptable alternative to civilian courts-

I have voted and will continue to vote against closing this facility until I'm presented with a plan that will ensure the safety of the American people. That means a plan for transferring and holding detainees in a secure manner.

There are advantages and disadvantages to trying these people in both civilian and military courts; the only acceptable plan is one that keeps Americans safe. I rely on our military and law enforcement officials and their expert opinions on the plans necessary to do that.

List your educational background

Prairie State College, A.S.

Governors State University, B.A., M.S.

Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong

Rosie Fund, Founder; Will County Center for Economic Development, Board Member; National Rifle Association, Member; Illinois State Rifle Association, Member; League of Women Voters, Member; Crete Women's Club, Member, National Council for Jewish Women, South Suburban Chapter, Member; Alumni Association of Governor's State University, Member

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

Crete Township Clerk, 1993-1996; Illinois State Senator, 1996-2008 (Majority Leader, 2005-08); State Central Committeewoman, 2002-present; Member of Congress, 2009-present

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

Stephanie Halvorson Faraci (Daughter). Illinois Department of Natural Resources Legislative Liaison, 2005.

Jay Bush (Stepson), Special Operations Command, US Army

Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

I'm proud to have a broad base of support throughout the 11th District and the State of Illinois from contributors from both parties. All contributions can be found on the Federal Election Commission's website (www.FEC.gov), the agency responsible for enforcing the high level of transparency required for all federal candidates.

Please paste a brief biography here

An independent fighter for working families, Debbie Halvorson was elected by the people of the 11th Congressional District in 2008 to be their voice for change in Washington, DC.

As a lifelong resident of the district, Debbie, grew up in the south suburbs and currently lives in the Village of Crete in eastern Will County. For almost two decades she has proven herself as a trailblazer, and an independent fighter for working families.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Halvorson served as Crete Township Clerk and was elected to the state legislature in 1996, later becoming the first female Majority Leader of the Illinois State Senate.

Throughout her career in public service, Debbie has been a leading advocate for the issues that matter most to her constituents--creating economic opportunities for working families, delivering access to accountable, affordable health care, and giving back to our brave men and women in uniform. She was elected to the United States Congress in 2008 by an overwhelming margin.

After earning her bachelors and masters degrees at Governors State University while working full time and raising a family, she also attended the Darden School for Emerging Political Leaders at the University of Virginia and completed the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University.

Fighting to put our economy back on the road to recovery and put people back to work, Debbie worked to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is helping the economy recover from one of the darkest recessions in American history. Watching her parents fight her mother's cancer and health insurance bills, Debbie has taken her fight for more accessible, affordable health care from the State Senate to Congress, fighting for common-sense health insurance reforms that lower costs by increasing choice and competition, and end the practice of rescissions and pre-existing condition discrimination.

As a member of a military family, Debbie has seen first-hand the costs borne by our brave men and women in uniform, and the need to take care of our veterans. That is why Debbie authored and passed landmark legislation to help catastrophically injured veterans and the caregivers of military families. Working to increase access to health care for veterans, Debbie has also been a leader in fighting to bring a veterans health facility to the newly vacant Silver Cross hospital, and has successfully advocated for reforms to make the VA more responsive to veterans needs.

From Illinois to Washington, Debbie has worked to prepare Illinois to take advantage of the growing green energy and technology industries. She's delivered funding for next-generation wind turbines to power our cities, funding for job training to get our families ready to compete for good-paying jobs, and serves as the co-chair of the moderate New Democrat Coalition's energy task force.

Debbie is married to Jim Bush. Together they have four children and four grandchildren, including one son who has served in the Army Special Forces throughout the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

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