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U.S. House, Dist. 13: Judy Biggert

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Judy Biggert


Political affiliation: Republican

City: Hinsdale

Marital status: Married

Occupation/Firm name: Member of Congress

Campaign HQ address: P.O. BOX 637, Hinsdale, Illinois 60522

Campaign website: http://www.biggert.com

What is your campaign budget- Whatever is necessary

What are your top priorities for the nation-

Priority One: Jobs and the Economy

Fundamental to the security and competitiveness of our country is a strong economy and productive workforce. During his January State of the Union address, President Obama said, "jobs must be our number one focus in 2010." I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, since that speech, for the unemployed, taxpayers, and U.S. businesses, Washington's attention has been diverted elsewhere.

Washington lawmakers have enacted measures intended to reform health care and financial laws that, among a few good provisions, significantly expand the size of government, increase spending, and raise taxes. During the 111th Congress, various so-called "stimulus" and "jobs" bills have attempted to address the highest unemployment rate in decades by throwing billions of dollars at the problem. Unfortunately, these efforts have had little or no impact on job growth. Nor have they provided the certainty that job creators and small businesses need to access working capital to expand and create jobs.

Additional Washington bureaucrats, new government programs, and more federal spending won't reduce unemployment. Instead of taxing their earnings, Washington should let small businesses and entrepreneurs put their earnings to work creating jobs and generating economic growth.

To achieve this goal, Washington must adopt a disciplined budget, reign in spending, and provide long-term tax and regulatory certainty. In addition, Congress must work with the Administration to approve trade agreements that will open the doors for U.S. businesses to sell American products and services in new international markets. Increasing U.S. exports is a proven pro-growth strategy that will boost U.S. businesses without adding billions in new spending to the national debt.

And Washington needs to get serious about focusing on small businesses. Our strongest economic engines are small businesses, which create the majority of new jobs. To succeed, small business owners need tax certainty, reliable sources of credit, and a commitment from lawmakers not to impose on them new federal regulations, mandates, and fees that make it impossible to hire, invest, or even anticipate the cost of doing business.

Priority Two: National Security

Every day, our nation is threatened by the leaders of al Qaeda, who repeatedly have pledged to attack the United States again at a time of their choosing. The failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound flight and the 2010 New York City, Times Square car bombing incident have proven that the threat of terrorism has not subsided since September 11, 2001. That's why I voted for a one-year extension of the Patriot Act, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 315 to 97 on February 25, 2010. The President signed the extension into law on February 27th.

In addition to protecting our homeland against terrorism, we must be vigilant with our allies around the world to maintain peace and halt terrorism and hostility from rogue states and actors. On May 7, 2008, senior American and Russian negotiators started to work on renewing the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which cut in half their nations' supply of nuclear warheads. These negotiations started amid recent progress towards the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea, Iran, and other hostile countries. It horrifies all civilized people to think that one day nuclear weapons may be used in war. That is why it is critical for us to give this issue the full consideration it deserves and for Congress to closely monitor the renegotiation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Lastly but certainly most importantly, we must continue to ensure that our defense is strong, borders are secure, and our troops are fully equipped. To this end, I voted for H.R. 4899, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, which the President signed into law on July 29, 2010. The bill provided important funding measures to support our defense and intelligence personnel and operations here at home and abroad. In addition, I was pleased that on August 13, 2010, the President signed into law a bill, H.R. 6080, to provide emergency border security funding, which passed both the House and Senate by voice vote. Secure borders are critical, both for addressing illegal immigration, and to protecting our national security against terrorist elements seeking to enter the U.S.

I also voted for H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act, which included for our armed forces' active-duty service members and reservists a 1.9% pay raise for fiscal year 2011. H.R. 5136 passed the House on May 28, 2010, but many months later still awaits Senate action. A pay raise reaffirms our dedication to our men and women in uniform and honors their commitment, bravery, and sacrifices they have made to protect our nation.

Priority Three: Nuclear Power & Energy Independence

Due to population and estimated economic growth over the next twenty-five years, the United States demand for electricity is expected to rise by thirty percent. To meet rising demand for power for our homes and businesses, we need to expand our domestic electricity production and create affordable, reliable electricity in an environmentally responsible way. Nuclear power is the only way to do this.

Illinois already leads the way, deriving half of its electricity from nuclear energy. But we need to do more to expand nuclear here and across the country. That's why I co-sponsored HR 5164, legislation to support the deployment of small modular nuclear reactors. A complement to existing large-scale reactors, small modular reactors require less time to construct and are based on current reactor designs, thereby reducing the burdensome licensing process. This is an ideal solution for growing communities and cash-strapped utilities that need extra generation capacity at a fraction of the cost.

Long-term, I continue to support legislative and funding measures that promote advanced research to close the nuclear fuel cycle and recycle spent nuclear fuel. Right here in the 13th district, scientists and engineers at Argonne National Lab lead the nation in research and development for nuclear fuel recycling. Recycling is not just important for the reduction of waste created, but also for the conservation of worldwide uranium resources. It will also encourage the deployment of expanded nuclear power for industry and states that want to provide affordable electricity without unnecessary liabilities.

While incentives to deploy new nuclear production and solutions to manage nuclear waste are critical, one issue remains unresolved: a permanent repository for nuclear waste. The Administration's decision to abandon Yucca Mountain without any scientific or technical basis is both egregious and irresponsible. Illinois taxpayers have invested nearly two billion dollars in the Nuclear Waste Fund, only to see the Administration abdicate its contractual responsibility to store nuclear waste. I oppose this decision and will continue to support efforts that review or rescind their position.

In addition to nuclear power, we must continue to invest in the deployment of advanced energy technologies across the spectrum. As a senior member of the House Science and Technology Committee, I continue to advocate for funding at the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation toward the research and development of advanced solar, geothermal, battery, and hydrogen fuel cell technology. And as we work to expand the supply of clean, domestic energy sources, we must also focus on conservation to reduce the rapid growth of our domestic energy needs. That's why I have introduced legislation to incentivize investments in electric vehicle infrastructure and accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle fleets that will reduce demand for fossil fuels. I also have sponsored legislation designed to maximize energy savings in government buildings and train the federal workforce to utilize the latest in green building technologies.

Priority Four: Transparency and Government Reform

Ronald Reagan once said, "The nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on earth is a government program." He was absolutely right. With a projected $1.34 trillion dollar deficit for fiscal year 2010 and the national unemployment rate continuing to hover around 10 percent, we cannot afford to sit idly by while out-of-control federal spending and ever-growing federal agencies drive down economic growth. The time for action is now.

Many economists have predicted that our federal deficit will continue to rise, especially as more Baby Boomers retire, and that we are on an unsustainable path. It is vital that Congress take seriously these warnings before our country ends up like Greece. There are a number of options that Congress should consider to stem federal spending and reduce the deficit.

First, Congress must review and reform federal entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare, without breaking the promises made to America's seniors. For example, Medicare reform could include a bill I introduced, H.R. 27, The Medicare Fraud, Prevention and Enforcement Act, which would prevent waste, fraud, and abuse by strengthening the Medicare enrollment process, expanding certain standards of participation, and reducing erroneous payments. The bill also gives law enforcement agencies additional tools to pursue health care swindlers. It is estimated that waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare are costing taxpayers more than $10 billion per year.

Another way Congress could tackle Washington's spending addiction is to enact a bill, H.R. 393, the Federal Sunset Act, which would require federal agencies, departments, and programs to be assessed every 10 years and abolished if they are found unnecessary, duplicative, or ineffective. I'm a cosponsor of this bill because taxpayers deserve to know that each dollar of federal spending is justified and being spent effectively. If federal bureaucrats are wasting taxpayer dollars or a program has outlived its usefulness, we should stop the spending and end the program. Period.

Finally, the two government-chartered and, today, government-run mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have received almost $150 billion in taxpayer-backed bailouts. These Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) were at the heart of the housing collapse and our economic recession. Meanwhile, no independent watchdog has been in place to review their operations, which are directed by their federal regulator. To address this failing, I introduced H.R. 4581, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Accountability and Transparency for Taxpayers Act of 2010. The bill would require a GSE Inspector General, or a similar entity, to submit regular reports to Congress outlining taxpayer liabilities, investment decisions, and management details of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress should enact this bill, end the taxpayer-backed bailouts, and reform the GSEs so that they are never again a direct or indirect taxpayer liability.

According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, "unless we as a nation demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, in the longer run we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth." He's absolutely right..

What are your top priorities for your congressional district-

Priority One: Jobs and the Economy

While Washington seems to be focused on everything but jobs and the economy, residents and businesses in the 13th District are hurting. At dozens of town hall meetings, traveling office hour listening sessions, and teletownhall conference calls, they've made it very clear to me that our top priority should be jobs and the economy, and I couldn't agree more.

So locally, I have focused my efforts on helping unemployed and underemployed workers find jobs and assisting small business owners who are struggling to make it though this recession find new business opportunities. With the help of many great employers, agencies, municipalities and other talented personnel, I have been holding jobs and business fairs to help tide people through these tough times.

The Grant and Contracting Supermarket was designed to bring contracting, grant, and exporting opportunities directly to area business owners, municipalities, non-profits and entrepreneurs. More than 600 constituents attended our first event in Naperville and had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with over 15 local, state and federal agencies to learn how they can work with various government entities. Many people who attended were interested in starting their own small business.

The fair featured a variety of breakout sessions designed to provide an overview of opportunities ranging from the SBA loan guarantee program and the federal grant and procurement process, export financing options and ways to start exporting goods and services abroad. Our next Grant and Contracting Supermarket will be held later this August.

The Road to Employment Job Fair focused on connecting our region's employers with the 13th District's highly qualified job seekers. Our first event was held in two gymnasiums in Romeoville and attracted over 1200 job seekers and 70 businesses. In the course of the day-long event, I had the opportunity to personally meet and talk with nearly all of them; their skill and education levels ranged from high school graduates to Ph.D.'s in health, the sciences, and engineering.

While the purpose of a job fair is to allow individuals to meet with potential employers, I believe it's important to provide additional resources, such as resume writing and interview workshops and a presentation on the Federal Jobs hiring process. My next Road to Employment Job Fair will take place in mid September.

Whether it's in Washington or here at home, it's about jobs.

Priority Two: Transportation

The Chicago region depends on an integrated, efficient transportation system. Nowhere is that more evident than in the 13th Congressional District. Over the last decade, this district has experienced tremendous growth, exposing several infrastructure deficiencies and challenges. While I've worked with my colleagues to secure funds for various regional transportation projects such as the I-355 extension, widening of I-55 and transit expansion, more must be done to ensure our communities and businesses have opportunities to thrive.

That's why I believe that passage of a comprehensive federal transportation bill, also known as SAFETEA-LU, should be among our top priorities. Unfortunately, current SAFETEA-LU programs are operating under a fifth short-term funding extension that expires December 31, 2010, and the prospects for reauthorization in a lame duck session are unpredictable. It is my hope that, regardless of the outcome in November, both sides of the aisle can come together and pass this bill next session. It is extremely important that Congress also adopt earmark reform that adds transparency and accountability so we can avoid the "bridge to nowhere" and "monument to me" projects that have tarnished this bill in the past.

One of my top priorities over the last two years has been to work with area municipalities and the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to guarantee that Canadian National commits to safety improvements and other congestion relief mitigation efforts along the EJ&E railroad. Projects like the 143rd St. Grade Separation in Plainfield and the North Aurora Road Underpass in Aurora significantly impact the daily lives of my constituents, and I am committed to seeing that they are completed. Furthermore, I will work with the STB to guarantee that CN meets every commitment it has made in agreements with area municipalities.

Other area transportation priorities include: a continued investment in I-55, including its widening beyond Weber Road, and interchange improvements at Airport Road and Route 126; the development of Metra's STAR Line; service and station expansion along the Metra's Heritage Corridor as well as improvements on area Metra lines including BNSF, Southwest Service, Heritage Corridor, and Rock Island lines; improvements to congested east-west corridors along I-355; and airport improvements at Lewis University Airport and Bolingbrook Airport. While these are several area priorities, I will continue to work with local and state officials to identify transportation needs for the 13th Congressional District.

Priority Three: Kill the Carp--Not Local Jobs and Commerce

The 13th Congressional district represents the front line in the fight to keep the Asian carp from decimating the ecosystem of our Great Lakes. The Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal transverses our district and forms a unique, man-made link between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. While it is a critical avenue for commerce, it also provides aquatic invasive species access between these two bodies of water. It is critically important that we find a science-based solution to the threat of invasive species without compromising our local economy.

Since 2002, I have worked with my colleagues in the Illinois congressional delegation and around the Great Lakes to create solutions that prevent invasive species from using the canal as access into Lake Michigan. I have secured passage of legislation and funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to upgrade and continue operation of two electric dispersal barriers. I have also supported funding efforts through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to increase the commitment of the federal government in combating these carp so the State of Illinois would not be left alone in funding and spearheading this important national and international priority.

I agree that we must do all we can to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem from the invasive carp. However, simply shutting down major Chicago-area dams and locks, as some neighboring states have tried to force on Illinois through litigation and legislation, threatens to reverse a century of economic progress built on Chicago's status as a vibrant shipping and navigational link. As a result, local businesses would fail, jobs would be lost, and maritime industries--from tours to tow boats--would be decimated. The loss of barge traffic would make basic products like grain, ore, coal, asphalt, and road salt prohibitively expensive to buy or ship in the Midwest. Lock closures also could overwhelm our intricate system of tunnels and reservoirs, threatening to flood millions of homes and businesses from Chicago's suburbs to Indiana. Furthermore, studies by the Army Corps of Engineers suggest that closing the locks would have little or no impact on the risk of the invasive carp reaching Lake Michigan.

As we pursue options to address the Asian carp, I believe the Great Lakes community must work together to safeguard Midwest jobs and fight to preserve all the economic and environmental treasures afforded to us by the lakes. To do so, we should prioritize our efforts around what is known about Asian carp and its habitat using the best scientifically-sound methods available.

First, I believe that kill zones between the electric barriers and the Lockport Lock would be effective. Second, creating redundant bypass barriers in flood-prone areas - such as the recent Des Plaines bypass barrier installed this summer--are important to set-up throughout the Chicago-area waterway system. Third, we should focus on reducing the size of sustaining populations of carp where we know they exist -- 42 miles from Chicago--in the Peru Flats near Dresden, Illinois. Fourth, a comprehensive study of the Great Lakes ecosystem is needed to better understand if Asian carp can actually thrive in the lakes. Finally, adopting population control measures, similar to the successful sea lamprey program, will ultimately be the most effective containment method where self-sustaining populations of carp exist.

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 continues because Washington has not made jobs and the economy its top priority. Instead, the Administration and Congressional leaders have been pursuing agenda items that are creating more uncertainty, deepening the recession, and delaying any recovery that the economic cycle would have produced on its own by now.

Investors, businesses, and consumers alike are confronting uncertainties created by out-of-control spending, double-digit budget increases, new entitlement and other programs, and higher taxes. Taxpayers are fronting $862 billion dollars for a failed stimulus plan, $700 billion dollars for the TARP program, and a nearly $150 billion dollar bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That doesn't even count the nearly trillion-dollar, 2,801-page health care bill that was signed into law in March and a $19 billion dollar, 2,400-page financial services or Dodd-Frank Act that was signed into law in July. Despite the significant role that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in the financial melt-down and subsequent recession, the Dodd-Frank Act fails to reform Fannie and Freddie but simply calls for a study.

All of these agenda items carry with them new taxes, new spending, thousands of new rules and regulations, new studies, reports and unanswered questions.

I do not believe that more stimulus spending is the answer. In February 2009, leaders were briefly on the right track when they decided that a stimulus was needed to jump-start the economy. But instead of providing a shot of adrenaline with ready-to-go projects and tax cuts to immediately expand credit and get small businesses investing and hiring, Congress passed a package of long-term, pent-up pork projects with virtually no Congressional oversight and no accountability. So today, some 18 months later, there still are stimulus dollars that haven't been spent, and more and more Americans continue to lose their jobs.

The most important thing we can do now for this economic recovery is to prevent the automatic tax increases from taking effect on January 1, 2011. To do otherwise would have a devastating effect on the economy, raising individual, dividend and capital gains rates and bringing back the marriage penalty and death tax. Failure to extend the tax cuts will amount to a new $3.8 trillion tax hike on hard-working Americans. Extending the cuts would give investors, businesses, and individuals the confidence and certainty they need to plan for their economic futures, invest, expand and create jobs. I also strongly support the following steps:

END taxpayer bailouts of failed financial institutions.

STOP automatic tax increases on income, investments and small businesses.

PROMOTE small business growth through tax relief -- not new federal programs.

REJECT cap and trade energy taxes that raise energy costs, kill jobs, and harm consumers.

REPEAL burdensome new health care taxes and Medicare cuts and implement reform to curb health care costs.

ENACT smarter, stronger financial regulations to protect consumers and fight fraud without costly and duplicative new bureaucracies.

EXPAND foreign markets for U.S. goods and services by breaking down trade barriers.

END Washington's culture of out-of-control spending that has pushed the national debt above $13.5 trillion.

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 believe the science behind climate change is sound and human activity is having an impact on our climate. Global warming is, however, a problem that demands global participation in pursuit of solutions. Excessively punitive measures, imposed solely in the U.S., will only shift production and economic activity elsewhere, eliminating American jobs, with little environmental benefit. Recent reports of scientific misconduct and poor reporting standards by developing nations underscore the difficulty of maintaining a level playing field for the United States as we seek to reduce emissions across major sectors of the U.S. economy in the future. Today, however, we have the opportunity to demonstrate international leadership on climate change by aggressively pursuing the development and deployment of technologies to combat greenhouse gasses, while improving our energy independence and creating jobs.

If Congress presses forward with a national cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions, as proposed last year in H.R. 2454 (Waxman--Markey), I would again oppose it. Absent incentives to increase new energy production, the cap-and-trade system proposed in Waxman-Markey would disproportionately hurt the Illinois economy. Studies conducted last summer showed, on average, Illinoisans would face a five hundred-dollar increase in electricity costs, an additional sixty cents per gallon increase in gasoline costs, and an estimated fifty thousand jobs lost statewide. There is no question we can find less punitive ways to address global warming immediately - and - without shedding jobs and increasing costs for families in Illinois.

In order to address the impacts of global warming now, we need to deploy advanced energy technologies and expand our domestic energy resources. That's why I have introduced legislation to incentivize investments in electric vehicle infrastructure and advanced technologies for heavy duty vehicles. With these innovations, we can reduce our reliance on expensive foreign oil and significantly reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

Locally, I have secured funding to help a 13th District municipality, Naperville, construct an alternative fuels infrastructure. By using local biomass from lawn and farm waste to power fleet vehicles, Naperville will enjoy dramatic decreases in municipal fuel costs and utilize landfill waste as a renewable energy resource.

As a senior member of the House Science and Technology Committee, I also continue to advocate for funding and policies that advance research and development at nearby Argonne National Lab. Technologies developed there in solar energy, plug-in hybrids, geothermal and fuel cell technology are just a few ways we can ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I have also helped to secure federal support for supercomputers at Argonne that help scientists model and further our understanding of climate trends. And I have long advocated for clean, carbon-free nuclear energy with new recycling technologies as the only long-term solution for reliable and plentiful electricity generation.

Lastly, as Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Congressional High Performance Buildings Caucus, I am working to prioritize the deployment of green building technologies that can dramatically reduce the energy consumption of U.S. homes and buildings. In the U.S., buildings account for 39% of CO2 emissions, and conservation--in addition to alternative energy--must play a central role in any long-term strategy to combat climate change.

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

We should repeal the Pelosi/Reid/Obama healthcare law and replace it with legislation my colleagues and I offered last year as a commonsense alternative. Our bill delivers what most Americans have said they want: lower costs, increased competition, portability for those between jobs, and expanded coverage for pre-existing conditions. Our bill does this without tax increases or cuts to Medicare. Nor does it impose job-killing burdens on small businesses or unfairly force changes in the care that many families enjoy today.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), our alternative plan will lower health insurance premiums for American families and small businesses by as much as 10 percent. Its analysis showed that for millions of families, premiums would be almost $5,000 per year less than under the cheapest health insurance under the Obama/Pelosi bill. Instead of spending $1.3 trillion in tax dollars, our alternative bill would actually save the government $68 billion.

And our bill doesn't have any complicated budget gimmicks that inflate numbers or evade accurate analysis. This bill has real reforms like association health plans for small businesses, allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and medical malpractice reform. It would change current law to ensure that insurance companies can't drop Americans just because they get sick. And no one can be denied treatment because of annual or lifetime benefit caps.

Here are just a few of the steps we take in our alternative bill that will help lower costs and increase access for all Americans:

Enact medical malpractice reform: to curb junk lawsuits and stop forcing doctors to practice costly defensive medicine. The other side of the aisle has consistently refused to enact this measure because of the influence of trial attorneys.

Allow Association Health Plans (AHPs): so that small businesses can band together and offer their employees the same discounted health insurance coverage enjoyed by employees of large corporations and union members.

Expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): expand deductions for healthcare savings. Americans are looking for ways to gain more control of their healthcare costs. HSAs allow families and individuals to save money tax-free for their health care needs and shop for the best deals.

Purchase insurance across state lines: Americans can buy virtually every other kind of insurance nationwide. Our plan allows Americans to shop for health insurance coverage from coast to coast too. By allowing individuals to purchase from any one of the more than 1,000 insurers in the country, we can increase competition, lower health insurance premiums, and increase choices for the consumer.

Prevent insurers from unjustly canceling a policy or imposing caps: Our plan prohibits an insurer from canceling a policy unless a person commits fraud. It also prevents insurers from imposing annual or lifetime spending caps.

Guarantee access to affordable care for those with pre-existing conditions: we create Universal Access Programs that expand and reform high-risk pools and reinsurance programs to guarantee that all Americans, regardless of their pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable care.

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-

A stable Afghanistan is a prerequisite to preventing al-Qaeda from reestablishing a strong presence in the region. From my visits there, I know well the importance of showing the Afghan people that we are firm in our commitment to eradicate terrorist threats and help provide the security they need to quickly establish a stable civil society and field fully-trained Afghan security forces. At the same time, it is they who are responsible for the future of their country--not us. That's why, ultimately, America's military and political strategies in Afghanistan must focus on the need for the Afghan government to establish its own security forces to protect its people and end the region's reign as a top breeding ground for terrorist activities.

Unfortunately, progress in Afghanistan has been hindered by corruption within the Afghan government, which has undermined efforts to establish security forces in this violent region. We need to keep the pressure on President Karzai to root out corruption and continue to build the civil society necessary for a functioning democracy.

I strongly believe that our troops should not be in Afghanistan one day longer than absolutely necessary. President Obama and his top U.S. and NATO Commander, Gen. David Petraeus are working closely with President Karzai and the Afghan government to implement their strategy for building Afghan security institutions and drawing down the size and scope of U.S. involvement in the fledgling democracy. However, Gen. Petraeus has noted that it is too soon to make predictions as to the amount of time Afghan security forces will require to assume responsibility for various parts of the country, and he has stressed that the strategy is a gradual and deliberate effort which will take hard work.

One thing is certain: Al Qaeda and its allies have been weakened, but not defeated. We cannot revert to a pre-9/11 mindset and allow terrorists to train and recruit in the lawless regions of the world. In order for peace to be solidified, a legitimate Afghan government must be able to provide for the safety of its own people. However, it will be a challenge. That's why, as a Member of Congress, I've committed to ensuring that our brave men and women in Afghanistan have all the resources they need to secure peace. That's why, on July 27, 2010, I voted for H.R. 4899, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, which authorized funding for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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

Though the cost has been high, our mission in Iraq is vital. And our strategy is clear: we should continue to assist Iraqi forces and leaders as they make progress in establishing a functional democracy and providing security for their people, and then all of our troops will come home.

I am pleased that the last combat troops have been withdrawn from Iraq. Moreover, I want to see us continue to draw down forces as quickly as conditions permit. The aggressive Iraqi push for independence is a very positive development, and the stronger and more confident the Government of Iraq becomes, the quicker US forces can withdraw and rely on a strong ally against terror in the region.

That said, there are still nearly 50,000 American military personnel in Iraq. And as long as our men and women in uniform remain in the field, I will fight to ensure our troops have the support and resources they need to complete their mission. In fact, I have supported several supplemental funding bills, including the most recent FY 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act, to provide such tools for our military.

While the recent troop withdrawal is a strong sign of progress, the fact is troops and personnel are still very much in harm's way. We need look no further than the ongoing violence, which, though lessened, continues to claim innocent lives. We should remain focused on establishing long-term stability in Iraq. And while much progress has been made in the region, these gains all could be reversed if we do not adhere to the careful strategies employed by our capable military officials and instead adopt the abrupt and arbitrary withdrawal of all troops that some have advocated. In the meantime, we must remain vigilant against a resurgence of violence or political instability, and our troops still in Iraq should be ready to advise and assist in counterterrorism actions as necessary.

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

In the interest of regional and global peace, Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. As we all know, a nuclear-armed Iran would catastrophically destabilize the Middle East -- not to mention the world.

In an effort to impede its progress or prevent Iran from acquiring the resources to achieve its nuclear ambition, Congress and the Administration enacted into law H.R. 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. This legislation, which I cosponsored and voted for, would impose sanctions against companies that supply Iran with gasoline or support Iran's domestic energy production. H.R. 2194 turns up the pressure on Iran to suspend and ultimately dismantle its nuclear weapons program, including ending all uranium enrichment activities. The sanctions would terminate once the President determines that Iran has ceased its efforts to design, develop, manufacture, or acquire a nuclear explosive device or related materials and technology, and has ceased nuclear-related activities that would facilitate such efforts.

Like all sanctions, in order for these to be effective, they cannot be unilateral. The international community must agree that doing business with Iran will only empower the rogue nation, jeopardizing the safety of everyone. While many European countries have curbed trade and investment dealings with Iran, other countries, such as China and Russia, have emerged as increasingly important economic partners. And while there is growing international consensus for stricter economic sanctions against Iran, it's not enough. Thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions requires a unified front on the part of the international community.

Iran's nuclear ambitions continue to warrant the full attention of Congress. That said, I believe the Obama Administration should continue its commitment to work through diplomatic and political channels, such as those established by the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Act, before any consideration should be given to military engagement.

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-

Unfortunately, "comprehensive immigration reform" has become a euphemism for amnesty, with supporters offering pay-to-become-legal and other "paths to citizenship" for those who already are in this country illegally.

Our nation already has a legal "path to citizenship," and caseworkers in my office have helped thousands of individuals who play by the rules and do not break the law. Some of these individuals have waited ten years or more to enter the United States legally through our existing immigration and naturalization structure. There is much we can do to reform our legal immigration system to make it more efficient, effective, and responsive to U.S. labor needs. But reform must start with securing our borders. I also have supported, and will continue to press for the following:

Secure our borders: We must continue to enhance the use of state-of-the-art surveillance technology and increase the use of military and civilian personnel at ports of entry and along our borders.

Implement internal controls: to address the key incentive for illegal entry into the country--employment and benefits. Our current I-9 system for employment verification does not work. I am a strong proponent of the E-Verify system; we should make it mandatory so employers have the tools they need to determine an applicant's employment eligibility.

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>End sanctuary cities: by withholding certain funding from cities that prohibit law enforcement officials from communicating with federal immigration authorities.

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>Reevaluate our existing visa structure: including employment and family-based visa categories to promote fairness and American competitiveness.

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>And last but not least, promote international policies that deter illegal immigration.

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>As for Arizona Senate Bill 1070, I am a firm believer that individual states have the right to set and enforce laws to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents. The failure of the federal government to secure our southern border against illegal border crossing, drug cartels, gang activity and human trafficking forced Arizona to pass this law. While provisions were struck down by the federal appellate court, the message was delivered loud and clear: there is a problem along our border that needs to be addressed and I support that message.

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>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

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>The Obama Administration already has indicated that it sees Race to the Top (RTTP) as the blueprint for the next reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA, which Congressional leaders have failed to take up this year.

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>To date, I have been very disappointed by the lack of Congressional oversight over RTTP. Some $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funds were appropriated in last year's ARRA stimulus bill with no Congressional input, almost no statutory guidance, and with grant regulations drafted solely by the Department of Education.

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>As I write this, the Department of Education has just announced that Illinois will not be among the states selected to receive any federal funding from the Race to the Top program, despite the impressive efforts by Illinois education officials to meet the Administration's demands. While Illinois initially placed among the top five states in competition for the funds, the final scoring left Illinois at number 15 in the second round of grants. At minimum, more detailed guidance and less emphasis on the subjective opinions of Washington bureaucrats would have given Illinois a far better roadmap for winning these funds. From my meetings with Illinois educators, it's clear that the vague and one-sided nature of the Administration's program caused many school districts to remain uncommitted to the program, a key reason cited by federal officials for rejecting the state's application.

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>As for what is good in RTTP, I was encouraged by the increased focus on scientifically rigorous data systems that will give teachers the information that they need to better educate students. My work on the America COMPETES Act provided the template for these data systems, and I am hopeful they will be used effectively across the country. I also was pleased to see new provisions to improve the quality of professional development available to teachers and principals. However, this is not a particularly large part of the Race to the Top grading rubric, and I will work to significantly scale-up these efforts in the final ESEA bill.

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>What is not good in RTTP I hope to have the opportunity to fix if and when the House Education and Labor Committee begins consideration of legislation. For instance, instead of learning from past mistakes, like 2007's failed NCLB draft, the Race to the Top program continues to focus on a pay-for-performance measurement model that undermines collective bargaining agreements. It also fails to account for the significant influences on a student's performance that are outside his or her teacher's control. And it continues to encourage the same "teaching-to-the-test" that parents and teachers alike recognize as being detrimental to the kind of well-rounded learning experience that allows students to reach their full potential.

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>We must move farther from the "test-scores-equals-achievement" model toward a more comprehensive and accurate measure of student assessment. I was encouraged by the additional flexibility in the final version of the Race to the Top guidelines, and I hope that states will put in the hard work needed to develop innovative measures that best reflect the quality of a student's educational experience. This could include growth models, lesson-plan reviews and classroom observations, among other strategies.

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>Last, I also am concerned that the portions of Race to the Top aimed at turning around the worst-performing schools, while well-intentioned, may encourage states to shut down schools as an initial response, rather than as a last resort. Improving struggling schools is not only cheaper than starting over, but it prevents a serious disruption to the lives and communities of the displaced students.

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>As the debate on education reform goes forward, I continue to reach out to parents, educators, and members of the community to get their suggestions on how we can ensure that our children get the best education possible. We all want to ensure that schools in our area are prepared to respond flexibly to new guidelines and take advantage of funding or other opportunities that might present themselves.

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

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>On the federal level, the two legislative approaches to the issue of gay marriage are: 1) a constitutional amendment that would, for the first time, introduce into the Constitution the issue of marriage; and 2) repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed into law in 1996.

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>I believe that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. However, I don't believe that a constitutional amendment is appropriate, and have voted against it in the past. Laws governing marriage traditionally have been left to the states, which is where I think they belong. Nothing related to marriage--not even the prohibition on bigamy or polygamy--is addressed in the Constitution.

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>Amending the Constitution to address marriage could invite federal judicial review not only of marriage, but of divorce, child custody, inheritance, adoption, and other issues of family law. Not only would this violate the principles of federalism, it would create very bad public policy. Marriage should be kept out of the Constitution and the states should continue to exercise what is best left to the states.

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>In anticipating the possibility that some states might legalize same-sex marriages and that those marriages might raise legal challenges in other states, Congress in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law by President Clinton as P.L.104-199. I did not serve in Congress at that time, but I support DOMA. It prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows individual states to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in other states.

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

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>I support our current policy, which bans the manufacture, sale and use of marijuana.

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>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-

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>Although they retired the term 'enemy combatant,' I agree with Obama Administration officials' decision to maintain their right to detain for an indefinite amount of time those who provide substantial assistance to al-Qaeda and its associates around the globe. This is especially important, given that 27 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have engaged in some kind of terrorist activity -- and 47 are suspected of engaging in terrorist activity --since their release. In fact, the attempted bomber of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 last Christmas was reportedly trained by Al Qaeda operatives in a terrorist camp located in Yemen. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack and includes among its ranks terrorist leaders like Said Ali Shiri, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee.

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>I do not believe that terrorist detainees should be granted the full rights and privileges of a civilian trial. Nor is our civilian court system, which must abide by the rights and rules of evidence and detainment, designed for the prosecution of foreign enemy combatants captured overseas in the midst of a military engagement.

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>To ensure due process, equal justice, and national security, detainees should be tried before military commissions that are constitutional and well established in American and Western jurisprudence. Presidents from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt have used military commissions or tribunals to maintain the safety and security of the American people. I believe President Obama should too.

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>For these reasons, I strongly opposed the Administration's decision to bring terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Thomson, Illinois. Closing Guantanamo and relocating the world's most dangerous terrorists to federal prison in Illinois could do absolutely nothing to improve--and much to threaten -- the security and safety of 300 million Americans.

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>List your educational background

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>Northwestern University School of Law, JD, 1963 (Member, Board of Editors, Law Review)

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>Stanford University, BA (International Relations) 1959

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>New Trier High School 1955

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

> Chairman, Village of Hinsdale Plan Commission, 1989 - 1993

> Steering Committee, Citizens for Property Tax Accountability, 1990--1993

> Chairman, Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago, 1989--1991

> President, Board of Education, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, 1983--1985; Member, 1978 - 1985

> Chairman, Hinsdale Assembly of the Hinsdale Hospital, 1987-1988

> President, Junior League of Chicago, 1976--1978

> Treasurer, Women's Board of Brookfield Zoo, 1970--1971

> President, Chicago Junior Board of Travelers Aid Society, 1969

> Board of Directors, Salt Creek Ballet, 1990--1999

> Chairman, Hinsdale Antiques Show, 1980

> Board of Governors, Illinois Lincoln Series, 1994 - 1996

> President, Oak School PTA, 1974 - 1976

> Sunday School Teacher, Grace Episcopal Church, 1974 - 1984

> Assistant Soccer Coach, American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), 1983

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

> Member, U.S. House of Representatives, 1999-Present

> Member, Illinois House of Representatives, 1993-1999

> President, Hinsdale Board of Education, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, 1983-1985

> Member, Hinsdale Board of Education, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, 1978-1985

> Chairman, Village of Hinsdale Plan Commission, 1989-1993

> Clerk to The Hon. Luther M. Swygert, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1963- 1964

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

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>None

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>Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

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>No response

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>Please paste a brief biography here

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>A lifelong Illinois resident, Judy Biggert combines experience as a legislator, lawyer, and community volunteer and leader to serve the suburban Chicago residents of Illinois' 13th District in the US House of Representatives.

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>Since her first election to Congress in 1998, Judy has spearheaded efforts to advance U.S. competitiveness in areas ranging from supercomputing to alternative energy technologies. She also has authored legislation to advance science and math training, and to provide greater educational opportunities for homeless children. Having taken on several ranking positions within the Financial Services Committee, Judy also consistently works to incorporate fiscal responsibility and sound economic principles in the government's response to weaknesses in the U.S. financial marketplace.

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>Voted by her peers in Congress as one of the ten most bi-partisan Republican members of the House, Judy has led the Congressional Women's Caucus in areas like domestic violence and health research; and promoted judicial and legislative cooperation through the Congressional Judicial Caucus.

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>In the 111th Congress, Judy is a member of three committees -- Financial Services, Education and Labor, Science and Technology--and of seven subcommittees. She serves as Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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>During her first term in office, two of her initiatives became law: the Cybertipline legislation made it easier to report and track down computer-based sex crimes against children, and another initiative that increased penalties for traffickers of club drugs such as Ecstasy.

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>Since then, Judy has maintained her strong legislative track-record under the Congressional majorities of both parties. During the 110th Congress, she successfully secured bipartisan passage and enactment of several top legislative priorities, including the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits health insurers and employers from discriminating on the basis of a person's genetic information. The President also signed into law her Energy Tech Transfer Act, which speeds breakthrough energy technologies out of the laboratory and into the marketplace, helping individuals and businesses dramatically reduce their energy usage. Finally, through her work as Co-Chair of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, she secured enactment of legislation to help find and protect missing and runaway youth.

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>Judy began her legislative career in 1992, when she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives to serve the newly created 81st District.

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>A lifetime of community service prepared Judy for the challenges of public office. She served as President of the Board of Education of Hinsdale Township High School District 86 and Chairman of the Village of Hinsdale Plan Commission. She has also served as Chairman or President of the Hinsdale Assembly of the Hinsdale Hospital, the Hinsdale Antiques Show, the Visiting Nurses Association of Chicago, the Junior League of Chicago, the Traveler's Aid Society and the Salt Creek Ballet. She also has served as a Sunday School teacher, an Assistant Soccer Coach in the American Youth Soccer Organization, and as President of the Oak School PTA.

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>A graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University School of Law, Judy began her legal career as clerk to the Honorable Luther M. Swygert, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. While raising her four children, Judy ran a home-based private law practice specializing in real estate, estate planning and probate law.

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>Judy was born in Chicago on August 15, 1937 and attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. She and her husband are the parents of four children and the grandparents of nine grandchildren.

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