Campaign website: debbiewassermanschultz.com
Date, place of birth: September 27, 1966, Forest Hills, NY
Family status: Married
Education: B.A., Political Science, University of Florida, 1988
M.A. Political Science, University of Florida, 1990
Occupation: Member of Congress Representing FL23 Congressional District
Work history past 15 years. List in reverse chronological order.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (2005-Present)
Chair of the Democratic National Committee (2011-2016)
Have you been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime, received a withheld adjudication or had a matter sealed or expunged? If yes, please explain. No
Have you been a plaintiff or defendant in a civil action, including bankruptcy or foreclosure or had a restraining order issued against you? If so, please explain. No
Why are you running for this office and what specifically makes you a better candidate than your opponent(s)?
I ran and continue to run for Congress because I believe that one person can make a difference. From fighting climate change to expanding health care access, preventing gun violence to reducing income inequality, racial injustice, and providing greater economic opportunity for all Americans, we have a lot of work to do– and I intend to continue to advance these important goals with my voice and my vote. We also need to address the extremist Republican attacks on our democracy and women’s rights. Republicans have provided no solutions to America’s pressing problems. In fact, they have made them worse. The last thing we need is to adopt their plans to raise taxes and sunset Medicare and Social Security. I’ll continue to tackle every one of those threats and challenges in Washington, including pursuing policies that attack income and racial inequality and promoting greater participation in our democracy. My work ethic, experience and colleagues’ respect allowed me to leverage this Congressional seat into a position that gives my South Florida constituents the additional influence that comes with holding an Appropriations’ Committee chairmanship on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, as well as a Chief Deputy Whip position within House Leadership. I am campaigning on my strong record of making life better for folks back home, including delivering nearly $1.5 billion for Everglades restoration in the last year. This isn’t about my opponents; it’s about doing the hard work in Congress and getting results for South Florida.
What are the three most important issues facing this congressional district?
The top issues facing our nation are preserving our democracy, lowering health and energy costs, environmental sustainability, and addressing gun violence and threats to women’s reproductive rights.
Our democracy is at risk from internal and external forces. At the state level, led by our Governor, we see gerrymandered districts, voter and academic suppression including book bans, unprecedented attacks on our LGBTQ+ community, and an all-out assault on the free press. Federally, led by Trump, we have: a polarizing Supreme Court who prioritizes right-wing ideology over individual freedom, a large number of elected officials who refuse to accept the results of a free and fair election, and a propaganda network that fans the flames of autocracy. Staying silent is not an option. I will continue to speak out and promote legislation to bolster our democracy, such as HR 1 and HR 4 to counter these threats.
Secondly, with the threat of climate change and sea level rise, we must work on adaptability strategies for our coastal communities and invest significantly in clean, renewable sources of energy. We simply cannot leave this problem for the next generation to solve on their own.
Another top policy priority is combating the extremist Republican assaults on women’s reproductive rights. Women should not be forced into pregnancy by the government. This is a decision between a woman, her doctor, and her family. The same extremist Republicans who confiscated these rights are the same ones who put gun profits over public safety. The proliferation of guns has resulted in gun deaths being the leading killer of our children, and the extremist gun policies dictated by NRA-obedient Republican leaders defy the widespread public desire for reforms. The Safer Communities Act will save lives, but we must ban assault weapons, pass safe storage laws, and expand background checks.
Did Joe Biden legitimately win the 2020 presidential election? Elaborate.
YES. There is no evidence – zero — of any fraud or inaccurate results of any consequence to invalidate the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. The election was free and fair. The Republicans fallacious claims were thrown out for lack evidence in all 64 courts that they filed suits, many in front of Republican or Trump appointed judges. For those who continue to believe or promote the ‘Big Lie,” they are misinformed, delusional, or purposely lying to maintain political power at the expense of our democracy.
Should state legislatures be able to choose their own slates of electors, absent any evidence of fraud? Elaborate.
Absolutely not. They would be abandoning their responsibility as an elector representing the voters in each state. We now know Trump pressured his Vice President and state election officials to ignore the will of the people and overturn the 2020 Election. Modest to substantial reforms are needed to prevent this from occurring again. Ultimately, we must work to get rid of the entire antiquated process, including the elimination of the electoral college. Let a leader be selected by popular vote to raise participation rates and ensure every vote in America counts equally. In response to threats to our democracy since the 2020 Presidential election, Congress should pass bipartisan-supported reforms to the Electoral Count Act.
Do you support or oppose statehood for Washington, D.C., and why?
I support statehood for DC and Puerto Rico and am a co-sponsor of the legislation to hold a binding plebiscite in Puerta Rico. Both have sacrificed long enough by paying taxes and fighting for our nation in the armed services. Not having a voice in our representative democracy in the US Congress is discriminatory and must be rectified.
Do you support or oppose a national minimum wage of $15 an hour, and why?
I strongly support a $15 minimum wage and my voting record indicates that support. We must ensure hard working Americans can earn a living wage, especially when we have inflationary pressures from a war and rising transportation costs. The wealth gap is real and substantial. And the raising of the minimum wage is a tool we should use to help shrink it.
Do you support or oppose the Judiciary Act of 2021, which would expand the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13 members, and why?
I do support the expansion of the court. Nine is not a magic number, the court has changed in size historically, and the current figure is not in the Constitution. With our growth as a nation, we must expand the court to ensure it is representative of the diverse views of the American tapestry. The current court has issued recent opinions on guns and women’s rights that are diametrically in conflict with the values of the vast majority of Americans. A diverse and expanded court would help eliminate opinions that are based on an out-of-touch, minority viewpoint.
Do you support the limited steps President Obama took with respect to Cuba, in particular the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program? Do you think the long-term U.S. trade embargo has been effective with respect to the Cuban regime’s conduct?
A relationship with the United States and any relaxation of sanctions must be earned. The Cuban pro-democracy movement needs America’s unwavering support, and the Biden Administration’s recent reinstatement of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, while also opting to maintain the State Department’s Cuba Restricted List, will undoubtedly aid that fight for freedom. That’s why last November, I led the effort in Congress to successfully pass a resolution sending a clear message that the House stands in solidarity with the Cuban people, condemning the Cuban regime’s repressive acts, and calling for the swift release of its arbitrarily detained citizens. I also introduced legislation to resume the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which allows eligible Cuban Americans to bring loved ones to the United States while they wait for their visas. However, I remain unconvinced that easing group travel restrictions – even with new post-trip audits – will truly weaken this regime’s oppressive policies. In fact, it may enrich the Díaz-Canel dictatorship at a time when its Kremlin paymaster faces economic ruin. Our focus must remain on supporting Cuban human rights, ending this regime’s grinding racial, labor and LGBTQ+ discrimination, and demanding the immediate release of its political prisoners. That includes the Biden Administration’s efforts to increase the island’s access to U.S. internet services and continuing to block the enrichment of the Cuban military and other human rights abusers through remittance payments. With Putin’s overreach in Ukraine, history has opened a door for freedom in Cuba. It is crucial that America feed that democracy movement so that it blooms in the widening cracks where an enfeebled Vladimir Putin can no longer prop up Cuba’s brutal despots. Whether it’s Caracas, Havana or Kyiv, America’s policies must defend democracy’s front lines, and I will work with and press the Biden Administration to do that.
Do you oppose or support the Biden Administration decision to extend temporary protected status for only some of the Venezuelan expatriates in the U.S.?
First, it must be acknowledged that President Trump refused to offer any temporary protected status designation to any Venezuelan in America. Thankfully, President Biden did not deny this layer of vital protection to our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. In fact, President Biden recently ensured that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who fled the brutal Maduro regime can continue to receive a critical shield of political protection and personal peace of mind. Thanks to President Biden, Venezuelans will not be forced to return to an unstable and unsafe homeland. By extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans who arrived before March 8th of last year, we can ensure these Venezuelans do not suffer under the murderous, despotic Maduro narco-regime. While I’m pleased about this essential extension, I will continue to strongly urge the President to offer that same refuge to Venezuelans who arrived after that same date, because nothing has changed in Venezuela. In fact, it has only gotten worse. They too live with the same fear of being forced to return to Maduro’s brutal and repressive state, and their safety is just as vital as we all work to restore democracy and peace to Venezuela.
(Democratic candidates only) Should Joe Biden run for re-election in 2024, and why?
If Joe Biden decides to seek another term, I will be one of his staunchest advocates. His presidency has experienced many unprecedented challenges. From ending the pandemic by getting shots in arms, and battling the supply side shortages that it triggered, to rallying global support behind confronting a war in Europe led by an autocratic despot, his record is brave and bold. He subdued the pandemic and kept Main Street and City Hall operating while safely re-opening schools. President Biden has used the executive branch to confront climate change and protect women’s rights, not eliminate them as we have seen from a far-right Supreme Court. Ultimately, it will be his decision to make. But if he decides to seek another term, count me in.
As a candidate, have you completed a questionnaire for the National Rifle Association or any affiliated organizations? If so, what rating did they give to you?
NO, I have never filled out a questionnaire, but I am proud of the F-rating I have consistently received on their annual scorecards. I am also pleased to have the endorsement of gun safety advocacy groups such as the Brady Campaign and Giffords.
Describe in detail one demographic, economic or social factor about your congressional district that sets it apart from all others.
Diversity. District 25 represents a very diverse populace, a cultural cornucopia comprised of minorities fleeing from tyranny, young families trying to achieve the American dream, and a senior population who actively participates in the political process, in part, a continuation of prior activism and because their lives depend on it. We have multiple faiths and residents from Latin America, the Caribbean, and a large Jewish population. Our strength is our diversity. Unlike some leaders, we take pride in, celebrate, and admire our cultural differences — we don’t reject them.
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