The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress, which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—constitutes the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.The composition and powers of the Senate are established by Article One of the United States Constitution. The Senate is composed of senators, each of whom represents a single state in its entirety. Each state, regardless of its population size, is equally represented by two senators who serve staggered terms of six years. There being at present 50 states in the Union, there are currently 100 senators. From 1789 to 1913, senators were appointed by legislatures of the states they represented; they are now elected by popular vote, following the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.As the upper chamber of Congress, the Senate has several powers of advice and consent which are unique to it. These include the approval of treaties, and the confirmation of Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices, federal judges, flag officers, regulatory officials, ambassadors, other federal executive officials and other federal uniformed officers. In addition to these, in cases wherein no candidate receives a majority of electors for vice president, the duty falls to the Senate to elect one of the top two recipients of electors for that office. Furthermore, the Senate has the responsibility of conducting the trials of those impeached by the House.
The Voting Rights Act honors the sacrifices of civil rights leaders and activists who put their lives and bodies on the line to fight for the fundamental right to vote. Unfortunately, far too many Americans—particularly in communities of color—continue to face unnecessary and discriminatory barriers to the ballot box. Addressing these challenges begins by restoring the Voting Rights Act and ensuring that voting is accessible to every American. The country is witnessing a spread of voter suppression laws sweep across the country. I am committed to modernizing and strengthening the Voting Rights Act through further legislative efforts.
In addition to supporting numerous common sense gun safety measures, I have also worked to address the root causes of gun violence, namely trauma, poverty and lack of economic opportunity, and health disparities. For example, I worked across the aisle to pass legislation in 2018 to increase funding for school and community efforts to address trauma. I also brought together the 10 largest hospitals serving Chicago to help reduce gun violence and address the 16-year gap in life expectancy between just a few stops on the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line in Chicago. This effort encourages hospitals to address health disparities and the lack of opportunities in their communities through local hiring and investment, community programming, and health initiatives.
Congress and the federal government need to implement a significant, comprehensive clean electricity and transportation plan to reduce carbon emissions through a combination of regulations and investments to help transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy. I have introduced legislation to stimulate growth and create jobs by making significant investments in clean energy projects while providing assistance to help workers and families with a fair transition. The bill also would reward farmers and facilities that verifiably capture or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These investments would be funded by a carbon fee that will help us reach the goal of a zero carbon emission economy.
I am a cosponsor of a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College system and restore democracy by allowing the direct election of presidents through popular vote alone. The Electoral College is a relic from a shameful period in our nation’s history that allows some votes to carry greater weight than others. In all but five presidential elections, the winner of the election received the most votes. A zip code should not silence some voters while amplifying others. This constitutional amendment would address this inequality by abolishing the outdated Electoral College system. Specifically, the constitutional amendment would provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States by a popular vote.
In 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder, the US Supreme Court invalidated a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The justices of our nation’s highest court concluded that section 4(b) was no longer necessary. The provision mandated federal oversight of election laws in states with a “history of discriminatory practices”. However, recent voting history and turnout models showed that minority voters were on par or exceed the turnout of white voters in many of the areas that had been designated under federal watch by section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Provision 4(b) used outdated data and targeted states like Alabama which in 1964 showed a nearly 50% gap in racial disparity when it came to voting. By 2004, that had been reduced to 0.9% and by 2012 black turnout in Alabama was 3.5% higher than white turnout according to the Census. In short, provision 4(b) is unnecessary today as there are more pressing issues at hand with regards to voting, like gerrymandering and voter fraud.
I taught Constitutional law for many years. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, which includes the 2nd Amendment was given to the people to protect them from the government. Courts have consistently held that the 2nd Amendment applies to individuals. In order to pass new gun laws a legislature must show a compelling interest and that they have exercised the legislation in the least restrictive manner possible. A 2nd Amendment case will likely require “strict scrutiny” in reviewing the proposed legislation. Hence, absent a Constitutional Amendment many proposed laws are not constitutional. However, I think it is important to get guns out of the hands of mentally ill and dangerous individuals. This type of legislation cannot be vague, nor can it be arbitrarily applied as many proposed Red Flag laws currently read. I would support and help draft legislation directed at the mentally ill as well as dangerous but Due Process protections must be clear.
I support the continued study of climate change. The Earth has undergone changes for as long as we know. I am not convinced that climate change is currently a threat to humankind. However, humans have suffered the negative effects of prior misuse of the planet. Although I do not believe the dire warnings that the end of the earth is imminent, we are still called to be good stewards. We can work to develop cleaner alternative fuel sources. The EPA serves an important purpose. Corporate polluters should be prosecuted and sent to prison. We need to protect our water supply. We need to continue to spend money to research climate issues and what can be done to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. I am not a denier. The big questions should be the same for all Americans whether they believe this or not. What is man’s role in contributing to the change of the climate? What corrective behavior should be taken?
I'm against the election of the President and Vice President by direct popular vote. The Electoral College is a cornerstone of our Constitutional Republic. It ensures that the voices of the minority are not silenced by that of the majority. In Article 2, Section 1, the portion describing the Electoral College is longer and more detailed than any other issue mentioned within the Constitution, including War Powers and Taxation. For those who argue that the Electoral College is a remnant of slavery, keep in mind that Abraham Lincoln earned only 39% of the popular vote in 1860 but won the Electoral College. We wouldn't have ended slavery without Lincoln. Federalism is a huge part of what separates us from other nations and the Electoral College is a symbol and integral part of that federalism. Doing away with the Electoral College and instituting a direct popular vote for President and Vice President would be ignorant of our very founding.
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I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court decision that found that some parts of this landmark Act no longer need to be enforced. I wholeheartedly support the restoration of the voting rights act of 1965.
At a minimum we need to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and institute universal background checks. As recent events have demonstrated, we need to limit "open carry" and place as many restrictions on guns as courts will allow. However, much of gun violence is a symptom of underlying social problems like poor education and and job opportunities. We need to re-direct wasteful military spending to try to address these underlying causes.
Clearly we are on the wrong course. Withdrawing from climate treaties is a great mistake. We need a "Green New Deal" to create jobs in pollution control, planting of trees, and renewable energy.
I strongly favor direct election. We have now seen two recent instances where the popular choice of the voters did not win the electorial college.
I don't believe action from the federal government is necessary. I am a proponent of states, counties, and cities making the voting process as easy and available as possible.
As a candidate for federal office, I oppose all federal gun legislation because the federal government does not have the Constitutional authority. Especially for women, the elderly, and the disabled, firearms provide an equality in their ability to defend their lives. One realistic way we can immediately minimize gun violence is by ending the federal government's war on drugs. Not only does prohibition not work, but it increases gang and territory violence just as it did in the 1920s and just as it still does in inner cities and along the border.
I care about the environment, that's why I don't want the government in charge of it. Taking care of the environment starts with individual responsibility, not the federal government. This requires a sacrifice that many people aren't willing to make, especially those yelling the loudest about climate change alarmism. When it comes to larger environmental factors such as waste, dumping, and/or pollution, we need to rely on the court system rather than big government solutions out of Congress.
The United States is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. I oppose a direct popular vote because majority rule is mob rule. The electoral college is a concept that was very forward looking and representative of all people throughout the United States, not just the few densely populated cities in the country.
What really needs to be fixed is the ballot access laws in Illinois. Did you know that for U.S. Senate, Libertarian candidate are required to obtain 25,000 signatures just to appear on a ballot, compared to just 5,000 needed by Republicans and Democrats. And did you know that most Libertarian U.S. House candidates are required to obtain about 15,000 signatures compared to just 1,000 needed by Republicans and Democrats? We need fair elections in Illinois, we need ballot access reform.