Thursday, August 22, 2013

Better know a politician: Raul Grijalva

Name: Raul Grijalva

Current position: Congressman

District: Arizona's 3rd Congressional District (AZ-3)

Political Party: Democratic (D)

Previous position: Member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors (1989-2002)

Tenure: 2003-present

Future position: Due to his age and ethnicity in the usual conservatism of Arizona, as a whole, it is unlikely for Grijalva to run for Senate or for the Governor's mansion. Grijalva could potentially be nominated as a Secretary of Education in a liberal presidency but if there is a Republican president, it is unlikely Grijalva could muster the nomination.

Previous election: Raul Grijalva (D): 58% Gabriela Saucedo Mercer 37%

Next election: Grijalva will run for the House of Representatives in November of 2014.

Leadership: House Committee on Education and the Workforce

House Committee on Natural Resources

Fundraising, 2014 cycle, source: OpenSecrets:
Raised: $140,580
Spent: $90,534
Cash on hand: $57,912
Debts: $8,399

Top contributors, source: OpenSecrets:

  1. American Federation of Teachers: $10,000
  2. United Food and Commercial Workers Union: $10,000
  3. Carpenters Union: $5,000
  4. Communications Workers of America: $5,000
  5. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $5,000


Abortion. Grijalva has been given a 100% rating from the NARAL, indicating his pro-choice record. He has also received a 0% rating by the NRLC, which indicates that he is almost an opponent of the pro-life way of life. He voted against the partial-birth abortion act. He has also voted to do more research with stem cells. He has also worked on legislation that let the military perform abortions in the case of rape or incest. He has also been an advocate for ensuring access and funding for contraception. During the Affordable Care Act debate, he was critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which would have placed limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the final law. He has also worked on legislation that requires pharmacies to refill and stock contraception. Finally, he worked on providing easier access to rape kits and to use more rape kit analysis.

Animal Rights/Welfare. Grijalva has been given a 100% rating from the Humane Society, indicating his pro-animal welfare stances. He has earned that by trying to regulate that all dog breeders' kennels are brought down to a maximum of 50 dogs. He wants to prohibit the invasive research on great apes. He is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1998, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act which would prohibit the breeding and possession of big cats. He also signed onto the letter I wrote to the Thai Prime Minister which urges the Prime Minister of Thailand to change animal welfare laws to help end the illicit dog trade across Thailand's borders.

Budget and the economy. Grijalva is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). As such, he has taken a role in producing the CPC's alternative budgets which are budget bills that are not officially offered by the majority or minority parties. In 2011, they introduced the People's Budget, which would reach a balanced budget within 10 years, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This budget was approved by Paul Krugman. In 2012, he helped to introduce the Budget for All, which is similar to the People's Budget but also includes a small personal wealth tax above $10 million that would be phased in a period of five years. He was also a vocal critic of the Paul Ryan budget.

Grijalva voted for all of the bailouts, indicating that he does believe that government spending can effectively stimulate the economy. He favors cutting defense spending in order to balance the budget, although he does not believe that balancing the budget should be a legislative priority. He does not believe that cutting spending on social programs such as Medicare will just hurt more.

He believes that the richest two percent should start paying its fair share of taxes and end the subsidies/tax cuts that the wealthiest in the country have enjoyed. While some will characterize his stance as socialist or even socialist-communist. He has received a 100% rating from the Citizens for Tax Justice showing that he is for progressive taxation.

He does support targeted tax cuts for small businesses if/when they make sense and increase employment.

Civil Rights. Grijalva has received a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, indicating that he has a pro-gay-rights stance. The reason he has received this rating. He has voted on ending discrimination based on sexual orientation; he has also co-sponsored H.R. 1755, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013. He has co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity or sexual orientation in public schools. He has, additionally, voted against the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. He also helped to introduce a House Resolution that would commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots. He also supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and supported the reinstatement of gays who were kicked out of the military. He worked on enforcing against anti-gay hate crimes.

He was endorsed as preferred by the Feminist Majority indicating his pro-women rights stance. He voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. He has introduced a Constitutional Amendment for women's equal rights. He voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and has worked on legislation to enforce against wage discrimination based on gender. He also has worked to reinforce and strengthen equal pay and anti-discrimination requirements.

He helped to issue a commemorative stamp celebrating Rosa Parks. He received a 100% rating from the NAACP indicating that he has a pro-affirmative action stance. He has also worked on a resolution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.

He voted against the Constitutional amendment which would have prohibited flag burning. He voted “no” on “saving” the Pledge of Allegiance.

For those concerned about civil liberties, he did vote against making the PATRIOT Act permanent. He voted against extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps. He did vote for requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in the United States and voted against allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant.

Grijalva does not support the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United. He was critical of Governor Mitt Romney's statement that corporations are people. He doesn't think corporations are people nor does he believe that money equals speech.

NORML gave Grijalva a +10 rating, indicating that he has a pro-drug reform stance. He has worked to end harsher sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine. He would like to expunge records for first time drug offenders after probation. He would like to introduce a clean needle program by distributing sterile syringes. He would also like to legalize industrial hemp.

Grijalva has worked to increase the federal funding for public schools and has received a 92% rating from the National Educators Association which indicates his support for public education and educators. He believes that basic equity and fair resource allocation should be left to the federal government, such as Title 9 for students with disabilities, Title 1 support for children from low income families, and support for English as a Second Language programs.

Grijalva has been an environmental ally. He has worked to stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, permanently. He has worked to prevent offshore drilling by voting against any legislation that requires drilling on the Continental Shelf. He has voted to keeping the offshore drilling moratorium and voted against the Bush Cheney energy policy. He has voted to remove the oil and gas subsidies.

Grijalva has supported the cap and trade proposal that was brought up in the House. He has also voted for tax credits for green energy and to fund investment in homegrown biofuels. He believes that climate change is man-made. He believes that EPA should regulate greenhouse gases. He would like to see that environmental regulations were strengthened and enforced. He has tried to set a goal of 25% of our energy being renewable energy by 2025. He also believes that states should be able to define their own tougher than federal gas emission standards.

Foreign Policy. He has voted against restricting the United States' contribution to the United Nations. He has advocated for creating a new Department of the Government which would be called the Department of Peace and Nonviolence. He has tried to establish the acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide in the early 1900s as official policy. He wants to establish a Afghanistan-Pakistan study group to determine an exit strategy. He would like to ease the Israeli border on Gaza. He would like to allow travel between the United States and Cuba.

He was critical of the Iraqi War, where he called for an impeachment of both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. He also worked to defund the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan. He has been supportive of troop removal from Afghanistan. He also voted no to banning armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval.

Free Trade. Grijalva has voted against free trade agreements that have been brought up since he was elected to Congress. He has also voted to help assist workers who lose jobs due to globalization. He opposes the most favored nation status for China based on a condition of human rights.

Gun Control. He was one of the 67 co-sponsors of H.R. 1022, the 2007 Assault Weapons Ban and laregly because of that he has an F rating from the NRA. He would like to close the gun show loophole and to restrict show sales. He would like to ban the common practice of firearms dealers who lose their license to hold a large sale where they sell all of their firearms. He would also like to ban large capacity ammunition.

Health care. Grijalva is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He also voted to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program, multiple times. He worked on trying to make health care a right, not a privilege.

Immigration. He voted no on building a fence along the Mexican border. He was one of the most vocal critics of SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law that allowed police officers to check immigration papers for suspicious individuals. Grijalva has also been critical of the armed volunteers who are armed along the Mexican border. He accused them of being racist and they did shout racial epithets in their defense. Grijalva called for political, business, legal, and activist groups not to hold their conferences in Arizona afer the signing of SB 1070. Republican groups responded with bumper stickers calling for a boycott of Grijalva. He was also critical of 1,200 National Guard troops who were deployed along the Mexican border, of whom, Grijalva called was merely political symbolism.

He has been a supporter of the DREAM Act and has proposed his own border security bill. He proposed the Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009, which prioritizes remote cameras and other border monitoring techniques with a small environmental impact.

Labor. Grijalva is a supporter of labor unions. I've been to a committee hearing where Grijalva was openly critical of witnesses who were anti-union. He has received a 100% rating from the AFL-CIO, which shows his pro-union record. He voted to allow a Air Traffic Controllers Union. He has also advocated to form unions by card-check instead of secret ballot.

Technology. He voted against terminating funding for National Public Radio. He has worked to permanently ban on state and local taxation of internet access.

Welfare. He voted against the work requirement for welfare recipient. He does support school breakfast for low-income children and would like to extend unemployment compensation during the recession. 

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