Bachelor's degree, political studies and education, Pitzer College/Claremont Colleges, 2003.
Member, California State Senate, 2010-present, and Senate President Pro Tempore 2014-present; member, California State Assembly, 2006-10; advocate, public schools.
Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, more than 200,000 children have been impacted by gun violence. Public safety in our communities has been compromised by a lack of sensible legislation to enact gun controls at the federal level. Unlike the incumbent, I would have introduced an assault weapons ban every single year, instead of waiting for the opportune moment to arrive. As Senate leader, I moved a package of bills that made assembling unregistered firearms illegal, banned the sale of certain semiautomatic rifles, and banned large-capacity magazines. But one issue that has been completely ignored by Congress is the regulation of ammunition. California law now requires ammunition vendors to obtain a state license to sell ammunition, requires that they log information about ammunition transactions, and requires background checks on ammunition purchasers at the point of sale. I would author similar legislation at the federal level to lead the conversation on regulating ammunition.
The guiding principle of our health care system must be that health care is a basic human right and that all Americans, regardless of their employment or income, deserve high-quality health care. The best approach to achieving this vision is to move forward with a Medicare-for-All health care system. In Congress, my very first priority will be to co-sponsor this legislation and work tirelessly to ensure it becomes law, because it is a national disgrace that millions of Americans still lack health insurance, and too many of those who have it can barely afford to use it.
For nearly 30 years, Washington has done nothing to help bring 11 million people out of the shadows. Instead, politicians in both parties have demonized immigrants—who helped build this country—for electoral gain. When President Trump rescinded DACA, I negotiated $30 million investment to assist the nearly 250,000 Dreamers in California with legal services and safety net funding. I support DACA and Dreamers. Last year we passed SB 54, to prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security departments, from using local resources to perform the job of the federal government. Congress has failed to help Dreamers in this country. Deportations have caused suffering in our immigrant communities, tearing families apart, endangering our children, and hurting our economy. I am proud that in California we are standing up to the Trump administration’s attempt to target our vulnerable communities, and in D.C. I will fight against inhumane practices and policies.
Federal policies — including tax reform — should help those who need it most, including low- and modest-income working-class families that have been hard hit by the economic trends of recent decades. The Trump/GOP tax cut was a travesty. It cut taxes at the top and offered fuzzy promises to everyone else. The Trump plan does little for the working class. Instead, Congress should be advocating for (1) a major Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion to fix the flaw for workers not raising children and then raise the maximum EITC amount for all groups, and (2) an increase to the Child Tax Credit especially for young children. The EITC and CTC encourage work and would have large poverty-reducing effects.
Now that the voters of California have spoken to overwhelmingly pass Proposition 64, I think California should push to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level to permit states to make their own decisions on the matter. The federal law creates criminal liability and banking challenges to implementing Prop. 64. Continuing a fruitless war on drugs like cannabis is a threat to our public safety, hurts thriving businesses, and fans the flames of racial disparity in our criminal justice system. I would co-sponsor Senator Booker's legislation to legalize and de-schedule cannabis at the federal level.
At a time when Social Security is under near-constant threat from Republicans in Congress, we must say loudly and clearly that every American deserves to retire with dignity and security, and that means expanding, not cutting, Social Security. In California, I successfully passed legislation – over the intense opposition of Wall St. lobbyists – to create a first-in-the-nation retirement savings program for millions of private-sector workers in California without access to workplace retirement plans. The program is a vital supplement to Social Security income, which for too many Americans is not enough to pay the bills and put food on the table. I will do all I can to not only protect but strengthen Social Security for all Americans. As for Medicare – it ought to be expanded to cover every single American, because our current health care system is insufficient.
Bachelor's degree, Stanford University, 1955.
U.S. Senator, 1992-present; mayor, San Francisco, 1978-88; member, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, 1970-78.
I became Mayor of San Francisco as the product of assassination, when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were murdered at City Hall in 1978. When I found Milk’s body at City Hall, I could smell the gunpowder. I tried to find Harvey’s pulse and instead put my finger in a bullet hole. So I know from firsthand experience about the violence that only guns can inflict on our fellow Californians. After a mass shooting at a San Francisco law firm in 1993, I authored the landmark Assault Weapons Ban which banned military-style firearms from 1994 to 2004. Over that decade, the number of gun massacres fell by 37% and the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43%. In November, I introduced a new Assault Weapons Ban and will also continue to sponsor sensible gun legislation, including: closing the gun-show loophole, holding arms manufacturers accountable, raising the minimum age to purchase firearms and preventing those on the terrorist watch list from buying a gun.
I am not currently a supporter of the single-payer proposal in the Senate as it does not yet provide a cost estimate and how it would raise the necessary revenues. But I am a strong advocate for universal health care, and with my colleagues in the Senate, stopped four Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Currently, 38.5 million Californians have some form of health coverage, and I will do everything I can to make sure that coverage remains. In 2009, when we were considering the Affordable Care Act, I sponsored legislation to create a public option to compete with private health insurance, which I continue to support. I also support lowering the age for Medicare eligibility to 55, mandating that Medicare negotiates for drug prices, which it currently does not, allowing HHS to reject unreasonable premium increases and requiring 85% of all premium dollars to go to patients, instead of 80%.
We are a state and a nation of immigrants, and I strongly oppose Donald Trump’s attacks on our immigrant communities and believe we must have comprehensive immigration reform. I support the DREAM Act and DACA, which is why I opposed the recent omnibus spending package that did not include protections for Dreamers. I also strongly oppose President Trump’s unjust and unconstitutional travel ban and have authored legislation to rescind the president's executive orders that created those bans. I was proud to work closely with Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers to author the Agricultural Worker Program Act to put farmworkers on a path to earned legal status and citizenship. We must come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, assistance for immigrant members of the armed services and their families, visa reform, backlog reduction, and family humanitarian relief.
I opposed the Trump tax law, as it provides huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy that will increase our budget deficit and result in large cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. It also removed the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which has the potential to raise health insurance rates for Californians. The tax law also raises taxes on Californians by eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, a deduction claimed by more than 6 million California households. Unfortunately, most of the law’s tax benefits go to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. And while the law’s tax reductions for corporations are permanent, the tax reduction for the middle class is only temporary. Instead, I support protecting Americans’ health care and providing tax relief for working and middle-class Californians by expanding access to and increasing the value of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
Washington should respect the will of California voters, who passed Proposition 64 in 2016. I oppose Attorney General Sessions' and the Trump administration's efforts to re-criminalize what is legal under California law.
Medicare and Social Security are the backbone of our social safety net and must be protected and preserved. I have opposed and will continue to oppose efforts to privatize and/or eliminate these critical programs. I am a proud co-sponsor of the Protection of Social Security Benefits Restoration Act, which would repeal a 1996 change in law that allowed earned Social Security benefits to be garnished to collect federal debts like student loans. We must guarantee beneficiaries the ability to maintain a basic standard of living by receiving the benefits they have earned. I also support expanding the Medicare eligibility age to 55 to help improve competition in our health insurance markets and ensure more Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. And I support mandating that Medicare negotiate with drug companies to lower prices for people on Medicare.