The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from Beto O’Rourke, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide Questionnaire. O’Rourke is running against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz and Libertarian Neal M. Dikeman in November.
U.S. Representative (TX-16-El Paso)
What is your educational background?
B.A. in English Literature, Columbia University
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
I am a member of Congress, representing the 16th Congressional district. I serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. I have worked on and passed legislation to improve services for veterans and service members, including expanding mental health care access. Before Congress, I served on the El Paso City Council for six years, working on issues like infrastructure, mass transit, city planning and economic development.
Why did you decide to run for the U.S. Senate?
After the 2016 Presidential election, my wife Amy and I asked ourselves how we were going to talk about the outcome of the race with our children and what we could do to ensure our country stayed true to its values and the values we are raising them to believe in. I am running for Senate because our state deserves an accountable, full-time, full-service Senator who will represent all 28 million Texans and work tirelessly for our state to ensure that every single one of us has the opportunity to live to our full potential.
Would you vote to end the NSA's domestic surveillance program? Why or why not?
I do not believe the NSA should be able to spy on Americans without probable cause or a warrant.
Do you plan to host any town halls during your first term in office?
As a member of Congress, I hold public town hall meetings every month where any constituent can attend, ask questions, offer ideas, criticize me and in doing so hold me accountable and ensure that I am responsive to those whom I represent and serve. I’ve had 101 since 2013. I will continue to hold monthly town halls as a Senator.
When redistricting is set to occur, how should the process be conducted?
I believe we should have a non-partisan, non-politician redistricting commission that ends the practice of racial gerrymandering that has drawn people out of their democracy based on their race and ethnicity.
Do you support new campaign finance limits? Why or why not?
I want to get big money out of Washington and ensure legislation isn’t written by corporations or the highest bidder. This begins with preventing politicians from accepting money from Political Action Committees (PACs) and returning power to the people. That’s why I introduced the No PAC Act, which would prevent congressional candidates and members of Congress from taking money from PACs and establishing a Leadership PAC.
Do you support term limits?
Yes. I co-chair the Term Limits Caucus in Congress and have worked with members of both parties to introduce legislation that would set term limits for members of Congress. I have also committed to serving no more than two terms if I am elected to the U.S. Senate.
Would you vote for any budget that would increase the federal deficit?
The national debt is a critical issue for America’s future. Last year, Congress passed a tax bill that will add $2 trillion to the national debt and jeopardize programs like Medicare and Social Security. We have choices about how we tax and spend. Congress should spend less on tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and instead invest in education, healthcare, jobs, and infrastructure. These investments will not only benefit working Texans, but pay dividends over the long term, growing the economy and enabling us to pay down the debt.
Would you support any legislation that would prohibit the use, manufacturing, ownership or carrying of firearms?
Texas has a proud and honorable tradition of responsible gun ownership. That shared heritage means that our state should lead the way in preserving the Second Amendment while working together to ensure people can live without fear of gun violence in their communities. That’s why I support common-sense legislation to require universal background checks on all firearm purchases.
Would you support legislation aimed to audit the Federal Reserve?
I do not support legislation that would introduce an auditing mechanism over the monetary policy decisions of the Federal Reserve. Political meddling in the independence of the central bank is dangerous and could damage the ability of the Fed to respond to future crises.
Would you support the use of military force without a declaration of war?
Congress has avoided its responsibility to provide oversight for the wars the U.S. is fighting around the world, a responsibility outlined by our founders in the very first article of the Constitution. We’re at war in six countries right now and fighting enemies that didn’t exist when Congress authorized the global war on terrorism following 9/11. If we are to continue putting our service members in harm’s way, Congress owes the American people a debate and a vote to give guidance to our military on who we should be fighting and where.
Do you support net neutrality?
I support net neutrality and believe it is important to ensure free and open access to the internet for everyone. After starting a small tech business, I understand the importance of this policy. That’s why I have joined efforts to block the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality and would support legislation to codify net neutrality in the future.
How are you better prepared than your opponent(s) to step into this role?
We are not running this campaign against anything, anyone, or any party. We are running for Texas and the United States of America. We are running so that our state can take the lead in getting after the big, bold, aspirational work of this country -- so that Texas can be a bridge over the smallness, the pettiness, the fear that dominates so much of our politics. Before we are Republicans or Democrats, we are Texans, we are Americans, we are human beings. If there were ever a time to demonstrate that, it is now. That’s the place we will start when it comes to ensuring everyone can see a doctor, work a job that pays a living wage, send their kids to a world-class public school and finally achieve equal justice under law.
Are you supported by any political action committees? If so, which ones?
Our campaign doesn’t take money from any PACs, special interests or corporations.
Why should voters choose you in 2018?
I want Texas, the most uninsured state in the country to lead the way in not only safeguarding protections for those with pre-existing conditions but guaranteeing universal high-quality healthcare for every man, woman and child in this state. I want us to have the backs of our heroic public school teachers by allowing them to teach to children and not standardized tests, and ensuring that public tax dollars are not taken out of our classrooms and turned into vouchers. I want to make sure every Texan is able to work a job that pays a living wage. That means all Texans who are ready to work should be able to receive the education and training to be competitive. I want the most diverse state in the country to lead the way on not only stopping the walls and putting an end to family separation, but rewriting our immigration laws in our own image. I want Texas to help reform our criminal justice system by ending mandatory minimums, the war on drugs that has become a war on people, the private prison complex, the prohibition on marijuana, and the cash bail system. Ultimately, I want to make sure that everyone has a chance to succeed and that everyone is treated with respect and dignity.