Education and Labor
A quality public education is a powerful force for economic and social mobility. As Chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, I am working to expand opportunities for people of all backgrounds. We must close the equity gap for students of color, who continue to face disparate outcomes in our public education system.
The Trump administration has been undermining, rather than protecting, the civil rights of students and workers. I take seriously the obligation of Congress to advance equity, hold institutions accountable, and provide meaningful oversight of the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the Trump administration. I will fight for all students and workers so they can learn and work in safe, inclusive, and welcoming environments.
All Americans should be free from discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I have long advocated for LGBTQ rights. I’ve challenged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reinstate protections for transgender students, and I’m leading the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, which would update the Older Americans Act to strengthen safeguards for LGBT elders.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Equality Act, H.R. 5, to amend our civil rights laws to clarify that prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sex includes prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Elections and Access to Voting
The right to vote is the core of our democracy, and it is critical that all Americans who qualify to vote have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the polls. For too long our nation did not allow minorities to vote; even after that right was afforded to all Americans, many jurisdictions engaged in shameful practices that effectively made it impossible for many citizens to exercise their rights.
In the 1960’s, the Voting Rights Act gave all citizens equal access to our election process, regardless of race. In the 1970’s, The Federal Election Campaign Act brought a new era of transparency and accountability in campaign finance, and thirty years later Congress passed the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to rid the system of unchecked corporate soft-money.
But the right of all citizens to fully participate in our democracy is under threat in ways we haven’t seen since the civil rights and post-Watergate eras. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision undermined that intent. There is no question that Citizens United has harmed our democracy, and it must be overturned. The Supreme Court further undermined voting rights by overturning key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, making it easier for states and localities to implement discriminatory practices that block access to the ballot box.
Voter suppression efforts and voter identification laws often restrict access for minority, military, disabled, and low-income voters, as well as seniors and college students. I am also deeply concerned about potential foreign interference in elections.
I am a strong supporter of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which addresses campaign finance reform, voting rights, election security, accountability for government officials, and more. It includes many of the voting provisions that Oregonians have already adopted and appreciate, helping states across the country follow Oregon’s lead by expanding automatic voter registration, online registration, having paper ballots, and vote-by-mail to make it easier for millions of people to exercise their right to vote.
Access to Justice
Our democracy relies on an accessible and effective justice system to adjudicate rights and wrongs. When I was in law school, I helped low-income families access quality legal advice through Legal Aid. More than 60 million Americans qualify for legal assistance programs, and these attorneys assist the most vulnerable in our society, including military veterans seeking disability benefits, women seeking protection from their abusers, and families facing unlawful evictions. I have fought hard for full funding for Legal Aid, and I oppose efforts to eliminate funding for these vital programs.
More on Civil Rights
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat from Beaverton, said it's time for Congress to extend anti-discrimination protection to other sectors. "Our LGBTQ friends, neighbors, colleagues, and community members should not miss an educational opportunity, or be denied housing, credit, or health care because of who they are or who they love," she said as she spoke during House debate on the latest bill.
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici urged advocates from 11 community groups to rally around the latest congressional effort to overhaul the nation's immigration system. The Democrat from Beaverton, who represents the 1st District of Northwest Oregon, spoke Friday, Feb. 19, at a virtual roundtable discussion one day after she and other House and Senate cosponsors unveiled the 353-page bill.
Congress and the Oregon Legislature have each considered stronger protections in the past few years, but neither has acted. However, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Beaverton, said Tuesday she is optimistic a bill that passed in the Democratic House last year will fare better in the Senate now that Democrats control that chamber, too. “Age discrimination is still too prevalent in the workplace,” Bonamici said in a written statement. “My office has been working closely with people who have filed age discrimination complaints, but the burden and outcomes are often very uncertain.”
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-District 1, said she hopes to work with the Biden administration to beat COVID, address climate, and improve our country's roads and bridges. “These are big challenges ahead, but I’m confident that with a new and willing administration and many colleagues who are committed to meeting those challenges, we will do that,” said Bonamici. “President Biden was realistic and truthful about the challenges ahead, but also very hopeful about the ability when we set aside our differences to get things done for this great country.”