On November 9th, 2018, United States Congressman, David Cicilline, and his office we kind enough to give me the opportunity to talk about all the recent news regarding the midterms, the House of Representatives, and the upcoming presidential elections. I want to thank the congressman once again for letting me have what was another great interview with him and it is always a pleasure to speak with the congressman.
So, the first thing I want to ask you is just a few days ago, the Dems took back the House. So now that the Democrats have the house, what happens now? What’s on the agenda as soon as the next congressional session takes place?
Well, you know, I think the Democrats are committed to moving forward with a number of priorities. First and foremost is to address the rising cost of healthcare to work to drive down the costs of prescription drugs and to make certain that we’re protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions so that we can be sure that every person in this country has access to quality and affordable healthcare. The Republicans have been sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and haven’t don’t anything to address the high cost of prescription drugs. So, I think that will be a big priority. The second is we are committed to working on policies that are going to increase family incomes. There are too many Rhode Islanders, too many people across this country that are just not making enough money to make ends meet and working two or three jobs. So, we want to really focus on raising family incomes and there are a number of ways to do that. We want to particularly focus on investing and rebuilding the infrastructure of our country. We have a trillion dollar that will create sixteen million good-paying jobs that will repair our roads, our bridges, our ports, our transit systems, our schools. But once again, the federal government is a real partner in investing and rebuilding America. Then thirdly, I hope that we will quickly take up a democracy reform package which is really designed to get at the corrupting implement of money in our political system and really amplify the voices of the American people and reduce the influence of big corporations and corporate money in our elections. So, that includes reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act and passing the Disclose Act so we know where this dark money is coming from, and hopefully, a constitutional amendment to reverse this and stay united. So, really committed to making sure we get the federal government working for the people of this country again and not the special interests of the big lobbyists, so I hope we’ll do that. We also have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to bring down the cost of higher education, restore net neutrality, make certain that we are investing in workforce training. So, there are a number of priorities that I know Democrats have. But I think the ones we identify will hopefully be some of the first that we do.
Do you think that any of this is going to be easy to do because now the Democrats have the house, but the Republicans still have the Senate? If you guys can get a bill passed through the House, it’s still going to have to get through the Senate. Do you think it’s going to be any easier to still try to get things through?
Well, I don’t think anything is going to be easy. We have a divided government, with the Democrats controlling the House and the Republicans controlling the Senate. The good news is the priorities that we identified, which is part of our For the People agenda, are actually the same priorities that the president spoke about. He campaigned on a commitment to drive down prescription drug costs and healthcare generally. He campaigned on big infrastructure, rebuild the country. He campaigned on draining the swamp. The fact is he achieved none of those. He has driven up health care costs, he is in court right now fighting to take away coverage for preexisting conditions, and their attacks to build up healthcare costs for almost everyone. He didn’t come forward with a big infrastructure bill, he’s got nothing done with that. He’s got nothing done on reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and in terms of his talk about ending the corruption Washington, he’s made it worse. So, the good news is he identified them as his priorities. So, hopefully, we can actually work with the president to get the things done that he claims he’s for. But none of it will be easy, I mean the rules in the Senate require bipartisan support for anything to move through the Senate. So hopefully the Democratic members of the Senate will help us move through some of these proposals. But it’s going to require compromise, it’s going to require working together in a bipartisan spirit, but I think people expect us to get things done for them.
So, with the Democrats taking back the House, there’s going to have to be a new election for the Speaker of the House. Who do you support for this position? Who do you hope becomes the Speaker of the House?
Well, there’s only one candidate, and that’s Nancy Pelosi. I support her, and my expectations are that she will be elected as Speaker.
Do you know if there are any other potential candidates for that seat, or is there nothing that has come out yet?
No one has declared, no other person has declared their candidacy for the speakership position.
Now you yourself, you are running for a specific position in the house. Would you be able to talk a little bit more about that position and what you plan to do with it for the country and the people of this state?
So, I’m running for the position of Assistant Democratic Leader, which is the fourth-ranking member of the House. That decision will be made by my colleagues at the end of November, right after Thanksgiving when we have our caucus. I hope that I will be elected to that position for one reason. I was elected to Democratic counsel of leadership last January, and I have been at the leadership table when every major decision is being made by the House Democrats and me, as Rhode Island’s voice, has been heard loudly and I hope to be able to continue in the Democratic counsel of leadership so that Rhode Island can continue to have a real voice in the room with all those decisions about the set of priorities we move forward are, what will be our order of those priorities, what will be the kinds of budget that we’ll move forward, will we make investments? It’s just important that in all of those decisions that Rhode Island has a voice.
With midterms being over, the next elections are the presidential elections, the 2020 elections. There have been a lot of games coming out, some people are supposing that Beto O’Rourke may run. There’s been a lot of predictions. Do you have any thoughts on who you think is going to run, who you think should run to take on the Trump administration in 2020?
I think we’re going to have lots and lots of candidates. There are lots of incredible talent in our caucus, we have lots of great governors, lots of great senators and members of Congress and we’ll have more candidates than we want probably. But I have no doubt that we are going to have some extraordinary candidates and we’ll pick a great nominee who will defeat this president if he’s the Republican nominee