General Election 2016: Bill Foster, Candidate for the 11th Congressional District
Oct 25, 2016 09:18PM ● Published by Steven Jack
Name: Bill Foster
Employment: High-energy particle physicist and businessman
Family: Wife: Aesook; Son: Billy; Daughter: Christine
Education: University of Wisconsin-Madison, BA Physics (1976); Harvard University, Ph.D. Physics (1983)
Previously elected office: U.S. Congress (IL-14) (2008-2011), U.S. Congress (IL-11) (2013 - Present)
Relevant community service: Served on the board of the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence for about 4 years.
What makes you qualified to serve the people of the 11th Congressional district?
I am running for reelection because I believe we can do more to grow our economy, add jobs in Illinois, and support working families. I also strongly support a woman's right to choose and equal pay for women. In Congress, I will continue to support policies to improve medically assisted treatment options for those suffering from opioid and heroin addiction. Opioid addiction both from prescription painkillers and heroin is threatening communities across the country and right here in Illinois.
As a representative in the United States Congress, my most important job is to represent the constituents of the 11th Congressional District. I attend events in the community to listen to constituents and hear their opinions, because it is important for me to know what is most important to them. Last year alone, I attended over 150 events in the community and had over 70 individual meetings with constituents. Over the last year and a half, our office has returned over $1.8 million to constituents by partnering with congressional liaisons from various federal agencies to advocate for the needs of the constituents.
What are your plans to reach across the aisle in Congress to help accomplish things for the people of the 11th Congressional District?
As the only Ph.D. scientist in Congress and a successful businessman, I bring a unique perspective to Congress. My background in business and science allows me to take a thoughtful approach to legislation that we need to end the gridlock in Congress. I understand that no one has a monopoly on good ideas.
Too often, partisanship prevents us from coming to solutions. Democrats and Republicans need to put their differences aside and come together and find common ground to address the great challenges that face our country. We will never agree on everything. I understand that many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have strongly held convictions and policy concerns that their constituents care about that I do not always agree with, but I respect them. I will always defend a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, and everyone’s right to live free of discrimination.
The perspective I bring as a scientist and successful businessman is especially important now that technology is rapidly advancing. As technology advances, policy will have more and more technical aspects that Members of Congress need to understand to make informed decisions. I am proud of my record of supporting good policy no matter who puts forward the idea.
As a member of the moderate, pro-growth New Democrat coalition, I actively work with like-minded Republicans who want to find compromise that both sides can support. Extremism is divisive and damaging to our democracy. This year, we have seen what happens when someone well versed in extreme rhetoric with no understanding of policy gains political power. It has real potential to undo the economic progress we have made after the Great Recession. It also threatens the progress we have made on important social issues, including a woman’s right to choose and ending discrimination against minorities.
What are the 3 biggest problems facing the people of the 11th Congressional District, and what do you propose to help fix these problems?
We need to continue to grow the economy and support working families, improve medically assisted treatment options for those suffering with opioid and heroin addiction, and fix the Payer State problem. States like Illinois pay far more in federal taxes than they receive back in federal spending.
I will work to extend the policies responsible for the economic recovery. One policy that I support is raising the federal minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage is one of the best things we can do to reduce the number of people who live in poverty. We also need to invest in more job training to close the skills gap, and over the long-term, to encourage students to focus on in-demand fields. We should also make capital available to businesses to expand and hire more employees or for startups to revolutionize aspects of our everyday lives. A combination of pro-growth and pro-worker policies will grow our economy to make sure our economy works for everyone.
The federal government needs to increase the availability of medically assisted treatment options for individuals who suffer from opioid and heroin addiction. I am committed to ending this epidemic, and I am encouraged that we have begun to recognize this as a treatable medical condition rather than a moral failing. I have spoken with groups and community leaders all over the 11th District to raise awareness of this epidemic and the treatments that can reverse an overdose and help keep a person clean afterwards.
Just recently, I led a joint letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to make sure that a new implant will remain affordable and accessible to people who struggle with addiction.
This implant releases buprenorphine, a drug that reduces cravings for opioids, and it provides a reliable way for individuals to get the medical treatment for dependency without the risk of skipping a dose.
In the current Congress, I have introduced legislation that would remove barriers to addiction treatment by providing grants for residential, inpatient opioid addiction treatment for qualified individuals. I also introduced H.R. 3677, the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which would create a program to analyze prescribing behavior and share information about improper prescribing with the state health profession board. Second, it would encourage states to implement drug take-back programs to allow people to dispose of unused prescription drugs. It would also equip doctors with more resources to help identify potential drug abuse patients by providing funds to train more personnel in interventions and patient screening and would also provide grants to study the possibility of allowing advanced nurses and physician’s assistants to prescribe drugs that assist in addiction recovery. Finally, this bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a review to determine whether naloxone, should have over-the-counter drug status. Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of a life threatening opioid overdose.
I will continue the fight to make sure the treatment options our children and other loved ones need are available.
Third, I am committed to fixing the Payer State problem. States like Illinois pay far more in federal taxes than they receive back in federal spending. As a result, Illinois loses around $40 billion each year because Illinoisans pay more than the average American in income taxes and the federal government spends less here than the national average.
I introduced the Payer State Transparency Act, which would require a report from the federal government on the way spending programs are transferring money from states like Illinois to other states.
I also worked to eliminate a program that funnels research dollars to small states. This program was intended to help states build their research infrastructure. However, it is poorly designed and sends funding to small states because it does not consider the per capita funding level. Illinois researchers should have the same opportunities to compete on the merits as any others.
I worked to require the Department of Transportation to publish a report on the impact the Highway Trust Fund has on the Payer State problem. I recently introduced a bill to change the formula so that Illinois gets its fair share instead of sending a 600 percent return to states with low populations.
I also introduced a bill to eliminate a provision in the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund formula that resulted in $3 million going to states with very small populations and only $4.3 million to Illinois.
I will continue to work to address the Payer State problem until Illinois gets its fair share.