INFRASTRUCTURE AND FLOODING
Few districts in America understand the need for modern and resilient infrastructure more than South Carolina’s First District. The Lowcountry’s unique challenges stem from unprecedented growth, a booming port, climate change causing sea level rise, and near-constant flooding. We are in desperate need of federal support to fund our wide array of infrastructure needs. That’s why I supported the recently-passed bipartisan, federal infrastructure bill that sent over $6 billion to South Carolina. Unfortunately, our representative, Nancy Mace, voted against this critical funding package. I believe infrastructure should be a nonpartisan issue that requires a non-partisan approach. As our next Congresswoman, I will fight for every penny I can to continue to modernize and rebuild the Lowcountry’s roads, bridges, ports, high-speed internet, and overall infrastructure resiliency.
As a practicing pediatrician, the issue of healthcare access and affordability is personal to me. I will never forget a young boy I admitted to the hospital on New Year’s Eve. After several difficult days in the hospital, he was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that required a bone marrow transplant. One day his mom approached me in the hospital hallway with an urgent question. I was expecting a question about his medical care but rather she asked me if I could recall signing his admission order before or after midnight on New Year’s Eve. She had just gotten off the phone with her insurance company and was told that if this lengthy, expensive hospitalization officially started before midnight, their bill would be significantly lower because they would have already met their deductible. If his admission began in the New Year, they’d be forced to pay much more out of pocket. What a devastatingly shameful window into a healthcare system run by insurance and pharmaceutical companies. It is unacceptable that this mother had to worry about the cost of care while her son’s health was in danger. I believe that no one in the United States should go broke because they or their child got sick.
Each day in the hospital I talk with families devastated by out-of-control medical bills, unaffordable prescription drug prices, and lack of access to care. I believe everyone deserves quality, affordable healthcare. As a practicing pediatrician, I saw the direct, positive effects of the Affordable Care Act on Lowcountry residents almost immediately after it passed. Teenagers with chronic conditions like Sickle Cell Disease who no longer had to worry about losing their insurance on their 18th birthdays. Young mothers who could access breast pumps through their insurance benefits. And fewer patients who fell into the gap of not being able to afford private insurance, but not being eligible for Medicaid.
We have so much work to do to improve the healthcare system in the US. We must put every American’s health over profits for insurance and pharmaceutical companies. States like South Carolina are getting left behind because we did not expand Medicaid.
When I decided to become a pediatrician, I could have never imagined the number of children with bullet holes I would care for in my career. I will never forget the image of the 3 year old, sitting alone in her hospital room, with her babydoll next to her, looking up at me with her one good eye. Her brother had found a gun at home and unintentionally shot her in the face. She lost her eye and her face was disfigured.
A few days after the tragic shooting in Parkland, FL, I was dropping my oldest daughter off at kindergarten. I watched as she marched into the building with her bright pink backpack on. Then I saw the armed, uniformed police officer patrolling the drop off line. I was terrified for my own child’s safety in her school. I called my elected officials as soon as I got home and was deeply disappointed in the responses I received. There was clearly no plan to ensure our kid’s safety.
Congress has failed to pass gun laws that reflect the will of the vast majority of Americans and, as a mother, I was not willing to sit idly by while the gun lobby wrote our laws. I was compelled to act and joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. As a pediatrician, I was horrified to learn that gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in this country, but I knew that I could use my voice to accelerate change in my community. I led a team that implemented secure firearm storage counseling at children’s hospitals in Charleston. I have no doubt that the work we continue to do, educating families on secure firearm storage and providing gun locks to families who need them, has saved lives. But it isn’t enough.
We need background checks on all gun sales, a federal secure storage law, and we need federal funding for Hospital Based Violence Intervention programs. I support the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, but I believe we need to go further and enact a federal red flag law to keep guns out of the hands of people who would use them for harm. We also need to raise the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21. Our failure to act on this urgent public health crisis is something we should all be ashamed of. Our kids deserve better, we all deserve better.
Make no mistake, I support the second amendment. If you are a law-abiding gun-owner, I have no interest in your guns. Frankly, I have never been particularly interested in a conversation about guns, but I am interested in a conversation about bullet holes in children, and what we can do to prevent them. I will carry the stories of my patients with me and I will never stop fighting for common sense gun laws.
It is not the government’s place to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Those decisions should be left to women and their medical providers. Without reproductive freedom, women will never achieve gender equality. As a pediatrician, I have seen the impossible decisions parents face when receiving devastating fetal diagnoses during pregnancy. I have also seen families under severe economic strain when they lack access to affordable contraception and therefore don’t have the luxury of family planning. And as a mom, I have experienced firsthand the benefits of growing our family on our own terms. As a Congresswoman, I will fight for Lowcountry women to have access to necessary, life-saving medical care and do everything I can to ensure that Washington politicians do not have a say in the reproductive decisions of women.
I support the Women’s Health Protection Act. I support guaranteed access to abortion services up to the point of viability, which is generally defined as 24 weeks. I will fight to eliminate government mandates that do not align with evidence-based medicine and exist solely to restrict abortion access, such as unnecessary ultrasounds, waiting periods, and misleading information regarding abortion.
Once a fetus is viable, I believe that abortion access must be available if a medical provider determines–in good faith and based on current medical standards–that continuing the pregnancy places the life or health of the mother at risk, or if the fetus cannot survive outside of the womb. These situations are incredibly rare and incredibly painful for the families involved, and our government should not have a say in that decision.
Climate change is real and it is human-made. The science is settled. That is a reality that our current representative will not admit. The Lowcountry cannot afford to have a climate denier as our representative in congress. We should be leading on this issue. While Nancy Mace refuses to believe the overwhelming science confirming climate change’s existence, I will be a representative who focuses on solutions to this crisis. Climate change is causing higher air and water temperatures, rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events and stronger hurricanes. I believe we must pass federal legislation banning offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting off the South Carolina coast, something Congresswoman Mace opposes, and make substantial investments in clean and renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions while also creating jobs. We must also make an ambitious but realistic goal to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels and transition to clean energy within the next twenty years. We must turn the climate change crisis into an economic opportunity for South Carolina but that is only possible with a representative who believes that it is real and that it requires action. Nancy Mace does not, but I do.
Our democracy is under attack. States all across the country are taking unprecedented steps to roll back voting rights and implement archaic and destructive laws to make it harder to vote - particularly for minority communities. That is unacceptable and unAmerican. That’s why I was so disappointed that Nancy Mace voted against the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act as well as the “For The People Act” and the “Freedom to Vote Act,” which protects and expands voting rights, gets dark money out of politics, ends gerrymandering and cracks down on corruption. I believe we must expand early voting, implement automatic voter registration, and take common sense steps to strengthen the public’s faith in our elections.
I believe the federal government should operate under the same rules as most Lowcountry families: don’t spend more than you take in. That’s why I am a firm believer in implementing a Pay-As-You-Go policy to prevent Congress from adding to the deficit. I also support a balanced budget amendment in order to tackle our nation’s obscene national debt. Our middle and working class families don't have big, fancy lobbyists and attorneys fighting for them in Congress like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. I will fight for the underpaid teachers who have continued to teach our kids despite the pandemic, for the healthcare workers that put their lives on the line to protect the lives of so many more, and the cops and firefighters who live paycheck to paycheck.
Billionaires don’t need any more giveaways. We must focus on solutions to make life more affordable for hard-working Americans while making it harder for billionaires to skirt their taxes.
I support term limits for every member of Congress - three terms for the House, two terms for the Senate. If career politicians were good for democracy, we would have the most functional congress ever. But we don’t. And it’s time to change that.
I also support a ban on members of Congress trading stocks. Congress shouldn’t be a place you go to get rich with classified and privileged information. Our elected officials should be finding ways to make YOUR economic situation better, not their own.
And I support a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists. Too many people (like my opponent) see Congress as a stepping stone to their next job. Being in Congress should be a public service, not a pathway to wealth.
I am a proud public school parent and the daughter of a special education teacher. Growing up I saw the dedication and hard work my mother put into her job and her students. I have witnessed the same with my children’s teachers. Teachers need support. I believe we need to fully fund our public education system so that every teacher has the support they need to give every student the education they need to succeed.
For too long, our education system has suffered because politicians think they know better than teachers and parents, or because they only bring up education when they need to score cheap political points. As a Member of Congress, I will listen to teachers, parents, and students, and make decisions based on what they tell me is best for them. I will not support banning books and will not be distracted by talking points about critical race theory, something that is not currently taught in any South Carolina schools. I support teaching our children a complete and accurate portrayal of American history.
The politicization of our education system and the vitriol that has been injected into our schools must end. We should trust our teachers to do the job they are trained to do and encourage parental involvement at all levels.
Our archaic cannabis laws have done nothing to stop cannabis use. In fact, they have made our citizens less safe. These laws are disproportionately used to incarcerate people of color, and in South Carolina, a Black citizen is 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for low-level possession than a White citizen who uses cannabis at the same rate.
I support full legalization of cannabis. Its medical benefits have been well-documented and patients with chronic pain deserve a safer and more effective alternative to dangerous and addictive opioids. Legalizing cannabis for recreational use would get illicit, laced cannabis off the street and provide a new stream of revenue for the federal government to use.
Nancy Mace’s cannabis bill would relegate cannabis laws to the states. That would have the same effect as the Supreme Court overruling of Roe v. Wade which left abortion laws to the states. Her bill would do absolutely nothing for South Carolina, where even medical marijuana is still prohibited.
I will vote to legalize cannabis at a federal level so South Carolinians have the same rights as people in every other state.