We had the opportunity to ask Representative Elissa Slotkin questions as they pertain to her new position in Congress and her work with the Chaldean community. Slotkin represents the 8th Congressional District.
What are your goals for your first year in office? What about the first term?
I have a lot I want to accomplish, but one overarching goal is that, a year from now, I want people to feel a real change in the way they interact with their Member of Congress. My goal is to bring a new approach in both style and substance. We’re planning in-person town halls, but also Facebook town halls and video updates, and are looking at ways to bring mobile offices right to folks’ neighborhoods in order to be as accessible and responsive to their issues as possible.
What is your relationship with the Chaldean Community?
I am so thankful to have a close relationship with Chaldean community. Just this past December I participated in a roundtable with leaders in Iraqi faith communities, including many Chaldean leaders. I’m really proud that my experience serving three tours in Iraq has brought me closer to the community in and around our district.
What are the top issues in your district?
Lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, returning a sense of decency and integrity to our politics, and passing a once-in-a-generation infrastructure reform to upgrade our road and water infrastructure –– those are the things I hear about every day from constituents, and I’m already working on them. On many of these issues, there is a lot of common ground between the two parties -- and I’m hopeful that we can make real progress.
How do you plan to work on both sides of the aisle on issues in your district?
This is something I deeply believe in, and I believe it starts by people getting to know each other. I am already enjoying getting to know the other freshman Members of Congress with service and veteran backgrounds from both sides of the aisle. If you start any conversation from a place of common ground, it is possible to move forward on important legislation –– on infrastructure, border security, protecting the environment. And that’s what I’m committed to doing.
How did your time in Iraq prepare you for a career in politics?
My three tours in Iraq taught me the importance of having a sense of mission. That no matter what, you wake up in the morning and you know what your mission at work is, whether it’s protecting U.S. forces and the U.S. homeland, or working to improve the lives of the people you represent. Frankly, we need more of that mission-focus in our politics, and being able to maintain that focus helps you cut through the vitriol and just get to work on the issues that matter.
How do you plan on keeping the community's needs at the forefront during your time in Congress?
As a new member of both the House Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security Committee, I have a platform that allows me to lead on issues important to the Chaldean community and to bring them to the attention of senior leaders in Washington. I also hope to take a bipartisan CODEL to Iraq this year. I pledge to be as available and responsive as possible to the issues facing the community -- and I’ve already heard from members of the Chaldean community on issues facing folks here in Michigan, and in the Nineveh Plains. In particular, we will be opening an office in Rochester, which will offer a nearby point of contact.
What are some issues or solutions you are working on now?
Unfortunately, the government shutdown was the primary focus as we entered Congress, but I was proud to take steps to help ease the burden on federal workers, as well as ensure that another federal government shutdown never happens again. I co-sponsored a bill to allow federal workers to borrow out of their retirement accounts, as well as a bill to fund the Coast Guard during the shutdown, and I am particularly proud of legislation that I introduced to end shutdowns for good, called the Shutdown to End All Shutdowns Act. This bill would transfer the pain from federal workers to the decision-makers in Washington by suspending their pay and travel in the event of a government shutdown.
In addition, I’ve co-introduced legislation, called the FLAT Prices Act, to stop abusive drug pricing practices, and co-sponsored a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. I co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would provide 60 days of partial paid leave for those who need time away from work to care for a new child or a sick loved one. And I offered my first amendment, to the Veterans’ Access to Childcare Act, that would improve veterans’ access to health care, especially mental health care. And there will be lots more to come.