Name: Mike Doyle
Office Sought: US House of Representatives, PA-14
Below you will find descriptions of seven pieces of legislation that may come before you in some form during your term in office. Explain your support or opposition for each piece of legislation and specify if you will vote for the bill and if you will become a co-sponsor for the bill. For the first item, discuss your support or opposition for the repeal of the existing legislation.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. This law discriminates in two important ways. First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples. Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people -- thereby denying them over 1100 federal benefits and protections.
I know that all across Pittsburgh, same-sex couples are living the same lives that straight couples live -- committing to each other emotionally and financially, paying taxes, raising children and trying to save for their educations, serving in their community, and more.
Since the Defense of Marriage Act's passage in 1996, I believe that this country has grown and attitudes are changing. A handful of states have sought ways to recognize same-sex couple's commitments to each other, and 5 states and the District of Columbia fully recognize same-sex marriages. These are wonderful developments. However, the Defense of Marriage Act puts those couples on the defensive because same-sex couples face financial challenges against which legal marriage least partially shields oppositesex couples. The federal government's protections of marriage include the right to file jointly, deductions for health insurance coverage, Social Security survivors' benefits, family and medical leave, equal compensation as federal employees, and immigration rights, among others.
I believe that the time has come to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and permit the federal government to recognize same-sex relationships. That's why I'm an original cosponsor of The Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and restores the rights of all lawfully married couples -- including same-sex couples -- to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law. This legislation requires the federal government to equally apply its policy of looking to the states in determining what legal relationships are eligible for federal benefits.
S. 1584 & H.R. 3017: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Please specify if you also support a fully inclusive ENDA encompassing gender identity and gender expression.
As a longtime original co-sponsor of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, I strongly support its swift passage and enactment into law. While I believe the House has the votes to pass an inclusive ENDA, I do not know the status in the Senate to pass as a standalone bill. I have encouraged our leadership and the President to explore ways of getting an inclusive ENDA passed by other means.
I believe that it's un-American to discriminate against people because of immutable personal characteristics including a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity -- characteristics that don't affect a person's ability to get their job done.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (part of the No Child Left Behind Act) to require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Act would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
I believe that when children come to school, they should be free to learn without distractions. I'm a co-sponsor of Rep. Linda Sanchez's Safe Schools Improvement Act because bullying and harassment have no place in our schools. As you know, bullying can lead to decreased interest and concentration and increased absences. At a time when the Us. Department of Education says that bullying and harassment affects nearly one in three American school children in grades six through ten and that a another study concludes that a majority of students are harassed in schools, we must give teachers and parents the resources to put an end to bullying and harassment.
Additionally, I've joined with Rep. Jared Polis to introduce HR 4530, The Student NonDiscrimination Act. That bill establishes a comprehensive Federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and provides victims with meaningful and effective remedies, modeled after Title IX. I'm proud to join in this bill that's also been endorsed by the ACLU, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, HRC and the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund.
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (MREA) would end the discriminatory and unworkable "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) law. It replaces DADT with a policy of non-discrimination. MREA repeals 10 U.S.C. 654, the military's DADT law and adds a new section to Chapter 37 of 10 U.S.C. that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
I strongly oppose Don't Ask, Don't Tell for many reasons. Gays and lesbians have always fought for and defended our country -- but to do so, they've been forced to lie about their lives and hide their true selves from their friends in the service. Don't Ask, Don't Tell also has an agonizing impact on the service member's civilian significant other, who has to hide in the shadows to prevent the servicemember from gelling discharged When our nation is fighting two wars overseas, I cannot fathom why we should discharge some of our most qualified, effective soldiers because of an immutable personal trait. I am an original cosponsor of HR 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act and hope to see that the bill comes to a vote in the House soon and signed into law.
S. 1153 & H.R. 2625: The Tax Equity for Domestic Partner and Health Plan Beneficiaries Act/Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act (TEDP) would end the taxation of benefits provided for domestic partners and other non-spouse beneficiaries under employers' health plans. This legislation does not mandate that employers provide coverage to non-spouse beneficiaries. Nor does it establish criteria for determining which beneficiaries qualify. This remains the province of the employers themselves. The bill simply eliminates the unequal taxation of benefits.
I support equal benefits for equal work. Gays and lesbians are the target of discrimination in many ways -- this is one that actually costs those families money. I think that's an outrage. I supported this bill and was glad that it was made part of the House health reform bill. I wish the Senate had decided the same way. I am committed to expressing my support for this bill to my colleagues and to working with the bills' sponsors to see if there's a chance that it can be included in the final health reform package.
S. 833 & H.R. 1616: The Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA) would permit state Medicaid programs to provide HIV treatment to individuals before they develop AIDS.
A person with asymptomatic HIV infection is not eligible for Medicaid until he or she has progressed to full-blown AIDS.
Treating those who are HIV-positive early in the progression of the disease provides numerous benefits. Providing therapy earlier keeps individual viral loads suppressed and delays the onset of opportunistic infections. Lower viral loads decrease the transmissibility of the disease and thereby reduce new infections. In providing this critical treatment, ETHA would also create significant savings for taxpayers. Because early treatment for HIV-positive individuals would delay both the need for more expensive forms of treatment and the time at which individuals would become medically disabled, enacting ETHA could reduce demands on the Social Security Disability Insurance Savings and Medicaid and Medicare programs. Additionally, ETHA would lessen the strain on other federal HIV/AIDS programs, such as those funded by the Ryan White CARE Act. Most importantly, early treatment improves the quality of life for countless HIV-positive individuals.
I am a longtime original cosponsor and strong supporter of HR 1616, the Early Treatment for HIV Act, and I was glad to work with my friends on the Energy and Commerce Committee -- Rep. Tammy Baldwin and the bill's sponsor Rep. Eliot Engel to make sure that the House version of the health reform bill includes this bill. The bill will make sure that people with an HIV diagnosis will receive the care they need from day one. Society benefits when people with HIVare able to live healthy lives. I strongly believe that immediate access to affordable health care through Medicaid ensures that people with HIV can stay healthy from day one and not just when their low T-cell count qualifies themfor an AIDS diagnosis.
Please discuss your position on abortion and any thoughts you have on the current abortion debate.
I believe that we must reform our health care system to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance and health care, regardless of employment and regardless of any pre-existing condition. There are, unfortunately, some people who oppose health reform and who have been pushing divisive, wedge issues meant to fragment the members of Congress who want to vote for health reform.
I am committed to seeing health reform pass, and I've used my spot on one of the committees of jurisdiction on health reform - the Energy and Commerce committee - to make it happen. And I decided that I would not let these divisive issues prevent Congress from passing real, meaningful health reform like President Obama has called for.
On the issue of abortion, I worked with my colleagues in Congress to find common ground. I was the deciding vote in that committee to kill what's commonly known as the Stupak amendment, which would have prevented any person receiving federal subsidies to afford health insurance from purchasing a plan that covered abortions except in cases of rape, incest and risks to the life of the mother.
I oppose federal dollars paying for abortion services, but instead of supporting the Stupak Amendment, I voted for, and was a strong supporter, of an amendment that my friend Rep. Lois Capps offered that would ensure that all women would have access to plans that covered abortions. That amendment was supported by the pro-choice community and ultimately President Obama.
As Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to bring the final health reform bill to the House fioor, I signed "Dear Colleague" letters in support of the Capps amendment and was Speaker Pelosi's chief negotiator with the Catholic Bishops and wavering pro-life Democrats to find a compromise to the Stupak amendment that pro-choice and pro-life members could support. During health reform's consideration in the House, I worked tirelessly with both pro-choice and pro-life members to find middle ground and pass a bill we could all support because I thought it was the right thing to do.
Ultimately, Speaker Pelosi determined that there were not enough votes in the House to pass the bill with the Capps language. There were too many members who demanded the Stupak Amendment be put in the health reform bill before they could vote for it. When the bill came to the House Floor, only the Stupak amendment was up for a vote. The Stupak amendment was the only opportunity to express my opposition to federal funds being used for abortions. Having said that, I am satisfied that the less-restrictive language in the Senate bill also does not use federal dollars to pay for abortions and I will not let the absence of the Stupak Amendment in the final bill prevent me from voting for good legislation that will help people in my district.
It is also worth noting that I have also long supported other issues like embryonic stem cell research, Title X family planning funding for groups like Planned Parenthood, and international family planning to name a few.
Our members are generally not one-issue voters. Many of us are also deeply concerned about issues such as healthcare, economic opportunity, education, foreign policy, and the environment. Please take this opportunity to provide a brief overview of what your legislative priorities will be if elected.
My highest priority throughout my service in Congress has been promoting economic growth and the creation of good jobs in southwestern Pennsylvania. With that goal in mind, I have worked hard to make the region a center for cutting edge research and advanced manufacturing.
I have been working in Congress to enact legislation that will stimulate our flagging economy and help American families in their struggle to get by. I also voted to temporarily extend unemployment benefits for workers who have exhausted their regular benefits. I have voted for legislation that would help families that were victimized by sub-prime mortgage lenders stay in their homes -and which would help state and local governments get foreclosed homes back on the market quickly.
I believe that the richest, most powerful country on Earth ought to be able to figure out how to guarantee all of its citizens affordable, high quality health care.
Americans are justifiably proud of the remarkable medical advances our country has made, but we should be ashamed that 45 million Americans are currently uninsured and that many Americans can't afford to get the care they need. That's why I believe that our nation's health insurance system is broken.
I also think it is imperative that we pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation. I worked tirelessly in the last year to help craft meaningful policy that will spur the creation of good-paying jobs while providing a transition period for the way in which we fuel our economy. We are on the brink of a major transformation in our economy and China, India, Brazil and Europe are hot on our tail. The United States and southwestern Pennsylvania must lead the essential research and development for these technologies, we must train our workers to service them and we must sell that technology to countries all over the world.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my views on these important issues with your members.
Special Note from Steel-City Stonewall Democrats:
Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District is located in southwestern Pennsylvania. The 14th Congressional District consists of 54 municipalities in Allegheny County.
The City of Pittsburgh is the largest municipality in the 14th Congressional District. It contains more than half of the district’s population of 530,000 people.
The district also includes the communities of Avalon, Baldwin, Bellevue, Blawnox, Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Coraopolis, Clairton, Crafton, Dravosburg, Duquesne, East McKeesport, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Elizabeth, Etna, Forest Hills, Glassport, Homestead, Ingram, Kennedy, Liberty, Lincoln, McKees Rocks, Millvale, McKeesport, Monroeville, Mount Oliver, Munhall, Neville, North Braddock, North Versailles, O’Hara, Pitcairn, Penn Hills, Port Vue, Rankin, Reserve, Robinson, Sharpsburg, Stowe, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, Verona, Versailles, Wall, West Homestead, West Mifflin, Whitaker, Wilkins, Wilkinsburg, and Wilmerding.