Women's Health & Opportunity


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Unwavering Support for Women

For too long, too many politicians in Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – have treated women’s constitutional rights, economic opportunity, access to healthcare, and societal status as a bargaining chip in negotiation. In Congress, my bedrock support for women, their health, their opportunity, their choice, and their freedom will never be a bargaining chip. It will be a foundational principle on which I base my representation of Texas 21 and my votes on complex legislation.

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Throughout my adult life, I have sought at times – through my experiences in the Army, in business, and in philanthropy – to be blind to gender as a barrier to opportunity. But as I have grown older my experience has been that barriers aren’t removed by being blind, they are removed by being consciously addressed. In the Army, I was insistent that all of my soldiers were led as equals, whether that be on the battlefield in war, in the bureaucracy of the Pentagon, or in the comfort of an Army post. In business, I was a consistent concern for HR because of my insistence that my company make a conscious effort towards gender parity amongst my staff. When we couldn’t get the resumes to reach that parity, my wife and I committed our own funds to invest in ensuring the next generation of young girls both had and sought opportunities in STEM. What we learned through these experiences was that we needed to capture the minds of young women in fourth and fifth grade before societal stereotypes influence their biggest dreams, and I hope that our investment will spur the STEM leaders of tomorrow.

In Congress, I will do my best to view policies through the lens that my wife, my daughters, and other strong women in my life have helped me develop in my decades of living. I will always consider the impacts of legislation on women, not as a special interest group but in the context of their unique needs as the majority of the population – deserving of equal opportunity, treatment, and support – that has been historically and institutionally marginalized. I will continue to learn from and be led by women around me who share their stories, experiences, and concerns.

Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose

I fully believe, affirm, and support a women’s right to choose. This is a fundamental right, anchored in privacy and personal domain, and should never be influenced by politicians. The notion that any politician – Democrat or Republican, man or woman – should have any say over what a woman can and cannot do with her body is preposterous. In Congress, I will stand in strong opposition to bills that attempt to leverage women’s constitutional rights or that attempt to roll the clock back on women’s health and safety.

Planned Parenthood Funding

Prevention

Texas has proven to be a case study in the need to protect funding for the vital healthcare services that Planned Parenthood provides its patients. The heartbreaking stories of healthcare deserts that have been created by Planned Parenthood clinics being forced to shut down, when at times they were the only accessible opportunity for prenatal care, gynecological care, oncological care and other basic needs, could fill a book. The most devastating of these stories has been Texas’ meteoric rise to the worst ends of maternal death rates.

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There’s no more basic tenant of service in government than protecting the health and well-being of one’s constituents and funding for Planned Parenthood clinics is one of the most basic ways I can fill this fundamental role. I will be a champion of funding for Planned Parenthood clinics and all of the services it provides to so many disadvantaged families in this country.

Access to Birth Control

Birth control saves lives and the attack on access must end.

I will advocate for expanded and more strongly protected coverage through the insurance markets. We must ensure that not only do we keep birth control accessible to the populations that need it, but that it also remains to them as well. Often times, availability over the counter can mean that some of the communities that most vulnerable, and would most benefit from universal access, are priced out of receiving the care they need.

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This will allow for greater freedom for families, not only from the burden of having to take responsibility for paying repeated co-pays to obtain a birth control prescription, but also from worry whether the insurance plan covers such a prescription, or adequately pays for it. Moreover, it will free millions of women from having to make the often excruciatingly difficult choice of whether to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

I will fight any legislation that furthers the confusing and troubling efforts by Republicans to condemn abortion, while at the same time trying to block women’s access to measures shown to reduce this practice and empower women in their control of family planning decisions, like birth control.

Family Leave

The U.S. is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t offer families the support they need in the form of paid parental leave. In Congress, I will fight to change the perception of paid family leave from a luxury to the modern necessity it is for many families today.

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We’ve ignored this issue long enough, and it’s time to do right by working American families. I’ll advocate for a guaranteed 12 weeks paid leave of at least two-thirds of current wages for all working Americans to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, or to recover from their own health scares.

Moreover, I’ll ensure this paid leave comes at no additional cost to businesses—including small businesses—by proposing a tax reform policy that makes sure the wealthy are paying their fair share to support the working families that are integral to the strength of our economy. I will recoup some of these funds by repealing the irresponsible tax cuts that Congress just passed.

WIC & SNAP

WIC & SNAP are not bargaining chips; they are essential parts of the social safety net. They form the basic tenets of a government’s social contract with its citizens and are a key indicator of how we as society take care of the least among us. They are essential, precious investments in our family, our friends, our neighbors, and more broadly our citizens. It will always be a priority of mine to protect and strengthen these programs that are vital to so many women, single parents, young children, and families.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Pay equity is a fundamental, common sense tenet of fairness in a modern society. This should be uncontroversial and it is inexcusable that we are still in a place in society where women make $0.77 on the dollar, and more egregiously, African American women make $0.65 on the dollar and Latina women make $0.59 on the dollar. In Congress, one of my main priorities will be ensuring that we institute accountable, verifiable, trackable incentives to bring a reality to pay parity.

Open Opportunity

Through the adventures that have filled my professional career to date, I have experienced jobs and opportunities that society has wrongfully geared towards men. At every opportunity, I insisted on making the Army, and later entrepreneurship in the STEM field, an open, enticing, and reachable opportunity for anybody who aspires into those ranks. I will seek to leverage my platform in Congress, and in the broader region of Central Texas to continue that insistence that opportunities are open for all. Where there is capacity, I will bring down federal dollars to support programs specifically geared towards creating opportunities for women and young girls. Where there is not that opportunity, I will use my voice as a means to echo and otherwise codify the furthest reaches of their dreams.

Raising the Minimum Wage

When Congressman Lamar Smith was first elected to Congress in 1986, the minimum wage was indeed a wage for those entering the job market and seeking to gain experience in their first professional roles. The reality today is much different: adult women make up 60% of minimum wage earners and 80% of single parents earning minimum wage are women. I will fight with great fervor to increase the minimum wage to a living wage: $15 per hour and indexed to inflation. This is one of the simplest things we as a society can do to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.