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tv   116th Freshmen Profile - Reps. Casten Craig Delgado  CSPAN  July 15, 2019 10:56am-11:31am EDT

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william barr and wilbur ross for contempt of congress after the administration refused to provide information on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. before the house can take up the contempt resolution, it has to go through the rules committee, which will decide the parameters for debate on tuesday. that meeting is this afternoon and you can watch it live beginning at 5:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3, online at, or listen live with a free c-span radio app. robert mueller says money before congress, originally set for wednesday -- testimony before congress, originally set for wednesday come has been pushed back a week. he will answer questions on his investigation into russian interference in the 20 16th election. the judiciary hearing will be in about an hour longer than originally planned. you can watch live coverage wednesday, july 24, on c-span3,
10:57 am, or listen with a free c-span radio app. announcer: c-span spoke with more than 50 freshman lawmakers of the 116th congress. we recently spoke with representatives in the midwest and northeast region. first up, angie craig. she is a former newspaper reporter and a small business investor. rep. craig: i grew up in a mobile home court in arkansas. i have lived life at all extremes. my mom was a single mom. who raised three kids mostly on our own. we had lots of farms around us. i grew up in rural america. i know what struggle looks like there.
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>> tell us about the struggle for your family. rep. craig: one of the things i'm most passionate about is making sure families have access to health care they can afford. my family did not have access themselves for a lot of my childhood. it is probably no secret that i have been working really hard to make sure that we stabilize the affordable care act and work toward how do we structure health care to make sure that every american has access to it. host: how did you end up going from arkansas to minnesota? rep. craig: i ended up working for a medical technology company. i ran the st. jude medical foundation, a foundation that provided heart treatment for low - income women. i'm sure that is no surprise, given my own childhood. saint jude recruited me from another medical technology company in tennessee. i moved from arkansas to tennessee when i was 18 to go to college. 60 whole miles from home. and i worked two jobs to put myself through college. just like my mom had done all those years before. my family looks like what every opportunity ought to be in america.
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that is that if you work hard, you ought to have an opportunity to earn a good life. host: when did you become interested in politics? rep. craig: politics is interesting because i became interested in issues. i was leading hr for a fortune 500 company when the aca was implemented after 2010 and into 2012. i had seen what it looked like to implement the aca. i had also seen the number of people who, all of a sudden, had access to the health insurance system in this country. and so i became very passionate at that point in time about how can we make sure we fix parts of the aca. i saw the immediately too. and how can we make sure every american has access to high-quality health care.
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the other issue was very personal. my wife and i, we have four sons. we were married in california in 2008, right before proposition a passed. in 2012, minnesota was the first state in the country to say no to a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in our state. i was part of that effort to stop that constitutional amendment behind the scenes. in 2013, we passed marriage equality. i had worked in the private sector for over 20 years but all of a sudden, something personal like my own ability to marry my partner and the ability to make sure every american had access to health care came together and i decided why not me? get off the sidelines and out of the private sector and run. host: you ran in 2016 and lost in the general election. what did that loss teach you? rep. craig: 2016 was interesting. it was a tough year for democrats. i lost by 1.8%.
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it was the third closest race in the country where a democrat lost. i was so much better in 2018 but not because of any policy difference. i just showed up for who i am in 2018. the key to winning is just being yourself, being authentic. my first ad of the cycle started "my wife and our four sons." i came at it much harder at who i am and what i believe in. at the end of the day, i don't like to call myself a politician because i have spent so much time talking about what i believe in and what kind of country we can build together. and so, it's just an honor to serve this district. host: how are you and your wife balancing life? four children, are they still in the house or are they older now? rep. craig: my wife and i have four sons. one is a rising junior the other three are out of the house. two are in traditional four year colleges.
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our oldest is working in a trade skill. one of the things you will hear me talk about a lot is rethinking our postsecondary education system. we have to make sure people know there is not just one path. i get afraid sometimes when democrats, when others talk about free four year colleges, that we are reinforcing to folks that college is right for everyone. and it's not. i'm so proud to be a mom for whom, her son, his path was advanced manufacturing. he was the one who took the engine apart in the driveway every afternoon. he needs to work with his hands and he's really good at it. host: what are your priorities -- other priorities out here in washington? rep. craig: i'm on two committees, transformation and infrastructure as well as the ad committee. i was waived onto the house committee of small business.
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it has been surprising to me but it shouldn't have, just how fulfilling it has been over the first 4-6 months. my grandfather was a farm foreman. he lost his job in the 1980's farm crisis. i know what it is like to lose your way of life, not just a job. having spent 20 years working in international markets and trade, i think i know more than most what it looks like when farmers just want a fair price and they want markets. that is what i have enjoyed in getting to know the farmers in my district and advocating for them. host: how many do you have in your district? rep. craig: i don't know off the top of my head. [laughter] >> primarily, what's the rep. craig: geographically, it is 50% rural.
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it is suburban, it starts in the southern part of st. paul and it moves into this great rural farmland. it is not just farmers that are in our district. it is the economy that is produced around those small family farms. the truth is we are losing them at record pace. losing them at record pace. host: what are some legislative accomplishments you have so far? rep. craig: i am proud of hr-1331, that is the local water protection act. that will allow us to have additional grant dollars to battle pollution in our cities and our counties. they are allowing those grant dollars. the other piece of legislation has not moved beyond committee is hr-1425. that is the reinsurance program
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that would allow us to stabilize the individual market. it is not the only answer we need for health care in this country today. it is part of the answer. i am incredibly pleased with that. some of the prescription drug bills that have passed the house have been incredibly important. finally, personally, i believe hr-1 is the most important piece of legislature we have passed. i wish the senate would take it up. until we are able to make sure that special interests are out of our way in this town, it is going to be difficult to do what my voters sent me here to do. >> sean casten is next, he is a democrat from illinois who represents the sixth district. he is a biochemical engineer and an entrepreneur. he previously served as ceo of two energy recycling companies. >> where were you born? rep. casten: dublin, ireland. >> why?
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rep. casten: my dad got back from vietnam, went to business school in columbia, and got hired by a guy who had an investment in a cattle feed lot in ireland. he is no longer in the business. by then, it would not become his career. host: born in ireland, your family makes its way back to america, where did you land? rep. casten: we went to columbus, indiana. and then we moved to the suburbs of manhattan. we basically grew up there all through high school. i went to a high school, in
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1968, it became one of the first high schools to mandate bussing to desegregate. even though we were westchester county, affluent suburbs of new york, my high school was 50% african-american by the time i got there. when i was in first grade, it wasn't. he ended up being a white flight school. it became very diverse. >> do you think that had an impact on you? rep. casten: every experience you have as a kid, you think is normal. did it have an impact? i'm sure did. but that's how you grew up. >> was your family political, involved in politics? rep. casten: not particularly. my dad fought in vietnam. both of my parents were from
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rural colorado and were the first generation to achieve families ofeir significance. good people but small-town people from colorado. my grandmother, my mom's mom, her best friend in world war ii was a japanese woman. at the time, a lot of neighbors were in internment camps. you learn something about the fabric of those people. my mom worked as a teacher at a school in north carolina and then in harlem. in the course of growing up, my parents went to ireland and just before they left, one of the students knocked on the door and says my mom will let you have me if you want. and then they let thomas in.
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so, they weren't involved in politics but they were involved in being generous to those who had needs. >> what does that say, her philosophy on that? rep. casten: we just took for granted that was what you do. this wasn't a philosophy or an agenda. it wasn't a plan. you had someone who said can you help me out and she said yes. she continues to do it in a lot of different ways. >> what does your dad say about his service in vietnam and how do you think that impacted you? rep. casten: my dad enlisted out of college. he was there -- back by 1965, 1966. this was before it came as politicized as it would later become. his dad was in world war ii.
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his grandfather was in world war i. every generation had gone and done military service. my dad was in the marine corps in the core of engineers. to the extent that i talked about it, he quickly became convinced it was a mistake and we were staying too long. it was not clear why we were staying there. he was home before things got really ugly. >> after high school, you went on to college. what did you major in and why? how did you get interested in that field? rep. casten: i majored in molecular biology and biochemistry because i always wanted to be in politics. [laughter] that was good times. i enjoyed it. weirdly, i didn't want to be a doctor. everyone else in my major was premed. i wanted to do something
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environmental. biotech was just getting started. i remember reading about this company in florida that was doing industrial scale composting. i went and did that. i got out of school and, even though i didn't want to do medicine, i was working in the research lab. i spent two years in cancer research in boston. and then i felt like if i'm going to do this industrial biotech stuff, i need to go back biotech stuff, i need to go back to grad school. i went back to dartmouth and got a degree in biochemical engineering. >> for the rest of your career, what did you do? rep. casten: i got a job at a technology consulting firm. because of the stuff i had done on the chemical engineering
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side, designing devices that could convert gasoline into hydrogen, a lot of neat alternative energy stuff. i did that for three years. and i gradually became concerned about global warming as the central challenge of our time. and increasingly convinced that there were tons of companies that had technologies not ready for prime time that were hiring us as consultants. i sort of felt like if the companies that have mature technologies can't figure out how to sell them, maybe it is a business problem. and so, i took over a small manufacturing company in western massachusetts with a technology that was twice as fuel efficient as the electric grid.
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we went from 60-70 projects and moved to chicago and started doing the same thing on a bigger scale. and did that for another six or seven years. that brought me to selling the company in 2016. trump happened and here i am. >> how did you become a politician? rep. casten: we are all still wondering. i'll let you know when i become one. [laughter] >> what prompted you to run? you said it was the 2016 election? rep. casten: over the 16 years i spent at the energy companies, if you are building power plants that are more efficient than the grid and cheaper to run and save a ton of money for your customers, you are a threat to the existing electricity monopoly. as a small player in the space, what do you do about that? i ended up founding a trade association in new england.
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and then became the chair as sort of a side job while i was running the company in illinois. they did the same thing in washington. i spent a fair amount of time trying to get legislation passed on the hill that would ensure a competitive environment to people who could provide competitive value. i knew washington as a place where you went to try to get laws passed. i didn't have any experience as a politician. i became more and more convinced -- i knew there was no thermodynamic laws that prevented us from doing what we did. i knew there were no economic
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laws that prevented us from lowering co2. united states laws blocked us from doing more of it. when we sold our company, i was chatting with some of my colleagues. they said of the three sets of laws, only one can be changed. having a rise in climate change denial in washington and having a president who has never acknowledged it as such, i felt like maybe i could make a difference in the public service realm. >> what have you been focusing on while you are here, pertaining to clean energy? what legislation have you put forth? rep. casten: i'm on the fair climate committee. i'm the co-chair for the climate task force. the biggest caucus in washington. i have been trying to focus on legislation that recognizes -- this is a weird thing to say.
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we have hundreds of billions of dollars we could spend on assets that would modernize infrastructure and lower the cost of energy and put more money in people's pockets. in the construct of washington politics, that is a hard, how do you possibly pay for it problem. in the context of every other that is anever had, investment opportunity. i've been trying to work on policies that will change that. for example, we have a bunch of energy storage assets i'm trying to put in place. there will be an asset that increases the value of those assets because we won't have to ramp up more inefficient power. we are -- we have a number of bills we are working on that are designed not to use federal dollars to spend money but to remove the barriers that exist from the private sector.
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because once you get people with the ability to act out of their own self interest, they will always build one that is cheaper to operate rather than one that is expensive. there are barriers that block people from doing that so we are working to take some of those down. >> antonio delgado is the newly elected representative for new york's 19th congressional district. he is an attorney and former hip-hop artist. >> where were you born? rep. delgado: new york. >> what was your childhood like? rep. delgado: fun. my family was working-class. we spent a lot of time in church. spent a lot of time camping in upstate new york. spent a lot of time just enjoying life and the environment on the outside. it was a good time. also, a time where studying was very important. schoolwork was important.
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my parents pushed me to stay on top of my books. they believed that if you get a good education in this country, you had a good chance to get ahead. i have very fond memories of my childhood. >> who were your parents? rep. delgado: my parents were hard working. dedicated, loving and determined to see me succeed. >> where did they come from? rep. delgado: my parents came from -- my mom is from upstate new york. my father came from boston. they grew up in pretty rough neighborhoods. but through hard work, they found their way. they had a dream that their young kids would live better lives. >> where does your faith come from and do you continue to follow that today? rep. delgado: yes. i'm a spiritual person. i do believe that your meaning
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and purpose in life can be derived from a sense of connecting with something highter than yourself. i think my parents, based on how they were brought up in their homes and communities, felt the same thing. they wanted to pass that down. it's traditional in a sense that you have to believe in something to some extent if you want to overcome obstacles in life. not just as an individual but as a part of a community that has seen marginalization historically. >> you went to college where? rep. delgado: colgate university. >> and you play basketball, tell us about that. rep. delgado: the last time we went to the ncaa tournament was 20 years ago. i think this year's team was the first team to go since then. basketball is my first love. i remember saying i wanted to go to the nba when i was eight. and my dad said you're not going
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to the nba. he said here are all the players on each team and did the math and you said you have a one in a million chance to make it. your best bet is to try being a doctor. that was my childhood. but, i love basketball to this day. >> you played with a future mba ballplayer. rep. delgado: i did. adonal foyle, who has done a lot of work in the space of democracy. a really good guy. he introduced me at teh commencement address. i gave the commencement address at the bicentennial year of the school. to be able to connect with the students and flashback to 20 years ago and see myself out there like them and now here i am as a congressperson, it's pretty amazing. >> after college, you moved to california and you were in the
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music industry. tell our viewers what you did. rep. delgado: i left my parents scratching their heads. i graduated from law school and had a bunch of student debt over my head but i wanted to figure out how to connect with young people and speak through hip-hop culture and talk about issues that matter to me and i think are still relevant today. income inequality to wealth disparity to gender inequities, climate change, police brutality, all the things were the things i was talking about in my music. i wanted a platform to be able to do that on. i felt there was no better platform than hip-hop music. it was not a monetarily successful endeavor. ateept on air mattresses, cup o noodles daily. at one point, i was the janitor
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for a department building. my parents were certainly supportive but a little bit concerned about what i was doing. in the end, it was fulfilling and rewarding. >> you did go on to harvard law school and you are a rhodes scholar as well. rep. delgado: yes. which is why my parents were scratching their heads. >> when did you start rapping? rep. delgado: my first love was singing. i was in the church choir with my mom. and then i was in an r&b group in college, which went nowhere. i was really into writing poetry. my ninth grade english teacher, mr. o'bryant was the first person to introduce me to poetry. so i got into that. i've always been writing poetry. it wasn't until my college years that i started to rap. and try to actually speak the words to a beat.
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it kind of took off from there. i didn't take it serious as a career choice until i got to law school. and i really started to figure out for myself what i wanted to do coming out of law school. at that point, i didn't see law as the space for me to have the kind of impact that i wanted to have. >> do you still rap today? rep. delgado: no. i don't. i certainly think about things i like to say or write about. i just don't have the time to actually write. spentf my time is thinking about how to help my constituents and make sure i am serving their needs and we have a lot of things to focus on. am very excited to be in this position and have the chance to serve the community that gave me so much. that takes my time.
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>> tell us about your wife. rep: delgado i could go on for too long about my wife. born in all, we were the same month in the same year. we grew up one hour apart and i fell in love with her at first sight. it was my first week at lost school in harvard heard she stood up to present something and it was a documentary project for her third year law school paper. i volunteered not knowing what i was volunteering for but i knew she was the one i wanted to marry. her story is remarkable. she did not find out until her mother had an affair with an african-american. rather than succumbing to some
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of the pain that can come about, she made a documentary about that secret with her family. father andn with her really pressing the issue to get to the bottom of for truth. a lot of courage. it is the same sort of courage that has throughout the course of her life. >> the documentary she made? rep: delgado the documentary is called little white lie. it is an amazing film and a testament to her internal fortitude. it is about talking about the andet with her parents dealing with difficult conversation. so much of our identity and who we are sometimes can be trapped in the closet, particularly when your parents are the ones who
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might not have been honest with you. how do you engage in that conversation? the first time she spoke to her father, the man who raised her, thinking she was his daughter was on camera. she created the dynamic and put herself in that vulnerable position. a lot of people have looked to the film as a way to find their own sense of courage and fortitude when confronted with difficult conversations like that. >> can you give us a little rap as we close out? rep: delgado i cannot. >> why not? rep: delgado i have not done it in a while and it is a different time. i don't look backwards. i am looking toward the future. in on what iocked can do for the community that
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gave me and my family so much. the only way i can serve in the way i want to serve is the way to continue to get out there and think about how we can build a better future. to think about the vision we can restore for people back home and that means keeping my eyes in front of me. >> new congress, newly leaders, follow it all on c-span. >> the u.s. house will be gaveling in and about half an hour at noon eastern beginning with short speeches. members will gavel out and be back at 2:00 eastern to consider 14 bills, considering sanctions against saudi arabia and officials. house lawmakers tomorrow will begin legislative work at noon eastern and consider resolutions citing william barr for contempt of congress. after the administration refused to respond.
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we will have live coverage on c-span. before the house can take up the resolution, it has to go through the rules committee, that will decide parameters for debate on tuesday. that rules committee meeting is on tuesday and you can see it at 5:00 eastern on c-span3 and it will be available online at c-span -- robert mueller's testimony that was originally scheduled for wednesday has been pushed back one week. he will answer questions from the house judiciary committee for his investigation into russian interference in the 2016 election. coverage onh live wednesday, july 24 on c-span3. also online at or you can listen with the free c-span radio app.
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communicators, a congressman who represents silicon valley talks about the big issues facing the tech industry and the oversight roles of congress. people are outraged. i presume they still are. the things congress should be doing to keep political campaigns from using our data to change the way we think about our votes. we struggle to proceed. >> we need to have strong privacy laws. it articulates a few things. we should never have data collected without knowing about it and our consent. we should know what is happening to our data. in the cambridge analytic a case, facebook should have had a responsibility to immediately notify people when they were transferring their data. they did not do that. people should be able to inquire at any point with facebook what
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was happening to their data. that law was not there. if you pass the basic protections for people online, you would avoid things like the cambridge analytic a scandal. >> spent two tonight at 8:00 eastern -- watch the communicators tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. >> c-span has provided unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public-policy events from washington, d.c., and around the country, so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, or unfiltered view of government -- your unfiltered view of government. host: jim brins


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