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Rosa DeLauro on Dubya, Hillary, and the Hill

By Athena Theodoro

In a year when Dubya and Weird Al have taken over the airwaves, it's sometimes difficult to remember that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. isn't the only house up for grabs this election year. Indeed, as Tues., Nov. 7 approaches, the political balance of the House of Representatives hinges on a few key elections around the U.S. Though Connecticut's Third District isn't in contention, five-term Congresswoman and New Haven native Rosa DeLauro(D-CT) recently talked to the Herald about her experiences with Capitol Hill, Hillary, and Lazio and the race for the White House.

Yale Herald: What are the single most important issues this election year?

Rosa DeLauro: I intend to continue the fight for quality education for our nation's children, including modernizing our schools, hiring 100,000 new teachers and providing tax credits for localities to help build new schools. In addition, I support Vice President Gore's proposal to make most college tuition tax-deductible and to make preschool available to every four-year-old.
COURTESY WWW.HOUSE.GOV
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro represents New Haven and Connecticut's Third District in the House.

I also intend to continue my work on health care, especially women's and children's health concerns. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the Yale Child Study Center, which is a great resource in our community. I enjoy my work with the Center on a range of issues, including health care, education, and community policing. I am also very concerned with our environment and the issue of global warming. On a local level, I have been a consistent voice in the battle for additional funds for the Long Island Sound estuaries. Only a few days ago we won this battle—Congress authorized $200 million over five years to assist with the implementation of a comprehensive conservation and management plan.


YH: What are the single most important issues to you, globally speaking?

RD: I have always been a strong advocate for the environment, supporting tax credits for the use of renewable energy sources and fuel-efficient automobiles. Global warming will require major new efforts as the U.S. economy becomes more engaged with the global economy. We must make sure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit. I have also co-sponsored legislation that would make our air cleaner and healthier to breathe. I believe that more of our global attention should be focused on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and on child poverty. And, as recent events have come to pass, I believe it is imperative now more than ever that we continue efforts to seek peace in the Middle East.


YH: You've declared your support for Hillary Clinton, LAW '73, in the past. What do you think she'll bring to the Senate that her opponent, Rick Lazio, will not, if elected this November?

RD: I have served in the House of Representatives with Rick Lazio since he was first elected in 1992. I have found him to be a thoughtful public servant. However, I do think that Hillary Clinton brings years of service and commitment to the well-being of our nation's children. Hillary Clinton is a bright, capable and dedicated public servant. I am confident that she will be a very effective legislator.


YH: Assuming you are a party loyalist, what is it that Al Gore will bring to the country that George W. Bush, DC '68, will not?

RD: I do consider myself progressive and I do support Al Gore. But that has nothing to do with my party loyalty. I believe Al Gore is the better choice because we share the same values: a belief in the need to strengthen Social Security and Medicare so we can take care of our parents and future generations of retirees; a faith in the public education system and a desire to see every child get a quality education; a goal of improving our health care system, to make sure that every child is insured and has quality health care available to them; to hold HMOs accountable through a Patients' Bill of Rights; and to provide a prescription drug benefit to our nation's seniors. I'm also committed to targeted tax cuts for the wealthy, which translates into an increase in the minimum wage and eliminating the national debt. We don't want future generations still paying interest on the deficits of the 1980s.


YH: How do you feel about term limits? What are their upsides and downsides?

RD: I firmly believe that the public should elect who they want, whether that person has never served in public office before or whether he or she has served for decades. There are some freshmen members of Congress who I have been thrilled to work with—I love seeing the new energy they bring to Capitol Hill. Similarly, there are some senior members—Congressman John Dingell [D-MI], David Bonior [D-MI], and David Obey [D-WI] come to mind—whose knowledge of the process and dedication to improving the quality of life for all Americans is truly impressive. I would not support term limits, but would hope the voters would make their preferences known every time they walk into the voting booth.


YH: On a more personal note, how did you make decisions about what to prioritize and what to be busy with when your children were younger?

RD: While I absolutely love my job and have been blessed to have had a career in which I have always been challenged and offered rewarding opportunities, I think family must always be one's top priority. My family brings me great joy and contentment, and I would not trade that for any job.

When I first came to Washington to serve as Chief of Staff for Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), I had just been married two years and my stepchildren were very young. It was easy to decide to return to New Haven each weekend to spend time with my mother—my father died when I was in college—and to see my husband and children. I still do that. New Haven is my home and I can't imagine not living here. My mother-in-law now lives in New Haven and my mother just retired last year as the longest-serving alderwoman in the history of New Haven. While our children are now grown and live in cities across the Northeast and Midwest, they visit my husband and [me] in Washington and New Haven quite often and we make sure to take family vacations every year.

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