An interview with U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Lesko – by Octavian D. Curpas
Debbie Lesko is a conservative American politician and a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Arizona’s 8th congressional district. She previously served as a member of the Arizona Senate from 2015 to 2018, representing the state’s 21st district. She also was President pro tempore of the Arizona Senate from 2017 to 2018. Debbie Lesko also served as a member of Arizona House of Representatives from 2009 until 2015.
Lesko won the Republican nomination for Arizona’s 8th congressional district special election to replace Trent Franks, who resigned from Congress, on February 27, 2018. She won the election on April 24, defeating Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni with 52.4% of the vote to Tipirneni’s 47.6%.
Debbie Lesko is also a professing Evangelical Christian. She is attending Palmcroft Baptist Church in Phoenix.
“Many people are saying that we shouldn’t talk about religion and politics. I believe these are the things we should talk about. They are the most important topics. They affect all of us, our lives and our goals” (Debbie Lesko).
– Can you please tell us a little bit about your background and your journey from a state senator to the House of Representatives?
– I served in the Arizona House of Representatives before becoming a state Senator for LD21. In the Arizona Senate, I served as Chairman of the Appropriations and Finance Committees, as well as President Pro Tempore. When Congressman Franks unexpectedly resigned, I was encouraged to run for the open seat. I beat 11 opponents in the primary and won the special election in April. On May 7, I was sworn in and have been serving the people of Arizona’s 8th Congressional District since, and I look forward to continuing to represent our district in Congress.
– What are you most proud of about your work/life?
– I am most proud of being able to serve my fellow Arizonans and make a difference in people’s lives. This is my home, and I humbled by the opportunity to represent my community in the U.S. Congress.
– What is the biggest challenge you face in your position as a congresswoman?
– The biggest challenge for me was a quick transition into Congress. I was sworn-in and immediately handed my voting card and told to vote. I had to make quick adjustments, like hire a new staff, find a place to live in D.C., and learn the Capitol and House rules. Although there are many similarities, it is much different than the Arizona legislature. What was different for me was that most members at the start of a new Congress are guided through the transition, but that doesn’t happen when you win a special election.
– Probably for many of the constituents in Arizona and in the U.S. the main concerns are: the job situation and the National Debt.
You mentioned that you are committed to cutting wasteful government spending, stating that the federal government must live within its means. Can you please share more details on this and eventually name some projects that the government should not fund?
– Our national debt is out of control, and frankly, it is a threat to our national security. I have always been a good steward of taxpayer dollars and take that into consideration when I decide to support legislation. A good example of wasteful government spending is all the money that Congress appropriates to various agencies that just sits in accounts and isn’t spent. That is why I supported bills such as H.R. 3 — the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act. The bill included almost $15 billion in rescinded spending previously authorized by law. That is money we could have easily used elsewhere or put towards reducing our debt.
– What areas do you consider that the government should reduce the spending?
– We should evaluate all areas of government spending to see what can be cut or reduced.
– On June 28th, 2018, you introduced your first bill since being sworn into Congress. H.R. 6259, the Make Education Local Act of 2018, would allow individual states to submit their own education plans, known as a State Management Decision, to the Secretary of Education. What were you hoping to achieve when you proposed this law?
– Education is one of my highest priorities in Congress. I have visited 11 schools across the district to observe classrooms and discuss education policy with teachers and administrators. I have found that our local schools know their students and their needs best—not bureaucrats in Washington. My bill allows the states to set their own education plans free from burdensome Washington mandates. Ultimately, this puts more money into the classrooms for our students and teachers to improve the quality of education rather than being spent to comply with all the regulations.
– “The regulations and taxes of Obamacare have crippled the health insurance industry and increased premiums substantially for American individuals, families, and small businesses”. How do we develop a health care plan that is affordable to all?
– Health care decisions should be made by the individual—not the government. Freedom and choice in the marketplace allows people to choose a plan that fits their needs, and ultimately lowers the cost for them and for others. The Democrats’ idea for a government-run health care system will take away choice and competition in health care, cost taxpayers $33 trillion, raise taxes, and be a disaster for our country.
– Perhaps you remember that people here in Arizona a couple of years ago joined in the world-wide demonstrations against the child protection agency in Norway, which had taken five children from their parents (Bodnariu family) and were planning for the children never to come back to their family, although that family was very good indeed. People in different parts of the world are beginning to be very concerned about unwarranted actions from their DCS organizations in many Western countries. What are your thoughts on the situation here in Arizona and the USA?
– While I served in the Arizona Senate, I worked with Arizona’s Department of Child Services (DCS) to make reforms. Starting July 1, 2018, court orders are needed before Arizona DCS can remove any children from their homes. I believe that parents and children should have similar due process in a court of law throughout the nation.
– Do you think there a law that the Congress could enact that would really make a difference in reducing gun violence and building safe communities?
– This is an issue that cannot be solved by a single bill, but there are steps that we can take to make our communities safer and tools we can provide. For example, I cosponsored legislation that creates a school safety grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to keep our schools and our students safe (H.R. 5107). I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I have been endorsed by the NRA.
– Are you concerned that people see the Republican Party more closely tied to what people call “white nationalists” and that association effects minority outreach?
– The Republican Party is accepting of everyone and works to advance policies that benefit all Americans. A few extreme voices do not speak for the millions of honorable Republicans in our county committed to racial equality.
– What solutions do you propose to solve the immigration problem?
– First and foremost, we must secure the border. My border plan includes a physical barrier at our southern border, increased technology, and more boots on the ground to end the problem of illegal border crossings. It is important to remember that our border isn’t just our outer perimeter, but our air, land, and sea ports of entry as well. My bill to evaluate our ports and make them more secure passed unanimously in the House in September – H.R. 6400, the United States Ports of Entry Threat and Operational Review Act.
– You recently met with the president Donald Trump and talked to him about this issue. What exactly did you discuss?
– President Trump and I agreed that we must secure the border. We both want to end the problem of illegal immigration once and for all and close all the loopholes that exacerbate this. We are both committed to solving the crisis at our border.
– I am sure you are aware of the cases that continue to be brought against Christians regarding their freedoms of choice. Do you feel that we are going in the right direction when it comes to constitutional freedom to profess our faith and serve our community based on our believes without fear of discrimination, punishment, fines or penalties from government?
– As a Christian, I believe we should be able to practice our faith freely without government intrusion or being forced to do something against our faith. In Congress, I will continue to support legislation that allows us to exercise our conscience and remove undue burdens on our faith.
– Lastly, what message do you have for our Romanian community in Arizona?
– The Romanian community is an integral part of our area and our state. I am here to assist the community in any way I can, so please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.
– What quote do you live by?
– “Start each day with a grateful heart.”
Octavian D. Curpas