This election season APIC was hoping to host a candidate forum with candidates Patty Murray and Tiffany Smiley. After only hearing confirmation from Tiffany Smiley’s campaign, we shifted to asking them questions in written form. We reached out to both candidates and only received a response from Patty Murray. Below are her responses.
What are your top three priority issues that you plan to address as Senator of Washington State?
I want to keep building an economy that works for everyone—not just giant corporations and billionaires. We made important progress lowering the cost of prescription drugs, lowering health care costs, investing in a clean energy economy, and creating more good-paying jobs right here in Washington state through the CHIPS Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—but I am determined to do more to lower everyday costs for the basics like passing my plan to make child care affordable and accessible to everyone.
With a pro-choice majority, I am ready to pass my bill to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land and restore a woman’s rights to make their own health care decisions in our country on day one.
And finally, I want to keep our democracy a democracy and am determined to pass strong, federal voting rights protections to make sure every American can be heard at the ballot box.
Because of the 1996 immigrant welfare reform changes, for decades many of our most vulnerable immigrant and refugee community members have been systematically excluded from numerous federal benefits, and advocates have had to push the Washington state government to help fill these gaps in our social safety nets out of necessity. How do you plan to ensure that immigrant families are able to access future relief resources from the federal government?
I support comprehensive immigration reform to make our immigration system more just and humane. This extends to public charge determinations, which have been used to harm immigrants, their families, or those seeking to come to the United States. I fought against the Trump Administration’s proposed expansion of the public charge definition and was glad to see the Biden Administration repeal that definition in March 2021.
I believe that federal assistance should be easily accessible to those most in need of it, including immigrants, and that our country is strongest when it invests in immigrants, refugees and their families.
Since the onset of the pandemic, our communities have faced an increase in anti-Asian violence and harassment. In your opinion, what can our federal government do to prevent anti-Asian violence? How do you plan to address this as Senator?
I absolutely condemn anti-Asian violence and harassment and was proud to cosponsor the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which passed into law in May of 2021. That law directs the Department of Justice to dedicate additional resources to responding to anti-Asian hate crimes, issue guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies on establishing and tracking anti-Asian hate crimes and provide grants to states and local governments to establish anti-Asian hate crime reporting systems.
I have also fought to boost funding for human rights and civil rights enforcement by federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies. And going beyond legislative action, I have and will continue to use my position to speak out against and call attention to anti-Asian hate — which is always unacceptable.
COVID 19 revealed the devastating health inequities in our communities, with Pacific Islander communities being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. How are you continuing to ensure that vulnerable communities are receiving sustained access to healthcare, testing, vaccines, boosters, and education around COVID and beyond?
I was one of the first members of Congress to call for a just and equitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In September of 2020, I released a report detailing how the public health system failed communities of color and offered policy recommendations for addressing entrenched bias, discrimination, and racism.=
Since then, I have worked to enact several of those recommendations, including expanded ACA insurance subsidies and new funding for vaccine outreach and administration to high-risk and underserved populations. I will continue to fight for a federal right to paid sick, family, and medical leave, to ensure that people of color—including Pacific Islanders—are better represented in clinical trials and that the health care system is equipped to provide culturally-appropriate care and bolster the capacity of public health departments to assess and close racial and ethnic disparities.
What have you done to support and steward healthy, safe, and anti-racist communities for all people? How have you supported A&NH/PI communities specifically?
I have long fought to ensure that our government actively combats racism and delivers justice for all communities. For example, my BE HEARD Act takes aim at workplace harassment by putting a halt to commonly abused employment practices aimed at silencing workers and expanding the avenues through which workers can speak out against and seek accountability for workplace harassment.
I have also worked to increase funding for key federal bodies that enforce civil rights laws and combat discrimination, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Lastly, I have worked to ensure that the justice system reflects the diversity of the nation and Washington state: I was proud to secure the confirmation of Judges Tana Lin and John Chun, the first individuals of Asian descent to serve as federal judges in Washington state.
How do you plan to engage and work with Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities throughout your time in office?
Throughout my time in the Senate, myself and my staff have regularly met with Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander constituents so that I can be the strongest possible voice for Washington state’s A&NH/PI communities.
For example, I have worked closely with the International Community Health Services’ (ICHS) AiPACE project, and recently, I secured $1.6 million in federal funding for a new facility that will allow seniors in Seattle’s International District to age within their communities. And I’m working to secure $2.5 million for construction of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center in Tacoma in the Fiscal Year 2023 spending bill.