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Don Quinn on the Issues

Don Quinn is a Democrat running for Congress in Maryland's 3rd Congressional District. Learn more about Don Quinn's views on the issues and how he will fight to bring our democratic Maryland values to the U.S. Congress.

Building a Stronger Economy That Works for Everyone: Workers Rights and Creating Jobs

American ingenuity and enterprise are the driving forces that made us a global force for good.. Empowering workers by ensuring that they are all paid a living wage, and making sure that their work conditions are safe and free from any kind of discrimination is critically important to me. As a civil rights lawyer who deals with employment related cases every day, I have seen the heartache personally and witnessed the need for strong job growth, worker protection, and Congress that fights for the rights of American workers. This starts by protecting American industry by working to bring more jobs home to the continental United States. “Made in America” is and should be the gold standard for manufacturing, particularly when it comes to infrastructure, technology, and green energy parts and components. We need to start ensuring that things are made here both from an economic perspective and from a labor perspective. We need to re-empower the small business and entrepreneurial mentality that has always driven our economy forward. At the same time we need to reinvigorate our labor force with a strong focus on resilient and empowered labor unions. People must have the ability to work unafraid, assured fair wages, decent working conditions, and a workplace free from harassment, bigotry, and discrimination. While attorney watchdogs, like me, can take the fight one person at a time – we need a congressman who understands the importance of this issue and fights to make changes to current legislative schemes and law in order to improve workers’ rights and create even more “Made in America” jobs. Here are some of the ways we can build a stronger economy and support our families. Reducing Inflation Inflation has made it difficult for Americans to afford basic necessities: housing, food, transportation, medical care, and so much more. Even with a “living wage” job, many Americans are being forced to make impossible financial choices — while the wealthiest among us get richer and richer. We need a sound economic policy that reduces inflation and strengthens everyday Americans. Supporting Small Business Ownership to Create Jobs Where does job growth actually come from? Over the last 25 years, small businesses created 66% of net new jobs — 12.9 million in total. In other words, mom-and-pop shops, entrepreneurs, and family companies are creating the majority of American jobs. This is all the more impressive given that we have a tax policy that gives handouts to our biggest corporations while miring small entrepreneurs in complicated tax codes before they ever bring a product to market, serve their first customer, or find that first client. It’s also hard for small businesses to stay in business. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump Whitehouse rolled out COVID relief funds for businesses to help cover payroll for companies who had to shut down or lost business — but it was difficult, and sometimes impossible, for small business owners to actually access the money. The process was so arduous that only businesses who already had the staff and in-house expertise to navigate the program application had a shot at getting support. Those without the resources to quickly navigate the confusing application process were left out. If I had been in Congress, I would have fought Trump’s SBA to create a fair program that set aside funds for our smallest businesses — and directly worked with our District’s business owners to make sure they had the resources they needed to apply. That way, an Annapolis boat company with ten employees or a Columbia orthodontist office with five, wouldn’t be competing against a company with millions in sales and a CFO for the same pot of money. By being thoughtful and strategic, we can ensure that our policies and processes work for small business owners who are already juggling and wearing multiple hats. Supporting Working Families Parents and caregivers face enormous barriers to entering our workforce. A lack of paid family leave forces many to leave the workplace — and when they want to return to work, a lack of access to childcare prevents parents from doing so. We need a national plan to subsidize and assist working parents with overbearing childcare costs. Working parents would put more money (through wages) in the pockets of working-class families. An additional barrier to work is lack of accessible transportation. We need more public transportation options, including commuter rail and a large network of electric buses. This won’t happen without investment at the federal level. Congress must move quickly to support the transportation needs of this country’s workforce to ensure that the ability to work is not dictated by an infrequent bus service or the number of cars in a household.


As a parent of seven, with six currently in public schools and my oldest at Johns Hopkins, I know firsthand how important it is that we have a high-quality, well-funded school system in Maryland and around the country. We have spent way too long allowing uneducated opinions to govern the quality of our schools and the education of our children and the results have been disastrous. Congress is tasked with the welfare of the nation, its time we took active steps at the federal level to use the power of the federal purse to ensure that every child in America is receiving a quality education based on science, math, civics, and history. In Congress I intend to push for standardizing education outcomes across every state and every county. To do this we have to take a long hard look at curriculum, teacher training, benefits, and pay, and methods of delivery. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it is how important it is for us to modernize our teaching methods, improve the infrastructure for education delivery, and focus on resilience so that children can get the best education wherever they are and whatever the circumstances. If Donald Trump or one of his minions wins the White House or Republicans win in Congress — or worse, both — vital federal programs that support our schools and our most vulnerable students would be at risk. We have to be ready to stand up against cuts to school funding or vital programs like Free and Reduced-Price Meals. As a veteran who benefitted from the G.I. Bill, and a lawyer who fought for other veterans to receive the benefits they earned, I’ve seen firsthand how better education benefits can make a college degree possible. We need to stop crippling every future generation with backbreaking debt by regulating lending, college tuition costs, and providing opportunities for those who want to go to trade schools. Funding, growing, and encouraging trade schools is going to be central to my push for improving the lives of everyday Americans, as is working to ensure that all Americans, all Marylanders, can afford to pursue their education goals without being driven into decades of debt.


Reproductive Rights

Roe v. Wade was a critical decision by the Supreme Court, one that stood the test of time and provided the women of America the right to an abortion for nearly five decades. But we knew it was vulnerable, we knew that the protections offered by that decision could be overturned - we knew it because the opponents of Roe v. Wade told us loudly that they wanted to erode the reproductive rights of women, the right to choose, and they told us how they were going to do it. Despite this clear message, Congress has spent the time since Roe v. Wade doing absolutely nothing to protect it. Instead, they should have been, and could have been, working towards comprehensive legislation that codified the right to private health care, reproductive rights, and a woman’s right to choose. It is not enough for individual states to protect abortion rights, it is up to the Federal Government, as a body committed to the health and welfare of all Americans to act in a way that precludes any court from taking away women’s rights ever again. Separating the emotional and religious arguments that should not permeate across the wall of separation between church and state, we must find a way to codify a woman’s right to choice at the federal level. This is Congress’ responsibility.


Gun Violence

Gun violence is an epidemic that has spread pain and suffering across our nation, while leaders in Congress have allowed the Courts to take the lead on deciding who has access to firearms. The results have been catastrophic. Most recently, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found Maryland’s waiting period on gun purchases to be unconstitutional and a direct violation of the 2nd Amendment. This decision undermined common-sense legislation passed at the state level and undid a barrier to gun access for those with ill intent. The only way to prevent further erosion of protections against gun violence is for Congress to act at a national level. Guns have found their way into the history and cultural narrative of America. As a result, they are not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Any fears to the contrary are simple scare tactics used to drum up votes by conservative politicians in Washington. What our community needs is common sense gun legislation – something that most safe gun owners would agree are reasonable and necessary. Background checks that include a health history, verification of mental instabilities, domestic violence, or homicidal/suicidal ideations must be the norm when purchasing a gun regardless of where the gun is purchased. A comprehensive database, accessible to gun sellers and law enforcement, of people not allowed to have guns is the only way to limit them from getting into the wrong hands. Raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 (the legal drinking age) for all individuals who want to purchase a gun and limiting the amount of ammunition that can be purchased by one individual over a six-month period are simple but effective steps. Like getting a driver’s license, those seeking to purchase a gun should be required to demonstrate competency with the weapon by periodically passing state approved safety classes, spending time on a range with a qualified instructor, and passing a basic shooting test, are ways to encourage safe and competent gun ownership. These measures are something we can all agree on and are a simple way to move the needle on the gun conversation in America. Finally, there is no recreational or sporting justification for high volume magazines or weapons designed for military usage. Such weapons must be limited to, stored with, and controlled by well-regulated structured militia that have a command structure and follow the Uniform Code of Military Justice, military gun handling regulations, and other systems to ensure that their members are qualified to be considered a well-regulated militia.



Maryland residents spend an average of $12,644.00 per year on health care, higher than the National Average of $11,910.00. Most Marylanders, like most Americans, believe that Pharmaceutical companies are charging too much for their product and I could not agree more. Hospitals charge too much for their services and ultimately it all comes down to an insurance system that is designed with one goal in mind, to make money for the insurance companies. It is a model that has to change. First, we need to pass legislation that allows the federal and state governments to negotiate the price of prescription drugs for all senior citizens, specifically those who are receiving benefits, like Medicare from the government. This legislation must also be expanded to include recipients of Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, Affordable Housing, and all other forms of government assistance. Second, we need legislation that will place reasonable but strict caps on the price of critical lifesaving medications like insulin, albuterol, and paxlovid. As such drug companies must be required to set their prices once per year with government oversight and be unable to change them again until the next year. All price changes must come with advanced notification and be reviewed by a Prescription Drug Affordability Board that makes recommendations on whether to approve or deny proposed increases to the federal government. Third, it is unconscionable that Americans have to pay more for the same drugs as people living outside of the United States. Companies must be prohibited from selling any prescription medication in the United State for more than they charge outside the United States. Forth, the insurance industry must be regulated to prevent it from constantly increasing prices and making health care decisions by proxy. Instead, doctors and other health care professionals, along with the patients, must be free to make whatever medical decisions are necessary for the patient’s health. Passing common sense legislation that prohibits any interference by insurance companies in the providing of health care is a simple solution that we can all agree on.


Environmental Justice

Clean air to breath, clean water to drink, healthy food for our bodies, and a safe and healthy environment in which to live are fundamental human rights. Congress cannot continue to write vague legislation in the hope that the Courts will strengthen and interpret these laws to protect the American people. Instead, Congress must work decisively to ensure that these rights are upheld in every community and for every family across the country regardless of ethnicity, race, or income level. Clean air means reducing the amount of contaminants and pollutants spewn into the air by under-regulated industrial companies. While many companies strive to meet the safety and environmental requirements set out by the federal government, many also utilize loopholes and lackadaisical enforcement to poison communities with industrial by-products. This under regulation is having catastrophic effects on our health. Today, 1 in 12 Americans suffers from Asthma, and there is mounting evidence that unclean air can lead to heart disease, and other health issues. These health impacts are seen in our country’s most vulnerable residents, such as children, older Americans, and those who already suffer from medical issues. Poor and non-white communities often bear the brunt of these impacts, magnifying their impact and harming communities already vulnerable to other systemic injustices. Clean water, like clean air, means ensuring that all citizens have access to and the right to clean drinking water, and water for recreation. For Marylanders, this means a clean and restored Chesapeake Bay. Contaminates like nitrogen, phosphorus, and other chemicals continue to make their way into our waterways - like deadly PFSAs (Forever Chemicals) that have been found in over a dozen tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. We have spent decades studying and understanding these challenges and now have comprehensive ideas on what is needed to address it. What is needed is swift and yes, costly, action by Congress to prevent chemicals from flowing into our waterways and then our bodies. Access to healthy food is a subject rarely broached in Congress despite the fact that Americans eat some of the most chemically treated, biologically enhanced food on the planet. Due to a lack of easily accessible, and financially appropriate alternatives to this chemical-laden food, Americans’ health levels are consistently the lowest amongst developed nations. Congressional direction and federal oversight of food production and distribution is needed to ensure that every American can access the healthy food they need to live a healthy life. Dramatic changes in what food producers are allowed to put into food, and what food grocers can sell is the only way to address our rapidly lowering levels of public health - hand in hand with legislation to make healthcare more affordable. Working to provide Americans with healthier outcomes and better food is something we should all be able to agree on.


Climate Change

Addressing climate change and its impact is one of the central tasks of our time. Unrestrained use of fossil fuels in the United States and across the world is driving unprecedented changes in the world’s climate that threaten to make portions of the world uninhabitable in the near future. While agreements like the Paris Accords have created hope that the United States and other countries can come together to at least prevent the most severe projections of climate scientists from occurring, the implementation here at home has been sluggish, with many in Congress even refusing to acknowledge that climate change is occurring. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, I believe we are at a pivotal point in the push to limit the impact of climate change, and that our actions today will have a significant effect on the lives of our children, and our children’s children. Congress must work to take decisive action to lower our dependence on fossil fuels in the next five years. While we are forced to depend on fossil fuels for every aspect of our lives, from industrial production to the cars we drive, it continues to poison our air and change our climate. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuel through the expansion of alternative energy sources will not be detrimental to our country’s economy. On the contrary, turning away from fossil fuels is not only sound environmental and climate policy, but also domestic policy which allows us to turn inward for the production of our energy needs - increasing our independence on the geopolitical stage. Though some continue to claim that climate change is a hoax, we are well past that. Climate change is already here. It is already impacting the lives of people who live in areas affected by rising water, severe storms, and raging wildfires. While Annapolis is the most obvious example of the effect of rising water, rising waters are submerging lowlands and low-lying communities across the state, they are eroding beaches, increasing the risk of flooding across the state and the nation, and increasing the salinity of the water which affects vulnerable species like the Maryland Blue Crab. Hurricanes and severe storms in the Atlantic, as well as other severe weather events, are projected to only become more frequent and intense in the near future. These events threaten the existence of entire communities as perpetual destruction of housing and businesses make rebuilding more and more costly. We must invest in our nation's emergency response and disaster recovery programs to ensure that our communities can safely respond and withstand these threats and prevent displacement and destruction of at-risk lives and property. By fully funding recovery programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and encouraging the streamlining of assistance applications can ensure that survivors of severe weather events get the assistance they need to fully recover. By encouraging federal collaboration and support of state and local-level response agencies, we can ensure that the first responders serving our communities have the resources they need to do their jobs in the face of a worsening climate. Providing people with solutions in the face of worsening disasters, climate migration, changing ecosystems, and rising waters has to become a top priority for Congress, even as we continue the battle to turn the tide on climate change.


Civil Rights

As demonstrated by the events of the last several years, our civil rights are under attack. We have seen those rights under constant siege, with everything from partisan gerrymandering to suppress our right to vote, an all-out assault on the nation’s Capital by people who did not like the result of a free and fair election. These are actions meant to erode the system of rights that we all enjoy - the rights that make America great. Voting is the most fundamental right of our democracy. Recently, the federal 8th Circuit Court struck down the right of citizens to sue the government to protect their own voting rights. Taking away the ability of individual citizens to stand up for their right to vote is essentially the end of the Voting Rights Act and the final nail in the coffin of the belief that all citizens have the right to vote unfettered and, in a way, most convenient to them. The fault does not lie with the courts alone. Congress must take seriously its obligation to protect the rights of the American people by passing legislation that clearly defines the right to sue when voting rights are violated. The first and most important priority of the next Congress should be to revisit critical civil rights legislation and strengthen it with language that is clear, concise, and requires no fancy interpretation by unelected courts to protect the rights of the citizens. Doing this will serve to prevent a conservative-stacked court system from working overtime to erode and derail many of our most cherished and fundamental rights. In addition to the multi-faceted assault on our civil rights at the federal level, many experience a similar assault on their rights in their workplace every day. Congress must act to narrow the gap in access to justice between employers and employees by legislating what constitutes workplace discrimination and clearly laying out a path for employees to follow so that they are not quickly and summarily dismissed by the courts. Congress can also move quickly to improve workplace protections for the nearly 47,000 civilian federal workers that call the 3rd Congressional District home. As it stands today, federal workers have 45 days to file a complaint of discrimination from the date of the incident. Compared to this, non-federally employed people have between 120 and 300 days to take the same action. This must be rectified to ensure that federal workers have at least the same workplace rights as their non-federally employed counterparts.


Preserving Our Democracy

American democracy has been challenged in a way that we have not seen since the Civil War. From the overt and blatant lies about a stolen election to the rebellion or insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, and to the striking down of the individual ability of voters to sue under the Voting Rights act, our democracy is playing chicken with extinction. Congress cannot be content to simply go along and hope that these challenges to democracy will be resolved within hearings or by burying our head in the sand. Laws must be passed that ensure the peaceful transition of power and punish those who would challenge it by removing their ability to ever run for office again. For insurrectionists, we now find ourselves needing to update our code of laws to give the courts clear guidelines on what an insurrection looks like in the 21st century and outlining the Courts responsibilities when someone engages in such acts. From protecting children first amendment rights to read whatever they want to bringing the pressure of the federal government down on states that attempt to squash debate and silence opposing points of view, we have to take our values – the values of liberty, equality, and unfettered democracy back to Congress and fight the pitched battles necessary to protect the republic.


Housing for All

For decades, safe, accessible, and affordable housing has been out of reach for millions of Americans — and hundreds of thousands of Marylanders. While Congress has failed to act decisively to address this crisis, the majority of Americans say that affordability of housing is a problem in their local community, because the impact is clear. We are seeing rising homelessness rates in our communities; increasing challenges for those pursuing the dream of homeownership, especially Black and Latino households; and the decay of once thriving communities due to increased housing costs that push our neighbors into poverty. America’s homeownership rate is falling. Minority homeownership rates are lower than a decade ago. For those who have been able to buy, many are struggling with the risk of foreclosure — a catastrophic blow to families that robs future generations of the key builder of intergenerational wealth in America today. While homeownership is vital to economic mobility and building wealth for our middle class, it remains inaccessible to too many of us. The federal government must work to grow the country’s homeownership rate and ensure that all families can access benefits. Policy leaders know the right solutions: increasing down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers, bolstering foreclosure prevention programs (like the COVID-19-era Homeowner Assistance Fund), and providing adequate funding to meet this critical need. We have to help more families achieve the American Dream of homeownership, even the playing field for Black and Latino families, and prevent our neighbors from losing their homes to the mortgage company. I will fight for these (and more) common-sense solutions to our housing crisis. Renters know that finding affordable, accessible rental housing has been a struggle for decades. Here in Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, 1 in 5 renter households spends more than 50% of their income on housing costs. As a result, more and more families are facing displacement and homelessness. Across the U.S. full-time, minimum wage workers can only afford a one-bedroom rental home in just 7% of counties. The federal government should expand housing assistance to families, while increasing the supply of housing across the country. Housing assistance voucher programs must be expanded, and emergency rental assistance programs and legal aid programs serving renters facing foreclosure must be sustained and expanded. To build more housing, the national Affordable Housing Trust Fund should be bolstered to provide funds for the preservation and creation of affordable homes. Tax credit programs funding housing construction should be reformed and expanded to ensure that the promise of affordable units in exchange for tax benefits becomes true. Taking these actions can ensure that every family in America has access to affordable homes in communities of their choice and make sure their communities.


Foreign Policy and the International Arena

While born in Louisiana, I grew up in India during a time when the effects of the Cold War were part of our daily reality. I remember watching, on a black and white television, when the Berlin Wall was brought down. I remember waiting for years for the government to approve our telephone line, how few families could buy a car, and how American-made goods couldn’t be imported and sold outside of the duty-free shops. I remember knowing that it was who you knew, rather than democratic laws that were the deciding factor in whether your business license was approved. I know what it’s like to live in a society that isn’t open and isn’t completely free. Because I grew up overseas, served in the U.S. Army and have conducted business in India and China, I have a deep understanding of the important role the United States must play in the world and the cost of us stepping aside. Pax Americana, peace because we keep it, has never been threatened so much as it is today. From the Russo-Chinese alliance, formal or not, to the growing threat to American interests in Africa and the Middle East, we are living in times not seen since 1989. The difference is that Russia has never had the money, the population, the global reach, or the power that China has today. How we respond and how Congress responds will set the stage for the next 20-30 years of world stability and prosperity – or not. We must work collaboratively with our allies to shore up defenses in Europe and across the NATO alliance. We must equally pay attention to our allies in the South Pacific, and create new friendships through pacts, trade, and treaties. At the same time, we have to continue to onshore jobs and manufacturing, creating a strong economic base within our own country and start to move away from our uncompromising support of Chinese industry. We also need to be aware that the geopolitics in places like the middle east, Africa and Asia are shifting and our own struggles internally have caused us to lose face with our friends, while simultaneously losing the respect of our competitors. A strong Congress that passes budgets, balances domestic and foreign priorities, and rejects anti-democratic ideals is a critical piece to retaining or even regaining our place at the head of the table. I am the only candidate in this race who has lived and done business internationally. I understand the Asian mindset and am better positioned to negotiate and build the alliances we need to ensure peace and promote prosperity. Simultaneously, as a combat veteran I have personally born the cost of war and have a deep moral conviction that we must be both strong and diplomatic to prevent the current global unrest from becoming a global conflict.


Veterans Affairs and Benefits 

As a Gulf War veteran and an attorney that has fought for veterans to receive their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), I know how impactful it is for veterans, especially those who are disabled or suffering from conditions like “gulf war syndrome” — like me — to receive the care they need. As a member of Congress, I will work to change the way the VA does business. While funding is always something we discuss, what our veterans need is a streamlining of the processes and procedures that are involved with getting benefits. We will work to actively reduce the amount of paperwork and the number of hoops veterans are made to jump through to get their benefits. I will introduce bills to halve or even quarter the amount of time the VA has to render a decision on benefits. Our VA doctors and health providers are some of the best in the nation, our job is to get veterans out of the administrative bureaucracy and in front of these providers. Contractors who do evaluations for the VA need to have very clear standards guided by specific and detailed law and criteria for evaluating a veteran’s conditions and needs. The vague language of the current rules too often is used to deny veterans their benefits or delay them for years or even decades. As many Gulf War veterans will tell you, we have to classify the illnesses and conditions Gulf War veterans experienced more carefully and pass laws that acknowledge conditions like Gulf War Syndrome. At the same time, we have to work faster and harder to ensure that Vietnam veterans and Korean War veterans are not still on some long waiting list being denied their benefits. Streamlining, modernizing, and properly written laws and guideline are the only way to solve the current bureaucratic nightmare that veterans have to deal with every day.

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