Political positions of Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand is the junior United States Senator from New York and a member of the Democratic Party. Formerly a Member of the United States House of Representatives from the generally conservative 20th congressional district, she was appointed to the Senate in 2009, representing a generally liberal state.
In the House, she was known as a conservative Democrat or centrist, serving at the will of a highly conservative electorate. She was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of conservative Democrats. In the Senate, she is known more as one of the most liberal Senators, as she represents a heavily Democratic state. At the time of her appointment to the Senate, a Salon editorial said that her reputation in the House characterized her as "a hybrid politician who has remained conservative enough to keep her seat while appearing progressive enough to raise money downstate."
Gillibrand is also a prominent and steadfast advocate for criminalizing political protests, or 'Boycotts,' within the United States. Most recently, co-sponsoring the passage of S.270, legislation which would make it a felony punishable by 20 years imprisonment for an American to support or organize any boycott related to any actions taken by the Government of the national State of Israel.
- 1 Domestic policy
- 1.1 Constitutional Issues
- 1.2 Fiscal issues
- 1.3 Security
- 1.4 Government
- 1.5 Other
- 2 Foreign policy
- 3 Notes
- 4 References
Advocacy For Criminalizing Free Speech
Gillibrand is currently a prominent advocate for the criminalization of political protests using boycotts (a form of political protest manifested by an organized refusal to purchase certain goods), particularly any attempts by individuals or groups seeking to express a disapproval of the actions taken by the Government of Israel. As part of her 'Anti-Free Speech' advocacy, Gillibrand has co-sponsored and sought the passage of S.720, introduced within the 115th Congress on March 23., 2017. Which, if passed into law, would make it a federal crime, punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, to engage in or encourage any political protest 'boycotts' related to actions by the Israeli government.
Many legal theorists and political critics view S.720, Gillibrand's co-sponsored proposed law, as an overt violation of the free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for instance, denounced S.720, claiming its provisions seeking to "punish U.S. persons based solely on their expressed political beliefs" are "inconsistent" with First Amendment constitutional protections.
While running for New York's 20th congressional district in 2006, Gillibrand said in an interview she favors legalizing civil unions across the country and leaving the issue of same-sex marriage up the states to decide. As Senator, Gillibrand said in 2010 that she supported legalization of same-sex marriage in the State of New York.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, gave Gillibrand a score of 80 out of 100 for the 110th Congress (when Gillibrand was in the House), and perfect scores of 100 out of 100 for the 111th, 112th, and 113th Congresses (when Gillibrand was in the Senate).
Following her appointment to the Senate, Gillibrand became the first New York Senator to support same-sex marriage. On the morning of her appointment to the Senate, she called the Empire State Pride Agenda to reiterate her full support for same-sex marriage. Gillibrand also supported the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. In April 2009, Gillibrand endorsed Governor Paterson's proposed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in New York.
In July 2009, Gillibrand announced she was considering introducing an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would impose an 18-month moratorium on the discharge of gays serving in the military. She decided against introducing the amendment, as she could not amass the 60 votes required to avoid a filibuster, but told the blog The Daily Beast that she was able to secure the commitment of the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on "don't ask, don't tell" in the fall of 2009. However, the hearings were postponed and began on February 2, 2010. The repeal ultimately passed both Houses of Congress and was signed by President Obama on December 22, 2010. In 2010, the Human Rights Campaign gave her a 100% rating from the LGBT advocacy group.
In 2011, Gillibrand heavily lobbied undecided members of the New York State Senate to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New York. The bill ultimately passed the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, and was signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on June 24, 2011.
Abortion and contraception
Gillibrand supports abortion rights, stating on her Senate website, "I will always protect a woman's right to choose—no matter what." Gillibrand has voted in favor of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, contraception, and supporting United Nations Population Fund programs. In 2010 Gillibrand voted against Ben Nelson's proposed amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which would have prohibited the government from allowing insurance plans that cover abortion in a national healthcare exchange. She expressed strong opposition to House Republicans' No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in early 2011, stating, in her opinion, that the act "disregards women’s rights and restricts the ability of women to access affordable health care."
Gillibrand's position on gun rights has changed from being against strict gun control in the House to being more "flexible" on the issue since she joined the Senate. While in the House, she had received a 100% positive rating from the National Rifle Association, and sponsored an amendment to the 2008 Farm Bill that would have allowed expanded hunting on public lands. On the other hand, Gillibrand worked to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Act.
Gillibrand's pro-gun rights positions received scrutiny after her appointment to the Senate and were the object of criticism by some of her fellow New York Democrats, particularly those in the New York City area. Within days of her being named to the Senate, Gillibrand indicated that her pro-gun rights position was "flexible". By late 2010, the NRA had regraded Gillibrand to an F rating, citing her votes against NRA-backed bills.
In one of her first votes as a senator, Gillibrand voted to reject a measure that would have expanded gun rights in the District of Columbia. While Gillibrand's spokesman characterized the vote as consistent with her previous view that local governments have the right to determine gun restrictions, the Albany Times Union noted that her position was counter to her vote just five months earlier on an almost identical House bill. She coauthored the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2009[Note 1] with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, a longtime advocate of gun control. Gillibrand also opposed federal legislation that would have allowed American citizens to carry concealed firearms across state lines even if they were legally allowed to carry the weapons in their home states.
Gillibrand's support of gun rights has been characterized more specifically as support of hunters' rights. Despite her mother being an avid hunter, Gillibrand has never hunted before, though she has shot skeet.
During the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, Gillibrand, then a member of the House of Representatives, voted twice against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, calling it "fundamentally flawed". However, she did vote for the auto industry bailout in December 2008.
At a press conference on January 25, 2009, Gillibrand said that during her first week in the Senate, she would work to ensure that the stimulus bill included relief funds for New York State. She supported the President's recovery plan and budget, and voted for cram down to allow judges to write down mortgages of struggling homeowners. In 2009, as Senator, Gillibrand voted for the Stimulus Package.
In August 2011, Gillibrand voted against raising the US debt ceiling, stating: "We could have gone further in reducing America’s debt with a sensible compromise that both cut discretionary spending and raised revenues. It is unfortunate Congress missed that opportunity".
In the House, Gillibrand supported the Bush tax cuts, but in 2012, Senator Gillibrand voted for extending them, but against an amendment extending them for those earning more than $200,000 or couples earning more than $250,000.
Gillibrand supports trading with Cuba and ending the embargo and travel ban.
Gillibrand voted in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate's version of health care reform legislation, although it did not contain provisions for a public option for health insurance, for which she had previously expressed support. The Senate bill was heavily criticized by New York Governor David Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who claimed that it would force New York City to close 100 health clinics, would create a $1 billion hole in New York State's budget, and threaten the existence of struggling hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities. Bloomberg, who called the bill a "disgrace," subsequently telephoned Gillibrand personally to express his extreme dissatisfaction with the bill.
When confronted with these criticisms, Gillibrand responded, "What the mayor and the governor are talking about is the Medicare reimbursement rates... I've been fighting on this issue for over six months. What it is, Erroll, is when it comes to funding formulas in the Senate, there are more small states than big states, and so the funding formulas tend to help small states. And that's something Senator Schumer and I have to push back on every single time, because the fact of the matter is, for every dollar New York sends to Washington, we only get 79 cents back, and that's largely due to these formulas. We win on the formula debate on the House. So what I've been trying to do is fight for the House version of the bill when we are in conference... If we are successful we can close the $1 billion gap."
Gillibrand also claimed that the bill would be a net benefit for New York because it would bring in $40 billion to the state, insure 2.7 million New Yorkers, increase the use of preventative care by requiring that it is covered, and give tax credits to 250,000 small businesses to help them afford health care coverage.
In September 2017, Gillibrand joined Bernie Sanders and 14 other co-sponsors in submiting a single-payer health care plan to congress called the "Medicare for All" bill. The plan also covers vision and dental care, not currently covered by Medicare.
Gillibrand has co-sponsored restoring habeas corpus for detainees in the War on Terror. In 2011, she voted for extending provisions of the Patriot Act. She also voted for the NDAA of 2012. Gillibrand also supports closing Guantanamo Bay but, together with Senator Schumer (also of New York), vehemently opposed plans to try those accused of coordinating the 9/11 attacks in New York federal court.
Gillibrand's views on illegal immigration have shifted since she joined the Senate. Noted for having relatively conservative viewpoints while in the House, she quickly switched some opinions upon entering the upper house.
As a Representative, Gillibrand opposed granting any sort of amnesty to illegal immigrants and supported empowering local police to enforce federal immigration laws. She also opposed giving federal contracts to employers that hire illegal immigrants and supported increasing the number of border patrol agents. She was a co-sponsor of the SAVE Act, which aimed to increase the number of border guards, increase surveillance, and hasten deportations. Breaking with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Gillibrand opposed his plan to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. She also voted in favor of legislation targeting and withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities. Americans for Better Immigration, an immigration reduction lobby, graded Gillibrand at a B.
Following her appointment to the Senate, Gillibrand's positions were criticized by immigration advocates and Democratic elected officials, especially in New York. She subsequently changed some of her positions, explaining that "it’s a case of learning more and expanding my view." She now opposes deporting illegal immigrants and cutting off funds to sanctuary cities. She also supports an earned path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. In 2010 she was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would have provided pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived under the age of 16, complete at least 2 years of college or 2 years of military service and are under age of 35 at the time of enactment; the proposal was subsequently filibustered in the Senate in December 2010. She also supports a moratorium on home raids until comprehensive immigration reform is passed.
On January 18, 2012, the NY Tech Meetup and other cybertech organizations held a demonstration with 2,000 protesters in front of the offices of Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, New York's other U.S. Senator, who also supported the bill. Some demonstrators complained that the bill had originated with wealthy campaign contributors who would reward legislators for passing the bill. Gillibrand received $611,141 in campaign contributions from the "TV/Movies/Music" industry according to OpenSecrets.org.
On her Facebook page, Gillibrand said that she would "work to strike a balance between ending online piracy to protect New York jobs & ensuring Internet freedom so our tech community can continue to flourish."
Senator Gillibrand made ethics a central theme of her campaign in 2010, outlining a 4-part plan for reform:
- Make Federal Funding Requests Fully Transparent
- An earmark database
- Reduce Corporate Special Interest Influence on Elections
- If a corporation wants to run an advertisement during a political campaign, the CEO would have to appear at the end of the ad and approve the message.
- If an advocacy organization is behind the ad, the head of the organization, and whoever is funding the ad would have to appear in the ad and approve it. They would also have to list the top five funders paying for the ad.
- Foreign-owned companies would be banned from spending unlimited sums of money through their U.S.-based subsidiaries.
- No company with government contracts with over $50,000 could spend money on elections, and no company taking any taxpayer-funded assistance, such as TARP money, could spend money on elections.
- End Automatic Congressional Pay Raises
- Ban Anonymous Holds on Legislation
Gillibrand's office has published a "Sunlight Report" since she began her tenure as a member of the House. This document compiles her financial report as well as all meetings and earmark requests. She also pledged as a House member to accept no lobbyist gifts. In May 2010 she cosponsored the Earmark Transparency Act of 2010, which would require hosting of earmark requests online and limit discussion on those requests until they were posted.
- She was the only senator to vote against the confirmation of James Mattis as secretary of defense. The vote was held a few hours after Donald Trump was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017. The senate vote was 98-1 in favor of confirmation.
- She opposes the No Child Left Behind Act, because she believes it "places an unmanageable strain on county and school budgets".
- She supports doubling the Child and Dependent Care Credit, and eliminating or permanently fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax.
- She supports the death penalty.
- On June 20, 2008, Congresswomen Gillibrand voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.
- In June 2012, Gillibrand urged a blanket ban on all neodymium magnet toys in an letter to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum, citing a small number of injuries in children due to accidental ingestion, despite the magnets being clearly labeled as not suitable for children, and overall 100 to 1,000 times safer than common household items or activities. This prompted ridicule from the general public, journalists and magnet manufacturers, who suggested banning far more dangerous children's toys (such as balloons, the #1 cause of childhood death related to children's products) or general-purpose items with higher incidence of injuries and fatalities, like beds, stairs or hot dogs.
Gillibrand supports immediate withdraw from Afghanistan. She stated that "America cannot afford an endless war in Afghanistan".
She supports and voted for sanctions against the Iranian regime.
On May 24, 2007, Gillibrand joined with Republicans in voting against the Democratic leadership for a bill to provide funding for U.S. efforts in Iraq without setting withdrawal deadlines for troops. Of the five freshman Democratic members of Congress from New York in 2007, Gillibrand was the only one to vote yes. In 2008, she once again voted to provide funding for the Iraq War and again was the only New York Democratic congressional delegate to vote with the Republicans. She later voted against the Iraq surge and supported a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq.
Gillibrand's website states "Specifically, Senator Gillibrand will continue to strengthen America's close relationship with the State of Israel." She voted for S.CON.RES.23 of 2011-2012, which was " A concurrent resolution declaring that it is the policy of the United States to support and facilitate Israel in maintaining defensible borders and that it is contrary to United States policy and national security to have the borders of Israel return to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967."
In 2012, Gillibrand came out against Democrat Charles Barron, a candidate for the state's Eighth Congressional District, because she viewed him as anti-Israel. Her spokesman said "Any candidate who is anti-Israel does not share Senator Gillibrand's values,"
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- Congressional Scorecard, Measuring Support for Equality in the 111th Congress, Human Rights Campaign, p. 9.
- Congressional Scorecard, Measuring Support for Equality in the 112th Congress, Human Rights Campaign, p. 9.
- Congressional Scorecard, Measuring Support for Equality in the 113th Congress, Human Rights Campaign, p. 9.
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- Empire State Pridge Agenda. Pride Agenda statement on Gov. Paterson’s selection of Kirsten Gillibrand as new U.S. Senator January 23, 2009
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- "It's official: 'Don't ask, don't tell' repealed"
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- "Issues: Right to Choose". Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
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- "Gillibrand, Senate Democrats Speak Out Against Republican Efforts to Restrict Women's Access to Health Care" (Press release). Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. February 8, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
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- United States Congress (December 11, 2009). "Search Bill Summary & Status 111th Congress". S. 2787 Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
- McCarthy, Robert J. (August 21, 2010). "Gillibrand’s Bill Targets Gun Trafficking". The Buffalo News. Berkshire Hathaway. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- Dunham, Richard S.; Jennifer A. Dlouhy (July 23, 2009). "Senate Kills Concealed-Weapons Bill". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
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- Gillibrand Meets With Clinton
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- Kirsten, Senator (May 11, 2009). "I Support The Public Option". Daily Kos. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
- "Sens. Schumer, Gillibrand applaud health care reform bill while Bloomberg, Paterson feel N.Y.'s pain", N.Y. Daily News, Dec. 25, 2009
- "Gov. Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg and other NY pols: Health care bill is prescription for disaster", N.Y. Daily News, Dec. 22, 2009
- "Health-Care Reform Making Bloomberg, Paterson Sick", New York Magazine Daily Intel, Dec. 22, 2009
- "Mayor calls Gilly to rip health fix as bad for NY", New York Post, December 24, 2009
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- Sen. Gillibrand Applauds Senate Health Care Bill
- Kurtzleben, Danielle. "Here's What's In Bernie Sanders' 'Medicare For All' Bill". NPR. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
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- "Obama May Reconsider Military Tribunals for Guantanamo Detainees, Reports Say". ABC. Jan 21, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
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- Protesters take anti-SOPA campaign to Manhattan offices of Schumer and Gillibrand; 'The future of the NY tech community is in jeopardy,' the group states By Rolando Pujol, New York Daily News, January 18, 2012
- Geeks Converge on NYC to Protest Anti-Piracy Bills; Thousands ditched their computers to protest anti-piracy bills outside the offices of New York senators Wednesday. Brian Ries reports on the fight for the future of the Internet. By Brian Ries, The Daily Beast, Jan 18, 2012
- Manhattan SOPA/PIPA Protest Blankets Block Fronting NY Senators' Offices, Carole Ditosti, Technorati, January 18, 2012
- Top Industries - Senator Kirsten Gillibrand 2007 - 2012 The Center for Responsive Politics
- Gillibrand uses Facebook in retreat; U.S. senator posts vow to seek changes in Internet piracy bill, by Rebecca Melnitsky, Times Union, January 20, 2012
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- "Gillibrand Urges Feds to Ban the Sale of Dangerous High-Powered Toy Magnets". Kirsten Gillibrand. June 19, 2012. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013.
- Federman, Eliyahu (2012-07-31). "Banning Buckyball Magnets Is Statistically Ridiculous". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013.
- "Safety Standard for Magnet Sets". regulations.gov. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
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- "What should the CPSC ban next?". Buckyballs blog. October 11, 2012. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013.
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