Ro Khanna

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Ro Khanna
Ro Khanna, official portrait, 115th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 17th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded by Mike Honda
United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce
In office
August 8, 2009 – November, 2012
President Barack Obama
Personal details
Born (1976-09-13) September 13, 1976 (age 40)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Chicago
Yale Law School
Occupation Economics Lecturer
Website House website

Rohit "Ro" Khanna /ˈr ˈkɑːnə/ (born September 13, 1976) is an American academic, lawyer, and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for California's 17th congressional district as a member of the Democratic Party. Khanna defeated eight-term incumbent Congressman Mike Honda in the general election held on November 8, 2016, after he ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2014. Khanna also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the United States Department of Commerce under President Barack Obama.

Khanna only accepts donations from individuals and is one of only six members of Congress who does not take campaign contributions from Political Action Committees (PACs) or corporations.[citation needed] On May 10, 2017, Khanna officially joined the Justice Democrats.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Ro Khanna was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1976.[2] Rohit Khanna's parents emigrated to the United States from India before his birth. His father is a chemical engineer who graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the University of Michigan, and his mother is a former substitute school teacher.[2] Khanna's maternal grandfather, Amarnath Vidyalankar, was part of Gandhi's independence movement working with Lala Lajpat Rai and spent years in jail in the pursuit of human rights and freedom.[3][4][5] Khanna received his B.A. degree in economics with honors from the University of Chicago in 1998, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[2][6][7] He attended Yale Law School, receiving his law degree in 2001. He specializes in intellectual property law.[8]

Early work in politics, law, and teaching[edit]

As a student at the University of Chicago, Khanna worked for William D. Burns walking precincts during Barack Obama's first campaign for the Illinois Senate in 1996.[9][10][11] Khanna interned for Jack Quinn when Quinn served as the Chief of Staff for Vice President Al Gore.[12]

President Barack Obama appointed Khanna to a role in the United States Department of Commerce in 2009.[6] In his role as deputy assistant secretary,[13] Khanna led international trade missions[14] and worked to increase United States exports.[15] He was later appointed to the White House Business Council.[13] Khanna resigned from the Department of Commerce in August 2011 to join Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a law firm located in Silicon Valley.[16] His pro bono legal activity includes work with the Mississippi Center for Justice on several contractor fraud cases on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims and co-authoring an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in the Mt. Holly case to allow for race discrimination suits under the Fair Housing Act of 1968.[17][18]

Khanna teaches economics at Stanford University and law at the Santa Clara University School of Law,[2] and has taught American Jurisprudence at San Francisco State University.[19] He wrote a book on American competitiveness in business, Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America's Future, which was published in 2012.[13][20] Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, appointed Khanna to the California Workforce Investment Board in 2012.[21] Khanna served on the board of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte from 2006 until 2013 while being on a leave during his time in the Obama Administration.[22]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee Assignments[edit]

Technology and Manufacturing Jobs Across America[edit]

On Kara Swisher's Recode Decode podcast, Khanna laid out his vision for how Silicon Valley needs to give back to all Americans.[23] Khanna has also been a longtime supporter of bringing advanced manufacturing jobs across America and has written a book on the topic, Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing Is Still Key To America's Future.[24]

In March 2017, Khanna traveled to Paintsville, Kentucky, also known as "Silicon Holler," along with a bi-partisan delegation from Congress to lend their support to TechHire Eastern Kentucky, a program that trains Kentuckians in fields like computer technology and coding. Khanna expressed support for a broad technology apprenticeship program, which could help areas of the United States like Appalachia by giving blue collar Americans the skills they need to launch future careers in the technology sector.[25][26][27] The press has dubbed Representative Khanna the "Ambassador of Silicon Valley."[28][26]

In May of 2017, Khanna stood up for the Appalachian Regional Commission and Manufacturing Externship Partnership, a Reagan-era policy, when President Trump's proposed 2018 budget zeroed out its funding. Khanna called for quadrupling the program's budget.[29]


Khanna has called on his colleagues to adopt a more progressive economic platform.[30][31] He is an original co-sponsor of Senator Bernie Sanders' bill to make college affordable to all.[32] He also has proposal a $1 trillion expansion of the earned income tax credit[33], financed by a financial transaction tax, to help working families across America.[34]

In the Budget Committee, Ro pointed out that President Donald Trump was for a single payer healthcare system in 2000.[35] He now supports a bill to provide "Medicare for All" in the House.[36]

Fred Hiatt, the Editor of the Editorial Page of the Washington Post, has suggested that Ro is a thoughtful and new economic voice for the Democratic Party.[37]

Founder NO PAC Caucus[edit]

Representative Khanna founded the No PAC Caucus in Congress, and currently six members of Congress refuse all contributions from political action committees. These members do not want to fill out questionnaires and pledge positions to political action committees in exchange for contributions. Congressman Khanna also introduced with Representative Beto O'Rourke a bill to ban PACs from giving contributions to members of Congress.[38]

Reforming H1B Abuse[edit]

Representative Khanna has co-sponsored H.R.1303, a bipartisan companion bill to the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017. H.R. 1303 is designed to prevent the exploitation of foreign workers while still recognizing the contributions immigrants make to our economy. This bill would overhaul the H-1B and L-1 visa programs to protect American workers and crack down on the outsourcing of American jobs abroad.[39]

Standing Against Monopolistic Behavior[edit]

Representative Khanna has called for a re-orientating of antitrust policy to consider the impact on jobs, wages, small business, and innovation and called for scrutiny on the Whole Foods Amazon merger.[40][41]

Khanna wrote a letter to the inspector general of the Department of Defense, requesting that he look into TransDigm Group, an aviation-parts manufacturer, and supplier of companies like Boeing.[42] In his letter, Khanna said TransDigm may be bypassing rules that protect U.S. taxpayers since the manufacturer conducts business with the Pentagon. He said he wants to make sure the TransDigm Group is not adding unnecessary costs to the U.S. taxpayer and is not contributing to the $54 billion increase in defense spending proposed by the Trump administration.[43]

Restraint In Foreign Policy[edit]

Khanna, a supporter of a more non-interventionist foreign policy,[44] wrote an Op-Ed for The LA Times with Senator Rand Paul making the case against military interventions when our security is not at risk. They argued that the nation is weary of perpetual war for since 2001, and the calls for regime change abroad have been a mistake.[45]

Khanna has been very critical of the recent strikes on Syria.[46]

Electoral history in the U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2004 and 2012 elections[edit]

Khanna ran one of the nation's first anti-Iraq war campaigns for the United States House of Representatives in the 2004 elections, unsuccessfully challenging Tom Lantos in the Democratic primary in California's 12th congressional district.[47] He received endorsements from prominent officials, including Matt Gonzalez,[47] and newspapers, including the San Mateo County Times,[48] but lost.[49]

Khanna intended to run for the House in California's 15th congressional district in the 2012 election, hoping to succeed Democrat Pete Stark after Stark's eventual retirement, though stating he would not challenge Stark directly.[50] He raised $1.2 million, receiving support from Governor Brown, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo, and businessmen Vinod Khosla and John W. Thompson.[50] Khanna's fundraising total for the fourth quarter of 2011 exceeded that of all but two House candidates nationwide.[12] Eric Swalwell defeated Stark in 2012.[51]

2014 election[edit]

United States House of Representatives elections, 2014[52]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mike Honda (incumbent) 69,561 51.8
Democratic Ro Khanna 64,847 48.2
Total votes 134,408 100
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold

On April 2, 2013, Khanna announced that he would challenge Mike Honda for California's 17th congressional district in the 2014 midterm elections.[53] Khanna has assembled a campaign team composed of top members of President Obama's re-election team, including Jeremy Bird, Obama's 2012 national field director, and Steve Spinner, one of Obama's top-three fundraisers.[54] Khanna has been backed by executives at Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other tech companies,[55] and by the editorial boards of the San Jose Mercury News,[56] the San Francisco Chronicle,[57] the Oakland Tribune,[58] and the Contra Costa Times.[59] Khanna earned the endorsement of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed,[60] and has also won the endorsement from the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce.[61]

A lawsuit was filed before the Sacramento County Superior Court alleging that Khanna had recruited candidates with similar names to enter the race as Republicans to split the Republican vote three ways. On March 28, 2014, the Court disqualified one of the candidates and ruled that Khanna was not responsible in connection with the incident.[62]

On November 4, 2014, incumbent congressman Mike Honda defeated Khanna 69,561 (51.8%) votes to 64,847 (48.2%). Khanna's campaign was largely funded by many of the technology industry's biggest names, including Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Napster founder Sean Parker, investor Marc Andreessen, and venture capitalist Steve Westly.[63]

2016 election[edit]

United States House of Representatives elections, 2016[64]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mike Honda (incumbent) 90,919 39.0
Democratic Ro Khanna 142,262 61.0
Total votes 233,181 100
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
California's 17th congressional district primary election, 2016[65]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ro Khanna 52,059 39.1
Democratic Mike Honda (incumbent) 49,823 37.4
Republican Peter Kuo 12,224 9.2
Republican Ron Cohen 10,448 7.8
Democratic Pierluigi C. Oliverio 5,533 4.2
Libertarian Kennita Watson 3,125 2.3
Total votes 133,212 100

In June 2015, Khanna announced his intention to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in California's 17th congressional district.[66] Khanna took no donations from PACs or corporations for his 2016 campaign. Khanna raised $480,500 from individuals associated with the securities and investment industry and $170,752 from individuals associated with the electronics manufacturing industry.[67] All of these donations were subject to the $2,700 individual contributions cap. On June 7, 2016, Khanna won California's 17th Congressional District Primary receiving 52,059 (39.1%) votes.[68] Incumbent Democratic Congressman Mike Honda came in second place receiving 49,823 (37.4%) votes. The two Democrats advanced to the general election on November 8, 2016. Khanna became the Representative-elect on November 8 after defeating Honda, 84,392 (60%) to 56,787 (40%).[69] According to the East Bay Times, Khanna won using a campaign platform focused on “moving the Democratic Party to a more progressive stance.” He held his first town hall as a congressman on February 22, 2017 at Ohlone College.[70]

Personal life[edit]

Khanna resides in Fremont, California, with his wife Ritu Khanna.[50][71]

As of 2016, Khanna was a Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Smart Utility Systems, an energy efficiency company with an office in Santa Clara. Smart Utility Systems produces software for water conservation and for reducing electricity consumption.[72][73]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "California politics updates: Gov. Brown's adds cash to budget; McClintock calls for independent prosecutor for Russia investigation". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-05-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Ro Khanna profile". Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Members Bioprofile". December 8, 1902. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Towards socialism: a compilation". July 26, 1974. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Elections '99". August 19, 1999. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Obama Taps Fremont Man, Ro Khanna's Selection Heartens Indo-American Community". San Jose Mercury News. August 8, 2009. p. 1C. Retrieved April 5, 2013.  (subscription required)
  7. ^ Jouvenal, Justin (January 14, 2004). "Young hopeful touts vision". San Mateo County Times. Retrieved April 4, 2013.  (subscription required)
  8. ^ Boudreau, John (August 7, 2009). "Obama taps Fremont man for tech post". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved January 27, 2013.  (subscription required)
  9. ^ Green, Joshua. "Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley's Wannabe Obama". Businessweek. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  10. ^ Jaffe, Alexandra. "Top 5 House primaries to watch". Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ Margarita Lacabe (posted) (August 26, 2013). "Ro Khanna: A Political Portrait". Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Silicon Valley Democrat tops in fundraising, even though he's not running yet". Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Marinucci, Carla. "Honda v. Khanna: Could Silicon Valley be ground zero for 2014 House Asian-American battle royale?". Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Ro Khanna to lead US energy trade mission to India". Indian Express. August 21, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Government helping firms expand exports". Charlotte Observer. May 21, 2010. p. 8A. Retrieved April 5, 2013.  (subscription required)
  16. ^ Boudreau, John (August 20, 2011). "Ex-U.S. Commerce official from Bay Area believes government can help, not hinder economy". The Argus. Retrieved April 5, 2013.  (subscription required)
  17. ^ Kamisugi, Keith (November 5, 2013). "Brief Filed with Supreme Court in Mt. Holly Case Says Implicit Bias a Major Cause of Housing Discrimination". Equal Justice Society. Retrieved February 16, 2016. 
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  19. ^ "The Website You are Trying to Access is not Currently Active". Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
  20. ^ Sweet, Ken (August 13, 2012). "Former Obama Official Says Manufacturing Should be a National Security Issue". Retrieved April 5, 2013. 
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  23. ^ "Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher by Recode on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. 
  24. ^ Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America's Future by Ro Khanna. Google Books.
  25. ^ "Khanna headed to Appalachia to support program that trains young people for tech jobs". Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
  26. ^ a b "Silicon Valley sends its ambassador to Appalachia". Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
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  34. ^ Lapowsky, Issie. "A Silicon Valley Lawmaker’s $1 Trillion Plan to Save Trump Country". Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
  35. ^ Secular Talk (March 22, 2017). "Trump Previously Supported Free Healthcare - Make Him Support It Now". Retrieved April 18, 2017 – via YouTube. 
  36. ^ "With Trumpcare dead and Obama gone, progressives are putting Medicare for All back on the table". Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
  37. ^ Hiatt, Fred; Hiatt, Fred (April 9, 2017). "How Democrats can be progressive without being irresponsible". Retrieved April 18, 2017 – via 
  38. ^ "‘No PAC Act’ offers voters hope to be heard". Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
  39. ^ "Ro Khanna introduces bipartisan bill to reduce H-1B, L1 ‘fraud and abuse’". March 3, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
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  42. ^ "A battleground stock for Wall Street's short sellers is getting hammered". Retrieved April 18, 2017. 
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  47. ^ a b Jouvenal, Justin (January 17, 2004). "City Supervisor endorses Khanna". San Mateo County Times. Retrieved April 5, 2013.  (subscription required)
  48. ^ Traubman, Libby; Traubman, Len (February 17, 2004). "We can entrust America with Khanna's principles". San Mateo County Times. Retrieved April 5, 2013.  (subscription required)
  49. ^ "Rep. Mike Honda digs in against potential challenger Ro Khanna". Inside Bay Area. February 4, 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2013. 
  50. ^ a b c Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer (January 20, 2012). "Pete Stark may put Ro Khanna's rise on hold". SFGate. Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  51. ^ Molly Redden (December 5, 2012). "Eric Swalwell, Pete Stark's Young Vanquisher, Gets Oriented". Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  52. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress"; retrieved January 22, 2014.
  53. ^ Richman, Josh. "Silicon Valley Congressional battle takes shape: Ro Khanna to challenge Mike Honda, using Obama campaign operatives". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved April 5, 2013. 
  54. ^ Green, Joshua. "Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley's Wannabe Obama". Businessweek. Bloomberg. Retrieved April 5, 2013. 
  55. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (February 5, 2014) "Tech Industry Flexes Muscle in California Race." New York Times; retrieved September 2, 2014.
  56. ^ "Mercury News editorial: Ro Khanna should replace Mike Honda in Congress". May 3, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  57. ^ "Ro Khanna offers upgrade in Congress for Silicon Valley". SFGate. May 4, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
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  59. ^ Contra Costa Times/Oakland Tribune. "June 2014 election recommendations from the Contra Costa Times/Oakland Tribune editorial board". Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  60. ^ Chuck Reed endorses Ro Khanna,; accessed December 1, 2014.
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  62. ^ "Indian-American Vinesh Singh Rathore ousted from Congressional race". IANS. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  63. ^ Rucker, Philip (June 2, 2014). "In Silicon Valley, tech titans try to replace a longtime Democratic congressman". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 16, 2016. 
  64. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress"; retrieved November 27, 2016.
  65. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress," (retrieved June 18, 2016)
  66. ^ Karerat, Raif (June 2, 2015). "Ro Khanna launches his 3rd bid to become a Congressman and unseat ‘the dozer’ Mike Honda". The American Bazaar. Retrieved February 16, 2016. 
  67. ^ "Wall Street's fab five: House members, candidates most reliant on funding from finance industry". OpenSecrets Blog. June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  68. ^ "U.S. House of Representatives District 17 - Districtwide Results". Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  69. ^ "Mike Honda vs. Ro Khanna: Rematch set in District 17 congressional race". Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  70. ^ Geha, Joseph (February 23, 2017), "Khanna says Democrats must be more "far more bold" at first town hall", East Bay Times, retrieved February 28, 2017 
  71. ^ "Ritu Khanna and Rohit Khanna". New York Times2015. August 15, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2016. 
  72. ^ Richman, Josh (January 26, 2015). "Political Blotter: Ro Khanna's new job". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved February 16, 2016. 
  73. ^ "SUS: Company: Our Management Team". Retrieved February 16, 2016. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Honda
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 17th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Johnson
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Ruben Kihuen