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Rep. Allyson Schwartz – (D-Pa)

By Admin | February 9, 2008

United States Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz represents Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District located in the Northeast part of Philadelphia and most of the surrounding Montgomery County.

Although in just her her second term on Capitol Hill, she is ranked as the 144th most influential member of the House (out of a possible 435.) Rep. Schwartz gives us her thoughts.


Where are you from?

I was raised in the middle class urban neighborhood of Flushing in Queens. I came to the Philadelphia area in my early twenties for graduate school at Bryn Mawr College and for my husband, David, to attend medical school and have lived here ever since. I love the Philadelphia region and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Where did you go to college and what was your academic major?

I earned a B.A. from Simmons College in Sociology and a Masters of Social Work from Bryn Mawr College.

What was your career path from college to the US Congress?

Like many young peop1e, I was keenly interested in public service. I worked first at the local community level, then at the city, state, and now at the national level.

I have always been interested in finding ways to improve the lives of women, families, and children. I founded and ran a women’s heath center, Elizabeth Blackwell Center, for many years; served in city government as the deputy commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services; and served 14 years as a state Senator.

In 2004, I ran for Congress for the 13th district. The race got a lot of national attention and was often referred to as one of the nation’s most competitive swing seats. I won election in 2004 with 56 percent of the vote, reelection with 66 percent, and am now serving in my second term in Congress.

When Congress is in session, how often do you get home? When Congress is not in session, do you stay in Washington or come back home?

Luckily, Philadelphia is just a short train ride from D.C. If there are votes, then I am in D.C. During an average week I am in D.C. for four or five days, and the rest of the time back in my district.

Have you ever been to dinner at the White House and if so, what was it like?

I’ve had the privilege to go to the White House on a few occasions, including annual Christmas parties, on freshman orientation, and for meetings. I am looking forward to visiting the White House in 2009, when I am confident that there will be a Democrat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

What has been your most thrilling or exciting single moment since you have been in Congress?

Even though I have now served in Congress a little over three years, I still get chills when I see the Capitol dome lit up at night. It truly is a great honor to serve in Congress and be the voice of my constituents in Washington, and I will never, ever take that privilege lightly.

If you could be known for your work in Congress on one single issue, what would it be?

I’ve devoted my life to making quality healthcare affordable and accessible to every single American. As I state Senator, I took on finding a way to get affordable health insurance to the children of working parents.

One of the things that matters the most to me is knowing that due to my work in Pennsylvania with the Children’s House Insurance Program (CHIP), over 160,000 Pennsylvania kids have access to health coverage.

Pennsylvania was far ahead of the federal government.

In fact five years after Pennsylvania established our CHIP effort, Congress used the Commonwealth as a model for the federal initiative, CHIP, that now enables 6.6 million American children to have access to health coverage.

In Congress, I continue to focus on healthcare, including working for the expansion of CHIP to cover all eligible children and to establish policies that expand affordability, access, and quality.

Earlier this year, I was appointed co-chair of a centrist Democrats’ healthcare taskforce, New Democratic Healthcare Taskforce. The taskforce is looking at ways we can be more innovative and forward thinking on healthcare, including greater use of technology to contain costs and improve quality.

We all know there is much debate on the crisis of healthcare in this country, but I firmly believe that our nation has the power to ensure that quality healthcare is affordable and accessible to every single American.

It’s now a matter of putting the political will behind that goal.

What would you like your next job in elected or appointed politics to be?

Serving as a member of Congress is an honor and privilege. I am focused on representing the values and priorities of my constituents in D.C., and fighting to return our country to the right direction – a direction that ensures America is a country of opportunity, security, and hope.

Who actually runs the day-to-day activities of Congress? Who runs the freshman orientation, who assigns offices, who assigns parking spaces, who notifies you of impending votes, who do you go to when you have a problem with health insurance?

A great many people, both members of Congress and a good deal of very dedicated staff work every day to make this place run smoothly. My friend, and colleague from Philadelphia, Congressman Bob Brady is the chairman of the House Administration Committee.

He’s often referred to as the “Mayor of Capitol Hill,” and it does come in handy to have his number in my cell phone. You develop many relationships with other members, as well as staff, who advice, guide, and assist with issues, both large and small.

What House committees do you currently sit on? Which house committees would you like to sit on?

I am proud to serve on two very important committees in Congress, Ways and Means and Budget.

Both of these committees have excellent leadership, with Chairman Rangel (Ways and Means) and Chairman Spratt (Budget) and wide jurisdiction over issues I care deeply about such as healthcare, the economy, federal spending, and the environment.

Ways and Means is often called the most powerful committee in Congress due to the fact that all legislation concerning tax policy must originate in Ways and Means. As a second term member, it is a particular privilege to have been appointed to Ways and Means.

What is your favorite dish in the members dining room?

I don’t get to the member’s dining room too often. Truthfully, I eat the same lunch (soup or tuna fish salad and maybe some pretzels) most days at my desk while reading a pile of briefing papers, memos and newspapers.

How would you rate yourself as a fundraiser?

Though it is not my favorite part of the job, it is part of what I do. I am very proud to have the support of thousands of individuals from across my district and Pennsylvania.

What legislative accomplishments have you had that directly benefit the people of your district?

There are many accomplishments I could point to that directly benefit my constituents, but a few include, having secured more than $56 million for economic development, safer neighborhoods, and important healthcare projects in my district; working to pass a plan signed into law by President Bush that provides tax credits for businesses that hire soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan; and fighting for quality healthcare for all Americans.

The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the person being interviewed and are not attributable to DailyInterview.com or the editors.

Copyright 2008 DailyInterview.com

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