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Gillibrand in the news

  • August 28, 2019: Gillibrand suspended her presidential campaign. She discussed her decision in an interview with The New York Times.
  • August 27, 2019: Gillibrand pledged to pass a national public service plan in her first 100 days as president.
  • August 22, 2019: Gillibrand tweeted that she had 115,000 donors, making her 15,000 donors away from the grassroots fundraising threshold for the September and October debates.
  • August 20, 2019: Gillibrand spoke with NBC News about her mental health policy proposal and the opioid crisis.
  • August 19-20, 2019: Gillibrand said she was open to running for vice president if her campaign did not succeed. “I will do public service in all its forms,” she said. Gillibrand also released a mental health services policy proposal calling for the expansion of community health centers and certified community behavioral clinics.


Congress Bills
Quick Facts
Personal Details

Kirsten Gillibrand (Democratic Party) is a member of the U.S. Senate from New York. She assumed office on January 26, 2009. Her current term ends on January 3, 2025.

Gillibrand (Democratic Party) ran for election for President of the United States.

Gillibrand launched an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States on January 15, 2019, and formally declared her candidacy on March 17, 2019.

On August 28, 2019, Gillibrand announced that she was ending her campaign for the presidency.

Gillibrand was first appointed to the Senate in 2009 to fill the seat vacated through Hillary Clinton's appointment to secretary of state. She won re-election in 2018.

Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate, Gillibrand worked as an attorney, law clerk, campaign staffer, and special counsel to the secretary of Housing and Urban Development. She also represented New York's 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House from 2007 to 2009.

Gillibrand was born in Albany, New York, in 1966 and grew up in upstate New York. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Asian studies in 1988 and obtained her law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1991.

After graduating from law school, Gillibrand clerked for Judge Roger Miner on the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. After working in private practice, she entered government service as special counsel to then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo. After working on Hillary Clinton's (D) campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2000, Gillibrand returned to private practice.

In 2005, Gillibrand left private practice to run against incumbent Rep. John Sweeney (R) in New York's 20th congressional district. Gillibrand won 53% of the vote to Sweeney's 47% in the 2006 election. Gillibrand won re-election with 62% of the vote in 2008.

In 2009, Gov. David Paterson (D) appointed Gillibrand to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton (D), who had resigned to serve as secretary of state. Gillibrand won election to the remainder of Clinton's term in 2010 with 60% of the vote. She was elected to a full term with 68% of the vote in 2012 and won re-election with 67% of the vote in 2018.

In December 2017, Gillibrand was the first member of the U.S. Senate to call on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign following allegations of improper conduct.

Below is an abbreviated outline of Gillibrand's academic, professional, and political career:

  • 2009-Present: U.S. Senator from New York
  • 2007-2009: U.S. House of Representatives
  • 1991: Graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a J.D.
  • 1988: Graduated from Dartmouth College with an A.B.

Education

  • JD, University of California at Los Angeles, 1991
  • BA, Asian Studies, Dartmouth College, 1988

Professional Experience

  • JD, University of California at Los Angeles, 1991
  • BA, Asian Studies, Dartmouth College, 1988
  • Former Law Clerk, Judge Roger Miner, Second Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Author, "Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World", 2014
  • Employee, Boies Schiller Flexner Limited Liability Partnership, 2001-2005
  • Associate Attorney, Davis Polk & Wardwell, 1991-2000
  • Former Employee, Hillary Clinton Campaign for Senate, 2000
  • Special Counsel, Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2000

Political Experience

  • JD, University of California at Los Angeles, 1991
  • BA, Asian Studies, Dartmouth College, 1988
  • Former Law Clerk, Judge Roger Miner, Second Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Author, "Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World", 2014
  • Employee, Boies Schiller Flexner Limited Liability Partnership, 2001-2005
  • Associate Attorney, Davis Polk & Wardwell, 1991-2000
  • Former Employee, Hillary Clinton Campaign for Senate, 2000
  • Special Counsel, Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2000
  • Senator, United States Senate, New York, 2009-present
  • Candidate, President of the United States, 2020
  • Candidate, United States Senate, New York, 2010, 2012, 2018
  • Representative, United States House of Representatives, New York, District 20, 2006-2009
  • Candidate, United States House of Representatives, New York, District 20, 2006, 2008

Former Committees/Caucuses

Founder, Congressional High Tech Caucus, present

Former Member, Armed Services Committee, United States House of Representatives

Former Member, Subcommittee on Airland, United States Senate

Former Member, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, United States Senate

Former Member, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, United States Senate

Current Legislative Committees

Member, Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

Member, Armed Services

Member, Environment and Public Works

Member, Special Committee on Aging

Member, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety

Member, Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade

Member, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security

Member, Subcommittee on Nutrition, Agricultural Research, and Specialty Crops

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Personnel

Member, Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight

Member, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Religious, Civic, and other Memberships

  • JD, University of California at Los Angeles, 1991
  • BA, Asian Studies, Dartmouth College, 1988
  • Former Law Clerk, Judge Roger Miner, Second Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Author, "Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World", 2014
  • Employee, Boies Schiller Flexner Limited Liability Partnership, 2001-2005
  • Associate Attorney, Davis Polk & Wardwell, 1991-2000
  • Former Employee, Hillary Clinton Campaign for Senate, 2000
  • Special Counsel, Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2000
  • Senator, United States Senate, New York, 2009-present
  • Candidate, President of the United States, 2020
  • Candidate, United States Senate, New York, 2010, 2012, 2018
  • Representative, United States House of Representatives, New York, District 20, 2006-2009
  • Candidate, United States House of Representatives, New York, District 20, 2006, 2008
  • Former Member, Women's Leadership Forum

Other Info

— Awards:

  • 100 Most Influential People In The World, Time Magazine, 2014

  • Dog: Maple

Elections

2020

Presidency

An election for president of the United States will be held on November 3, 2020. Gillibrand announced that she was running for president of the United States on January 15, 2019.

On August 28, 2019, Gillibrand suspended her presidential campaign.

2018

General election
General election for U.S. Senate New York

Incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand defeated Chele Farley in the general election for U.S. Senate New York on November 6, 2018.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
67.0%
4,056,931 Votes

Chele Farley (R)
33.0%
1,998,220 Votes

Total votes: 6,055,151
(100.00% precincts reporting)

Democratic election
Democratic primary for U.S. Senate New York

Incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand advanced from the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate New York on June 26, 2018.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Republican election
Republican primary for U.S. Senate New York

Chele Farley advanced from the Republican primary for U.S. Senate New York on June 26, 2018.

Chele Farley


2012

Gillibrand won re-election in 2012. She ran unopposed in the June 26, 2012, Democratic primary. She defeated Chris Edes (L), Wendy Long (R), Colia Clark (G) and John Mangelli (CSP) in the general election on November 6, 2012.

U.S. Senate, New York General Election, 2012

Party Candidate Vote % Votes
Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKirsten Gillibrand Incumbent 67.6% 4,808,878
Republican Wendy Long 24.7% 1,755,466
Green Colia Clark 0.6% 42,442
Libertarian Chris Edes 0.4% 31,894
CSP John Mangelli 0.3% 21,985
N/A Blank/Void/Scattering 6.4% 455,963
Total Votes 7,116,628
Source: New York State Board of Elections "U.S. Senate Results"

Full history


Policy Positions

2019

Afghanistan

Would you commit to the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of your first term, or would you require certain conditions be met before doing so?

- Yes. In 2011, after I traveled to Afghanistan, I was among the first Democrats to call for bringing our combat troops home from Afghanistan. We have been in Afghanistan for over 18 years - longer than some of today’s U.S. military recruits have been alive. We have accomplished the mission we set out to achieve. We do not need to remain in Afghanistan to counter terrorism. Terror groups metastasize - they recruit and plan via borderless computer networks and can strike us and our allies regardless of physical control of a large territory. Meeting this threat means changing our mission in Afghanistan to intelligence gathering and quick reaction forces. We have the best intelligence professionals and special forces, and we have military assets deployed around the world. There is no geography that we cannot reach on short notice...we don’t advance our goals by stationing tens of thousands of US troops and heavy equipment in countries that don’t want us there and in locations that are costly to supply.

Trade

Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

- I opposed TPP because I do not believe it was good for American workers or American families. Any new agreement would need to:

  • Bring our allies to the table to hold China accountable for their cheating. China’s currency manipulation, dumping of steel, and stealing of intellectual property threaten the economy and security for free countries all around the world.
  • Prioritize American workers and not corporate interests by creating a new independent national worker dispute board, so that we don't agree to another trade deal that leaves workers holding the bag.
  • Raise worldwide standards on the environment, using it as a way to tackle global climate change.
  • Ensure the right to collectively bargain, both at home and abroad, because sham unions abroad and Right to Work at home both contribute to the culture of greed and profits that create massive income inequality.

China

How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?

- I am deeply troubled by the alarming reports of widespread human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim Chinese citizens. I have called on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to update U.S. export controls on American technology to ensure that neither China nor other repressive regimes can use American technology to commit human rights violations. I have further supported targeted sanctions against those responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture and other abuses of human rights, and have cosponsored the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. America must pursue a variety of goals in the bilateral relationship with China, including holding them accountable for currency cheating, unfair trade practices, and cyber theft of American technology and Americans’ data. But history has taught us that we never ultimately advance our interests when we ignore human rights abuses. I believe we can support human rights in the context of addressing our country’s vital national security and economic interests.

Iran

Would you rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? What changes to the existing agreement, if any, would you require before agreeing to rejoin the accord?

- Abandoning the Iran nuclear deal was reckless and dangerous. We need to rejoin our allies in returning to the agreement, provided Iran agrees to comply with the agreement and take steps to reverse its breaches, and strengthen the deal. While President Trump’s reckless policies have moved American security and the security of allies backwards, I would - together with our allies - press Iran to extend the agreement for a longer period, and tackle other security issues from Iran’s missile program to its support for terrorists. I believe that our leverage will increase if Iran sees the benefit of agreeing to a deal.

North Korea

Would you sign an agreement with North Korea that entailed partial sanctions relief in exchange for some dismantling of its nuclear weapons program but not full denuclearization?

- When it comes to North Korea, we must base our actions on a clear understanding of what has and has not worked in the past, and make a commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula. I would come to an arms control summit prepared with facts based on seasoned policy and intelligence advice. I would strategically leverage diplomatic steps to curb aggression. And I would carefully articulate our national security goals, rather than send mixed signals. I would work together with our allies, including through incremental measurable steps designed to limit the North Korean threat, with the ultimate goal of a nuclear-free and peaceful Korean Peninsula.

Ukraine

What, if any, steps would you take to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine?

- Russian aggression toward Ukraine - whether in the Crimean Peninsula, Eastern Ukraine or in the Kerch Strait - is dangerous, not only toward Ukraine, but broadly, because it emboldens Russian aggression elsewhere. Russia’s cyber hacks of Ukrainian infrastructure gave it a testbed, and its lessons could be used to target the U.S. We must be very clear with President Putin that Russia’s illegal attempts at annexation are not acceptable. That is why rather than warmly greet Putin in confidential conversations, or weigh his assertions above U.S. intelligence assessments, I would continue a policy of sanctions aimed at the group of Russian leaders who have undermined Ukraine’s democracy, security and territorial integrity, and closely coordinate our policy with our European allies to deepen their impact. And I would once again deepen our NATO ties because this alliance presents one of the strongest bulwarks against Russian aggression.

And because Russia has demonstrated its willingness to invade its neighbors, it is all the more reason that we must ensure we have arms control agreements in place to limit Russia’s nuclear and strategic forces. I had opposed President Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement because its absence opens the door to a new and dangerous arms race. It is all the more critical that we extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to limit Russian nuclear weapons and provide information to the U.S. intelligence community.

Saudi Arabia

Given the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the civil war in Yemen, what changes, if any, would you make to U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia?

- We must stop aiding other countries’ wars that serve only to create grave human rights tragedies and turn people against us. My consistent position as senator has been to condemn and take steps to stop human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia - whether it has been stopping arms sales that would be used in Yemen, refueling Saudi planes that bomb civilians, freeing political prisoners, or supporting accountability for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

Under my presidency, the United States would support accountability for the horrific and barbaric murder of Jamal Khashoggi, including sanctions even if evidence implicates the highest office in Saudi Arabia. My administration would end U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen, whether refueling of Saudi planes that bomb Yemen’s civilians or selling munitions to Saudi Arabia that have created the carnage in Yemen. We stand with our allies’ defensive needs, but we do not gain greater security when we aid their indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Do you support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if so, how would you go about trying to achieve it?

- Yes. In my trips to Israel and through conversations with U.S. experts and Israeli leaders, I have learned that Israel’s security and the prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians is best achieved through a peace based on two nations living side by side. But that lasting peace and security can only be achieved by those on the ground, and the U.S. must remain engaged, but balanced, in order to foster direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Trump administration has dangerously undermined U.S. ability to foster such negotiations. As president, I would seek to restore it by continuing America’s strong relationship with our ally, Israel, ensuring its meaningful military edge allows Israel to defend its people, while at the same time reversing the Trump administration’s damaging policies toward the Palestinians. This means reopening the diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, restoring our USAID presence in the West Bank and restarting USAID programs that President Trump has cut.

Venezuela

What, if any, additional steps should the United States take to remove Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela?

- I want to see free and fair elections in Venezuela - monitored by international experts so that the will of the Venezuelan people is reflected in their government. But more than that, I want to see a fair judiciary, an open press, and other aspects of a truly thriving democracy. So I support the efforts of the international community to impose a combination of sanctions and humanitarian aid and diplomatic pressure on President Maduro, and to take steps to lessen the humanitarian disaster ordinary Venezuelans are suffering. Almost 4 million Venezuelan refugees have fled and we must provide humanitarian and refugee assistance.Venezuelans, like other asylum seekers who reach our shores, deserve our protection. But I do not support military intervention. We cannot allow Trump’s warmonger advisors get us into yet another war. It would not be good for the American people,Venezuelans or our other friends in the region.

Africa

By 2050, Africa will account for 25 percent of the world’s population according to projections by the United Nations. What are the implications of this demographic change for the United States, and how should we adjust our policies to anticipate them?

- We must recognize the enormous potential of the young generation growing up in the fifty-four countries in Africa. For far too long, we have ignored the opportunities, focusing only on the risks emanating from the continent. Yet with better diplomacy — one that recognizes the value of those countries, rather than insulting them as President Trump has — and with more trade, investment in rule of law, and policies to address climate change, we can foster the opportunities that this young population will have and contribute to greater global stability. China has recognized and worked to leverage these opportunities for its own benefit through the Belt and Road Initiative. America should lead, based on respect for the rule of law, and likewise compete for the hearts and minds of the people in these countries.

Climate

How would you discourage the proliferation of coal-fired power plants in developing countries?

- I would ensure that the U.S. Export-Import Bank does not provide any financing for the development of coal-fired power plants in developing countries, and I would work with the international community to push other international development banks and financial institutions to end financing for these projects as well. I would refocus our overseas investments in sustainable clean and renewable energy, including incentivizing the development of American clean energy technology that can be exported overseas. I would also ensure that the United States stays in the Paris Climate Accord and work to negotiate stronger emissions reduction targets for all countries in order to achieve net-zero global carbon emissions by 2050.

U.S. Foreign Policy

What has been the greatest foreign policy accomplishment of the United States since World War II? What has been the biggest mistake?

- The United States has a number of remarkable achievements. We have helped to create an international arms control regime that has diminished the risk of nuclear war despite the proliferation of nuclear technology. We have helped to support development and respect for human rights and the rule of law in many emerging nations, as well as in older countries going through political change. And we have contributed to the research and development of medicines and agricultural innovations, ensuring that much more of the global community can survive the devastation of disease and famine. But none of these achievements would have been as successful — or even possible — without the strong alliances that the United States has nurtured. It is thanks to these alliances that we have arms control agreements, climate agreements, and institutions that support international security and development.

The United States has bravely faced its enemies, and has not shrunk when called to stand up to a common foe; but it has too often remained embroiled in battle beyond its time. It is time to end the endless wars that ultimately undermine our security. We have an obligation and a moral duty to extricate ourselves from unending battles that turn people against us and cost trillions of dollars, which could be invested in rebuilding America’s infrastructure and education system, guaranteeing Americans medical care, and creating the green jobs of tomorrow.

2018

Abortion

Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
- Pro-choice

Budget

1. In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
- Yes

2. In order to balance the budget, do you support reducing defense spending?
- Unknown Position

Education

Do you support requiring states to adopt federal education standards?
- Yes

Energy & Environment

1. Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, thermal)?
- Yes

2. Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
- Yes

Guns

Do you generally support gun-control legislation?
- Yes

Health Care

Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")?
- No

Campaign Finance

Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
- Yes

Economy

1. Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
- Yes

2. Do you support lowering corporate taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
- No

Immigration

1. Do you support the construction of a wall along the Mexican border?
- No

2. Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
- No

Marijuana

Do you support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes?
- Yes

National Security

1. Should the United States use military force in order to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a nuclear weapon?
- Unknown Position

2. Do you support increased American intervention in Middle Eastern conflicts beyond air support?
- Unknown Position

Speeches
Articles

Presidential Hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand Visits, Focuses on Gun

Jul. 12, 2019

Presidential Hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand Visits, Focuses on Gun Violence By Carey Gustafson, Crystal A. Proxmire | Oakland County Times Bloomfiled Hills, MI – Presidential hopeful and current US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York visited Bloomfield Hills Friday as part of her “Trump Broken Promises Tour.” The five-term US Senator visited Birmingham Unitarian Church where she spoke and took lots of pictures with supporters in front of the tour bus before heading off to Flint and Lansing. She will return in two weeks for the Democratic Presidential debate at Cobo Hall. Gillibrand took the stage at 10:25am, and immediately launched into the topic of gun violence reform, and the people directly affected by gun violence she’s met on the campaign trail. A man named Larry was among the crowd that greeted the five-term Senator.  He was there with Moms Demand Action, a group encouraging elected officials across the county to look at the number of murders, suicides, and accidental deaths related to guns, and to address the problem. Larry wanted to know what Gillibrand do to reduce gun violence. Gillibrand explained that she would be working with activist Gabby Gifford, fighting the NRA “every step of the way.’ One specific change would be closing the “Boyfriend Loophole.” In many states, a person convicted of violence against their spouse is prohibited from owning a firearm.  However, a person convicted of violence against an intimate partner they are not married to, may. This, Gillibrand said, “doesn’t protect unmarried women, many in the LGBTQ communities, etc.” “The NRA simply does not care about our lives,” she said. Senator Gillibrand also talked about the future of gun manufacturing and the potential for owner IDs to operate firearms. This could reduce trafficking by making it harder to use stolen guns, and it could prevent accidental shootings, especially by minors who find guns in their home. Celeste from Ann Arbor stood next, and asked if elected, what were Gillibrand’s intentions of administering “Red Flag” laws throughout the country.  Red Flag Laws allow the police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. Celeste shared that her father had used a gun to end his life several years ago, just a day after her birthday.  She wanted to know if the potential candidate would push for red flag laws. The answer, of course, was yes, along with a discussion about mental health, and the need to make a “national investment” in implementing mental health screening, education and support. She called for hiring more nurses, counselors, and specially trained staff in schools, as well as more ways to detect problems in adults in hopes of reducing the mass shootings happening throughout the country.  Gillabrand encouraged the woman, “run for a seat!” “The time is now, you don’t know what a strong voice you have,” she said.  Celeste, flattered, shyly waved her hand, but trust that in that moment those women had the entire room hanging on every word. Afterwards, Senator Gillabrand took time to pose for selfies and talk to the attendees. In April Presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders visited Warren, and in March Beto O’Rourke visited Ferndale. CNN’s most recent update has candidate’s “power rankings” as follows:  Joe Biden is first, Kamala Harris is second, Elizabeth Warren is third, Bernie Sanders is fourth, Pete Buttigieg is fifth, Cory Booker is sixth, Beto O’Rourke is seventh, Amy Klobuchar is eigth, Julian Castro is ninth and Andrew Yang is tenth.    

A white woman from Ohio asked Gillibrand about white privilege. Her answer was spot on.

Jul. 12, 2019

“What the conversation is about is when a community has been left behind for generations because of the color of their skin.” By Catherine Kim | Vox At Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)’s roundtable at Youngstown, Ohio, on Thursday, a white woman holding a baby in her arms asked how Democrats could throw around the term “white privilege” when her community was struggling. “Now this is an area that across all demographics has been depressed because of the loss of its industry and the opioids crisis,” she said. “So what do you have to say to people in this area about so-called white privilege?” The woman was referencing Youngstown’s long history of suffering from deindustrialization: On September 19, 1977 — known as “Black Monday” in the town — 5,000 steel workers were laid off. About 50,000 more people working in steel and related industries would lose their jobs over the next five years. The town never fully recovered from the social and economic effects of the mass layoffs, and its people were once again hit with devastating news last year, when General Motors, the main employer, cut thousands of jobs. But the question also hinted at a recurring theme in the conversation around the Democratic primary: Should Democrats try to win over the white working-class voters who flocked to Trump in 2016? Or should they instead focus on the concerns of their emerging coalition of younger voters, many of them people of color, who want to know what the candidates will do to fight systemic racism? Gillibrand’s answer suggested a way to thread that needle. She made it clear the term white privilege isn’t meant to devalue the woman’s experiences: “I understand that families in this community are suffering deeply,” she said. Here’s a full transcript of Gillibrand’s answer, per NBC News’s Amanda Golden: Question: I hear you saying there is a lot of divisive language coming from Republicans, coming from Trump and that we are looking for ways to blame each other. But the Democratic Party loves to throw around terms like white privilege. Now this is an area that across all demographics has been depressed because of the loss of its industry and the opioids crisis. So what do you have to say to people in this area about so-called white privilege? Gillibrand: So, I understand that families in this community are suffering deeply. I am fully hear from you and folks that I’ve talked to just in a few minutes that I’ve been here, that is devastating when you’ve lost your job, you’ve lost your ability to provide for your kids, that when you put 20, 30 years into a company that all of the sudden doesn’t care about you or won’t call you back and gives you a day to move. That is not acceptable and not okay. So no one in that circumstance is privileged on any level, but that’s not what that conversation is about. Question: What is it about? Gillibrand: I’m going to explain. What the conversation is about is when a community has been left behind for generations because of the color of their skin. When you’ve been denied job, after job, after job because you’re black or because you’re brown. Or when you go to the emergency room to have your baby. The fact that we have the highest maternal mortality rate and if you are a black woman you are four times more likely to die in childbirth because that healthcare provider doesn’t believe you when you say I don’t feel right. Because he doesn’t value you. Or because she doesn’t value you. So institutional racism is real. It doesn’t take away your pain or suffering. It’s just a different issue. Your suffering is just as important as a black or brown persons suffering but to fix the problems that are happening in a black community you need far more transformational efforts that targeted for real racism that exists every day. So if your son, is 15 years old and smokes pot. He smokes pot just as much as black boy in his neighborhood and the Latino boy in his neighborhood. But that black and brown boy is four times more likely to get arrested. When he’s arrested that criminal justice system might require him to pay bail. 500 bucks. That kid does not have 500 bucks he might not be able to make bail. As an adult with a child at home and he’s a single parent, if he is thrown in jail no one is with his child. It doesn’t matter what he says, I have to go home, I have a child at home, he’s only 12. What am I going to do. It doesn’t matter. Imagine as a parent how you would feel so helpless. That’s institutional racism. Your son will likely not have to deal with that because he is white. So when someone says white privilege, that is all they are talking about. That his whiteness will mean that a police officer might give him a second chance. It might mean that he doesn’t get incarcerated because he had just smoked a joint with his girlfriend. It might mean that he won’t have to post bail. It means he might be able to show up to work the next day and lose his job and not be in the cycle of poverty that never ends. That’s all it is. But it doesn’t mean that [doesn’t] deserve my voice, lifting up your challenge. It also doesn’t mean that black and brown people are left to fight these challenges on their own. A white woman like me who is a senator and running for president of the United States. Has to list up their voice just as much as I would lift up yours. That’s all it means. It doesn’t take away from you at all. It just means we have to recognize suffering in all its forms and solve it in each place intentionally and with knowledge about what we are up against. Gillibrand’s answer was met with applause in the room. The discussion was a demonstration of how rapidly the Democratic Party has shifted on race in recent years, especially among white liberals like Gillibrand. Although black voters are a party mainstay, white liberal Democrats, some of whom have more liberal racial views than nonwhite Democrats, make up 40 percent of the party. Their eagerness to address racial inequality is one reason why discussions about diversity and institutional racism have entered the mainstream. Vox’s Matt Yglesias calls this the “Great Awokening”: But the fundamental reality is that the Awokening has inspired a large minority of white Americans to begin regarding systemic racial discrimination as a fundamental problem in American life — opening up the prospects of sweeping policy change when the newly invigorated anti-racist coalition does come to power. Both white and nonwhite presidential candidates like Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and even former Vice President Joe Biden now speak to many of their constituents with the underlying expectation that they “will embrace the more institutional understanding of racism” — something that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. But it also means that they face questions from voters like the woman in Ohio, who aren’t as familiar with terms and concepts that are becoming increasingly mainstream in the party.  

Kirsten Gillibrand gave her opponents a history lesson on abortion politics at the debate

Jun. 28, 2019

Democrats have similar positions on abortion. The New York senator asked how hard they'll fight. By Anna Nort | Vox Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks as Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) looks on during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019, in Miami, Florida. Drew Angerer/Getty Images Many candidates in this week’s Democratic debates talked about the future of abortion rights in America. But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was one of few to talk about the history. The exchange started with a question to Sen. Bernie Sanders about how he would preserve abortion rights if the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade were overturned before he became president. Sanders responded that his Medicare for All bill would cover abortion for anyone who wanted it. Then Gillibrand spoke up. “I want to talk directly to America’s women and to men who love them,” she said. On abortion, she said, “When the door is closed and negotiations are made, there are conversations about women’s rights, and compromises have been made on our backs. That’s how we got to the Hyde Amendment,” which bans federal funding for most abortions. “When we beat President Trump and Mitch McConnell walks into the Oval Office to do negotiations, who do you want when that door closes to fight for women’s rights?” she asked. “I have been the fiercest advocate for Roe v. Wade, and I promise you when that door closes, I will guarantee your reproductive rights no matter what.” Gillibrand was making a crucial point. There’s broad agreement on abortion rights across the Democratic field this year — nearly every candidate now supports repealing Hyde and codifying Roe v. Wade in the statute, among other changes. But supporting those policies and making them a priority are two different things. And Gillibrand was calling her colleagues out on their commitment to fighting for abortion rights. Gillibrand used the history of abortion politics in America to lay down a challenge for the future The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, bans federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the pregnant person’s life. Since it bans Medicaid coverage for most abortions, it can put the procedure out of reach for low-income Americans. Gillibrand was right to call the amendment a compromise. Its architect, Republican Rep. Henry Hyde, initially proposed a total ban on federal funding for abortion. He also said at the time, “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [...] Medicaid bill.” As Emma Green writes at the Atlantic, progressives in Congress saw Hyde at the time as a form of discrimination against low-income people, since it prevented them, but not wealthier Americans, from getting abortions. Ultimately, members of Congress agreed on a less stringent ban than the one Hyde had proposed, with the exceptions for rape, incest, and the pregnant person’s life that exist today. Some have argued that Hyde was a way of preserving abortion access while ensuring that the government didn’t have to fund the procedure. Former Vice President Joe Biden, for example, until recently a supporter of Hyde, said at a presidential forum convened by Planned Parenthood last week that “the Hyde Amendment was designed to try to split the difference here, to make sure women still had access.” But abortion rights advocates have argued that Hyde didn’t preserve access at all, instead acting as a de facto abortion ban for poor Americans — and research shows that it does block a significant portion of low-income women from getting abortions they would otherwise get. Now, nearly all the Democratic candidates, including Biden, have said they want to repeal Hyde. What’s less clear is how hard they’ll fight for it, and for abortion rights in general when other priorities start cropping up. Sanders, for example, got criticism in 2017 for backing a candidate for Omaha mayor who had backed anti-abortion legislation. “We have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda,” he told NPR at the time. “But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.” At the Planned Parenthood forum, he said that with strict anti-abortion legislation passing around the country, the Democratic Party now needs candidates who are committed to abortion rights. But with candidates taking similar positions on the issue, the question now is: How hard would each candidate work to make those positions a reality? On the debate stage Thursday night, Gillibrand articulated that point better than anyone.  

Events

2019

Aug. 11
Conversation on Disability Rights with Sens. Gillibrand & Harkin

Sun 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM CDT

Holiday Inn & Suites West Des Moines West Des Moines, IA

Aug. 10
Kirsten Gillibrand at the State Fair Des Moines Register Soapbox

Sat 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM CDT

Iowa State Fair Des Moines, IA

Aug. 9
Decorah Conversation with Kirsten

Fri 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM CDT

Phelps Park Decorah, IA