tv 116th Freshmen Profile - Reps. Levin Houlahan Haaland CSPAN February 19, 2019 3:38pm-4:02pm EST
chief executive provides insight .o the 44 american presidents explore the life events that shaped our leaders, challenges they face and the legacies they left behind. be on shelf september 23, but you can preorder your copy today. spoke with freshmen congressf the freshman , a democratic michigan who replaced his father in congress. anderved as deputy director founded a clean energy firm. he spent years working as a
union organizer. >> i started organizing workers in michigan and rhode island for union ande employees help the workers, mostly women and people of color organize for better life. improvements in the quality of care. >> how did you get involved? >> i started organizing in college on a number of justice campaigns. we had a hunger strike at my and companies did business in south africa. but i on peace campaigns, the cap a campaign of
.nd down manufacturers they always used it. was the era of streaking and i wrote a partition that has i undersigned a senior pledge to go to my own commencement this road. this means not wearing your cap and down, but it might mean something else and the majority of the senior class signed on, so i had been involved in these things before. >> where did that come from? >> they came from my parents, my family. i think it comes from my religious faith, my judaism. makeieve we are here to the world a better place and my
there had been some backstabbing in the union and they lost their election. and she was a nursing home worker her whole life. she did not have a fancy education, but i thought she was one of the smartest people i had ever met. >> why? rep. levin: her understanding of human nature, her understanding of other people, of how -- she would be a master of the politics of the house of representatives or the senate if she was in that different station in life. so i have always felt that -- i reject elitist views of the world that say, i am a member of congress. people think they are better than somebody. no, i am here to fight for the working people of the country. people like irene podine, who was a real hero to me. when you try to form a union in this country, our laws do not actually protect american workers, and you put your job at risk. she showed a lot of courage and guts and tactical and procedural wisdom in running that campaign. >> why did you decide to run for the seat? rep. levin: the working people
of this country have gotten the short end of the stick for 40 years, my whole adult life. wages are stagnant. people do not have enough savings. wages have gone the way of the dodo bird for most people. people do not have good access to health care they can afford. i am here to fight for working so people, to raise the standard of living of working people in this country, and really make the american dream real again for working americans. >> congressman, did you grow up in michigan? representative levin: i did. i was born in detroit but i was raised in berkeley, michigan. and i lived there, my whole growing up was there. >> what is it about your michigan background that shaped you and that you bring here to washington? rep. levin: in michigan, we are about rolling up our sleeves and
getting things done. the people of the ninth district of michigan are practical and they want to see results. they want to see us work together to do the business of the american people. that is the attitude i bring here. we are people that make things. we are people that invent things. and we are interested in how to solve problems. and that is what i think, you know, i hope to bring to the congress. >> pennsylvania's sixth district also brought a new face to washington, chrissy houlahan. she is a businesswoman who comes from a long line of military. she is also the daughter and granddaughter of holocaust survivors. rep. houlahan: my father was one year old when the war happened. he came here after world war ii. he was hidden with a christian family for the first several years of his life. and when the war ended, my grandmother came to find him after surviving in the camps. they came to this country when he was five or six years old. >> what did he tell you, or their grandmother, about their
experiences and the importance to them of making it here to america? rep. houlahan: my father was always very private about his experience. it was very painful for many survivors, as it was for my grandmother as well. she died when i was a teenager. but the way that it was explained to me and conveyed to me was the privilege he had to come here. one generation later, to serve a career in the navy. he ended up being a very successful naval aviator and officer, and the privilege it was for him to serve a country that gave him so much. >> did he talk a lot about, when you were growing up, america and public service? and what did he say? rep. houlahan: i come from a service family. my father joined the military after undergrad and he married the boss's daughter in the squadron.
so mine was a heritage and a family of service. i still have four active-duty cousins right now. my brother also served in the army. so this is part of my dna, serving. >> and you served as well. rep. houlahan: i was an engineer in the air force, at an air force base in the boston area. >> did you move around a lot as a child? rep. houlahan: almost every single year. i think i moved 12 times in 12 years. so it was important to me to be grounded in my community when i grew up as an adult. i have lived in my community for about 25 years now, in the district that i serve. >> how do you think moving around and getting adjusted to a new life impacted you and shape to you are today?
rep. houlahan: it makes you resilient and empathetic. someone that has seen a lot of things across our nation and across the world, who understands that we are not all the same. it is a privilege i had to see different parts of our nation before i was grown. >> what did you do after serving in the military? rep. houlahan: i went to graduate school, also in engineering. i had both of our children and then i came down to our community to start up our company. it was a t-shirt company and it grew up into an enterprise called "and one." it was a $250,000 enterprise that was headquartered in my community in paoli, part of my district. and we had the privilege of growing from a small company with college friends into a national and international organization. following that, i helped scale a company called the benefit corporation movement. it's a concept that you should be able, when you run for-profit businesses, that you consider the people, the planet as well
as the profit. that was an innovation in the economy. and following that i was a teacher in chemistry in the teach america program and i ran a nonprofit that focused on child illiteracy. >> after your business career, what prompted you to go into teaching, to do it for a nonprofit? rep. houlahan: in my basketball company we had 40 hours of community service that we allowed everybody to get back to the community. i have always been passionate about women and girls in underserved communities in math and science. so i used my spare time to become a substitute teacher. and when i had the opportunity to take my skills in to something other than basketball, i thought this would be the most useful place to insert myself, -- myself was in education. and i thought the most important thing happening in our company -- in our country, incorrectly, was the education system. to be helpful, i thought it was important to be a teacher and to understand what it meant to be in a classroom. so i quit my job, retook chemistry and biology again, and went to north philadelphia and learned that the biggest problem there was not that kids were not able to take chemistry, it was that they were not able to read.
i decided -- my kids were reading at about a third or fourth grade level. >> what skill sets do you think you bring to congress with your business background and your teaching background? rep. houlahan: i am an engineer, i am a veteran, i am an entrepreneur, i'm obviously a woman, a mother, and i am a teacher. and all of those kinds of skill sets are in short demand here in congress. until this most recent congress there haven't been very many of us here. so i think in combination with what is traditionally skills -- the traditional scales that people bring here, which are lawyers and career politicians, it is important to have people at the table who are able to think in a logical way or people that think as educators. and that adds to the mix, the nice stew that allows us to be more effective legislators. >> what prompted you to run for this seat?
rep. houlahan: i ran for congress because i felt i had something to offer. i felt as though our nation was in a stressful time. in for the very first time, i was worried about the trajectory of the country, for a lot of different reasons. and i thought i had the right skills and the correct motivation, especially because of my heritage. i brought a career to bear here in government mostly in the civilian sector. >> what is it about your heritage? rep. houlahan: i am the daughter of a holocaust survivor. i'm the daughter and granddaughter of military officers. my daughter is also a member of the lgbtq community. so all those things were really motivating factors when i was thinking about the world i wanted to leave behind for my kids and grandkids. i thought all the experiences of the generations that surrounded me needed to be brought forward and i thought this was the time in my life to be able to do that. >> voters in new mexico's first congressional district sent one of the first two native american
to congress. deb haaland served as the democratic party chair for her state from 2015 through 2017. we asked her what it means to be one of the first two native american women to serve, and whether or not it has sunk in. rep. haaland: during my campaign we talked about how congress has never heard a voice like mine. it had never heard a voice like mine until i got here and was sworn in january 3. so yes, i feels like it was such a good thing because i am raising issues that perhaps people have not thought about. we all advocate for our own district and state and bring our cultural backgrounds with us when we come here. so i am grateful i am able to raise some issues that people care about. >> you are a member of what tribe? and how many other tribal leaders have reached out to you about your job here and what it means to them?
rep. haaland: i am a member of the pueblo of laguna, that is a pueblo that is about 40 miles west of albuquerque. ironically, it is not in my district. [laughter] but i live in albuquerque and in district one. since i have been here i have gotten a visit from several tribal members. several came to my swearing in ceremony and stopped by my office before the event. my office is open to anyone. so i am grateful that they feel comfortable coming to me. realizing, of course, that i am the representative of district
one in new mexico. but you know, when i think about it, the issues that indian country has are the same issues that my district has. we want children to have a quality public education. we care about the environment. everyone should have health care. and of course we need to open the government. so those are things that they care about that we care about to0. >> where did you grow up? describe your childhood. rep. haaland: my dad was a 30-year career marine and combat veteran in vietnam. he is buried here in arlington. so because of my dad's career we traveled a lot. he was stationed all over southern california, including as a drill instructor in san diego, but we also traveled back east to various bases in virginia, quantico being one of those, the closest one to d.c.. we traveled back and forth so across the country. i mostly lived in military housing. and so his last duty station was albuquerque. so we got to go home and be close to my grandmother. so that was our life.
packing up our home every 2-3 years. as a result of that, i'm very close to my siblings. and our family is very close. >> how many siblings and what influence did your dad have on you? rep. haaland: i have two older sisters and a younger brother. my dad was an amazing environmentalist. by his standards, he would not think so, but he truly was. he grew up on a farm in minnesota. and he cared deeply about the environment, so he always had us outside. we would walk for miles along the beach or have picnics in the mountains every single weekend. one weekend, he took us to dismal swamp and we had a rowboat up and down the swamp for a couple of days. he was just always wanting to be outdoors and i feel that is what gave me my passion for the environment. >> climate change is one of your big issues. >> absolutely. yes. >> as you were traveling around the country for your dad's military positions, how were you able to keep your tribe
traditions alive, and how was that part of your lives? rep. haaland: my mother made sure of it. she did it in every possible way. the way she cooked. she cooked traditional foods the entire time i was growing up. she took us home to stay with my grandparents. whenever my dad would have a temporary duty assignment, we would go home to stay with my grandparents. she felt it was important that we got to know them. after my grandparents retired, and we would go visit them during the summers i would go to, the fields with my grandfather. he was a farmer. that is pueblo, we have a strong farming tradition as pueblo people. so i got to participate. i started participating in ceremonial activities as a young girl. and likewise, my daughter has as well. an she started dancing for feast days and other activities when she was two years old. so it was important to my mom
that we knew that side of our family. will and so, that has continued until now. >> why do you think that was important to your mom? why is it important to you that your daughter carry this on? rep. haaland: my ancestors fought long and hard to give this future to me and my daughter. they experienced terrible droughts. they had a lot of hardships when the spanish came to new mexico. their lives changed. and, they had to learn how to move into the modern era, and it was not always easy. in fact, laguna pueblo was a bartering economy until they opened up some uranium mines in
1950. so the people there have worked hard to move into the modern era, and it was not without a lot of hardship as i mentioned. so i feel compelled to honor the legacy of my ancestors and that is what i feel i am doing today. >> what life lessons did you learn growing up, visiting your grandparents? is there any story or message you remember your grandparents telling you that you keep with you today? rep. haaland: the way they lived was -- you never go out into the world just thinking about an yourself. you have an entire community you have to care about. and that was evident really in the way the pueblo people lived
their lives. the communities -- they had community storerooms where if one person ate, everyone ate. it was everybody in the community had to be cared for. it was never just one person venturing out and taking care of themselves, everybody took care of one another. and in fact my grandmother, the matriarch of our family, that was all she cared about, our entire family, from herself down to the youngest great, great grandchild, we all cared about each other and in fact, my mom still carries on some of those traditions where you share food with extended family members in your clan at various times of the year, and so we still practice of a lot of those traditions and i am happy to do that. >> what do you think your grandmother would say about you standing here today in washington, d.c. as a member of the house of representatives? rep. haaland: i think she would be really proud. she lived through the assimilation era.
through the boarding school era. she was taken from her parents when she was eight years old and sent to boarding school over 100 miles away. her dad could only visit her twice in the five years that she was there because all he had was a horse and a wagon. and in spite of that, she recognized the value of education. she encouraged me during my undergraduate career. i would go to her house every weekend. i have a writing degree, an english degree. and she would tell me stories and i would write stories about the stories she told me. and i feel that she was such a huge part of my education.
and i think she would be very proud because that is what she wanted for all of us, to be successful. >> what were you doing before you won this seat? rep. haaland: i was a tribal administrator at one of our pueblos between albuquerque and santa fe, i ran the federal and programs. >> what does that entail? rep. haaland: making sure that you are writing your grants, it was the consolidated tribal government programs, that you manage your programs well, you write your reports, you draw down the money. those are the things that are a concern for tribes, in this shutdown. >> what do you think the biggest misunderstanding is that people have of the native american community in this country? rep. haaland: i really feel strongly that a lot of people do not realize that the united states government has a trust responsibility to tribes. all of this land, in fact, the
land we are standing on right now, it is indian land. and native americans ceded millions and millions and millions of acres to the u.s. government so they could build a country and our contributions to the united states are immeasurable. and so, i feel like some people don't understand that we are governments inside a government, we are sovereign nations inside of our big nation of the united states, and the united states has trust obligations to every single indian tribe in this country. >> new congress, new leaders. follow it all on c-span. , we will hear from 5:00ado governor and at p.m., the former governor of massachusetts and that 6:40 eastern p.m., we will j