tv 116th Freshmen Profile - Reps. Hern Trahan Garcia Van Drew CSPAN February 24, 2019 12:38am-1:17am EST
years and adding more context to what we see on the television camera in the house of representatives and we appreciate it. evan: thank you. scott: thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> the house and senate return for legislative work on monday. the house will take up a joint revolution -- resolution to take up the president's emergency declaration that allows him to build a southern border wall. also, measures requiring universal background checks for gun buyers and closing certain loopholes. in the senate, the annual reading of george washington's farewell address. they will continue to work on an abortion bill. later in the week, the nomination of andrew wheeler to head the epa. the house is live on c-span in
the house is live on c-span2. >> the 116th congress includes many newcomers, but also lawmakers with diverse backgrounds, including a former franchise owner of mcdonald's. >> you have referred to yourself as a "freshmore" what does that mean? >> why were you in the majority for that amount of time? >> my congressman got his new job last year so the seat was they can. under law, he finished the term for the two months and then will flip over. >> what were you doing before
you became a congressman? >> i have been a businessman my whole life. i am a mcdonald's franchisee for 22 years. i was in banking and real estate development, technology companies. all of which have been transferred to my wife. we have a total of 1000 employees. >> what got you into business? >> my undergraduate is in engineering. i was working as an engineer when the space shuttle blew up in the industry changed forever. i got into the mcdonald's franchise business in 1987. i worked 10 years but my first restaurant. that is the last time i received money from anyone else. i signed my own paycheck. >> what do you think that has
taught you? lived on the others of regulations and tax policies. there are very few people who can actually say that i grew up in extreme poverty, spent time at school. i lived on food stamps and i made a tough decision that i would never take another dime from the federal government. i have worked my entire life. i put people to work. i hire from entry-level to executive level over the last 22 years. it has been a relief to see people work. ronald reagan said greater social program was a job. we need to create jobs. when we create jobs, the free market economy works well. is there a moment from your childhood that stands out to you that you think shapes who you are in this mentality of a job
is a social program? >> we live in the greatest country in the world. a country that allows a person like myself to the united states congress. who would've ever thought that? people i grew up with that still today sending me emails asking me who would've ever thought. i want to represent those folks to never give up on the country regardless of the politics. i will tell you in my short time here in what would be a typical business acumen doesn't necessarily apply here. you have to kind of a roll with it and learn the new process. politics is different than business. i am learning as i go every day. >> tell people how you grew up. rep. hern: my dad was military for 22 years. when he went to vietnam for the third time, my mother didn't want to do it and she remarried
a person who didn't like to work. i spent the rest of my time from seven to 18 living in poverty. i was the oldest and i decided that when i graduated high school i would never do that again. i am a person who has lived under food stamps, i have lived in every tax bracket. i can tell you that work still matters. there is nothing better than working hard and getting a paycheck. i think a lot of times we look at people who have been successful and you have two choices. envy them or despise them. i always looked at them as role models that i could be that person too. i believe that and i still believe that today. >> who were some of your role models? rep. hern: people who grew up like i did. my uncle being one. he grew up very poor. he ended up being the cfo of a fortune 50 company. he could tell my story from a different point of view.
i admire people who have worked hard in this country and achieve the american dream regardless of what that is. it is not always about money. atortunately, we always look money as being the benchmark. successes range from all kinds of things. i have been very blessed. >> how did you end up in oklahoma? rep. hern: mcdonald's restaurants. moved from arkansas to oklahoma. i was taught about politics and it was the first time i got involved. i never had any intention of running until a couple years ago. >> what sparked it then? rep. hern: i just got tired of people coming to washington saying they were going to do things and never did it. i have been a person who has taken advantage of the american dream. i want to give back. i am a doer.
not a complainer. i want to tell my kids and grandkids and they can tell their kids and grandkids that not only did you have a father and grandfather who talked about doing things, but he tried to make a difference. >> any advice the former senator gave you? rep. hern: you will get frustrated every day. call me when you do because it will probably be the first four days. work hard, tried to make a difference and never let this place change who you are. you have probably achieved more than most people will ever achieve here in their lifetime. i am respectful of each other. the beautiful thing is we have 435 members from all walks of life. they have to represent the interests and points of view of the people who elected them. have to find out what really matters. that is about moving this country forward. if we always keep that in mind, we will be in a better place. it is very difficult to get everybody on the same page. >> have you made the phone call
yet? rep. hern: not yet, but it is pending. >> some new members worked in washington before running for office, like lori trahan him who was former -- who was chief of staff for former democratic congressman marty meehan. >> yet been described as a scrappy, overachiever, why? ahan: intative trey grew up in a working class neighborhood. my dad was an iron worker. my mom spent her childhood in an orphanage and in foster care. i had a modest up ringing. bringing. to go tocholarship georgetown, i played volleyball there. that put me on the path i'm on today. that is why talk about education all the time. i worked hard to get through a tough primary race.
i don't mind scrappy. >> you worked two jobs as a teenager, why? rep. trahan: we were taught to work. there were things that we wanted. i played for a volleyball team that helped me travel around the country. if i wanted to do that, i had to contribute to it. i started out delivering the local newspaper, which wasn't uncommon. everyone in my neighborhood growing up had some job that they were doing, whether it was babysitting or shoveling or the local diner. i worked at the diner in high school. that was an interesting fact over the course of the campaign. it was the first time i hadn't had a paycheck since i was 11. i have been working for a long time. >> do you remember how much you were making when you were 11? rep. trahan: it wasn't bad.
i was making $40 a week. it was a great first job. >> you went on to play volleyball at georgetown, you got a scholarship. what about sports shaped who you are today? rep. trahan: sports are great. if that is what a child is interested in, it helped me manage my time. if you want to do well in school and you want to be on a team, you have to make all of that work. i think you learn time management very early on. i think you learn about how to function with a group of people. you learn those norms early. it helps with being competitive and understanding how to win and how to train to get yourself into a better position to win. great development of all
sorts of muscles, both psychological and physical. >> what did you get your degree in? rep. trahan: i got a bachelors of science in regional comparative studies. i was a latin american studies major. that was my focus. the school of foreign service was a great program. it was rigorous. it was a terrific program. >> you went on to do what? i was off to take the foreign officer exam and travel the world. my dad got sick. he was diagnosed with ms while i was in college, so i came home. i worked at a community service project. the day i came back home, i lived there for the summer. that is when i realized that service takes many forms. i was interested in becoming a foreign service officer. i realized how rewarding it was
to celebrate your community. that was when i met my then congressman and i applied for a job at his office. i came back down to washington within months of graduating. >> you are not unfamiliar to washington. you worked for who and what did you do? what lessons did you learn from him in washington? rep. trahan: i worked for congressman marty meehan, a democrat from the same hometown i grew up in. i started as a scheduler and had many jobs in that office here and in massachusetts. eventually i became his chief of staff. i learned to never forget who you are there to serve. we spent a lot of time in the district listening and working with community leaders, state and local officials to try to bring funding where we could back home that week could use to leverage private investment.
we did a number of town halls so that we were properly represented here in washington. i was part of a team that got to pass campaign-finance reform. 2002,mpaign reform act of which was bipartisan landmark legislation. i realized how difficult it is. the number of cosponsors, especially if it is going to be a bipartisan piece of legislation. how to go through that process. > you have worked for uber, what did you do? rep. trahan: i worked for a bunch of companies in my last job. uber were interested in getting more women drivers. we work helping them to figure what the obstacles were.
more women applying, more women driving over a longer period of time. i am a practitioner and a very pragmatic person. i jumped in with two feet and became a new bird driver myself to see firsthand what may be some of those obstacles were. it was fun to go through that process. >> you talk about your childhood and parents, what sort of influence did they have on you? rep. trahan: my parents were incredibly loving and they were incredibly hard workers. they taught us the work ethic that my sisters and i have. it is a reflection of my parents. my mother worked multiple jobs while raising us. my dad, when there was not work in massachusetts or boston, he would leave home and go work in .ong island for a year or maine
we understood the relationship between supporting a family and hard work. i had it better than most. my family was such a supportive unit. my mom and dad were tremendously supportive of everything my sisters and i do. >> you are 45 years old, when did you realize you were a democrat? rep. trahan: when you grow up in a union family, you are a democrat. there was no wavering. i grew up in a working-class city. i'm sure my neighbors were democrats. my dad helped organize the union at times on certain issues. i learned how to door knock and phone bank early on. my parents both fostered a lot of debate at home. they made us read the newspaper so there weren't silent dinner
tables. we had to debate and discuss. certainly, my parents passed on democratic ideals. lowell was a gritty, urban, gateway city. the neighbors i had, the community i grew up in, we learned how to take care of each other. i have been a democrat my whole life. >> have you done the same with your 8-year-old and 4-year old? do you discuss issues with them ? this campaign we just went through, it made my eight-year-old pretty conversant in government and politics. it has been cool to see. she probably doesn't understand some of the democrat versus republican. we don't really frame things that way.
there is why our folks disagreeing on these issues? i don't centre that on party labels as much as this is what one side will say and this is what the other will say. she has an opinion on most everything. >> how are you managing your life back home? rep. trahan: i have a great family. my husband has been terrific. my mom is ageless and has limitless energy and so does my aunt. i have three sisters. i think i am feeling the benefits of none of my family sort of leaving the nest. they are all very close to me. we are making it work. >> what did your mom say when you decided to run? what do you think the reaction has been or what have they told you about winning this seat and serving? rep. trahan: i think my mom will tell you she was not surprised.
the last six years, with a lot of companies across the world and helping more women get into leadership roles, when i look at congress and saw the demographics hadn't changed since i left in 2005, i don't think she was surprised that i wanted to be part of a wave of women who came in and changed and made it more representative. old -- and there was a big change election. a staffer here, it wasn't a dream of mine. that is your opportunity to change business as usual.
better decisions are made one more women are at the table. i am thrilled to see more women at the table right now. >> up next is jesus garcia, who represents the fourth district in illinois. he migrated from mexico as a small boy and want to work as a county commissioner, city councilman, and served in the illinois state senate. the congressman goes by the nickname of chewy. >> it is a nickname of anyone who bears the name of the lord. my first name is jesus. instead of calling us jesus or jesus, they call us chewy. it is a standard nickname among mexican americans. i came to this country at the age of nine. i am an immigrant from the northern state of mexico. the state of durango. i came here with my mom and my three siblings. my father came to the states to work during a worker program here in the late 40's.
he made his way from texas to california, kansas, chicago. he made a home in chicago after he got his green card. the petition for us and we joined him. this is known as the family system of migration to this country. >> how is this decision for your mom to come to the united states, what was it like for her and what was it like for you as a nine-year-old? butas a difficult decision reuniting with our dad who was working in chicago who was supporting us, sending money back home and visiting us as much as he could was still a difficult time for my mom and for us. we would not have him around. i mom did everything to raise us well. to provide for us. it was a bittersweet moment. on one hand we were reuniting with my father and on the other hand it was tough to leave our
small village. in theused to sing choir. she helped many people learn how to read and write in the towns around ours. she was a very loved person. leaving was difficult. most of all, for me leaving my dog back in my little village. it still makes me get sentimental at times. when you arrived -- >> what do you remember from that experience? >> i remember getting out of the station wagon to get to chicago. when i opened the door in the wind hit me, chicago is known as the windy city, on that day i felt the cold air cut right through my old jacket that really wasn't adequate for chicago. so that was my introduction to a bitter chicago cold morning in february. i remember it very vividly. on the other hand, it was
welcome to a city that i have come to love, and to a city that , 52 years later, would see me running for mayor in 2015. have lived in almost the same community since i arrived, it is a very vibrant working class community and it remains my community of choice. >> widen your parents want to live in america? what did they say about being here in the united dates? >> my father first came here because we didn't have the means to live in mexico. we only had a small plot of land and it wasn't adequate to provide the things my father and mother wanted us to have in life. so he took a chance like many that have come to this country, that he thought could
provide a better way of life for his children, provide them with more opportunity and in that regard i am the first my family to go to college because of the public school system, the university's illinois -- universities in illinois. obviously being able to come to congress as illinois' first mexican-american congressman is a great honor. it is a part of the american experience and american dream for this immigrant boy to come to washington, d.c. >> when and how did you become a citizen? >> i became -- i applied in 1979. i took the oath of citizenship in 1980. i was working as a paralegal for a legal services office in chicago helping people become citizens, helping people filed applications to immigrate to this country. i asked myself, isn't it time that i become a citizen? so i did and it opened up a
journey in my life that led me to public service, to being an elected official at the local level, the state level, the county level, and now with the federal level. >> what inspired you desire to be a public servant? >> my desire to be a public servant comes from my mother, who was public minded. someone who sought to make a difference in the lives of other people. even as she only had a third-grade education, she taught many people around our village and on the outskirts of the rural areas how to read and write. she would travel to these places to show people this had no salary. people would get her things. they would give her a chicken or a piece of cheese or a bag of beans as gratitude for the new world they came to experience by learning how to read and write.
she was cynically engaged. she sung in the choir at her church. she volunteered in the schools. she sewed costumes for me so i could perform as a young child. the vocation to be a public servant comes from my mother and -- the motivation to be a public servant comes from my mother. when i first heard the calling to make a difference to create movements for social justice, i was inspired by the actions of people like dr. king and cesar chavez. i never stopped hearing the call for justice and the call for public service. this is where it has brought me to the u.s. congress. >> what offices have you held? what from those experiences -- how do those experiences help you in washington, d.c.? >> my first public and civic engagement activities included getting involved in my local community to fix up a run down movie theater.
the build new schools in the neighborhood. to create support systems for new immigrants who were coming to the community. that put me on a pathway where i've had the privilege of being a city councilman in chicago, a chicago alderman. i was one of the first mexican-american selected to the city council. i was reelected three times. i have a great fortune to be sent to the illinois state senate as illinois' first mexican-american state senator. i have a chance to break in and teach the ropes of the senate to a fellow you might've heard of named barack obama when he arrived in the illinois senate. you never know what encounters you will have with fellow citizens, with neighbors. i'm glad to say i played a small role in teaching him the ropes of the illinois senate. i have also served on the cook county board of commissioners in chicago.
of course i served -- i have begun serving in congress. i have been here for a whole 2.5 weeks as a member from illinoi'' district. >> what advice did you get to state senator barack obama that you still follow today? >> i told him to make sure you don't stumble upon arriving. i taught him some of the protocols of the senate. he also claimed to have similar values to me. i showed him who to look out for in the illinois senate. i suggested he reach across the aisle, which he did very successfully by working with republican leaders and other members of the house who were in the majority at the time that he arrived. i had no clue he would have the type of rise that he did to become the state -- the u.s.
senator and then of course the president of the united states for two terms. you never know what kind of encounters being an elected official will give you. that is one of the most positive ones. >> new jersey has sent jeff van drew to the u.s. congress. the worked his way from the general assembly to the state senate, and now the u.s. congress. >> you spent decades as a practicing dentist. how do you go from dentistry to congress? >> i had an unusual practice and that it was that -- i was a councilman, the mayor, county commissioner, and assemblyman, state senator. during that period of time i was >> i had an unusual practice and it gave people results. it forced me to the technical medical things.
in politics nothing is technical. in that way it was different but it was always fun. >> which job is tougher? >> dentistry is technically very tough. it was very technical stuff to get a sense of it. when people see the drills, they go about 500,000 rotations per minute. you have to be delicate and have good hands, good eyes. kind of like a surgeon. you have to make sure you know how to apply the anesthesia. that part is tough. as a rule, everything works out because it is science. in politics, i maintain him was nothing is a science. you never know how things are going to work out. even if you do absolutely the right thing, it doesn't work out
the way you wanted to. >> when did you first decide to run for elected office? >> in my dental practice i was first president of the society. i was an expert for the state board of dentistry and involved in a lot of dental things. i ran for counsel, which is called township committee in my hometown. i did it in a routine way, yes, but not completely. i knocked on every door of the municipality. when i say every door, i don't mean 90% or 80%, or 99%. i knocked on every door. some doors twice. some doors even a little more. the area i come from is a very republican area. yet, when you look at them eyeball to eyeball and you talk
to them and listen to them and talk about the issues, they don't care about party any more. they care about issues affecting the townships. >> what should people know about the second district of new jersey? >> it's every diverse. i don't mean ethically and culturally. it is diverse in so many ways. it is huge. about 40% of the state of new jersey. there are eight counties in my district. 92 towns. it is a huge, large area that can take hours to traverse. it is different. the western part, the western part of cumberland county is rural. a lot of farming and agriculture. a lot of large open spaces. which is much different than say
atlantic city and pleasantville. that is much different than say cape may and other parts of atlantic county where it is really tourism driven. it is very victorian and old-fashioned. it is a wonderful place. >> with all those differences, what do you do as a member to represent all those interests is -- all those interests? >> put yourself in their shoes, your head and there had. understand what they are going through. whenever problems with the nuclear plant or a chance in my close in salem county on the border of delaware. that is one of the major income drivers for the area. that matters and you have to understand that. you have to realize offshore
drilling can mean a great deal to people to ocean counties or along the coast. they are concerned about the tourism areas and keeping the water safe and here. -- and pure. it's a little bit more urban and has a large hispanic community. in atlantic city there are large communities of everybody. vietnamese, bangladesh, agents, pakistanis -- asians, pakistanis. they have their own issues because they are new to america. they want the american dream. part of your job is to help them achieve that american dream. what you have to do, as different as all the areas are, is a microcosm of the country itself. you have to make sure you are
working to try as much as you can to make everybody's dream come true in different ways. there are different issues and different problems in different environments. >> what is your political style? >> to the a little bit of a rebel. i just don't always love when people say you must go along with your political party every single time. your political party tells you to do something, you do it. i believe you can have a political party. our founding fathers, this amazing place, were men and women walked so long ago before us. they were not so much worried about republicans and democrats. they were not worried about being good republicans are good democrats. they were worried about being
good americans. that is what i am worried about. i want to be a good american. >> where did you learn that style from? >> from a lot of different people. my dad, who was not in politics at all. he would talk. he would have different views in different points. sometimes he sounded like a republican, and sometimes he sounded like an independent and sometimes like a democrat. that's a good thing. it shows thinking and doing something different. i don't know that we as human beings should just go and automatically do everything automatically and do what were told. >> within the next two years what you want to get done? >> i really hope first of all to get the government open. i think we need to be more flexible.
whether we get the government opened before we deal with poor security. i'm willing to deal with border security. at the same time our party and the president. you know it's most important to me? their american men and women that don't have money in their pockets. that can't pay for their food at their table. they can't buy new diapers. not that we -- we need to compromise and work together. to me what is important is bipartisanship. working with republicans and democrats. with is important -- to meet what is important is flexibility. the american people regardless of whatever political parties may think. making sure offshore waters, we fight to keep medicare healthy, whole in a good shape.
all those types of things are important to me and many more. >> what committee are you working on? >> the space committee. agriculture. that will matter a lot because nobody from new jersey is on the agriculture committee, believe it or not. i really hope to be able to do a lot. people don't realize how much agriculture there is a new jersey. we grow so many foreign -- cranberries, lee varies, peaches, tomatoes. -- it varies, but it's one of our top five industries. everybody think it is big pharma and high-tech and financial. fishing is another huge issue, and tourism. it is the third-largest industry in new jersey. those jersey issues are very important. i really hope to fight for them.
i will fight for our farmers, not only in new jersey but around the country. >> how many terms you plan to stay here? >> i have no idea. the people make a decision, i don't. this is what always said. i will work as hard as i can. i will give it everything i have. on election night i said i would work very, very, very hard, and i am. >> new congress, new leaders. follow it all on c-span. the house and senate return for legislative work on monday. the house will take up a joint resolution to terminate the president's national emergency declaration that allows him to build the southern border wall the money that congress intended for other purposes. also, measures to require universal gr