Ro Khanna

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Ro Khanna


Rohit (Ro) Khanna won California Congressional District 17 in 2016. He is married to Ritu Khanna.

Background

Ro Khanna was(born September 13, 1976) is an American teacher, lawyer, politician, and the member-elect for California's 17th congressional district. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the United States Department of Commerce under President Barack Obama. Khanna is a member of the Democratic Party and was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives in California's 17th congressional district in 2014. In 2015, Khanna announced that he would again run for United States House of Representatives in California's 17th congressional district.[1] In the June 7, 2016 primary, Khanna earned more votes than incumbent Mike Honda. Because of California's Top Two Primaries system, the two faced each other again in the November general election.

Khanna's maternal grandfather, Amarnath Vidyalankar, was part of Gandhi's independence movement working with Lala Lajpat Rai and spent years in jail in the pursuit of human rights and freedom.

Khanna's parents emigrated to the United States from India before his birth. His father is a chemical engineer who graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, and his mother is a former substitute school teacher. Khanna was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1976.

Education

He received his B.A. degree in economics with honors from the University of Chicago in 1998, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Yale Law School, receiving his law degree in 2001. He specializes in intellectual property law.

Worked on Obama campaign

As a student in Chicago Ro Khanna worked on Barack Obama's first State Senate campaign in 1996.

I really knocked on doors. I volunteered. It gave me an exposure to politics, it was my first exposure to elected politics and I’m sure it put the seed in my mind that politics is something interesting. I always had a passion for human rights and policy issues because of my grandfather’s story. That was my first experience in sort of elected politics and what that’s like.[1]

Lantos connection

In 2004, as a 27-year-old, Ro Khanna challenged former Rep. Tom Lantos in a Democratic primary and lost. He later became Khanna's mentor.

I ran a protest campaign. It was a two-month effort and it was probably a little bit naive in terms of I certainly wasn’t prepared to be in Congress back then. It was more sort of an expression of my views. Lantos, to his incredible credit, invited me to come to the Capitol afterwards and said, ‘Look, you ran a spirited race but let me tell you, politics is an organic process and you’ve got to really build roots in a community and build roots in a party.’ He introduced me to Nancy Pelosi and I ended up getting involved with helping her in the efforts in 2006 to take back the House and Lantos facilitated, in certain ways, my involvement in the community. He was just a very decent person and I think he was struck by sort of the bravado of someone at 27 challenging him.[2]

Campaign team

In April 2013, Ro Khanna announced his executive committee to provide policy and strategic guidance to the campaign by leveraging its deep ties within the Silicon Valley community.

Almost all of them are superstars and fund raisers of the Obama's re-election campaign in 2012.

The executive committee will be co-chaired by the Khanna campaign chair Steve Spinner and general consultant Jeremy Bird, with members David Berger, Kamil Hasan, Amy Rao, Rusty Rueff, Jim Green, Sergio Santos, Eva Roa, Lindsay Lamont, Kavita Tankha and Ann Woo.

Berger, Rusty Rueff and Kamil Hasan were Obama's members for America's National Finance Committee during the 2012 election.

Currently, Kamil is on the Board of the America India Foundation, a Trustee of UC Santa Cruz and Aligarh University Endowment in India. He has also served as the faculty at IIT-Delhi and Stanford University.

While Amy Rao, currently the CEO of Integrated Archive Systems -- a company she founded in 1994, was one of the nation's top fundraisers for the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign.

He has also served as the Coordinating National Co-Chair of Technology for Obama.

Jim Green was the Northern California finance director for Obama's re-election campaign.

In addition to his role as a top fundraiser for Obama, he was the staff director of Technology where he mobilised and leveraged the technology community's support around Obama's re-election campaign.

In this role, he was responsible for increasing participation within the fastest growing sector of the economy -- technology.

Previously, he worked for the Democratic National Committee finance team where he was responsible for major donor fund raising in California.

He also worked as the finance director for Kamala Harris' successful campaign for Attorney General of California.

Kavita Tankha was a member of Obama for America's National Finance Committee and Northern California Finance Committee in the 2012 election.

She was one of four leading Indian American Fundraisers for the President this past election cycle.

As per the latest filing reported with the Federal Election Commission, Khanna has already amassed $1.2 million for his Congressional bid.[3]

"People come here from around the world to put their dreams into action -- that's the promise of America, and it's why my parents came here from Asia," Khanna said announcing his Congressional bid last week.

270 Strategies clients

270 Strategies' work in the political arena has included Cory Booker’s first run for U.S. Senate; Ready for Hillary; Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign for Governor; Ro Khanna’s groundbreaking congressional race to represent the Bay Area and Silicon Valley; Battleground Texas; iVote; and a number of international electoral efforts.

Russian connected staffer

Bernie 2016 Nevada GOTC Director Vitali Shkliarov (Jan. 2016) Career Transition Center at the Foreign Service Institute at U.S. Department of State, Jan.-June 2015. Digital organizing on Ro Khanna for Congress, Sept.-Dec. 2014. Campaign manager for Moscow City Duma election-Civc Platform, June-Sept. 2014. Online campaign manager for Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation election, March-June 2014.

Soft on North Korea

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CPC

In 2017 Ro Khanna was a new member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

"Pay to play" resolution

On April 23 2017, Feel the Bern endorsed this resolution written by a member of the club and the founding president, and signed by nearly 200 CA state delegates, as well as Congressman Ro Khanna. It demands that the California Democratic Party condemn pay-for-play politics. It has been submitted to the Party for approval at the 2017 CA Convention (May 19-21, 2017), first in the Resolutions Committee, and then to the entire state delegation at large.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the CDP will publicly condemn corporations and lobbyists that finance political campaigns, as they perpetuate a culture of corruption and cronyism and thus violate the CDP platform; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CDP will send a copy of this resolution to the California Congressional Delegation, including all its elected officials, calling on the delegation and elected officials to unwaveringly uphold the CDP platform, and reminding them that failure to do so is a dereliction of their elected and fiduciary duties as members of the CDP, as well as a copy sent to the Democratic National Committee.

Authors

Sponsors

DSA connections

Ro Khanna is very close to Democratic Socialists of America.

Peoples Summit

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On the final day of the People’s Summit in Chicago June 11. 2017 the panel Electoral Politics: Beyond Neo-Liberalism and Trumpism brought together progressive elected officials and candidates to discuss how people can “seize power in this country,” as the moderator, The Nation editor, John Nichols, put it.

Long Island elementary school teacher, New York State United Teachers member, and state assembly member-elect Christine Pellegrino was on the panel as well as Carlos Ramirez Rosa, a 25-year-old activist with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Rosa serves on Chicago’s City Council.

The panel also included California congressional candidate Dotty Nygard, a nurse who brought National Nurses United into her hospital; the anti-war California Rep. Ro Khanna; and the former president of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous, who is running for governor of Maryland.

A Bernie Sanders delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Pellegrino won Long Island’s 9th Assembly District, which, as Nichols reminded the audience, had “voted by 23 points for Donald Trump and that had never in modern times elected a Democrat.”

On the Saturday afternoon panel Beyond Betsy: Organizing for Education Justice, Pellegrino said seeing her two daughters overworked by the corporate testing model was “really the impetus for why I ran,” promising to advocate for kids, teachers, and labor “in a way that has never really happened before.” Issues of privatization, retaliation against teachers who speak out, a looming teacher shortage in New York, and a drive toward automating the teaching profession, all driven by “billionaires that have their hand in our education funding,” are also problems Pellegrino seeks to combat.

Carlos Ramirez Rosa “was just a 24-year-old community organizer,” a queer Latinx and “the son of working-class immigrants,” when he was encouraged to run by fellow activists. Reclaim Chicago, a group of working people volunteering for his campaign, were instrumental in his election.

“I am fighting to make Chicago a truly sanctuary city, that no one is being deported by our police,” Ramirez Rosa said. “I’m only going to accomplish that because of the power that undocumented Chicagoans are building.” Comparing the people to water –“We’re life,” he said – who struggle to break through the dam of capitalism that holds their power back, Ramirez Rosa said, “My job is to enter that system through the cracks, not to prop up the dam, but to report back to the drops of water.”

Once in office, Ramirez Rosa started United Neighbors of the 35th Ward, 109 people that keep the pressure on to end racist policing, to save our planet, to fight against austerity, to tax the rich, and to fight for affordable housing. “Going against mayor 1% (Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel) is scary,” he said “but I sleep good at night because I know that I got people behind me … and they’re organized to make sure that I never forget that.”

Nurse’s advocacy “does not stop at the bedside,” said National Nurses United rank-and-filer Dotty Nygard. “We advocate for so much more.” Nygard is an emergency room nurse at Sutter Health in Sacramento, Calif. She noted that nurses see how “social issues, environmental issues, economic issues” all impact patients. “Their health, their well being is influenced by all of these components that do bombard them,” said Nygard.

Nichols introduced Ro Khanna as the Democrat who said “if you’re not for single-payer you’re not a Democrat.” He also pointed out Ro Khanna was the first anti-Iraq War Democrat to defeat a pro-Iraq War incumbent.

“My grandfather had spent four years in jail during Gandhi’s independence movement in the 1940’s and I thought we needed a more just foreign policy,” said Ro Khanna, explaining his motivations to run for office. Ro Khanna has opposed not just the war in Iraq, but U.S. interventions in Libya, Syria, Yemen, “and to our policy of regime change in Ukraine.” He believes we need “a progressive foreign policy vision, not just because it’s the right thing for our country, but it’s the right thing for people around the world.”

Ro Khanna’s district is Pakistani-American, Indian-American, Chinese-American, Latino-American, and African-American, as well as white. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “That’s the future of America.”[5]


DSA "relationship"

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Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee Minutes of Meeting of July 21-22, 2018:

National Director’s Report

Maria thanked Annie Shields for getting use of the space and Lisa Flores for handling logistics. She then summarized her written report.
She reported developing outward relationships through Jose La Luz to Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) which we can pursue if the NPC wishes, with Congressman Ro Khanna and the Progressive Caucus, in the future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and with several mainstream progressive groups at a conference on planning responses in case of a national security crisis.[6]

Endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

July 24 2018, the Democratic party’s newest star, New York City congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, visited the Capitol to meet with lawmakers who may soon be colleagues.

The 28-year-old former bartender, who defeated one of the most powerful House Democrats last month, had lunch with California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna and met with several members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Khanna was the only member of Congress to endorse Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, before her upset victory over Rep. Joseph Crowley, a member of the House Democratic leadership.[7]

Khanna called Ocasio-Cortez “a bold champion for progressive values” and said he looks forward to working with her in Congress.

National Nurses United endorsement

National Nurses United 2018 endorsements in California included:

Endorsed Nomiki Konst

Nomiki Konst September 27 2018:

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Rep. Ro Khanna is transforming the debate in Washington, by presenting creative solutions and ideas that will help working Americans rise up. I have learned from his leadership, and I’ll be unveiling a transformative platform. I’m proud to have his support. Let’s do this!

"Green New Deal"

From the Sunrise Movement:[8]

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has released a proposal for a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, a plan that would transform our economy and society at the scale needed to stop the climate crisis.

We have the momentum to make a Green New Deal real, but we need a critical mass of Congresspeople to support the proposal.

Take action on Dec. 10 to show Congress the Green New Deal is a top priority.

Congressional supporters by December 1 2018:

Millennials For Revolution

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In December 2018 Millennials For Revolution called for "progressives" Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Katie Porter to be appointed to key Congressinioal Committees.

Backing Daraka Larimore-Hall

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Agents of Change

Launched in January 2017, Agents of Change is Congressman Ro Khanna’s student-run activism group that leverages the principles of political organizing to focus on local community impact.

In the last year, our students have volunteered at a range of local organizations including the Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley, Sunday Friends, Abode and Sunnyvale Community Services. Many have branched out and started their own initiatives, from organizing district wide mental health summits to starting after school reading comprehension workshops for elementary school students.
Weeks before their high school graduation, a few of the seniors had an idea for one final project: a five week computer science course for middle school students on the other side of the Valley. Kids that grow up in suburbs like Fremont don't spend too much time in East San Jose, vice versa, but that convention didn’t stop 12th grader Rohan Hajela, a co-founder of Agents of Change.
He had been teaching elementary school students the basics of computer science through workshops hosted at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana Library. Together, with his team of fellow co-founders, seniors Anisha Kollareddy, Sid Bansal, and Hasini Shyamsundar, they developed a more expansive five week STEM bootcamp for fifteen middle school students at Mt. Pleasant After School Program.
Unlike other STEM programs, this initiative would merge an education of computer science with a cultivation of emotional insight. Each middle school student had to build a website, dedicating it to someone they were grateful for. Half of our Agents focused on helping middle school students learn the basics of Python and JavaScript and the other half worked on helping students find and tell stories about their source of gratitude.

May 2018, with the support of their Agents of Change coaches, 15 brave middle school students presented their work to Congressman Khanna . Their efforts were commemorated with a photo with Congressman Ro Khanna.

Impressed by the results of this program, Maurissa Koide, a Student Advisor at August Boeger Middle School, and Danny Patton the Director of the MPAS program, are planning to work more expansively with our Agents of Change in the next academic year.

A special thank you to them as well as the other Agents who went out of their way to help with this program, Ayushi Prusty and Pranav Varansai. In attendance at the ceremony were other administrators who had made this initiative possible: Superintendent Mariann Engle, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Elida MacArthur and board members, Antonio Perez and Peter Ortiz.[9]

Capitol vigil

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March 10, 2017, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, along with partner organizations, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Desis Rising Upand Moving (DRUM), Indiaspora, MPowerChange, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Network For Arab American Communities (NNAAC), Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), and Sikh Coalition joining with and Members of Congress, held a vigil on the steps of the Capitol to honor the victims of hate violence in South Asian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, and Arab communities nationwide.

“At a time when South Asian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, and Arab community members are facing hate violence and harassment on nearly a daily basis, we need real leadership from Washington to stem the tide of injustice,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Waiting nearly a week before commenting on a deadly shooting in Kansas won’t do it. Issuing a second toxic Muslim Ban won’t do it. We need direct action from this administration to forge inclusion, justice, and hope in this quintessential nation of immigrants. SAALT will continue fighting for laws and policies that light a path toward a just and inclusive future for us all.”

Other speakers included Yolanda Rondon, Esq., Staff Attorney, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Amrita Bamrah, SALDEF, James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute, Robert S. McCaw, Director of Government Affairs Department, CAIR. [10]

Members of Congress who joined the vigil included Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA).

SAALT Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence

March 23, 2017, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, held a Congressional briefing to address the uptick in hate violence nationwide and highlight recommendations for change, as outlined in our recent report, “Power, Pain, Potential.” SAALT was joined by eight members of Congressional leadership and community partners in an urgent discussion on combatting the surge in hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans across the country.

“As President Trump continues to test fire Muslim bans, this administration appears intent on intensifying efforts to ignore and provoke hate violence,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “The President has a sworn duty to protect the rights and safety of all Americans. Today’s briefing with Congressional leaders is an important step in making sure President Trump doesn’t escape his responsibilities.”

Our communities have experienced devastating violence in recent months, including deadly shootings in Kansas and Washington State, numerous arson attacks and vandalism of mosques, businesses, and homes nationwide, and mounting fear by our communities across the country.

“SAALT stands ready to work with Congressional leaders to fight hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric impacting our communities across the country,” stated Ms. Raghunathan. “South Asian Americans are the most rapidly growing demographic group, and we are committed to policies at all levels that reinforce the place our communities have in our nation now and as we continue to grow.”

Honorary Co-Chairs of the briefing included: Senator Mazie Hirono (HI); Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT); Senator Ben Cardin (MD)

Member Co-Sponsors of the briefing included: Congressmembers Keith Ellison, Andre Carson; Raul Grijalva; Ami Bera; Grace Meng; Mark Takano; Pramila Jayapal; Raja Krishnamoorthi; Ro Khanna. Judy Chu also attended.

Partner organizations include: Sikh Coalition, Washington Peace Center/D.C. Justice for Muslims Coalition, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab American Institute.[11]

California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

Ro Khanna is very close to the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, and the closely allied California Democratic Party Arab American Caucus.

Progressive Caucus Minutes at E-Board Meeting

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(Sat., Aug. 26, 2017.) Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, Plaza D,1855 S. Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802 (5:45- 7:45 pm)

  • Call to Order, Welcome by the Chair
  • Quorum, Approval of the Agenda
  • Officer Reports
  • Single Payer Healthcare and SB 562: Making It a Reality
  • Speakers: Ro Khanna, U.S. Representative, Congressional District 17; Amy Hines-Shaikh, Legislative and Political Director, UPTE-CWA Local 9119; Don Nielsen, Director of Government Relations, California Nurses Association. Moderator: Ryan Skolnick
  • Chair’s Closing Remarks & Adjourn[12]
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Arab American Caucus Meeting Minutes: August 26, 2017

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CA Democratic Party Summer E-board Meeting Minutes: August 26, 2017, Arab American Caucus Meeting Minutes, Sheraton Park Hotel Resort 1855 South Harbor Boulevard. Anaheim, CA.

Meeting Called to Order by Chairman Iyad Afalqa at 8:15 p.m. Officers present: Iyad Afalqa, Ahmed Zahra, Hosam Haggag, Sara Abed. Welcome Opening Remarks were delivered by Chairman Iyad Afalqa. Chairman made a motion to move the approval of minutes to the time spot after the panel to meet Congressman Khana traveling schedule. Motion was accepted and seconded by Southern California Vice Chair, Ahmed Zahra.

At 8:17 Chairman introduced North California Vice Chair Hosam Haggag to moderate The panel: Protecting Our First Amendment: A Panel Review of the Anti-BDS Bill . Along with the Anti-BDS bill and the turmoil that was sparked in Charlottesville, there's a lot of chatter about the 1st Amendment.

Panelists:

At 9:25 p.m. Chairman read the minutes. Amira Abed, Secretary was absent to attend to an emergent matter. Minutes were approved. At 9:28 p.m. Sara Abed, Treasurer delivered the Treasurer’s Report. At 9:30 p.m. Chairman Iyad Afalqa delivered his report followed by Vice Chair, N. Cal. Report – Hosam Haggag and Vice Chair, S. Cal. Report – Ahmad Zahra.

At 9:41 p.m. Elected Officials and Candidates Addressed the Caucus members, followed at 10:00 p.m. Guest Speakers addresses.

Rashad Al-Dabbagh, Executive Director of the Arab American Council and Monica Brasov-Curca of Activate Labs delivered a presentation about the release of the Refugees Welcome Guide. Followed by a status report on Civil rights by Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of CAIR - Sacramento Valley Meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m. by the chairman.[13]

On CAIR

“We must always stay true to the American values of diversity and unity when making decisions and I am proud to support your organization, which ardently promotes these values.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) (October 2017)

Justice Democrats

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Ro Khanna was endorsed by Justice Democrats for 2018.

AAPI Mobilization to demand a CLEAN DREAM ACT

South Asian Americans Leading Together November 27, 2017.

On Nov 15 and 16, SAALT along with NCAPA, AAJC, APALA, NAKASEC and other national partners rallied on Capitol Hill to press for the passage of a clean, bicameral Dream Act and Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Over 120 Asian American and Pacific Islander undocumented youth and allies, including two young South Asian DREAMers brought in by SAALT, hosted a press conference, rally, and individual meetings with House and Senate leadership. This included Representative Judy Chu, Representative Luis Gutierrez Representative Ro Khanna, Senator Dick Durbin, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, among many others. The young leaders demanded a clean DREAM Act that doesn’t compromise the future of other immigrants or negatively impact our immigration system.

Attending the rally were Al Green, Tulsi Gabbard, Judy Chu, Pramila Jayapal, and Raja Krishnamoorthi. [14]

C-100 2018 Summit

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Ro Khanna delivered opening remarks at the Committee of 100 Annual Summit and Gala, Silicon Valley May 5 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara.

On May 5-6, 2018, the Committee of 100 held its 2018 Annual Conference at the heart of America's technology epicenter in Silicon Valley. The theme of the 2018 Annual Conference was "Silicon Valley: Bridge Between the U.S. and China." Conference Co-Chairs included Chi-Foon Chan, Ken Fong, Buck Gee, Philip Ma, Ken Xie, and honorary co-chair Linda Tsao Yang.

Over 500 business, government, academic, technology, entertainment, and media representatives attended the two-day conference to discuss strengthening the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China through economics and foreign policy, tech entrepreneurism, artificial intelligence, and the Belt and Road Initiative. Experts also discussed the ongoing tensions surrounding a potential trade war between the U.S. and China.

Speakers included JIN Liqun, Inaugural President and Chair of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Former U.S. Ambassadors to China Max Baucus and Gary Locke; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman; Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist at Google Cloud AI/ML and Director of Stanford University's AI Lab, among others.[15]

Conference theme is “Silicon Valley: Bridge Between the United States and China.”[16]

National Nurses United lobby day

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National Nurses United was live — in Washington, District of Columbia. May 8 2018;

Watch U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, Rep. Ro Khanna and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal address nurses at our annual lobby day. Over 150 nurses from 20 states have been on Capitol Hill today advocating for patient protections.

Russian propaganda letter

April 25, 2018 Press Release Washington, DC – Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01) are leading more than 50 House Republicans and Democrats in pushing for the U.S. Department of State to exert diplomatic pressure on Ukraine and Poland for recent in incidents of state-sponsored Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

“We urge you to join us and human rights organizations in standing against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance by calling for the Polish and Ukrainian governments to unequivocally reject Holocaust distortion and the honoring of Nazi collaborators and fully prosecute anti-Semitic crimes,” the Members wrote in a letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. “We also ask that you detail what steps are being taken by the United States (U.S.) government to monitor instances of Holocaust distortion and ensure that the U.S. is not supporting or funding groups and individuals that promote or justify anti-Semitism. We believe these steps must include a firm request that these offensive laws be repealed...”
Last November, Radio Free Europe reported on the presence of torches and Nazi salutes at a 20,000-person march in honor of the 75th anniversary of the UPA. These torchlight marches are closely linked to organizations such as the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, an armed group that was prohibited from receiving U.S. weapons and training by the recently signed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. Rather than disband Azov, the government incorporated it into the Ukrainian National Guard overseen by the Ministry of the Interior. The group is widely known to be closely connected to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov...
Therefore, we respectfully request that you respond to our serious concerns with a detailed description of what actions the State Department is taking to work with the Polish and Ukrainian governments, and other governments in the region, to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denial and distortion.
Additionally, at this moment that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial is increasing around the world, we ask that you immediately appoint someone for the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism. The longer this position, which has worldwide reach, sits unfilled, the more it sends the message that the U.S. will tolerate anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Moreover, we recognize the important work that is carried out by the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, and ask that you ensure that his office has the resources necessary to meet the growing challenges in this arena.[17]April 25, 2018 Press Release

Anti-Pharma Bill

November 2018, Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna unveiled a new bill that would direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to authorize generic competition for any name-brand drug whose average domestic cost exceeds the median price in five reference countries: Canada, the U.K., Germany, France and Japan.

“The government is giving an exclusive monopoly to pharmaceuticals,” Khanna told HuffPost. “If a company abuses that grant by fleecing American consumers, then they lose that privilege, that property grant, that subsidy from the government.”

If the bill — dubbed The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act — were to become law, experts anticipate that drug companies would dramatically reduce prices rather than risk ceding market share to a generic competitor. “No company would want to lose its legal monopoly as a consequence of charging U.S. residents prices higher than in the reference countries,” said Jamie Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit that specializes in intellectual property issues.

The bill from Sanders and Khanna isn’t going to become law anytime soon. It faces fervent opposition from Republicans, who will still control the Senate when Congress reconvenes next year. Even getting a vote in the House will depend on whether the Democrats in charge of key committees decide to greenlight it ― a choice that will likely depend at least in part on the whims of top leadership.

But the legislation nevertheless sends a statement about the priorities of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and its intent to deliver on the campaign promises Democrats issued around the 2018 midterms, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s election night pledge to “take real, very, very strong legislative action to negotiate down the price control of prescription drugs.”

Pharmaceutical firms typically argue that long-term monopolies are necessary to justify the money they spend on research and development. And major drug companies do spend billions of dollars a year on R&D ― but not nearly as much as they spend on marketing, meaning that most of the costs recouped by monopoly profits aren’t essential to groundbreaking science. Nearly all research funded by pharmaceutical companies, moreover, piggybacks on government-backed research conducted by the National Institutes of Health. One study published earlier this year concluded that every one of the 210 new drugs approved by the FDA between 2010 and 2016 relied on at least some government-funded research, reflecting over $100 billion of public investment.

“American consumers pay far too much for drugs, not because it is costly to manufacture them, or even because of the expense of research and development,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a public interest nonprofit. “We pay too much because the U.S. government grants patents and other monopolies to brand-name drug makers, and then stands aside as Big Pharma exploits those monopolies to price gouge.”

The United States is in a class by itself on prescription drug costs, but the five reference countries included in the Sanders bill are a relatively generous comparison pool. Three of them ― Germany, Japan and Canada ― are in the top five in per-capita pharmaceutical spending among OECD nations. International reference pricing is common among wealthy nations, with 29 of 31 European Union nations taking foreign drug prices into account when considering domestic price policy, according to the European Commission.

Patents on prescription drugs are a longstanding feature of both American law and international trade agreements, in part due to the outsized influence of the pharmaceutical lobby within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. But international law provides various exceptions patent-holders’ privileges when it comes to public health ― which is why so many countries party to the World Trade Organization and other trade treaties can obtain lower drug prices than the U.S. does. Though Khanna and Sanders crafted their bill to crack down on the monopoly, the legislation would not technically violate a drug company’s patent ― just change the legal substance of what that patent secured.

“Drug corporations charge us hundreds of thousands of dollars for a drug that was created with taxpayer dollars because they can,” said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, a nonprofit that works extensively with Medicare costs and access. “We don’t have to let them rip us off.”[18]

Deconstructed podcast

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Deconstructed podcast with Mehdi Hasan, October 2018. With Rep. Ro Khanna, Senator Jeff Merkley, Nina Turner of Our Revolution. political commentator Symone Sanders. "Left Turn: are democrats in Congress ready to get rsdical?"

Staff

References