Sean Casten

Candidate for US House - 6th District

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

I ran for this office in 2018 on the premise that there's an awful lot more that unites us than divides us. The overwhelming majority of us trust science. We believe that women should have full control of their body and that the government should not be involved in their health care decisions. We think markets are extremely powerful tools to harness ingenuity, but they require a functioning, ethical, and competent government to make sure everybody gets a fair chance. Most importantly, the overwhelming majority of us know that we are only as good as the world we leave to our children.

Over my three terms in Congress, I’ve been reassured by the voters and my colleagues that my idealism is justified. I served on the climate committee that recommended the legislation that became the Inflation Reduction Act - the biggest climate bill ever passed anywhere. We were intimately involved in the recovery from COVID that led to a US economy that recovered faster and is growing faster than any other country in the world - with growth across red states and blue states and income growth fastest among the most needy. 

But, to be blunt, our work isn’t finished. Global temperatures continue to rise. A woman’s right to control her body depends on the state she is in. We still have too many guns, and too many gun deaths.  And while the majority of Americans have common values, a disgruntled minority is threatening the stability of a democracy that allows those voices to be heard. It’s an amazing privilege and responsibility to have this job.  And as long as we still have work to do, I’ll keep at it.

How has your district been impacted by the migrant crisis and what do you think should be done?

Chicago has always thrived as a city of immigrants. In IL-06 that includes folks who came generations ago from northern Europe, African Americans from the great migration, and more recent waves of eastern Europeans, Arabs, Indians, Mexicans and so many others.  The Chicago region wouldn’t be the area we love without the foods, music, languages, and diversity of experiences they all bring.  And yet, with very few exceptions few were welcomed on first arrival. 

Today’s wave of immigration is no different. Particularly as related to those coming over our southern border, they often come with little beyond a work ethic and desire for a better life.  In the short term, they may create a temporary burden on finite resources.  But I have no doubt they will contribute just as much or more as the waves who came before.

Of course we need to secure our borders and make sure that we have sufficiently staffed and resourced immigration courts.  And we need to do a much better job at making sure that those who have been cleared to remain in the area while they await their immigration hearing can obtain legal - if in some cases, temporary - work visas to make sure that they have income to reduce social service burdens and can help fill needs of our local employers in a tight labor market.  Our office has been working specifically on this visa problem and on making sure that Illinois receives federal resources commensurate with the numbers of immigrants we are receiving and those funds aren’t unduly concentrated in border states.   There will of course be challenges and shortfalls.  But I’m proud to represent a country and a community that people want to come to - it beats the alternative!

What do you think immigration reform in Congress should look like?

When Ronald Reagan said that the day America stops welcoming immigrants is the day we stop being Americans, he was exactly right.
We have to create a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants already in this country who have lived law-abiding lives. The US has a responsibility to Dreamers who were brought here as children, and have grown up and built their lives in America.

We should increase our capacity to screen and process asylum seekers so as not to turn away people who are fleeing human rights atrocities and ready to contribute and present no risk to public safety.

We should eliminate the country-specific quota system and replace it with one that allocates quotas based on skills gaps in the US economy.

For students who come to US universities to study and earn advanced degrees, we should offer them a green card with their diploma.

Since President Biden has come into office, the United States has been creating jobs faster than we are creating workers. That’s a good problem but it also means - as noted in the prior question - that we need to streamline the process by which immigrants who come here - including those awaiting hearings - can obtain legal work visas. 

How important is bipartisanship to you and what issues have you worked on across the aisle or with people who don't uniformly share your beliefs?

I represent a purple district that elected Republicans for almost 50 years straight before I was elected in 2018. Put simply, I would not be in this job unless my values and priorities mapped to the bipartisan interests of my constituents. 

And indeed, outside of political jobs, it is never seen as particularly praiseworthy to work well with people who disagree with you on some things.  All of us, in our personal and professional lives have undoubtedly made good friends and done good work with people who disagree with us on any number of politically charged issues in Washington.

Ultimately, my view is that if we must choose, we should put the bipartisan interests of our voters first.  Where that finds common cause with bipartisanship in Washington, by all means do both.  Which I have, whether working with Tim Burchett (R-TN) to introduce bills to provide financial assistance to teachers who pay for classroom supplies out of pocket, with Mike Bost (R-IL) on legislation to lower crop insurance payments for farmers who plant cover crops or with Senators Graham (R-SC), Warren (D-MA) and Marshall (R-KS) on anti-money laundering legislation. 

But in the final analysis, what matters is that we make good policy.  How we cobble together a majority in the House and Senate is the path to that goal - but we should never elevate paths over goals.

What action, if any, do you want to see next on abortion access after the Dobbs decision?

I am 100% pro-choice without exception.  Roe found that women had the right to control their own bodies.  Dobbs argued that this was actually a state’s right.  And yet many of my colleagues are now suggesting that they would like to see a federal ban on abortion, making mockery of the 10th Amendment’s assertion that all rights not delegated expressly to the United States or the individual states are granted to the people. 

Congress can and should fix this by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act which I was proud to co-sponsor and help pass in the House in the 117th Congress.  That bill would reaffirm that abortion access is not an issue of federal rights nor states rights but of women’s rights. I also led over 100 of my colleagues in a letter calling on the Senate to eliminate or modify the filibuster so that we can pass this into law - because given the choice between the rights of 167 million American women and 40 US Senators I will always side with the former.  

Did Joe Biden legitimately win the 2020 presidential race?


Should the United States provide Ukraine with money in its fight against Russia?


Should the United States provide Ukraine with aid in the form of military supplies?


Should the U.S. provide Israel with money in its fight against Hamas?


Should the United States provide Israel with aid in the form of military supplies in its fight against Hamas?


Should there be a law requiring background checks on all gun sales?


Should Congress pass a federal law banning semi-automatic assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines to help address gun violence?