Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) represents the 14th Congressional district, which includes Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and the northeast part of Queens. First elected to Congress in 1993 after ten years on the New York City Council, she’s known as a tireless advocate for women’s rights and the perennial sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment. She spoke to Raw Story just outside the House Cloakroom at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
Raw Story: Choice has been a big theme of this convention…
Maloney: Where you there when the women of the House were on the floor?
Raw Story: Yes
Maloney: All talking about areas that he’s made a difference, Lilly Ledbetter is talking now, the first bill he signed into law was equal pay for equal work bill. He’s made a difference in women’s lives and women will make a difference in this campaign.
That’s just one area — in the economy. Really, he hunted down bin Laden, al Qaeda is weaker now than when he took office, the economy’s better, he’s grown 4.5 million jobs, they were shedding 800,000 jobs a month when he first came in. He turned that around. We’re moving in the right direction. The differences are as wide as an ocean between the two candidates.
Raw Story: You have one of the wealthiest districts in the House on a per capita basis. Obviously, as a liberal Democratic woman you keep getting elected, but Mitt Romney is obviously directly appealing to your constituents to vote for him instead of Obama. Is that playing in your district at all?
Maloney: Well, in America, everybody’s got their vote and you don’t know what the vote’s going to be until Election Day, so I certainly can’t speak for anyone else’s vote but I can speak for mine. And I’ll be voting for and working very hard to re-elect President Obama.
Raw Story: The Equal Rights Amendment has been something you’ve pushed for years. There’s no chance of passing that in the Republican House, but Nancy Pelosi says she only needs 25 seats, so will you be pushing for that again?
Maloney: Absolutely. We’re going to be working hard for 25 seats. We’ve got 5 seats in play in New York State.
The fact that you haven’t passed a bill doesn’t mean you don’t believe in it. I worked for nine years on the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. It was the right thing to do, to give health care to the men and women who risked their lives to save others. And I’ll keep working for equality in the Equal Rights Amendment.
One of the things that strikes me is that Republicans keep trying to roll back gains that we already have. Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, they keep trying to chip that away. They keep trying to chip away access to birth control. They even defunded Planned Parenthood in the House of Representatives. I call it “The War Against Women.” They say, they don’t like the term, Republicans don’t like the term. Well, I said, “You can call it anything you want, but all the victims are women.”
Raw Story: Their response to that terminology was to talk a lot last week about their mothers and their wives and their daughters, and to talk about how they were loved, all this very emotional stuff which they thought would appeal to women. But there wasn’t a lot about their policies. What’s been your response to that?
Maloney: The policies speak for themselves. Romney does not have a voting record in the House, but Ryan does. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, he voted against choice, voted against contraception, voted against the Violence Against Women Act, voted against expanding day care, you name it. So their differences are deep and strong in so many areas, particularly in women’s rights, I would say. We’re not going to go backwards, we’re not going to go to those dark and dreary times. We’re going to fight for our voice and fight for our choice.
[Image via James Castle on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]