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Departing Lawmakers Reflect On Their Last Days In Congress

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., are shown here. (Jim Cole/AP and Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., are shown here. (Jim Cole/AP and Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
This article is more than 4 years old.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., discuss why they're leaving Congress.


Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, U.S. representative for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. (@TeamSheaPorter)

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, U.S. representative for Illinois’s 4th Congressional District since 1993. (@RepGutierrez)

Interview Highlights

Interview Highlights

On the state of Congress

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter: "I am concerned about the fact that we’re not running very well, that we don’t look good — in fact, we look crazy at times, and I understand why people think that. But I also want to reassure your listeners that there’s a lot of really good solid people that are paying close attention. They’re in Congress, and they are concerned about the growth of the authoritarianism, and they are concerned about the tone, and they are concerned about the fact that we’re not getting the work done. So, I remain optimistic. We have to look at the people that aren’t grabbing the microphones, and saying those awful things, and realize there are a body of people there who are trying. They just need fewer members that think that they should just be soloists."

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez: "It’s more partisan today than it’s ever been before. It’s hard to work across the aisle. Bipartisanship is something that is much applauded, either in editorial comments or by the punditry class in America, but it’s seldom rewarded. Having said that, I am very optimistic about the future of America and the work of my colleagues in the Congress, in the Senate and the House. Seven million more people turned out to vote for Democrats in this last election. I believe they turned because they’re really sick and tired of the kind of authoritarian stances that the President of the United States has taken. I think we see a coming together of Americans, of broad-based Americans.

"Democracy is working and I am committed to continuing that work."

"Here’s what I learned in 26 years in Congress: Nothing happens without a demand from the people."

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez

On how the American electorate is responding to the political climate

CSP: "It’s the American people that are going to save us, and I think that they have already taken giant steps from the very beginning [of the Trump Administration], from the Women’s March, and from these groups that grew locally, and really are working to re-shape this. The American people are knocking at the doors of Congress, and they’re saying, 'Open up. We want transparency. We want this to be cleaned up. We want to see people that hear us and know us and are willing to be passionate about issues.'

"What we have seen is this new ignition of energy and concern and that passion, and people are paying attention. And that’s what giving both of us hope, that the American people are shining a light on the process, which is the way it’s supposed to be."

LG: "Here’s what I learned in 26 years in Congress: Nothing happens without a demand from the people. We spend too much time in the backrooms and the corridors of Washington, D.C., and what happens there. What’s happening in America today is on the streets, in the neighborhoods, in the villages. In the counties across this country, people are organizing and they’re going to make sure that our democracy is preserved."

From The Reading List

WMUR: "Rep. Carol Shea-Porter looks back on history-making career in Congress" — "She started by making history, smashing the glass ceiling in New Hampshire's Congressional delegation as the first woman to represent the Granite State on Capitol Hill. After 12 years of victories and defeats in the politically volatile 1st Congressional District, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter is ready to take a step back."

Chicago Sun-Times: "Rep. Luis Gutierrez delivers farewell address to Congress: Text" — "Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the first Hispanic elected to Congress from Illinois, delivered his farewell address to Congress on Thursday. The Chicago Democrat, whose fourth congressional district was created to comply with the Voting Rights Act, will step down in January after serving in the House for 26 years.

"Gutierrez noted in his remarks the changing nature of his district, which takes in Chicago’s Hispanic populations on the North and South sides of the city.

"'When the 4th District was created to give Latinos in Chicago an opportunity to have a voice in Congress, I was the first to win the seat. And while the majority of my constituents then- about 65% — were Latino, but on Election Day, the majority of voters were white.'

"Gutierrez is not retiring from public life; rather, he is just going on to a new chapter. 'My work for America, her immigrants, and the character of our great nation is not done,' he said."

This article was originally published on December 18, 2018.

This segment aired on December 18, 2018.



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