FEC ruling in Islam’s favor could remove major financial barrier for working-class candidates, women & people of color
30-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi Congressional candidate Islam is running for office without health insurance: “we can’t change Washington if we can’t afford to get there”
GEORGIA — Democratic Congressional Candidate for Georgia’s 7th District Nabilah Islam will submit the first request in history with the Federal Election Commission to use campaign funds to cover health insurance. Islam, a 30-year-old Muslim woman raised by working-class Bangladeshi immigrants, cannot afford to pay for health insurance out of pocket and has been running for office while uninsured. With over $30,000 in student loans, Islam is currently using her last remaining savings to pay for rent and food on the campaign trail. If the FEC rules in her favor, Islam will remove a major financial obstacle preventing working-class candidates, women, and people of color from running for office.
“Congress is overwhelmingly white, wealthy and male — and there’s a reason. Working-class women and people of color like myself want to run for office — but electoral campaigns lock out people without massive bank accounts,” said Nabilah Islam, Democratic Candidate for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. “So for the first time in history, I’m asking the federal government to let me spend campaign funds on healthcare. I shouldn’t have to worry that catching the flu while I knock doors could lead to thousands of dollars in medical debt. It’s time for the FEC to remove a crucial barrier that stops working women from running for office, and let us spend campaign funds on healthcare. We all know transformative change is led by working people — but we can’t change Washington if we can’t afford to get there.”
Nearly 40% of U.S. Congress members are millionaires — and Congress members have five times the net worth of the average American household. Conversely, women and people of color are underrepresented in Congress: only 22% of members are people of color and 23% of members are women, despite people of color and women making up 39% and 50% of the population, respectively.
In May of 2018, Democratic Congressional Candidate for NY-2 Liuba Grechen Shirley successfully petitioned the FEC to use campaign funds for childcare. Following the ruling, nine more candidates used the ruling to spend campaign funds on childcare — and dozens more candidates petitioned for the same rights in state and local races across the country.
In 2019, the average annual costs for single healthcare coverage were over $7,000. In order to launch a successful campaign, most candidates must forgo full-time employment — the source of some or all of health insurance payments for most non-elderly Americans. In Islam’s 7th Congressional District in Georgia, the accessibility of healthcare for working class folks is especially dire — 17% of people in GA-7 have no health insurance.
Last year the Georgia 7th District congressional district had the tightest margin in America, going red by just 419 votes. In the most recent filing, Islam was the second-highest fundraiser in the Democratic field.
About Nabilah Islam: Nabilah Islam is a 30-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi community activist and proud progressive running to fix our broken healthcare system, end student debt, and fight for immigrants and working people. The daughter of working-class immigrants, Nabilah grew up watching her parents live paycheck to paycheck and work long hours to get by. In high school, Nabilah’s mother herniated two discs working in a warehouse—and when the insurance company refused to cover her care, Nabilah helped her family navigate the legal process and force the insurers to pay. A proud graduate of Gwinnett County Public Schools, Nabilah’s first jobs were at the Ingles Grocery Store and the Walmart in Lawrenceville. She worked her way through Georgia State University at a luggage store in Peachtree Corners, and after graduation, began working for local progressive candidates in Georgia.
Like millions of Americans, Nabilah owes nearly $30,000 in student loans—and like nearly a quarter of her district, she has no health insurance. Nabilah’s running for Congress because she knows, firsthand, that incremental change doesn’t work. Georgia’s 7th needs bold, progressive solutions: Medicare for All, student loan forgiveness, and an economy that actually works for working people.
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