January 20, 2024

Aditya Pai, CA-45 candidate, 2024 primary election questionnaire

Pai discusses U.S. foreign aid, border security, AI regulation, Supreme Court reform, climate policy, anti-corruption, labor support, and his newcomer approach.

Ahead of the March primary, The Orange County Register compiled a list of questions to pose to the candidates who wish to represent you. You can find the full questionnaire below. Questionnaires may have been edited for spelling, grammar, length and, in some instances, to remove hate speech and offensive language.

MORE: Read all the candidate responses in our Voter Guide

Name: Aditya Pai

Current Job Title: Affordable housing attorney

Political Party Affiliation: Democrat

Incumbent: No

Other political positions held: None

City where you reside: Brea

Campaign website or social media:

How much assistance should the U.S. provide — military and/or financial — to foreign countries at war, like Israel or Ukraine? What, if any, should be the litmus test for American allies to receive assistance from the U.S.?

I believe Congress should approve military and financial assistance to foreign nations based on two factors:- American values- American interests.

We should only involve ourselves in conflicts that both implicate a core national security interest and enable us to act in ways that we can all be proud of as Americans. For example, in the wake of 9/11, I believe we were justified in invading Afghanistan to expel al-Qaida and kill Osama bin Laden. Iraq was a mistake. And so was warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, torture and the abuse of prisoners we engaged in at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

Today, Congress must learn from its mistakes and apply those lessons to Israel and Ukraine. Both countries deserve our support because of our shared values: democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Both countries also implicate core national security interests in Europe and the Middle East.

Ukraine is critical to the defense of our allies in Europe and, ultimately, to our own safety. If we do not confront Putin there, he will proceed west.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, where both Israelis and Americans face common enemies like Iran.

Congress can attach conditions to aid when it feels an ally is behaving improperly, or negotiate new terms if we find our values diverge. Sometimes, that will make sense. I am open to that in the future. As your congressman, I would vote to provide both Israel and Ukraine critical support today.

Border security continues to be a concern for many Americans. What is one proposal, that you believe could get bipartisan support, to address the border?

America is a nation of immigrants and a nation defined by the rule of law.

Here is one bipartisan proposal: Tighten restrictions on our asylum and refugee process for migrants who present themselves at the border. Require some migrants to apply in advance. For example, some of these cases could be screened and processed in Mexico or just across the border. That would reduce the flow of migration while still allowing qualifying applicants to get asylum in the U.S.

Our immigration system remains broken because both parties see political advantage in keeping it broken. That is shameful.

And if 270,000 border encounters reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in September don’t motivate this Congress, I don’t know what on earth will.

That’s why we need a new generation of leadership in Washington. As an immigrant, attorney and your congressman, I will make it my mission to fix immigration.

As AI technology continues to rapidly expand, what do you see as the federal government’s role in creating and enforcing a regulatory framework?

Congress must regulate AI thoughtfully, which is easier said than done. President Biden’s executive order on AI, issued Oct. 30, is a good start.

I would follow up with proposed hearings and legislation along three principles:- Congress must support American workers with education and job training to offset negative economic impact on workers. Technological unemployment is real — and it’s coming. We must be prepared to support workers before, during and after displacement.

– American citizens’ privacy and civil liberties must be protected amidst innovation — for example, by ensuring that corporate collection, use and storage of data is lawful, regulated and secure.

– The federal government should fund research — both technical and ethical — in AI safety and mitigate the security risks posed by rapid advancement. For both economic and national security reasons, in the development and regulation of AI, the U.S. must lead the world.

The role — and size — of the U.S. Supreme Court has come under scrutiny in recent years. Do you believe more justices should be added to the nation’s highest court, or would you support any kind of reform, like term limits?

The current Supreme Court, by accepting gifts like luxury trips, real estate and college tuition for family members, among other ethical lapses, has shown itself to be unworthy of life tenure — and incapable of regulating itself.

I support term limits for Supreme Court justices of 25 years of service. For a judge of any age, I believe that is more than reasonable.

I oppose adding more justices to the court.

I also support creating an annual process of ethical review by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

The justices will hate this. But that’s why we have a system of checks and balances: As our Founding Fathers said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” We badly need congressional oversight of the court. As your congressman, I will request a seat on the House Judiciary Committee to conduct it.

What is one environment or climate policy you’d champion if elected?

Global climate change is a grave threat to the world. It harms America’s economy, safety and public health. And landmark studies say we may have as few as 12 years to really make a difference.

I would champion a bipartisan bill called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act — a collaborative, multi-state effort using market-based tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. This legislation helps tackle the climate crisis by providing federal support and coordination for regional emission reduction, focusing only on programs that have already worked well. This is one common-sense solution to double down on what already works, right now, while we build a longer-term strategy.

Long-term, climate action is more a project of political will than policy. We must win hearts and minds to pass bold legislation as quickly as possible. The time to act is now. I will push Congress to take action immediately.

The George Santos saga made for numerous memes and “SNL” skits. But what is one thing Congress should take away from the former congressman’s expulsion from the House?

George Santos isn’t the problem. He is a symptom, the chief jester of this Clownshow Congress.

This Congress is on track to set a record for retirements and resignations. Why? Because crazy people make sane people crazy.

Members have pulled fire alarms as protest, threatened to fight on the House floor, engaged in sex acts in public movie theaters, been investigated for trafficking minors and indicted for accepting foreign bribes in the form of gold bars. Meanwhile, several members of Congress routinely trade stocks perfectly timed for market-beating returns, suggesting the use of insider information obtained through their congressional service.

Congressional corruption is rampant — and shameful. Santos isn’t even the worst of it.

The lesson: We need anti-corruption reform. Term limits, a lifetime ban on lobbying by former members and a ban on stock trading by current members of Congress — so our leaders can’t illegally profit from their public service.

2023 was a year for labor in California. What is one policy you’d champion to support workers, if elected?

As your representative, I would champion the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, half of all non-union workers want a union in their workplace, yet only 12% of workers are actually represented by one. Current law makes it too difficult for workers to organize — and gives employers too much power to interfere with free choice.

That is why I would champion the PRO Act to restore workers’ federal rights to unionize.

Among other things, this bill ensures that employers who commit violations under the National Labor Relations Act will face civil penalties. Corporate officials would also be held personally liable for violation of the law. And collective and class action waivers would be banned under the PRO Act, which makes it easier for workers to seek relief in court. I would co-sponsor and vote to pass the PRO Act immediately.

If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your most recent term. If you’re a newcomer, tell us how you, as a freshman, would stand out.

As a freshman, I would actually do my best not to stand out.

Far too many new members of Congress are attention-mongers who get nothing done. I will be different.

I intend to put my head down, learn from my elders, listen to those with more wisdom and experience than I have and be productive every single day.

My goal is to be effective, to pass laws and deliver world-class constituent services. To get anything done in seniority-driven Washington, I need the support of senior members. Building those relationships and earning their trust will be my focus in Washington, D.C. as a freshman.

And my first priority will always be using the power of federal office to serve you directly.

Whether helping you renew a passport, track down a Social Security check or deal with a thorny federal bureaucracy, I will always put service over politics — and focus on constituents first.

Describe your political philosophy in 10 words or less.

Listen first. Help people whenever you can. Service over politics.

What is your go-to campaign trail snack or drink?

Black coffee.