Of course Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) dressed as Batgirl yesterday for Halloween. Of course she went to the Capitol in a black mask, cape and boots. She’s a single mother of three who worked as a university professor before getting elected to Congress–what the hell else is she going to do on Halloween?
And of course Republicans got all triggered over it. You think a bunch of legislators who regularly kiss President Donald Trump’s ass, approve all his unqualified, misogynist, white supremacist federal judge appointees and do everything they can to cover up his crimes would warm to someone dressed like Batgirl?
It’s a shame, too, because Porter’s bill HR 1623–the “Help America Run Act” has just passed the House, and it would be outstanding if the Senate didn’t let it die a withering and stupid death. “This bill allows an authorized committee of a candidate who is not a federal officeholder to pay for certain personal use services, including child care and health insurance, if the services are necessary to enable the candidate to participate in campaign-connected activities,” states the bill text.
“As a single working mom myself, I am acutely aware of the challenge it can be to balance running for office and taking care of a family,” Porter said in an Oct. 29 news release. “I’m proud to be a member of a historic freshman class that more closely reflects the diversity of the people we represent, but there’s still more work to be done. I’m pleased that a large number of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have come together to help break down the barriers for Americans who want to serve their communities in federal office.”
During her 2018 campaign, Porter was never shy about telling voters the difficulties she faced running for office. Though her status as a law professor at UC Irvine did give her access to solid health insurance, she said, her life was anything but easy.
“I’m a mom of three very lightly supervised school-age children,” she would say half-jokingly at her campaign events. Then she’d go on to talk about the $11,000 in health care bills she incurred (despite her insurance) in 2017 after her son got sick or the time she spent 10 hours in a hospital with an inflamed appendix while waiting to see a surgeon because she was a single parent who had no one with her to flag down a doctor or nurse.
Politico addressed all this in more detail in this Nov. 26, 2018 piece:
Moms like Porter — whose kids are 12, 10 and 7 and will continue living back home in California — face exorbitant child care bills that could easily swamp their salaries. Porter, a 44-year-old divorcee from an abusive marriage, is currently searching for a provider to watch her children overnight as well as before and after school while she’s in Washington four to five days a week.
“I’ve thought about it a lot. … How are we going to make it work?” she said. “It’s an additional, significant … cost for me. But I think part of it is: If we don’t have voices like mine, trying to figure out how to do it — to juggle and serve — then we won’t have anyone else speaking up to try to improve the system.”
As for Porter’s bill, its future now lies with the Republican-controlled Senate.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.