At a Leadership Council roundtable hosted by 2022 NAHB First Vice Chairman Alicia Huey, three freshmen female members of Congress – Reps. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.), Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) and Maria Salazar (R-Fla.) – shared their stories of how they sought elected office and their views about Congress.
"Having been homeless 10 years ago and the daughter of a single mom, I’m not supposed to be a person that goes to Congress," said Cammack. After her family lost its cattle ranch, Cammack decided she "hated big government" and traveled across the country to Florida.
"Since then, I have been fighting big government policies," she said. "We stand for the notion America is built on equal opportunity, not equal outcome."
Cammack noted that some members of Congress have never owned a property and that it is important she meet with them and explain why a bill such as the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act "is so detrimental to industry" and why the REINS act is needed to rein in excessive regulations.
Malliotakis took a different path to Capitol Hill. "Coming from a communist dictatorship, my mom felt it was very important to elect our leaders," she said. "What motivated me to run for office was to bring a bipartisan perspective to Washington and be the voice to represent my (Staten Island) community."
As a member of the state legislature, Malliotakis said she always had the opportunity to discuss pending bills and noted that her biggest disappointment in Congress is the lack of debate on critical legislation. For example, on the Build Back better legislation, she lamented that the "entire conference only had one hour to debate this bill" and criticized "the lack of transparency" in pushing the bill through the House.
Working as a newscaster for 35 years before deciding to run for Congress, Salazar said she made the decision because she wanted to make a difference and expressed gratitude for "being born in this fantastic land."
Noting that the job of a U.S. lawmaker is very different than a broadcaster, Salazar said, "It’s laborious, hard but extremely gratifying. We are fighting the good fight." Echoing the concern of Malliotakis regarding how the majority manipulates House rules, Salazar said, "every bill passed is pushed down our throats. That's not the American way of conducting political business," adding that she would offer the same criticism if the GOP was in control of the House and acted the same way.