After securing victory in a very tight race during the 2018 elections, Lucy McBath went from being a “Mother of the Movement” to a U.S. Congresswoman, representing Georgia’s 6th District.
Even before she had launched her run for office, McBath’s name was familiar to many due to the tragic murder of her 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, who was killed by a White man over playing loud music. She quickly became a pillar in the Black community, loudly speaking out against gun violence, and calling for gun control, issues that she also built her 2018 campaign on.
However, even though Jordan’s murder was ultimately one of the major driving forces in her decision to run, there are many more reasons, also built on her other life experiences, as to why McBath has been fighting for her constituents, and why she intends to keep on doing so as we move into the 2020 elections, where she is up for reelection.
“I wanted to just take everything that I had lived and I wanted to be able to take those experiences as credible reasons why I believe that I could speak truthfully to the needs of my district,” McBath, a former flight attendant, turned activist and now, of course, Democratic congresswoman says.
Those unique experiences, including surviving breast cancer twice, being a single mother, caring for her sick parents and being responsible for their health and navigating social security and Medicare, and taking a massive pay cut while working as a flight attendant as a result of the economic fallouts of 9/11, have all informed her as to the needs of those around her, as she has experienced those needs too.
Of course, from day one McBath has steadily worked on the gun issues that are so painfully close to her heart. One of the first pieces of legislation that she signed on to as an original cosponsor in January 2019 sought to provide universal background checks for all gun sales, which passed the House.
But, in addition to her consistent and ever-present push for gun control, McBath has also taken up varying health care concerns, particularly as it relates to the care of veterans. After all, McBath’s father, oldest brother and oldest nephew have all served the country in varying capacities as part of the United States military.
Within her first 7 months in Congress, McBath was successful in putting forward a bipartisan bill, Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need (HAVEN) Act, which was signed into law by Donald Trump. That bill protects veterans who may be facing bankruptcy and supports disabled veterans’ eligibility for relief during financial hardship.
She has also been monitoring other problems veterans face, especially in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
“I’ve been paying close attention to the lack of treatment, the number of suicides that our veterans were experiencing right here in the Atlanta metropolitan area,” she says, including incidents that occurred on the premises of Veterans Affairs medical centers. “I’m very concerned about the needs of our veterans.”
The congresswoman was able to also introduce other bipartisan legislation, namely the Protecting Critical Services for Mothers and Babies Act and the Public Health Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2019, which, although the bills themselves haven’t yet been passed, some of the provisions have been incorporated in the CARES Act, according to her campaign.
“I have been able to pass a number of pieces of legislation that have actually been signed into law by President Trump, which is a difficult thing in itself to get a bill passed,” McBath says. “The average time that it takes to pass a bill is seven years, but I have passed three bills successfully, signed into law by a Republican President and a Republican administration in a year and four months. So, we have been laser beam focused on making sure that we are working as hard as we can because time is of the essence.”
In addition to juggling those issues, while keeping an eye on concerns like the Black maternal health crisis and the care of the elderly, accessible health care and of course, care for those with preexisting conditions, in November McBath will face her first reelection effort since the close race that saw her opponent concede, even as McBath was leading by less than 3,000 votes.
The congresswoman remains relatively unfazed, saying she’s going forward just as she always has.
“I continue to speak to [my constituents] about my own life experiences and listen to theirs, listen to them, listen to what’s important to them, what they’re anxious about, what they’re nervous about, what they want for their children and their futures because…that is how I govern,” McBath notes.
“I don’t know what’s important to them until they tell me, and the only way to understand that is to be engaged with them, to listen and to spend as much time as I can with our constituent services. We’ve had many, many, many, many successes with the help that we’ve been able to get people within my district. For the first time in over 20 years, they actually have a representative that does constituent services outreach. I mean, we talk to many of our constituents every single day,” she adds. “It’s just really being engaged. As long as we’re continuing to do that, I believe people will really believe and know and understand that we’ve really been working on their behalf.”
And yes, although her life has changed a lot, especially in the past eight years, McBath reiterates that these lived experiences make her “uniquely qualified.”
“I will tell you, I wish my son were here. Unequivocally I wish Jordan were here, but I also believe and understand that I believe in somebody far greater than us, and I truly believe that every experience that I’ve had in my life…whether it be good, bad or ugly, really has shaped who I am today. I do not believe that it’s by coincidence that I am where I am today,” McBath reflects.
“So, everything that I say to my constituents, everything that I do for them, these are not talking points for me, these are lived experiences, which I believe make me uniquely qualified to be able to fight for them in Capitol Hill,” she states. “To fight for them to make sure they have what they deserve, what our Constitution says they should be afforded, making sure that no one is above the rule of law, making sure that everyone that wants to come to this country can come here to live a better way, to make sure that our children are educated and that they’re able to compete globally, making sure that we all have the health care that’s necessary for us to have a good standard of life. All these things really, really matter.”