Interview With Congressional Candidate Todd Rowley

Retired FBI agent and congressional hopeful discusses the legislative policies affecting HACC students.


Todd Rowley Congressional Democrat running for PA-13

David Duggan, Managing Editor

Democrat Todd Rowley, a retired FBI special agent, is running for Congress to represent PA-13. The 13th district, which encompasses Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties, stands as one of the most right-leaning districts in Pennsylvania. His opponent, Congressman John Joyce, won the district in 2018 by over 40 points. Mr. Rowley is campaigning on his background in public service, most notably a long tenure working for the FBI. We recently asked him some questions pertinent to students at HACC. We discussed various issues ranging from Covid-19 to immigration reform. 

Republican Congressman John Joyce could not be reached for comment.

Below is the Q&A with Democratic challenger Todd Rowley, US House candidate, PA-13.

David Duggan: In the 2017 tax law, Congress killed the individual mandate tax in the Affordable Care Act. In November, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a suit based on the idea that since there is no longer the individual mandate, the entire act is unconstitutional. Do you agree with the provisions that protect those with pre-existing conditions? Do you support children staying on their parent’s health insurance until 26? Why or Why not?

Todd Rowley, US House candidate, PA-13.Yes. Access to affordable, quality health care is a basic human right and is not just a privilege for the wealthy. I support a health care system that is rooted in the principle that health care exists to serve the citizens and not the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. I support improving and strengthening the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) while protecting coverage of pre-existing conditions, lowering the cost of prescription medications, reducing premiums and out-of-pocket costs, ending surprise medical billing, and continuing coverage for children on parent’s insurance until 26. I support funding to strengthen wellness and preventative programs to improve Americans health and fitness in order to reduce the onset of chronic medical issues and cost of health care coverage. Healthier Americans result in lower health care costs. Rural communities in PA-13 and across our country face challenges in access to quality health care and I support funding and programs to improve health care availability. Universal, affordable, quality healthcare is a basic human right and no person or family should face the prospects of financial hardship or bankruptcy in order to receive the medical and health care services they need to live. 

Duggan: Under the DACA program, recipients are not eligible for Federal student aid. A 2018 report from the Ranking Member of the small business committee showed DACA recipients contribute 1.5 billion in Federal taxes, not including 2 billion in social security taxes and $470 million in medicare taxes every year. Do you believe these taxpayers should receive federal student aid?  

Rowley: Yes. I support common sense, comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform to include a pathway for citizenship, including for DREAMers and DACA recipients many of whom have never known living anywhere other than here in America. These undocumented immigrants are our friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and often the only language they know is English who work, pay taxes, contribute to our economy and who are frontline workers keeping us safe during this national public health crisis. Notably, DACA recipients make significant contributions to our economy and I support legislation that would allow DACA recipients to apply for and receive federal student aid. We must end cruel and inhumane immigration policies. I support legislation to modernize our immigration laws to better reflect humanitarian and our changing economic needs. We must ensure that our farmers and the agriculture industry here in PA-13 and across the heartland of our country have access to the immigrant workforce via the H2-A visa program that is vital to ensure that crops are harvested from the farmlands and reach the tables of Americans and people around the world.  

Duggan: The current student debt is approximately $1.6 trillion. Pennsylvania has some of the highest student debt numbers in the country. Vice President Biden has proposed taxpayer-funded two year college. Do you support this? What is your plan to combat the ballooning student debt?

Rowley: Yes. I support federal funding and expanding programs, especially for minority and low-income students higher education opportunities to pursue skill-specific trades and training including two year college degrees. We must make tuition affordable for all students through the increase in Pell Grants and other scholarship awards. We recognize the importance of public service in our society and we consider this an admirable undertaking. I support public and private student loan forgiveness programs that pay back the cost of student loans – in its entirety or a proportional amount – when young people accept public service jobs in communities where it is increasingly difficult to attract and retain people for certain occupations and positions. Beyond a secondary education, if a student has the desire to attend college or pursue another post-secondary education or specific technical training, this opportunity should be available without incurring an exorbitant and unmanageable debt. 

Duggan: Currently, there are approximately 191 thousand cases of Covid-19 in Pennsylvania. Congress passed several stimulus bills, but some say they did not go far enough. At the same time, the US Federal deficit is around $3.3 trillion. If elected or reelected, will you vote in favor of federal funds used to combat Covid-19 and stimulate the economy? What would you like to see in such a bill?

Rowley: Yes. I support the congressional relief funding packages that have been passed thus far during the continued national public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act was passed with bipartisan support and this $2 trillion economic relief package provided economic assistance for American workers, families, small and medium size businesses, and local, state, tribal and territorial governments. Unfortunately, the devastating economic effects of this pandemic calls for additional relief and assistance for our workers and small businesses. I support the HEROES Act stimulus package which would supplement the CARES Act, expanding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, as well as extending relief programs that would help our essential workers, extend the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures of families struggling to pay rent and mortgages, extend veterans benefits, protect pension and retirement plans, provide student loan debt relief, and financial assistance to the U.S. Postal Service. Until we, as a unified country, have the national leadership to properly manage this crisis to lower the infection and fatality rates, the American people will continue to suffer and our economy will continue to struggle. We can do this together, but we have to adhere to facts and science in order to defeat this deadly pandemic.

Duggan: What is your stance on the growing national attention to police misconduct? A multitude of federal policies see billions of funds going to local police departments across the country, and initiatives such as the 1033 program has allowed police forces to resemble military forces. President Trump has proposed a 58% cut to the Community Oriented Policing services fund (COPS) which gives grants to local police departments. Presidential Candidate Biden has proposed an increase of $300 billion to this program. Do you support the President’s attempt to defund policing and reallocate funds to community programs, or do you align more with Vice President Biden on the increase in police funding?

Rowley: As a former local, state and federal law enforcement officer for nearly 30 years, I have an obligation and responsibility to convey my views and share my ideas regarding police reform. The majority of the brave men and women serving in law enforcement conduct themselves in a professional, exemplary manner who face many challenges but are motivated by their desire to serve and protect their fellow citizens. Some of the fundamental aspects of this discussion regarding police reform which I support include: accountability by law enforcement agencies for officer’s actions, proper and improper; ensuring that agencies are recruiting and hiring the most qualified, suitable people, including hiring more minority men and women; police training addressing racial biases and cultural understanding; extensive training regarding use of force policy with a focus on de-escalation techniques; and de-militarizing our civilian law enforcement agencies. I do not support what many define as “defunding police” or the abolishment of police. Our society needs law enforcement and we must ensure that we, as the citizenry, demand how our policing is conducted. I support increased funding by our local, state and federal governments to address the core causes of poverty – and crime in our communities – lack of educational and job opportunities; access to health care; hunger and food insecurity; homelessness; alcohol and drug abuse. I support enhanced federal funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programs and H.R. 7120 – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.


For more information on Todd Rowley, US House candidate, PA-13., please visit