Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Nabilah Islam is running in the Democratic primary for Georgia's 7th congressional district. She is preparing to petition the FEC to use campaign funds to pay for healthcare, which she says would allow more working Americans to run for public office. (Photo: screenshot/Nabilah for Congress)

To Open Congress to Working People, Georgia Democrat Petitions FEC to Use Campaign Funds for Healthcare

"This could help open the field to candidates who live like the majority of Americans."

Julia Conley

Nabilah Islam, a progressive Democrat running for Congress in Georgia's 7th district, is one of more than 100,000 people in her community who lack health insurance—and she is preparing to ask the Federal Election Commission to to allow more working-class candidates like her to run for office by sanctioning the use of campaign funds to pay for personal health insurance.

The daughter of working-class immigrants from Bangladesh, Islam is a political organizer running in the 7th district's Democratic primary on a platform pushing for Medicare for All, reproductive justice, a Green New Deal, and other bold initiatives.

"If there are more Nabilahs in Congress, I assure you, things like Medicare-for-all, things like a living wage, $15 an hour, would just be a no-brainer."
—Nabilah Islam
Her bid to represent her community on Capitol Hill, however, has forced her to place her $30,000 in student loans in forbearance and forgo the health insurance policy she had to avoid the $120 monthly premium.

"Because of the financial impediments, many working people choose not to run for office, and women and people of color are at an even greater disadvantage due to wage and wealth gaps," Islam wrote in her FEC filing (pdf), which she plans to submit next Monday. "The ability to use campaign funds to pay for health insurance would be a small step towards lowering the barriers for working class people who are considering running for office."

Making it possible for more of the 27.5 million Americans who still lack health insurance even under the Affordable Care Act to run for office, Islam argues, would give the 90% who hold less wealth than the richest 1% far more representation on Capitol Hill.

Islam spoke about her petition in a video she posted to social media Wednesday.

The FEC assumes "that full-time candidates can afford to spend thousands of dollars on health insurance, taking on a huge new expense while we're also losing our income from work," Islam said.

Such expectations have led to 40% of congressional seats being held by millionaires, Islam said in her letter to the commission.

"I really believe that we need more people like me, more people with my working-class background who grew up with parents that worked low-wage jobs," Islam told the Washington Post on Wednesday. "If there are more Nabilahs in Congress, I assure you, things like Medicare-for-all, things like a living wage, $15 an hour, would just be a no-brainer."

Islam has won endorsements from Occupy Democrats and Matriarch, a PAC formed last year which aims to send working-class women to Congress.

Her petition comes two years after Liuba Grechen Shirley, a New York Democrat, successfully petitioned the FEC to allow her to use campaign funds to pay for childcare, which she argued would help bring the perspective of working parents to Congress.

"Liuba and Nabilah are both working to dismantle the conditions that keep Congress overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and male," Islam's adviser, Monica Klein, told the Post.

Islam won applause from progressive lawmakers and other supporters on social media.

"When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran and transformed what it looks like to represent people over corporations, she did so without health insurance, risking a life of great debt," tweeted progressive activist Rafael Shimunov. "How many other great leaders are on the bench today because they cannot take that risk to themselves and their families?"

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·

Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·

Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo