Harder for Congress

Kathleen Harder Priorities

As a physician for the past 30 years, I’ve seen the struggles directly caused by the mental health crisis that has resulted in record amounts of homelessness in Salem and communities all across Oregon.  Treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic I’ve also seen the inequities in our health care system and how access to care is still out of reach for far too many Oregonians.


In Congress, just like in my entire career, I’ll fight for a healthier Oregon.  That means stable and affordable housing, expanded mental health services, high quality health care for everyone, a first-class public education, and real solutions to climate change to protect our natural resources. 

Mental Health & Homelessness

The reasons for our homeless crisis are as complex and unique as those individuals who are struggling to be a part of our society. Far too many Oregonians experience homelessness each year in communities all across our state - both urban and rural.

We must come up with strategies across our communities to mitigate this crisis from transitional housing, access to stable and affordable housing, expanded mental health services and substance abuse recovery programs, to job training and wrap-around services that help get people back on their feet.

Reproductive Freedom

Today, reproductive freedom and the rights of women to make their own health care decisions are under attack like never before. It’s a distinct possibility that the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade later this year.

As a doctor and former board member of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, I have been proud to use my voice to stand up for reproductive freedom. We helped pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act and fought back against attacks by groups like the Oregon Right to Life on reproductive health rights.

The bottom line is politicians should never have a say if and when someone decides to have a child. This is a fundamental right of the individual and ensures women can be equal and full participants in our society. In Congress, I’ll fight everyday against the attacks on reproductive freedom and women's rights to make their own health care decisions.

Health Care

COVID-19 has been the public health crisis of our generation. It has only magnified the inequities in our country’s healthcare delivery system and proved how unprepared we are as a nation to tackle the next big healthcare challenges.

As a physician, I’ve been on the front lines serving patients in Salem nearly every day. I’ve witnessed the devastation and the unnecessary death and illness that this pandemic has caused as well as the toll it has taken on too many Oregon families. I’ve seen patients avoid necessary treatment due to concern over medical bills and high drug prices. Our fragmented health care system is more expensive and its outcomes well below other industrialized countries. Medical bills can frequently lead to bankruptcy. We are not providing our current seniors with the care they deserve and we are not preparing for the rapid increase in octogenarians to come in the next 20 years.

Our system is failing and must be overhauled. As a doctor for the past 30 years and as the chair of the Oregon Medical Board, I’ve spent my career serving and protecting others. When someone comes through my door for health care, my job is to gain the trust of that patient and work with them as a trusted team member to improve their health. This ability to gain consensus and work towards common goals is necessary as we move towards making significant changes in our health care delivery system.

Health care is a right, not a privilege. I’m a strong supporter of universal health care and we must work so that every American has guaranteed, quality health care. We need to give American's a win, as a first step, I support expanding Medicare as a low-cost option available to everyone. Medicare needs to be able to negotiate all drug prices and ensure vision, dental, and hearing coverage is available to all enrollees. We must work towards universal coverage for all Americans.

Public Education

I am proud to be the product of a great public school education. All of my children also attended public schools. I believe that any success I have had in my life and career can be directly attributed to my fabulous public school teachers, who didn’t just teach me, they believed in me and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams.

Right now, students and families, no matter where they live, are feeling the impact of remote and hybrid learning over the last two years. School districts in Oregon have reported significant teacher shortages and lack of substitutes due to stressful working conditions and being asked to do so much more than teach. Students are behind in their studies, and are not meeting their academic milestones. Too many are not graduating, and those that graduate are often not ready for college or the jobs that are in high demand.

It is our responsibility to ensure all young people have equitable access to a high-quality, world-class education. Teachers need to have access to further professional education and other support to learn new teaching strategies whether during or post-pandemic. We must be sure that we develop and sustain a highly skilled and diverse teaching force that are paid commensurate with their important role in our children’s future.

We must look at models that ensure that the students in our public schools are ready to compete in a world that is more and more technologically and science based. STEAM and Career and Technical Education courses need to be expanded and offered in every public school system, no matter what the zip code.

Climate Change

In Oregon, we’ve seen the impact of climate change directly. The heat wave last summer caused nearly 100 deaths in Oregon alone, with direct personal and business property and loss of crops, from vineyards to fruit and nut trees to nursery stock. We need to work with experts in science and agriculture to use technological innovations to increase yield, efficiency and profitability, in a sustainable manner.

We’ve also seen an alarming increase in wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Our management of private and public forests must be reexamined, with all stakeholders at the table to come up with best practice ways to protect our forests and mitigate the damage of the inevitable fires of the future.

An assessment by the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute showed that by 2050, the number of days with a heat index above 90 degrees is expected to triple or quadruple in most Oregon counties. If we don’t urgently address climate issues, our part of the country could see a 200 to 400 percent increase in heat-related deaths.

I’m a doctor and I believe in science. We must address climate change not only for the direct impacts on our community, but for the businesses whose bottom line is threatened, local workers whose jobs are on the line, and parents and grandparents who want to leave our children a habitable planet.

Protecting Our Democracy

It’s no secret that Washington has never been more broken and stuck in the gridlock than today. We must work together to pass meaningful legislation that shows people the American experiment continues to work for them.

We cannot let the Voting Rights Bill of 1965 be destroyed, and go back to the days of Jim Crow laws. We must pull back the curtain on those in power who are making it harder for people to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and hold them accountable.

We need transparency and accountability so that Congress will work for us instead of the special interests. It’s beyond clear to me that we must overturn the Citizens United decision that allowed unprecedented billions of dollars that influence our elections. I have signed the No Corporate PAC Pledge, and will not be beholden to special interest groups.

I believe that we should have term limits to stop career politicians from holding a chokehold on progress. And I mean it. I signed a pledge to support term limits in Congress as a co- sponsor for an Article V convention for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress. In addition, residents of Washington DC, a population greater than Wyoming and Vermont, who pay federal taxes should have representation. I fully support DC statehood.

In Congress, I'll work to reduce the influence of money in politics, eliminate corruption in both parties, and protect and expand voting rights, so that no American is denied their constitutional rights.