|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 7th district
January 3, 2013
Amerish Babulal Bera
March 2, 1965
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Education||University of California, Irvine (BS, MD)|
Amerish Babulal "Ami" Bera (born March 2, 1965) is an American physician and politician who has been the U.S. Representative for California's 7th congressional district since 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Bera was re-elected in both 2014 and 2016 in very competitive races. Bera is one of only two Unitarian Universalists in Congress. He is also a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a consortium of moderate Democrats.
Bera's father, Babulal Bera, immigrated to the United States from India in 1958. Two years later, Babulal Bera was joined by his wife, Kanta. Ami Bera was born in Los Angeles and raised in the Orange County city of La Palma. He attended John F. Kennedy High School while living there. Bera's parents are from Rajkot, Gujarat and he can understand Gujarati.
He has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of California at Irvine, also earning his Doctor of Medicine degree there in 1991. From 1997 to 1999 he was the Medical Director of Care Management at the Mercy Healthcare for Sacramento. He served as the chief medical officer for the County of Sacramento and later as the associate dean for admissions at the UC Davis School of Medicine.
From 2005 to 2012, he served as a clinical professor at the University of California Davis School of Medicine.
Bera challenged three-term Republican incumbent Dan Lungren in the general election for California's 3rd congressional district. He ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination in California's 3rd congressional district. He raised more money than incumbent Dan Lungren for the five quarters through mid-2010, making him the only Democratic challenger with more cash than a sitting Republican member of the House. Bera was one of 17 candidates the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted to take over Republican-held or open seats in 2010.
Lungren was the only incumbent Republican whose race was rated as a "tossup" by CQ Politics, but was later rated back to "Lean GOP" in the final days before the election; and the district was considered competitive by both parties. Polling by the liberal website Daily Kos in September 2010 showed Lungren leading Bera, 46%-38%. Bera cited health care, education and economic recovery among his top legislative priorities. In November, Lungren won re-election, defeating Bera 51%-43%.
In 2010, after Bera accepted a $250 donation from Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the California Republican Party called on him to return the money. Bera returned the money after these concerns were raised. Bera was criticized[by whom?] because he "succumbed to the growing national hysteria about Islam in America and the NRCC's fear-mongering, in particular."
Bera announced a rematch against Lungren in 2012. The district had been renumbered as the 7th District, and made somewhat more compact. It lost all of its territory outside of Sacramento County, making it slightly friendlier to Democrats.
On November 13, 2012, Bera attended freshman orientation as congressman-elect while votes were still being counted. Candidates in these tight races sometimes attend the orientation by the Committee on House Administration, whose chairman was Bera's opponent, Dan Lungren.
Bera ran for re-election in 2014, facing former Republican congressman Doug Ose, who had represented what was then the 3rd from 1999 to 2005, in the general election. The Rothenberg Political Report rated the 7th district "Lean Democratic," but The Sacramento Bee reported that Bera was "viewed by both parties as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country." Bera was a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline program, designed to support vulnerable candidates. In June 2014, Politico reported that the DCCC planned to support Bera with $1.7 million in ads throughout fall 2014, and the House Majority PAC, a political action committee designed to support Democratic candidates, reserved $200,000 for late-election television ads.
The Hill reported that Bera's campaign received donations from parents of another Democratic candidate, Kevin Strouse, only to have Bera's parents then donate a similar amount to Strouse's campaign. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The donations appear legal, campaign finance experts say, though two said any agreement among the parents to trade donations could be viewed as an attempted end run around contribution limits." In May 2016, Bera's father, Babulal, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of elections fraud.
No Labels co-founder and former George W. Bush advisor Mark McKinnon said of Bera, "He is the most important member of our Problem Solvers - of the entire group. He stepped up immediately as a freshman to take a leadership position. He was out early advocating on our big issues like No Budget, No Pay."
In response to a poll, from the American Sikh Committee to Evaluate Congressional Candidates, Bera did not answer two questions relating to the Indian government's part in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in which 8,000 Sikhs were massacred after Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination. Instead, he noted that in 2005, the former Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, had publicly apologized to the Sikh community for the government's role. Bera also stated that, while it was a tragedy, he was more focused on the treatment of Sikhs in the U.S. and could not dictate how the Indian government should approach the matter. In response, some members of the Sikh-American community, and some PACs representing them, publicly withdrew their support for Bera. But with the majority of the Sikh-American population coming from outside of Bera's district, the advocates acknowledged that they were unlikely to affect the outcome of the race.
On election night, Bera "was down by more than 3,000 votes...but came back to win after all the absentee and mail-in ballots were in." In the end, he won 50.4% of the vote to Ose's 49.6%.
Bera ran for re-election in 2016. He faced Republican Scott Jones, the sheriff of Sacramento County, in the general election. In January 2016, the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club, Bera's home club, voted against endorsing him, citing concerns with Bera's record on trade and Syrian refugees.
Bera defeated Jones in the general election, winning 51% of the vote to Jones' 49%. The margin of victory was 4,802 votes.
Bera's 2016 race was "one of the nastiest Congressional races with allegations and insinuations being bandied back and forth" and was also "one of the last two House races in the entire nation yet to be called." As he began his third term, he was joined by three new Indian-American House members - Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, Pramila Jayapal from Washington state, and Ro Khanna from California. Silicon Valley entrepreneur M. R. Rangaswami said Bera "was the first Indian American to be in Congress in a long time and now can actually lead a Caucus...able to shepherd Pramila, Raja and Ro and get them going during their freshman year."
Since the 2016 elections, which saw the election to the House of three other Indian-Americans and to the Senate of the first Indian-American Senator, Kamala Devi Harris, Bera has been described as the "Godfather" of Indian-Americans on Capitol Hill.
A coalition of dissatisfied groups prevented him from garnering his party's endorsement in January, but at the state Democratic convention in February, he was endorsed, with 90% of the delegates voting to endorse.
During the 2016 campaign Ami Bera's father, Babulal Bera, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, and fined $100,200, for federal campaign finance violations that helped fund two of his sons' campaigns.
In the 2018 general election, Bera was re-elected, garnering 155,016 votes (55%) defeating Republican Andrew Grant, who received 126,601 votes.
In an interview covered in the Elk Grove Citizen, Bera said his first year in Congress "was about being focused here in the district but also building my reputation in Washington, D.C."
In October 2013, Bera announced that he would give up his federal pay for the duration of the government shutdown. He also announced that in response to sequester cuts, he would donate 8.2% of his check each month to local organizations impacted by sequester cuts.
In a 2015 op-ed supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Sacramento Bee, Bera copied several sentences from documents produced by the Business Roundtable and Third Way and from an Obama White House report. He received criticism, including from labor groups like the California Labor Federation, for parroting lobbying firms. Bera later wrote an apology, though he stood by the sentiment of the op-ed.
In May 2017, Bera voted against the American Health Care Act of 2017. The Bill passed the House, but failed in the Senate under various versions and amendments. Some of its goals however would eventually be passed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (which Bera voted against), such as eliminating the individual mandate for health insurance.
On November 19, 2015, Bera voted for HR 4038, legislation that would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq to the United States.
In 2016, Bera called on the Pakistani government "to take responsibility and start cracking down" on terrorists based in its country, and praised the Indian government for its restraint in the face of a recent attack on an Indian air force base by Pakistan-based militants.
Bera called a June 2016 speech by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to a joint session of the U.S. Congress "the perfect speech for this moment in time" and claimed that India was becoming "a global leader and a global partner with the United States." "As an Indian American and a Gujarati American," Bera said, "I was thrilled by the prime minister's speech."
In 2017 Bera voted against the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (HR 3003) that passed the House. The bill's purpose is to withhold federal funding from state and municipal governments that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts.
In 2017 Bera voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It was signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017.
|Republican||Dan Lungren (incumbent)||131,169||50.1|
|American Independent||Jerry L. Leidecker||6,577||2.5|
|Libertarian||Douglas Arthur Tuma||6,275||2.4|
|Peace and Freedom||Mike Roskey||4,789||1.8|
|Republican||Dan Lungren (incumbent)||63,586||52.7|
|No party preference||Curt Taras||3,854||3.2|
|Libertarian||Douglas Arthur Tuma||3,707||3.1|
|Republican||Dan Lungren (incumbent)||132,050||48.3|
|Democratic gain from Republican|
|Democratic||Ami Bera (incumbent)||51,878||46.7|
|Libertarian||Douglas Arthur Tuma||1,629||1.5|
|No party preference||Phill A. Tufi||869||0.8|
|Democratic||Ami Bera (incumbent)||92,521||50.4|
|Democratic||Ami Bera (incumbent)||93,506||54.0|
|Democratic||Ami Bera (incumbent)||152,133||51.2|
|Democratic||Ami Bera (incumbent)||84,776||51.7|
|Green||Robert Christian "Chris" Richardson||3,183||1.9|
|No party preference||Reginald Claytor||2,095||1.3|
|Democratic||Ami Bera (incumbent)||155,016||55.0|
Modi, he said, spoke to him in Gujarati. "I could actually understand a majority of what he was saying. He knew that my parents were from Rajkot and that I was Gujarati-American."