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In a political environment filled with acrimony and vitriolic rhetoric, candidates for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District debated the issues Monday in civil tones and even found common ground.
Incumbent Dave Loebsack, a Democrat; Dr. Christopher Peters, a Republican; and Libertarian Mark Strauss spent 90 minutes answering questions during the debate sponsored by the Johnson County League of Women Voters before an audience of about 75 at the Coralville Public Library.
Loebsack and Peters agreed on restoring “normal order” to Congress, following the legislative rules of the House.
“It’s been 21 years since Congress has passed a budget on time through normal order,” Peters said, adding that the exploding deficit was a result.
Loebsack said that he has worked with numerous Republicans on legislation, adding that he was ranked 11th in the House for co-sponsoring legislation across the aisle.
He said he has worked on issues such as rural broadband, veterans and education with GOP representatives.
“I have a lot of friends on the other side of the aisle,” Loebsack said.
Loebsack said that when the vote for speaker comes up, it may be time to to look to a new generation for leadership.
Strauss portrayed himself as being independent of the party leadership in Congress. He suggested the perfect situation would be 217 Democrats, 217 Democrats and him. In that scenario, he said he would be elected speaker of the House.
“If I go to Washington, believe me, things are going to be different,” Strauss said.
On trade, Peters said he disagrees with President Trump on the current trade war with China.
“I think tariffs are a very blunt instrument to use in trade negotiations,” Peters said.
He said some of the authority given to the president on trade needs to be “clawed back” by Congress.
“I don’t want to turn over my power to the president,” he said, adding that this has been his position through Obama and Bush presidencies. “Congress has a very important role to play in all of this. We need to exercise that role.”
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