BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Representatives Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards participated in a debate that was broadcast on WJZ Monday evening. The two are vying for retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski’s Senate seat.
The candidates discussed a variety of issues, as well as why they would best be suited to become Maryland’s newest senator.READ MORE: COVID In Maryland: 985 New Cases, Hospitalizations Slightly Down Monday
The first question was about terrorism. “What should the US do to combat the threat of terrorism?”
“With respect to ISIS, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the US to add more ground troops,” said Edwards. “I think it’s important for us here in the United States to protect our domestic security.”
“I’ve been very involved in foreign policy issues…and very involved in focusing on this region of the world and we need to do everything possible to provide our allies with the weapons systems and the help they need…to destroy ISIS,” said Van Hollen. “I do not believe we should put American combat forces on the ground.”
The second question dealt with the balance between privacy and security.
“We need to strike that balance,” said Van Hollen. “I come down on the side of protecting privacy.”
“This is one of the most difficult balances that we have in a democracy,” said Edwards. “I tend to fall on the side of Apple, in terms of protecting privacy. I worry that Apple could unlock one device and provide entry into all devices.”
The third question deals with economic sanctions, in terms of the Iran deal.
“I feel really confident, now having read the deal and expressed support for it, that it was the right thing for the United States,” Edwards said. “I believe that over the course of this next decade, I think that we have important points of leverage in respect to Iran.”
“I strongly believe that the Iran nuclear agreement will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Van Hollen said. “It’s important to remember how we got there, and that’s by imposing strong sanctions against Iran.”
He continued that it’s important to continue to hold Iran accountable.
The fourth question asked if the candidates were in favor of lifting the embargo against Cuba.
“I think the embargo has been a historic mistake,” Van Hollen said. “The embargo has only served to strengthen the hand of the Castro brothers.”
Van Hollen added that he was honored to accompany his constituent, Judy Gross, to Cuba to bring her husband, Alan Gross, home.
“My interest in this area and my work in this area goes back more than a decade and a half. I believe the key…to making significant changes there is allowing American citizens to travel back and forth,” Edwards said.
The fifth question dealt with free trade.
“I’ve been very concerned about the free trade deals the United States has engaged in…all of those deals that my opponent voted for…in Maryland, we’ve seen a loss of more than 70,000 manufacturing jobs—not all of them attributable to free trade, but a lot of them are,” Edwards said. “My standard for trade is that it has to benefit and support American workers, American manufacturing…and I believe some of the trade deals we’ve been engaged in don’t do that.”
“Like with any agreement, you need to look at any agreement and ask if it’s good for the American economy, American workers and American wages,” said Van Hollen. “You have to look at each of these on their own merits and render a judgement.”
He added that he was proud of his record of fighting for workers’ rights.
The sixth question focused on debt. What would the candidates do to address the federal deficit?
“I’ve been leading the battles…to put forward a plan that will grow our economy, invest in education…but also reduce our long-term debt. The way we can do that is not by touching Social Security and Medicare; the way we can do that is by getting rid of a lot of the special interest breaks in tax code,” Van Hollen said. “I put forward proposals to do exactly that.”READ MORE: Family Of 21-Year-Old Haley Herron Searching For Answers After Deadly, Possible Road Rage Incident Over Easter Weekend
“Veterans and seniors pay into Social Security, it’s an earned benefit. I think that they are entitled to have the benefits,” Edwards said. “I intend to stand on the side of seniors, especially women who are left at the end of their lives and only have Social Security…and Mr. Van Hollen wanted to trade it away in an effort to cut a deal and I think there’s no deal to be cut on the backs of our seniors.”
Van Hollen countered that Donna Edwards wasn’t telling the truth.
The seventh question dealt with college affordability and student loans.
“I believe that it’s important for us to look at the interest rates that are charged to college students for loans because it shouldn’t be higher than the rates for other loans,” Edwards said.
“With respect to kids who are going to college now, we need to use federal leverage to incentivize colleges to reduce tuition and focus on income-based repayment,” Van Hollen said. “We need to build on that because we know it isn’t just hurting students, it’s hurting communities.”
The eighth question was about criminal justice reform.
“We need dramatic criminal justice reform,” Van Hollen said. “We need to be spending more on schools and less on prison.”
“I have a long history that goes back years on criminal justice issues, supporting those who are indigent to get counsel. I’ve led on these issues,” Edwards said.
The ninth question dealt with Freddie Gray’s death.
“We have to take a multi-pronged and simultaneous position,” Edwards said. “We have to make sure that we have law enforcement that is transparent and responsibility…we have to make certain we invest in education…we have to make sure that we invest in economic development targeted at neighborhoods that are the most vulnerable…we have to make sure we invest in development so that people can go into jobs that let them into the middle class.”
“We know today that Baltimore is a tale of two cities. You’ve got the glitzy Inner Harbor…you’ve got to address this in an urgent manner. You’ve got to increase the tax incentives for businesses to move into those neighborhoods,” Van Hollen said. “We need to build better pipelines between community colleges and employers….we need to build better transportation networks.”
The tenth question focused on government and the EPA.
“I think [the EPA should have governance over water supplies]. It should never be the case in America that where you live or what your income is or what your race is determines whether you have clean air and clean water…this is part of a larger issue of environmental justice,” Van Hollen said.
“When a child is poisoned with lead under the age of six, it affects their cognitive ability over the course of their lifetime…we are starting to see relationships between the incarcerated population and lead paint poisoning,” Edwards said. “Physical resources but also education to make people as whole as they can be.”
The eleventh question dealt with major corporations moving overseas to avoid corporate income tax. What should be done?
“What we should do…is to enforce our laws but also say, corporations, you’re going to be taxed on your assets here,” Edwards said. “Mr. Van Hollen has worked very diligently on these inversions issues. I think we have to incentivize corporations to bring these things back to the US.”
“I have been leading the fight on this issue…the simple story is, these are companies based here who just change their mailing address to escape their responsibility to American taxpayers. When they pay less, the rest of us pay a lot more,” Van Hollen said.
Question 12 focused on what distinguished the two candidates.
“They’re not huge differences in the voting records,” Van Hollen said. “I take action…the Washington Post has reported on the lack of constituent services from Ms. Edwards…when you hear of a problem, what kind of action do you take? When people come into her office, she hasn’t been there.”
“I’m not interested in making headlines, I’m interested in making a difference in the lives of those I represent,” Edwards said. “Let me say this about constituents’ services: I think I have served them well…I take these allegations very seriously because it means something to me.”MORE NEWS: Baltimore County Group To Recommend Affordable Housing Improvements
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