tv Campaign 2018 Pennsylvania 17th District U.S. House Debate CSPAN October 21, 2018 2:11pm-3:09pm EDT
running in pennsylvania's newly redraw and 17th congressional district. politics by real clear , mr. lamb is ahead by 10 points. >> the congressional map has changed, but the candidates are names you've heard before. >> people are frustrated by facts that congress isn't getting anything done. drawn race for the newly 17th congressional district. the country's only congressional race with two sitting congressman. democrat conor lamb. >> we are locked in serious issues. keith rothfus.an
and tonight they tackle the issues that are reported to you, the voter. ae channel four. this is the 17th congressional district debate. thank you to the national audience watching right now on c-span live, and those listening on w esa fm. this newly created district includes -- and parts of cranberry chat -- cranberry township. let's meet our candidates. three-time representative in pennsylvania's 12th congressional district republican keith rothfus. and freshman representative in the current 18th congressional district democrat conor lamb. we welcome you both tonight. also welcome to our panelists
representing the league of women voters, terrie griffin. pittsburgh's action news 4 investigative reporter paul van osdol. freelance journalist elaine effort and politics and government editor for wesa-fm chris potter. we thank you all for being part of tonight's debate. candidates, you drew numbers to determine who will answer the first question tonight. that will be mr. rothfus. mr. lamb will have the last word in closing statements. here are tonight's rules. you'll have one minute for everything. 60 seconds to answer the question. the same amount of time for your rebuttal and one minute for your closing statements. i will also allow more time if you haven't answered a specific question or if there are followup questions from our panelists. our first question tonight goes to the league of women voters and terrie griffin. this question is for mr. rothfus. >> thank you, mike. mr. rothfus, it appears likely that journalists and government critics jamal khashoggi was killed by agents of the saudi arabian government. add that to reports that russia has been killing dissidents on
foreign soil. do incidents like that which speak to freedoms that we have extolled on the foreign stage for years mean we need to change our foreign policy toward these countries? what should we do? rep. rothfus: terrie, that's a great question. i want to thank the audience for joining us tonight for this very important debate. but that's a very serious issue. the united states should be projecting a moral authority across the planet. these are fundamental freedoms that we have come to cherish in our country. and we should be advocating around the world. and when countries take action like this, and we'll let this investigation go forward and see who is responsible for saudi arabia. there needs to be sanctions. there needs to be accountability. just as there would need to be with russia. and i have advocate for increased sanctions on russia because we see them doing things that they shouldn't be doing. they have been an aggressor. you look at what they've done in the ukraine, what they've done going back to -- 10 years ago in georgia to hold these countries accountable, we need to use our moral authority to do that.
moderator: mr. lamb, you have 60 seconds. rep. lamb: i agree about the importance of moral authority. i also agree that we need to let the investigation in this particular case play out. because there is i'm sure classified intelligence. and i have enormous faith in our intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of this so we know what really happened. when it comes to moral authority, though, we do need to be concerned about when the president stood with vladimir putin in helsinki. many people felt like he did not help us in that situation. and so i hope that's an experience he'll learn from and not repeat. i'm also very concerned about the ability of our state department to respond in these situations. we have seen large numbers of people leaving government service and it makes it really difficult for our diplomats to respond to situations like these overseas whether in saudi arabia or as you mentioned what russia is doing in europe. and so i'm hoping that we can call more young people into public service who want to serve our country overseas. moderator: thank you. our next question is from paul van osdol for mr. lamb. >> health care is a big issue for voters and a focus of both
of your campaigns. mr. lamb, your ads accuse mr. rothfus of voting to eliminate insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. and cut medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars. mr. rothfus, you're accusing mr. lamb of wanting to cut medicare by $800 billion and also keep people from trying experimental drugs. i would like each of you to defend your claims and respond to your opponent's accusations citing specific votes. starting with you, mr. lamb. rep. lamb: thank you, paul. i'm glad you asked about this. because the ads have been misleading. i think what's important here is it's not so important what we say on screen now. what matters is how we vote. i have never voted and will never vote to cut medicare. my opponent can't say the same thing. keith, on october 5, 2017, you voted to cut medicare by over $400 billion. on march 21, 2013, you voted to cut medicare by $350 billion. the leader of your party, paul ryan, has made clear that he intends to pay for the $1.5 trillion tax cut by coming after
social security and medicare. my opponent has also voted against the a.c.a. a dozen times. that law protects people with pre-existing conditions. and we need to make sure that that law stays on the books. >> mr. rothfus. 60 seconds. rep. rothfus: first off, paul ryan said he would never go after social security and medicare. these are programs that my parents depend on. you take a look at what the affordable care act did. the raid on $800 billion on medicare, conor lamb supports this program. and if you support the program, find. but understand what that program did. they raided medicare, $800 billion to fund a new entitlement program and to expand medicaid and actually treat people living above the poverty line in that new expansion more favorably than people living below the poverty line. mr. lamb has voted against the right to try act. this is a piece of legislation
that every single democrat in the statehouse in harrisburg voted for. if you and your doctor decide that there is a treatment that you want to try, and that the providers are in it, the government should not veto that. we have to grow this economy. you -- you look at the votes that we have where we have to look forward our changes make no -- our votes made no changes from anybody in or near retirement. i am committed to saving medicare. >> mr. lamb, anything to say? rep. lamb: hundreds of billions of dollars you have voted to cut from that program. what he's talking about is how the affordable care act would have saved money in the long run by getting people health care earlier in their lives. that's a good thing. again, i have not and will not vote to cut medicare. rep. rothfus: so you're saying that your support of the $800 billion medicare cut is somehow ok. we did not cut current recipients or people near retirement. we are looking at reforming medicare long term for nobody who is in retirement now or near
retirement. if you like the prescription drug plan that medicare has right now, part d, that is a premium support model, that actually came in under budget. because of the competitive aspects that were built into part d. so you're talking a program that we have a moral obligation to protect. i will stand by that program. my parents use that program. and the number one way to help medicare is to have a thriving, growing economy. we just learned from the congressional budget office that because of tax cuts and jobs act, we have actually extended the medicare part a trust fund from 2025 to 2026. that's the power of economic growth. if you want to pay for social security and medicare the first thing you do is have a healthy, growing, dynamic economy. that's what we are delivering. and that's what you would not give us. >> i'll have to jump in and move
on to the next question. it's elaine effort for mr. rothfus. >> mr. rothfus, the national debt tops $21 trillion for the first time ever. president trump says he's open to eliminating the debt ceiling and thereby having no limits on federal spending. how concerned are you about the national debt and would you support eliminating the debt ceiling? rep. rothfus: i would not support eliminating the debt ceiling and am concerned when we have debt ceiling votes. we have a debt problem in this country and people criticize the tax cuts and jobs act as adding to the debt. the fact of the matter is if you grow at half a percent more we're going to more than make up for that lost revenue. and we're seeing that already. for example, in medicare part a trust fund that i just talked about, we have to restrain spending that was left from the 1990's and you can cut taxes and grow the economy and come into surplus. unfortunately, we had a budget busting deal last year that increased domestic spending and defense spending by 13% on the domestic side. my opponent who wants to change the way things are done in washington joined the spending spree a couple of weeks ago. and went on with the big spending plans.
look, we have to be very particular about our spending. we have to prioritize when the defense department says they can get by with 60 apache helicopters but congress gives them 66 or the pentagon is ok with one type of ship but congress gives them three, we have to be careful in our spending. >> all right. thank you, mr. rothfus. mr. lamb. rep. lamb: i do want to change the way things are do done in washington. that's for sure. and one of the ways i would like to change that is to make sure that when we do something like a tax cut, it actually goes to middle and working class people. and does not add amount to our national debt. but the tax bill that keith voted for last year and that his party has promoted added $1.5 trillion to our national debt. that is not -- we don't get something for nothing. the deficit is growing larger this year. the numbers are coming in right now and we're seeing the government is taking in less than it did before. so the debt is getting worse.
and it didn't have to be that way. we could have cut taxes for middle and working class people without adding a penny to the debt. that's what we should have done. and i think that we should go back to the drawing board and get closer to that. >> on the debt ceiling, would you favor eliminating the debt ceiling? rep. lamb: no, i wouldn't. >> thank you. rep. lamb: >> moving on to our next question. chris potter for common lamb. >> thank you, gentlemen. this question hasn't gotten a lot of attention but for those of us with kids it's very important. the united nations released another report saying catastrophic implications if climate change is not addressed. the burning of fossil fuels including coal and natural gas which produces methane is a root cause of that problem. what should government policy be toward addressing that concern and how would you balance that against the fact that there are a lot of energy sector jobs here in the regional economy? rep. lamb: i'm very concerned about this problem. i'm a young man. and i hope to have kids soon. i hope we will all have long lives after 2040. which is the year that that report tells us we could be in for serious trouble. one thing is for sure. we are long past the point where we can tolerate having people in positions of leadership who deny that climate change is taking place. we know it's happening. regardless of what folks in the administration say, the defense department treats it as one of our major national security threats. now, with respect to fossil fuels, i will say natural gas and the use of natural gas has been a development in this area.
we have emitted less carbon as a nation in the last decade because of our transition to natural gas. it has also provided good paying jobs for many people here in western pennsylvania. we have to keep jobs first. we have to keep people first. and their ability to earn a livelihood. but we can do that. the government's role in this aspect is partially to create a market for clean energy that we know is coming. people are demanding it. china is investing it on mass scale. we need to compete with them. >> thank you, mr. lamb. congressman rothfus. rep. rothfus: we all have to be serious about the climate and the environment. we also have to be realistic about economics. and taking a look at the plans that have been put out by the prior administration, the -- president obama's clean power plan would lower global temperatures by .02 degrees at a tremendous cost.
there were environmental critics of the paris accords who said it was not even going to make a dent. and we're seeing in the united states making much more progress than other countries. at the same time, you have to understand the economics of this. thousands of jobs were at stake under the obama administration's regulations and rules. you take a look at the methane rule that you want to make sure that the rules that we have are actually going to have an impact. but if it's de minimus impact and threatens up to 37,000 jobs in pennsylvania, you want to be very careful. we have hundreds of jobs on the line in beaver county right now. at the power plants. i am fighting for those jobs and we want to have responsible, prudent regulations at the same time. >> i understand that with the previous administration and i'm wondering what would be an acceptable approach that meets the economic concerns that you have and yet addresses the problem? rep. rothfus: you have to take a look at keeping this economy growing number one. it is wealthier societies that
are able to handle any kind of environmental issue. climate change or otherwise. and we should be develop all kinds of new levee technology and look at a country like holland that has held back the sea for 400 years. we can be doing a lot in this space. on mitigation. and making sure that the rules that we're going to put out actually meet a cost benefit analysis. you have an e.p.a. that has very complicated rules. you change one little factor and you get very differing results. we've seen example after example of predictions that were supposed to come true that never did. i think al gore said that mount kilimanjaro wouldn't have snow on it anymore and still has snow. you want to take a look at these past predictions that paul ehrlich in 1970 said by the year 2000 britain would be a chain of impoverished starving people. it's not the case. you have to be mindful that you want to be responsible and prudent but these catastrophic predictions aren't helping anybody. >> mr. lamb, you get to answer this. rep. lamb: thank you.
it's also not going to help to allow the e.p.a. to be completely decimated and have the career scientists that have worked there and done a lot of the important research chased out and replaced by industry lobbyists. that definitely doesn't help. we take an oath to protect people. and this is a problem. it's coming. it's not much to say let's keep the economy growing. the question is are we going to sit on our hands or are we going to bury our head in the sand or take an active role in building an economy where people can work and we can have clean energy? i believe we can have both. there are small towns all over western pennsylvania right now that want to put solar panels on the roofs of their municipal buildings and make their buildings more energy efficient. why can't the government provide financing to allow them to do that? they'll make all the money back in the long term. but we need to take an active role and have new ideas and have people in positions of power who realize somehow a big problem this is. >> this is for mr. rothfus. >> mr. rothfus, affirmative action and the voting rights act of 1965 have been severely weakened given the actions taken by several states after the supreme court declared section 4-b of the voting rights act
unconstitutional. now there's a new lawsuit attacking affirmative action. my question for you is what type of new legislation if any will you advocate for to protect the rights of citizens who have been historically denied a seat at the table as it comes to voting, as it comes to housing, jobs, and admissions to institutions of higher education just to name a few? rep. rothfus: there is no place in our society for any type of discrimination. we have strong laws on the books right now. and if there are specific instances where people are seeing a violation of those rights, then absolutely they should be in court and defending those rights. >> let me follow up.
how would you personally advocate for citizens who don't have a seat at the table whether when we talk about jobs or about voting? rep. rothfus: look, we're reaching out all the time with this idea of getting everybody in the game. we need everybody back in the game. in this country. you look at programs like our opportunities zone program under the tax cuts and jobs act which has been roundly criticized. the whole bill is roundly criticized by my opponent but understand the opportunity that that is out there. attracting private sector capital for the first time in decades. and to communities in pen hills, in neville island, bear falls, aliquippa, a growing economy should be stretching out to everybody. and if there are individuals who face discrimination, then we need to hear about it. and i have visited employers who have expressed some concerns about some of their employees, and our office stands ready to advocate for them. if we spot issues that are out there.
>> mr. lamb. rep. lamb: i didn't hear you ask the question about the growing economy. i heard a pretty specific question about voting rights and housing rights and affirmative action. and so just to take voting rights as an example, i think that we have gone backward instead of forward in recent years. the supreme court in shelby county i believe it was said that they didn't think the reasons we passed the voting rights act originally were still necessary. yet here in 2018, we find out that in the state of georgia, they're challenging the new voter registrations of 50,000 people. and the person who's doing it is the secretary of state that's running for governor. that's why we need the voting rights act. i've co-sponsored the voting rights advancement act of 2017. that would overturn the supreme court's decision in that case. and reinstate the protections of the voting rights act. this is america. everybody has to be able to vote. and they have to know that their
vote is going to count. we need to do everything we can to ensure that. >> mr. rothfus. >> let me just follow up. how would you specifically protect the rights of citizens who have been denied that seat? as it relates to housing? you talked about voting. what about jobs? what would you do specifically? rep. lamb: yeah. well, i think we've seen great success in having protections for minorities in government hiring and government contracting. and i'll definitely have a watchful eye to make sure that those are successfully executed and protected. when it comes to housing, we know all the time that there's housing discrimination that still takes place today. especially in our larger cities. one of the really important jobs out there is people who go into community legal services and civil legal assistance for people who are suffering from discrimination. i got a little experience myself doing that in law school. these are agencies that are partially funded by the government. and we need to make sure they have the resources they need. many of them have told me that they have been strapped for resources in recent years. and they can't take on as many clients so that's one place we could start.
>> thank you. >> anything additional? rep. rothfus: housing and understand that the big government regulations that trickle down under the prior administration had a negative impact on minorities seeking to borrow for a home. under the qualified mortgage rule. they were disproportionately impacted by that rule. and look, i can remember years ago, advocating -- actually at polling places, this was in the 2004 election and we just had the help america vote act and people were showing up and felt that they should have been on the rolls and they weren't and advocating for people who felt they were being denied the franchise. the right to vote is sacrosanct in this country and we will defend it for everybody. moderator: thank you. we will move on to our next question. this is from paul van osdol to congressman lamb. >> each of you is accusing your opponent of being in the pocket of special interests. keith rothfus campaign ad says mr. lamb took $25,000 in campaign contributions from corporate executives at a big bank where mr. lamb's father is a lobbyist.
a campaign ad by mr. lap accuses mr. rothfus of working for special interests and helping big drug companies get a $50 billion tax break. like each of you to respond to these accusations and these allegation that is you're being overly influenced by special interests. starting with mr. lamb. rep. lamb: i accepted contributions from individual people that worked at that bank. and they were willing to disclose their identity and they were subject to the same limits as any other citizen of our country. i think that's really how they should work. this ad is a perfect illustration of the difference between the way that keith and i fund our campaigns. we both got a similar amount of money from individuals at that bank. i think i got $25,000, and i think he got $29,000. the difference is that he also has gotten almost $50,000 in additional contributions from the political action committee of that bank. it's a second bite at the apple. so is a refusal to take corporate pac money the only solution we need in campaign
finance reform? no. but one thing it does do it prevents the healthy from getting these two bites at the apple from their own contributions and through their second political action committee. that's what is different about our campaigns. moderator: mr. rothfus. 60 seconds. rep. rothfus: it shows the hypocrisy here. you can talk about over six years we are seeing those contributions. but the fact of the matter is the maximum amount of money somebody can get from a corporate pac is $5,000. from a single individual, you can get $5400. when you combine all the executives together, it can be far in excess of that. so the ad that mr. lamb was running was implicated -- somehow take a corporate pac check, you don't have integrity. and so the idea is that look, you can get far more money from any number of sources than a simple 5d,000 corporate pac contribution for an election. look, we need to understand that when you get a contribution, it may or may not affect your vote. for me, it doesn't. people support me because of my
positions. i have actually voted against pieces of legislation that people would have given me contributions would have wanted me to vote. particularly some of these major spending bills. >> one of the allegations in mr. lamb's ad has to do with you advocating legislation that benefited big drug companies. $50 billion tax break. rep. rothfus: i'm wondering if that was part of the tax cuts and jobs act actually. because there was never any specific legislation that was designed to benefit drug companies. and maybe mr. lamb can educate us on that. >> mr. lamb. rep. lamb: that is the case. the tax cut that they passed last year gave huge advantages to drug companies that are already making killer profits in this economy. they're charging people way too much. but i think the difference here is simple. we fund our campaigns very differently. but we need to be talking about is how over the course of the past year, our campaign has raised over $7 million and the average contribution is $28. these contributions are coming
from individual citizens who are subject to limits who are giving in small amounts as they can afford it. keith has taken more money from that bank than me. he and i voted the same way on the bill that he talks about. it's not a difference. the difference is who are we reaching to for support? in my case, it's real people giving their hard-earned money. moderator: we'll move on to the next question from elaine effort for mr. rothfus. >> the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. and has not increased since july 2009. given the growing number of people working two jobs to make ends meet, and the widening gap between the have and the have nots, what do you think about raising the federal minimum wage? rep. rothfus: you got to be careful before you have one size fits all. you have parts of the district the natural minimum wage is already rising. because of the healthy we. we have seen because of the tax cuts and jobs act, many local companies on their own raise their minimum wage. and so you got to be very careful fending on the community where -- and you're going to saw off that bottom rung on the
ladder. you don't want to do that. a healthy growing economy is lifting wages already. we're seeing first real wage growth. and if you talk about people who are having to work two jobs, part of that is actually the function of the affordable care act. that limited the 29 ½-er, people who only work 29 1/2 hours because of the employer mandate that once you hit 30 hours you have to buy health insurance for that person. so you have people working multiple part-time jobs, rather than working a single part-time job or a single full-time job, because of the negative consequences of what the a.c.a. did. moderator: mr. lamb. rep. lamb: just to answer your question directly, $7.25 is a poverty wage. the minimum wage absolutely has to go up. it should get to $15 an hour. i don't believe it can or should get there overnight. especially not every everywhere but we need to design the policy to get there.
once it's there the minimum wage should be indexed to inflation so we don't get so far behind again. one of the problems with the economy that congressman rothfus talks about tonight is sure it's growing. but the number of people who are earning $12 an shower is growing, too. the number of people who are earning $15 an hour is growing. and their wages are not going up. at least they're not going up as fast as the cost of health care, of childcare, of housing. and so we need a whole set of policies that will help people in that position and we have not gotten that in the last two years. moderator: thank you both. our next question from chris potter for mr. lamb. >> yes. you have both in the past expressed wariness about impeaching president donald trump at least based on what we know now. but i'm sure i don't have to tell you but a key function of congress is to provide some check and balance and some oversight of the executive branch. are there areas other than the russian collusion investigation where you think more congressional scrutiny and legislative pushback is required and what was your top priority
be, mr. lamb, if your party were to take the majority, it would be in a position to pursue these investigations, what should it be looking at? rep. lamb: i do, chris. i think any congress no matter which party is in charge has the job of overseeing the executive branch. it's our duty. so i'll just speak from my own experience. i'm on two committees in washington. one is the science committee and one is the veterans committee. on the science committee i absolutely think we have to investigate what's been happening at the e.p.a. they are chasing out career scientists and i don't think there's a good reason for it. on the veterans committee we'll have bipartisan oversight of a huge contract that was awarded to do electronic medical records in the v.a. system. largest project of its kind f it goes well, it will be a model for the rest of the nation f it goes poorly, there are a lot of taxpayer dollars at risk and veterans will not be taken care of. so i guess this is my way of saying sour frame of mind needs to be about protecting the people under our jurisdiction. protecting the veterans. it's not which party is in charge.
moderator: mr. rothfus. rep. rothfus: absolutely we have a constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight. the administration, we conduct oversight over the department of justice and i asked for the declassification of documents relating to that fisa application. you take a look at other agencies. federal housing administration. and under the tenure of mr. watt. we have to hold agencies accountable. i think we can ask a lot of questions about what's going on, for example, in afghanistan. we've been there for 17 years now. and it seems the progress is awfully slow. and i was able to visit afghanistan last year on two occasions. and to be able to ask those hard questions. so i think no matter who is in the -- who is in the congress or the executive branch it should be a healthy tension between those branches. unfortunately, we know that if the democrats take over the house of representatives, they will grind everything to a halt and maxine waters is the ranking member of the financial services committee. if the democrats take over, she will lead impeachment central on the financial services committee all kinds of document requests and subpoenas to the administration that would grind the economy to a halt.
moderator: our first question from social media, facebook, something near and dear to the hearts of everyone in the district. some veterans continue to have issues with the v.a. what will you do to help improve the care and consistency of the v.a.'s here in pennsylvania? mr. rothfus, you're up first. rep. rothfus: we have a record over the last couple of years of bringing accountability to the v.a. whether through the v.a. accountability act, extending that not only to the senior executives but to the -- throughout the career ranks. i was very active several years ago whether we had local executives at the v.a. being awarded bonuses despite the deaths of veterans using the v.a. services. the v.a. mission act. making sure that veterans do not have to wait in line for health care. if there is a problem at a v.a. medical facility, then they have the choice to seek a private provider. making sure we're putting the resources in to clear that backlog.
we owe our veterans a debt of gratitude. i talk about the principal of solidarity. you stood for us, we stand for you. that has animated my work over the years on veterans issues. i recently passed a piece of legislation with gabbert from hawaii and veterans who want to visit their national memorials and honor the work they did will not be charged fees. believe it or not there is a fee that groups would have to pay. moderator: mr. lamb. your response. rep. lamb: i recently had the chance to visit both v.a. hospitals in pittsburgh because of my role on the veterans committee in the house. and i was struck by the dedication and love of the doctors, nurses, even the custodians that work there that they have for their patience, that they have for these veterans. the people that worked there are on a mission. a mission to do good for these veterans. and so i think one of the best things we can do is support the people that work at the v.a. unfortunately, the accountability act, that mr. rothfus mentioned, has operated to go after a lot of low level people who i do not think are primarily responsible for the problems that we've had. the problems have been at the top. and there are a lot of unfilled leadership posts at the v.a.
both parties in congress are frustrated by that. and we're trying to do what we can to fill them. i do agree with mr. rothfus that the mission act was a good thing. that allows veterans to get care outside of the v.a. system when it's more convenient for them to do so and their doctor thinks it's a good idea and that will take us a few years to make sure we get that right. moderator: our next question from terrie for mr. lamb. >> mr. lamb, there's a national movement to advocate for bail reform. several studies have concluded that the bail system in the united states negatively affects people of color. in philadelphia, district attorney larry krasner announced his office will no longer seek monetary bail for a host of misdemeanors in nonviolent felonies. what is your opinion of such a bail reform initiative? would you advocate for a national bail reform bill? and if so, please give me your actual steps. if you would take to do so.
rep. lamb: i'm absolutely in favor of bail reform. i think that a lot of smart people who study criminal justice and i had the chance to work in this field view it as the number one thing we could do to have a more fair criminal justice system and also to save money for the taxpayers. the way our bail system operates in a lot of places right now is people who are too poor to make bail spend a lot of time in prison when they don't really need to be there. they're not a dangerous person and the taxpayer pays that bill. so this is an area where in washington, we've actually seen some bipartisan cooperation. and we passed a bill earlier this year that i think keith and i both voted for called the first step act. that goes along with this same philosophy. one of the challenges in criminal justice is a lot of it operates at the state and county level. so those of us in congress can't directly control what happens on bail reform. but we can be aggressive with grant programs and with research that makes it easier for municipalities like you mentioned to take new initiatives and see what we learn. moderator: congressman rothfus. rep. rothfus: yeah. if you spot a discriminatory impact, then we should be taking a look at how the system is
being worked. but mr. lamb mentioned the first step act. this is a little bit later into the process. people are already in prison and making sure we're providing the resources to help people reintegrate into society. because we do know that if services are being provided up front, there's a better chance of chipping away at that recidivism rate. we want people to get out of prison and become part of society. it's part of getting people back in the game. and so certainly if there are issues at the front end going in with bail, we want to be addressing them. moderator: thank you. our next question for from paul van osdol for mr. rothfus. >> mr. rothfus, the republican party of pennsylvania recently sent out this flier saying that conor lamb is dangerous for western pennsylvania. and he will support an extreme liberal agenda and a "socialist takeover he's of congress. do you agree with the republican party that conor lamb is dangerous for pennsylvania? rep. rothfus: i don't think conor lamb is dangerous for pennsylvania. i do get concerned if the democrats take over the house who will be running the various committees. as i mentioned maxine waters
would chair the financial services committee. and she would be very aggressive with for example our community banks and credit unions. we have seen a choking off of capital going to small businesses because of the overregulation that happened as a result of dodd frank. things that were meant for wall street trickled down to hit our local community institutions. ms. waters is somebody who believes that dodd frank was basically written in stone and she won't let there be any changes. and so she opposed the reform bill that we had which mr. lamb opposed that would have provided meaningful relief to community banks and credit unions. they were not the ones who started the financial crisis. and mr. lamb in the last debate talked about believing in the power of the american government. look, i believe in the power of you. i believe in the service of the american government. and we have to be very mindful of what government can be doing. moderator: mr. lamb. rep. lamb: this isn't about dodd-frank or financial reform or the power of the american government. your question was about how we campaign. and i'm happy to hear keith disclaim that particular mailer. i hope that he talks to his
friends in the pennsylvania republican party. and tells them to stop sending those things. because it's not the only one they send. they send mailers that lie about my record on medicare. again, which i've only been in office for six months. i've never voted to cut it and never will. but it's interesting. i've been there for six months. keith has been there for six years. and all of these mailers, so many of their tv commercials are about me. people don't like that. and i'm surprised that they think that's what people want. it doesn't help. people want to hear what we're for. and that's it. and make up their own mind and i hope we can campaign that way at least until election day. moderator: people talk about this all the time and we get questions into our newsroom about the tone and tenor. specifically about this race. i want you to take 15 seconds and look at one another and tell each other something you like or admire about one another. mr. rothfus, you're up first. rep. rothfus: you have a killer pace. for a guy like mr. lamb who had a very good education, to take that, and -- into the public
service of our country and go into the marine jag corps is very commendable and a lot of -- would not have done that so i get kudos for that. rep. lamb: thank you. i just met someone this weekend who is a veteran in beaver county. and he had a disability claim for years languish. got no attention. he told me he called your office and you guys had it straightened out in three months. he was incredibly grateful and asking me why it takes a congressman to get involved for a veteran's claim and that's the way with some of these big agencies but sounded like they took good care of that guy. moderator: thank you for that. and our next question from elaine effort for mr. lamb. >> president trump has defended his mocking of chris taken -- chris taken blasey ford who accused brett kavanaugh of sexual assault. president trump said if he hadn't made that speech mocking ford, quote, we would not have won. did you agree with the president's strategy here, mocking ford? rep. lamb: absolutely not. and i'm not sure that anyone won
from the process that we just witnessed. the senate did not make us proud. i have experience with this. my first job in the marines was to prosecute sexual assault cases. i lost -- i met a lot of people, men and women who were victims of this terrible crime. and my concern is that in a situation like this, regardless of what happened 36 years ago we have to set an example. i mean, victims will take a message from this episode of whether it's worth it for them to ever tell the truth about what happened to them so no. i don't think it helped. i think it sent the completely wrong message to anyone who has suffered from this. and if you're watching tonight i want you to know there are many of us in public life who take this extremely seriously. and will do what it takes to make sure that you get justice if you come forward. >> mr. lamb, did you believe christine blasey ford? >> from what i saw of her
testimony, which is not the whole thing, i'm in the house, and we had our own hearings that day, and based on my experience dealing with victims i found her to be very credible. i'm used to the situation of victims waiting to report until later based on other information that they learn because this is a very particular and different type of crime. and the trauma that it leaves is very different than any other crime. and so those weren't big factors to me. i did find her to be credible. moderator: mr. rothfus, same two questions, please. rep. rothfus: i don't think the president helped the case by making those comments. these are -- this was a serious process. dr. ford had a right to be heard. she had a right to be respected. conor talked about the senate not looking too good in this. somebody in the senate leaked something that dr. ford wanted to be kept confidential. and that's unconscionable. and you had two individuals brought before the public eye in very dramatic testimony. dr. ford gave compelling testimony.
i looked at the reflections that susan collins had on the senate floor. and certainly something happened to dr. ford. i don't believe it was judge kavanaugh. and as susan collins laid out, there was simply no corroborating evidence whatsoever and indeed people who were named as witnesses refuted what was taking place. so again, i think in this very polarized environment, it was not helpful for the president to have made those comments. >> and you didn't believe ford? >> i believe something happened. i don't believe it was judge kavanaugh. moderator: all right. thank you. our next question is from chris potter for mr. rothfus. >> this is a question about immigration. directed really to both of you. mr. rothfus, i think in the last -- the previous debate you spoke rather warmly about the power of immigration to grow the economy and to shore up tax revenues for social security. but unless i'm mistaken you have also voted in favor of a hard-line immigration bill that
failed in the house in part because moderate republicans weren't in favor of it. mr. lamb, on the other hand, i know angered some democrats by voting in favor of a resolution praising immigration and customs enforcement which is an agency that has been the subject of a lot of complaints about heavy handed tactics. so i'm wondering how you two feel about the country's current immigration policy and whether-the-working under this administration and how you would change it if at all. rep. rothfus: i might disagree with the characterization of that piece of legislation as hard-line. it did a number of things. number one, it secured our border. it increased capacity at our ports of entry. i've been to the border. i have seen spots where there needs to be a barrier, where there is no barrier right now. we know that 90% of the heroin coming into the country is coming from mexico, courtesy of the cartels which we need to be much more aggressive about going after. but we ask for an e-verify
system in that legislation where employers would take a look and make sure that somebody is eligible. we actually gave a legal status to daca kids. those who came here as minors and find themselves in this country, this is the only country they knew. we gave them legal status and the first time i hear somebody calling this a hard-line bill. we're doing something legally that president obama said 20 times he didn't have the authority to do. and so you look at the various aspects of this piece of legislation, it was a very good starting point. moderator: mr. lamb. rep. lamb: i think that this bill perfectly illustrates what is wrong in washington right now. immigration is a major problem. we need to do some things to fix it. but the republican majority could not even get together. and they would not come to the democratic party for votes or to work with us. and their bill failed. and it was a hard-line bill. it refused to end the policy of separating children from their families at the border. and instead it would have authorized families to be detained together on military bases. i mean, we don't need more of that. that was a hard-line bill. and that's why so many republicans not keith rothfus but so many republicans voted against it and failed. my sense of campaigning in the last year people overwhelmingly
support two things. better border security. we agree on that. and giving the daca kids a path to citizen ship. these were kids who brought here through no fault of their own and paid taxes and gone to school and doing -- living successful lives and contributing to this growing economy. we need to finally give them a -- the path that was in that bill was long. and it was unrealistic. it was not necessary to do what they did. we could have a simple bill to fix this problem but we have not gotten it. moderator: do you have a follow-up? >> the reason why you supported that resolution in favor of i.c.e. and many in favor of abolishing and overreach by that agency in particular. rep. lamb: i think the problem here is mostly with congress and our failure to address the legal status of all these people that are living here in our country and contributing and we have not given people the path to citizenship that they should have.
if a government agency is not doing the right thing, the answer is not to abolish it. these are hard working men and women who are part of law enforcement. they're just like the people i used to work with. we need a change at the top. you wouldn't abolish the marine corps if they lost a certain battle or you didn't like how they performed. you would relieve the general and appoint somebody else and that may be what we need to do here. moderator: mr. rothfus, last word on this. rep. rothfus: i want to respond to that. we take a look at what we did for dhaka -- daca in this les. legal status. 20 times president obama said he didn't have the authority to do this. well, he went and did it without legal authority. we actually gave legal authority. and if you want to have a path to citizenship to be fair, you have to treat people the same from their native country. and i think i just heard mr. lamb talk about a broad based amnesty program. if you want to take people who are not here legally including folks under daca right now and just take you can come on and give them path to citizenship that is not fair to people who have been doing it the legal way. by giving people a legal status right now, you're allowing them
to be here, come out of the shadows and pay taxes and contribute to this economy and if you want to become a citizen, it's very simple. look what folks in your native country are doing and you can participate in there. one of the things we did with the piece of legislation is to convert a 55,000 visa lottery program to a skills based program which many daca people would qualify for. moderator: we'll move on to our next question. for terrie griffin for mr. lamb. >> mr. lamb, let's talk about coal. our current administration is committing to helping the coal industry by rolling back a number of environmental regulations and imposing tariffs on imported solar panels. my question is what role should the coal industry play in the energy sector and for how long? and would you be willing to sponsor legislation in the next congress making the renewable energy tax credit permanent?
if so, why not? rep. lamb: sure. i would have to look at that specific piece of legislation. but it sounds like something i would support. as i've said i think the government has a role to play in creating a market for renewable energy. people are demanding it. and we can assist. just the same way that the government helped create a market for aviation after world war ii based on the technology we developed. the same way that the government helped out trucking by doing the interstate highway system and the same way that the defense department developed the internet which later helped our economy grow. we can do the same thing with renewable energy. i'm not someone who opposes coal in all forms right now. because at the top of my priority list are the jobs and livelihoods of our working families. many of whom still work in the fossil fuel industry. and so what i believe is that if we are going to address the changing market, which is already going in favor of renewable energy sources, we need to be serious about the job training and job opportunities that we're going to provide.
one of the critiques i had of president obama's plans and regulations is i don't think they did enough to preserve jobs and create new jobs. i think they talked about it. but we've seen before these job training programs that end with a piece of paper and they need to end with a job and be bold and serious about the jobs of middle class families. moderator: mr. rothfus, your response. >> beaver county, they're worried about whether the plant will stay hope open. this is a long sustained assault on the industry. natural gas is a success story and that's helping to provide more power, more abundant power but cheap, abundant electricity that is raised living standards across this country and across the world. you mentioned the renewable. we've been waiting since 1992 i think for the wind industry to actually turn a profit without being heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. that's the problem here. we continue to pick winners and losers in the industry. we know what happened with cylindera.
a production in the desert subsidized by the taxpayers and not producing. we know cheap, abundant, reliable electricity is what powers this economy. i have supported research on clean coal, the national energy laboratory in the south hills is doing great work. we want to continue to fund research to make sure that we can continue to use this great resource that we have. moderator: thank you. our next question is from paul van osdol. for mr. rothfus. moderator: mr. rothfus, you have been endorsed by the national rifle association. your opponent mr. lamb has taken many positions on the gun issue that are consistent with those taken by the n.r.a. can you or mr. lamb give any examples, any specific examples where you differ with the n.r.a. on its approach to preventing mass shootings in america? rep. rothfus: number one the n.r.a. supports me because i support the second amendment. and we have taken steps this congress, we have fixed the
background check system and there were records that were not being uploaded. and the case with the virginia tech shooter. we have added funding for the background check system. and i have voted for the stop violence, stop school violence act to make sure our schools can have more resources to identify where there might be a problem and take measures. and significantly the mental health legislation that was so needed to make sure that people who are having trouble from a mental perspective are getting the resources they need. before we start to criminalize the behavior of responsible law-abiding citizens we want to make sure that a law will have an impact. and i recall with congressman and i recall with congressman lamb's first ad in the special election, using a gun in an ad, this is not the context of the shootings that were going on around the country. i don't think that was responsible. look, gun ownership is serious. and we want to make sure that we keep those guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. moderator: mr. lamb. rep. lamb: we agree law-abiding gun owners should keep their guns and use them safely at firing ranges like i did in that
ad. there's nothing wrong with that at all. the difference in our positions is that i favor common sense gun reform which the n.r.a. has long opposed. there are examples one of which is the public safety and second amendment rights protection act. all it would do is two simple things. close the loophole that allows people to buy firearms with no background check over the internet. and the same loophole that applies at gun shows. it has 208 co-sponsors in the house of representatives right now. only 10 away from what it takes to pass. and paul ryan will not schedule it for a vote. i don't know the n.r.a.'s position on that one because i've never checked with them on any bill. but i assume that the gun lobby's influence is what has kept speaker ryan from bringing that to a vote to see if it will pass. moderator: paul, a followup. >> that's an example where you differ apparently with the n.r.a. and mr. rothfus, can you cite any examples of any policy positions where you differ with the n.r.a. when it comes to gun control? rep. rothfus: again, i am
supported by the n.r.a. because i support the second amendment. and the legislation that mr. lamb is talking about would not have prevented a single mass shooting. not a single one. while it would burden law-abiding responsible citizens that shouldn't be burdened at this point. moderator: all right. we'll move on. rep. lamb: can i make one brief response on that point? moderator: scheuer. rep. lamb: i don't think it's a burden to ask everyone to pass the same background check. regardless of where they buy their firearms. that's the point of that legislation. moderator: we'll move on to the next question from elaine effort for mr. lamb. >> just to be clear, i would like to ask both of you where you stand on four proposed policies that some say is enacted at the federal level would reduce gun deaths without infringing upon second amendment rights. so we've talked a little bit about it. i want to zero in and just get yes or no answers here. number one, do you support universal background checks that include guns purchased from a private seller at a gun show or online?
rep. lamb: yes. rep. rothfus: i do not. if you have a friend or brother that you should be able to sell that gun as can you now. it will not change any one of these mass shootings that we had. moderator: why no? rep. lamb: my answer was yes. i support it. again, i think everyone should have to pass the same background check. any hunter will tell that you. and by the way most of this legislation includes exceptions for family transfers. that's really not the issue here. >> number two, what about prohibiting anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense from purchasing or possessing guns? rep. lamb: yes, absolutely. >> why is that a good idea? rep. lamb: we've seen time and again where people who have committed domestic violence have access to a firearm and use it to commit further violence against their partner or against the judge or whoever. we need to keep people safe. if someone has been convicted of one of these crimes that should be disqualifying. rep. rothfus: and there are
already restrictions on people who have committed domestic violence from obtaining weapons. >> not universally. but are you sure? rep. rothfus: yeah. it goes into the background check system. and it will get flagged in the background check system. >> at the federal level? rep. rothfus: that's when we -- these records have to be loaded in to the background check system. >> number three, how about banning assault weapons or placing limits on large capacity magazines to make it more difficult to inflict the kind of devastation that the las vegas shooter did last october when 58 people were killed and hundreds more wounded by a gunman? rep. lamb: i don't favor that mostly because we have a lot of work to do first. many people own these rifles legally. and use them legally. and just to put a final point on your last question, there is bipartisan legislation that would close the boyfriend loophole that you talked about. in congress right now. again, it is not getting a vote
but it exists and called the zero tolerance for domestic abusers act and i'm proud to be a co-sponsor of it. i hope we can get a vote on it in the new congress. moderator: mr. rothfus. rep. rothfus: with respect to these ar-15 or millions of people own these weapons responsibly. it is illegal to convert them into fully automatic weapons. and those laws should be enforced so they're not converted into automatic weapons. >> finally, a federal child access prevention law that holds gun owners liable for failing to safely secure flair firearms. -- secure their firearms. rep. lamb: that is one that sounds like a decent idea to me. i would have to look at the specific legislation that you're talking about. but we do need to make sure that people feel a real responsibility to keep these weapons safely stored and away from children. rep. rothfus: people have a responsibility if they're owning guns and they don't secure them, they should be held accountable. moderator: we are going to finish with that question. and that will conclude tonight's question and answer portion of the debate. now each candidate will have one minute to make their closing
statement beginning with you, mr. rothfus. rep. rothfus: the last two years have seen a remarkable recovery in the american economy. this is the healthiest economy we have seen in 20 years. more jobs, rising wages. today, we find that there are now seven million job postings. this by far is the best economy we have had in a very long time and the best economy working age millennials have ever seen. that -- we have a choice in three weeks. when we go to the polls. do we throw the brakes on this american economy and elect a democratic majority? or do we allow these policies, the pro-growth policies to continue? if we expect to meet the commitments we have made to our seniors, we need a healthy, growing, dynamic economy that generates more tax revenue. that's exactly what the tax cuts and jobs act has done. we saw that recently with the c.b.o. announcing that the medicare trust fund is being extended opportunity. that's what this country has to be about.
i believe in you. i don't believe that the government should micromanage everything in this economy. and i would ask for your vote. moderator: thank you, congressman rothfus. congressman lamb. rep. lamb: during past year, i've had the chance to meet thousands of you. often on your doorsteps. and i've been carried by hundreds of volunteers. this past weekend, we knocked on our 300,000th door this year of . the time that people have given us, the patience and respect that they've shown us, the hard work of union members who everybody counted out, these are all reasons that i'm so optimistic that our politics can get a lot better. they're pretty bad right now. we've talked tonight about the distorted and the misleading ads that are out there. i've never voted against medicare, for example and many of you have seen things in your mailbox that say i have. it's not true. i will vote to strengthen and expand medicare. and i have listened to what you've told me. over and over again people have said remember what the job is that you're running for. it's the people's house.
you're there to represent us. if you trust me with another term, i won't forget that. and i know that you won't let me forget it. every time i enter the house i will enter it for you. it has been an honor and privilege to serve you in congress and i'm asking for your vote. thank you. moderator: thank you both. this new 17th congressional district covers three different counties and a number of boroughs and townships to beaver falls and cranberry township to carnegie. different families and different concerns about the issues facing our neighborhoods and our country. so please remember to get out and vote on election day. tuesday, november 6. it is both our right and our privilege. you can stay up to date on all the news related to this highly anticipated midterm election on our wtae mobile app where you will be able to watch tonight's debate and rewatch it. once again, thank you so much for watching. thanks to our panel and to our partners at the league of women voters. at a very special thank you to our candidates. i'm mike clark. for all of us here at pittsburgh's action news 4, and wtae-tv, good night.
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: today, it a debate in the race for the u.s. senate seat in massachusetts between incumbent democratic senator elizabeth warren and republican a memberr jeff deal, of the massachusetts house of representatives. live coverage starts at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. election,ys until the make c-span your primary source for campaign 2018. c-span's campaign 2018 coverage continues now with the south carolina first district house debate between republican katie arrington