"The people who are going to be most hurt by cuts to public education in Trump's budget are the people who voted for President Trump, the rural areas who depend on public schools," McCaskill said, in part, to a question about the federal budget.
This is the second of a two-part series examining U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s town hall session on Aug. 24, 2017 at the Camdenton United Methodist Church. The first part of the series provided an overview of the event, as well as general comments made by McCaskill, while this part will focus on some specific questions asked and answered.
Seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate for 2018, incumbent Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill stopped in the City of Camdenton last week to host a town hall event as her re-election campaign gets underway.
The Senator took pre-submitted, hand-written questions from a gathered group of approximately 50 people, both Democrats and Republicans, ranging from gun rights, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), healthcare, domestic terrorism and the federal budget.
On global warming, protecting the environment and the EPA:
“There are some things the EPA does that I think go too far, but the core function of the EPA is really, really important. Example of the EPA going too far is when they wanted to regulate farm dust. Have you been to Missouri in August? Kind of dumb. I was opposed to them regulating farm dust. I was opposed to the Waters of the US rule, some environmentalists were upset with me, but I thought it went too far.
Everybody needs to understand there was time when we had lakes on fire in this country because they were so polluted, literally burning. So we’ve made great progress for clean air and clean water in this country and I don’t think we should abandon that core function of the EPA. I’m not going to stand by and watch as someone who wants to destroy the EPA destroy it from the inside.”
On President Trump pulling the U.S. out of Paris Climate Accord:
“I do not get that part. I want you all to understand what the Paris Climate Accord was that the president pulled out of. There was nothing mandatory. We were not required to do anything in the Paris Climate Accord. You know what it was? It was all the countries of the world gathered together around the table to discuss collectively what everyone could do in terms of protecting the planet.
Now why is that important? Well it doesn’t do us any good to restrict coal plants if China is putting one up every ten minutes. It’s the same atmosphere. You’ve got to have everybody buy in, especially if you don’t want your country at a disadvantage. So having that international discuss is incredibly important.
There was only one country not participating and that Syria. Now that is that Assad who believes in using chemical weapons on his own population, including babies. So now we’re in with Syria. We’re the only country that is not participating and I don’t get what that gets us, especially considering we weren’t required to do anything. All it does is diminish our leadership in the world when we're not at the table. I think that was a big mistake.”
On background checks for private transfers of firearms, potential registration process and added costs by federally licensed firearm dealers:
“I’m a little uncomfortable about, you know my dad gave his firearms to my brother, and I’m not really conformable having them go have to fill out paperwork. That doesn’t really make sense to me. I probably wouldn’t go that far, but I do think if we are trusting our intelligence community and we give them the resources we give them and they are on top of monitoring terrorists, and terrorist activity in this country and they determine that someone is so dangerous they’re not allowed to fly in airplanes in our country.
I don’t understand why we can’t put them on a list so that they can’t buy guns. I mean that to me is common sense. If you’re too dangerous too fly you ought to be too dangerous to buy an AK or a semi-automatic with the capacity of killing a lot of people in a short amount of time.”
I was raised in Houston and Lebanon, Missouri. I was raised around guns. My mom had to keep cream of mushroom soup in the pantry to put in on whatever my dad shot so that we could eat it. But he loved to hunt. I’m not someone who’s interested in going too far, I’m trying to point out that we haven’t even been able to take baby steps in this country, because the NRA is so incredibly on fire over anything, even that common sense.”
On 2017-2018 federal budget:
“Do you guys remember when the Democrats didn’t produce the budget by the legal time they were supposed to? Do you remember turning on Fox News and every other sentence would be ‘where’s the budget? Where’s the budget? Where’s the budget?.’ Well, where’s the budget? We’ve got no budget. The House should have produced a budget under the law months ago. The law says they must produce a budget and they haven’t done it yet.
They are struggling mightily in the Republican House to come up with a budget. I can’t speak to anything other than to the budget President Trump has done, he has laid down a budget. In fairness to President Trump, no one ever supported Obama’s budgets either. I mean we voted on Obama’s budget one time in the Senate and the vote was 98-2 against it.”
On how President Trump’s proposed budget would affect Camdenton, Camden County:
“For example, forget the airport extension, those funds are gone. Forget the CBGB grants you’ve gotten in Camdenton and the county, those funds are gone. Forget the USDA grants that a lot of businesses — low interest loans these businesses they’ve gotten — forget those, they’re gone. Forget research on cancer and Alzheimer's and all those things we do so we can bring down our health care cost, forget all the research money, public education.
Most of the private schools are in Kansas City and St. Louis. The people who are going to be most hurt by cuts to public education in Trump’s budget are the people who voted for President Trump, the rural areas who depend on public schools. So there’s a lot of things in the presidents budget that are unpopular in both parties, so I kind of don’t think his budget will be the budget. We’ve not seen anything yet. They’re struggling internally in the Republican party to produce a budget and hopefully will have one in September when we vote to continue funding the government."
On possibility of government shutting down without a budget:
“I have no idea. That’s up the Republicans. I have no idea what they’re going to do. They’re in charge. They’ve shut it down before. I’m hopeful they’re not going to do that. I will work as hard as I can to make sure it won’t shut down, but I can’t predict what the Republican leadership is going to do or what the White House is going to do.”
On protest groups and condemning violence:
“I’m a former prosecutor. I’ve worked arm in arm with some of the bravest men and woman in the world who don’t end up becoming a police officer to become rich, they end up becoming a police officer because they want to serve. So we’ve got to be really respective and supportive of our police officers and I certainly am. I condemn anybody who engages in violence, anybody, who breaks the law should be held accountable.”
On Camdenton TCE contamination investigations:
“I’m glad you told me about it and I will follow up with MODNR about what they’re doing in terms of the investigation. Well the federal government should not be in the business of holding local officials accountable, local people have to hold local officials accountable.
Here’s what I’m going to do, now that you’ve told me about this, I will look into it and see if MDNR, I know the folks at DNR and most of them are apolitical. Most of them are not political, most of them are just really dedicated professionals. So let me follow up and see if the DNR investigation passes the smell test.”