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Thursday, November 15, 2018

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Candidates try to show differences in congressional debate


Candidates try to show differences in congressional debate Democrat Challenger Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (left) and Republican Rep. John Culberson squared off at the Student Center Theater Sunday. Both candidates highlighted their stances on national issues, and how they feel their opponent lacks. | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

Democrat Challenger Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (left) and Republican Rep. John Culberson squared off at the Student Center Theater Sunday. Both candidates highlighted their stances on national issues, and how they feel their opponent lacks. | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

The close race for Texas’s 7th Congressional district culminated before early voting Sunday between incumbent Republican Rep. John Culberson and Democrat challenger Lindsay Pannill Fletcher the Student Center Theater.

Culberson, who has represented the district since 2001, sold himself in the debate as a fiscal conservative who can keep Texas’s economy strong with taxes low, while Fletcher said often Republicans have set the country down the wrong path — and her opponent hasn’t represented the people’s wishes.

The debate highlighted many national issues, including gun control, healthcare and immigration.

”We’ve had two mass shootings in this district in last two years,” Fletcher said. “We can’t eliminate all gun violence…but we can reduce it.”

Culberson said he has worked in Congress to strengthen background checks and to fix the instant background check database.

“The laws are already there…we just need to enforce those laws.” Fletcher said.

The Democrat challenger argued that the congress needs to close the gun show loophole, which sometimes allows individuals privately selling firearms to not conduct background checks, according to Politifact. She also said domestic abusers should not be allowed to purchase firearms.

Throughout the debate, Culberson said the tax cuts passed by Congress last year, which he voted in favor of, helped grow the Texas economy. He claimed that the first thing Democrats will want to do if they take control of Congress is to roll back these tax cuts.

Fletcher denied this allegation, stating that Democrats would want to eliminate corruption first.

On healthcare, Culberson said upholding the law that stops the denial of health insurance to those with pre-existing conditions is important to him. He argued that to keep drug prices low, Americans should be able to purchase medications online and from other countries. He went on to propose that to keep health insurance prices low, people should be allowed to buy health care across state lines.

For Fletcher, she ensured that she does not support single payer healthcare, as she has been attacked for in ads by the Culberson campaign.

The Affordable Healthcare Act was a step in the right direction, but a compromise, Fletcher said. She said she wants to continue building on the law already in place, unlike Culberson who wishes to roll back the law.

A main front of attack for the middle of the debate for Fletcher toward Culberson was saying he has denied METRO expansion in the past.

In the middle of the debate, Fletcher launched a verbal attack on Culberson, claiming that he has denied METRO expansion in the past.

The Republican replied that he has supported METRO expansion if it was voter approved. An example was the university light rail line METRO wanted to build was voter-approved, but METRO changed the street it was to be constructed on, according to a statement released by Culberson in 2016. Federal funding for the light rail line was lost, because the street changed from the one which voters initially supported.

Fletcher argued that as Houston continues to grow, access to good transportation is linked to people having good jobs.

On immigration, Fletcher said that The House of Representatives has avoided taking on immigration issues. She said the Culberson dissent against the border wall President Donald Trump wishes to build has not been clear to her.

“I think (the wall) is fiscally irresponsible…I think that is not a smart use in our resources,” Fletcher said.

Children shouldn’t be deported, Culberson said.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” Culberson said. “We welcome you… but do it legally…we are a nation of laws and laws must be enforced,” Culberson said.

The debate was live streamed by ABC13 and Univision and can be viewed here.

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