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Candidate Q&A: District 1 U.S. House of Representatives

Incumbent District 1 Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R) is running against Dan Feehan (DFL) to represent southern Minnesota.

 

How do you grade the federal government’s response to the pandemic? Are additional measures necessary to spur the economy? If so, what?

Jim Hagedorn: Our federal response has been strong, ranging from the president’s shutdown on China travel to the vice president’s task force working cooperatively with all 50 states. I’ve personally worked to streamline FDA regulations for Mayo Clinic’s plasma trial, expand telemedicine across state lines, fully fund our fine rural hospitals through the CARES Act, pushed the president to invoke the Defense Production Act to reopen meat-packing plants, enact the successful Paycheck Protection Program, and joined with New Hampshire Democrat Chris Pappas to gain expanded use of the employee retention tax credit to help our small businesses and employees.

Jim Hagedorn

Dan Feehan: The vacuum of federal leadership in combating the coronavirus pandemic has been unacceptable. That my opponent has promoted conspiracy theories about COVID-19, continued to accept campaign contributions from Big Pharma, and supported repealing health care coverage for those with pre-existing conditions at a time when access to affordable, quality health care is more important than ever is particularly shameful.

Posing our economic interests against public health interests is a false and dishonest choice: our economy, our schools and our lives will not get back on track until we address the COVID-19 pandemic. In Congress, I would advocate for a national testing and tracing strategy, as well as a plan to manufacture sufficient PPE for our nation’s essential workers. I would also support measures to spur the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing emergency aid to our farmers, rural hospitals and working families struggling to make ends meet.

 

Police reform has become center stage since the George Floyd death and has prompted calls for legislative action at all levels of government. What actions do you support at the federal level?

Hagedorn: I am a cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, introduced by my colleague and friend from Minnesota, Congressman Pete Stauber, a retired police officer. This bill offers commonsense ways to enhance safety, transparency and training while continuing to fight for justice, law and order. I also support President Trump’s recent executive order that takes the first steps toward enhancing the safety of our communities and police officers. This executive order will help promote best practices for officers across the country and will establish means for police departments to share information about and respond to incidents of excessive force. I will continue supporting our law enforcement officers at the congressional level and defending the rule of law.

Dan Feehan

Feehan: This summer, I have been inspired to see so many speak out across southern Minnesota and call on Congress to make all of our communities safer and more equitable. These calls have gone unanswered for too long, and I believe it is Congress’s role to respond to those calling for justice and to lead in changing the culture around policing.

This means reforming and reimagining not only our criminal justice system, but our education system and our health care system, all of which have perpetuated structural racism for hundreds of years. In particular, we need to address the inequities in these systems that disproportionately affect our Black neighbors. In Congress, I will continue to listen to those calling for justice and work with advocates and experts to promote policies that increase equity and keep our communities safe.

 

How do you grade President Trump’s foreign policy record? Which of his initiatives do you support, and which do you oppose?

Hagedorn: President Trump has been doing a remarkable job handling diplomatic relations and U.S. foreign policy. As an example, the significance of his breakthrough with Israel  and the UAE cannot be overstated. Prior to this agreement, the UAE refused to even acknowledge the existence of Israel as a sovereign nation. The Trump administration’s leadership and diplomacy has helped deliver the most significant step towards peace in the Middle East in decades. I will continue to work with likeminded congressional colleagues and President Trump to push bipartisan proposals and to implement these commonsense solutions to build a U.S. military and foreign policy of peace through strength.

Feehan: I’ve spent much of my career defending our nation — first, in an Army uniform during two Iraq combat deployments, and then for three and a half years in the Pentagon as an acting assistant secretary of defense. I believe I am uniquely qualified to lead on issues of foreign affairs in Congress.

As southern Minnesota’s representative, I would work toward ending Washington’s disastrous, scatter-shot trade policy and build upon agreements like the USMCA which I supported. Our farmers worked for generations and put their own money on the line to open up new markets around the world. Yet today, farmers in southern Minnesota are losing access to those international markets and paying the price for Washington’s reckless trade policies. We must hold bad actors like China accountable. That said, we can and should do that in a smart way that does not needlessly slash farm incomes, jeopardizing the economy in regions like southern Minnesota.

I also believe it’s of critical importance that Congress reassert itself as a co-equal branch of government at a time where we have been at war continuously for nearly two decades. In Congress, I would lead the charge to open debate for a new authorization of military force, and work to ensure that the Congress authorizes force on an annual basis dependent on the meeting of pre-established conditions, requirements and boundaries placed on the executive branch.

 

Do you support the expansion of association health plans?

Hagedorn: Association health plans are a tool that can be helpful in controlling the high cost of health care due to the inherent failures of Obamacare that has caused premiums in the small business marketplace to skyrocket. In addition to association health plans, I support price transparency, helping families create tax free medical savings accounts and the “one-price, one pill” pharmaceutical reforms recently enacted by the president to hold down the cost of prescription drugs.

Feehan: Health care must be affordable, accessible and high-quality for every southern Minnesotan. For people who like their current private coverage — they must always be able to keep it. For those who don’t, I will work to expand Medicare by lowering the eligibility age to 55 and creating a public option so people can buy into a program like Medicare. I will also join the bipartisan efforts to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and strengthen the individual market, which our farmers, entrepreneurs and others rely on, making it more stable and more affordable.

On the campaign trail, I have heard countless stories recounting southern Minnesotans’ negative experiences with our broken health care system. Congress must ensure that no family ever has to choose between avoiding financial ruin and getting the treatment they need. In Congress, I would fight to prevent insurance companies from having localized monopolies, end surprise medical billing, and defend coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Further, we need to make sure the realities of rural communities are part of health reform discussions and that they have a seat at the table — both to address the challenges they face and to learn from their successes. In Congress, I will work to address growing rural health care workforce shortages and challenges by promoting early exposure to health careers and supporting programs that recruit and train providers in rural areas.

Finally, we must bring down the skyrocketing price of prescription medications. Minnesotans are spending too much of their paychecks on the rising cost of their prescriptions, forcing many families to make the difficult choice between paying for needed medications or putting food on the table. Our neighbors, loved ones and others shouldn’t have to make this choice. In Congress, I will fight for price transparency, empower Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, enable safe generic drugs to compete on a level-playing field, and strengthen Medicare Part D benefits for seniors. Additionally, I won’t take a single dime or any talking points from pharmaceutical companies. Because I am not beholden to these or any corporate special interests, I will be able to advocate for legislation that will actually lower prescription drug prices.