McKeon, Rodriguez spar in debate

first_imgCANYON COUNTRY – Santa Clarita’s Republican congressman questioned his Democratic opponent’s stance on immigration Wednesday in a radio debate, and he was in turn accused of being part of a “do-nothing Congress.” It was the first time in the campaign that U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, sat down to a debate with his two opponents, Democrat Robert Rodriguez and Libertarian David Erickson. In his closing comments, McKeon asked Rodriguez if he supports the Reid-Kennedy Senate bill on immigration reform. “You know that that requires that we have to talk to Mexico before we can build a fence on the border,” McKeon said. “It also requires us to pay Social Security to people who are in the country, while they’re here illegally. Do you still then support that Reid-Kennedy bill knowing those things are in the bill?” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’The radio show ended soon after, but a Rodriguez aide protested the last-minute question and the host gave the Democrat a chance to respond. “When we hear about what’s going on, when we see the laws that are being voted on by the do-nothing Congress, I think the people of America are fed up,” he said. “And they want change and they want real solutions to real problems.” McKeon asked again if Rodriguez supports the Reid-Kennedy bill. Rodriguez dodged the question, answering that he supports “real immigration reform.” “Mr. McKeon, you’ve been in office now for 14 years, and you’ve done nothing to solve this problem,” Rodriguez said. “Republicans have been in control of every branch of government for the last six years and they have not done anything to resolve this problem.” Earlier in the debate, the candidates answered questions from the moderator on the war in Iraq, the federal deficit, education and Social Security. McKeon, 68, who is chairman of the Workforce and Education Committee, said public education is important, and he praised the No Child Left Behind Act for bringing more accountability to the system. Rodriguez accused McKeon of not pushing his own bill to cancel Cemex’s lease and limit future mining at the company’s Soledad Canyon mine. Rodriguez said he got Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, to promise to be the bill’s first co-sponsor, and accused McKeon of letting the bill languish. “If I can get Congressman Sherman to sign on, I just want to know why is more not being done?” Rodriguez said. McKeon said Santa Clarita and Cemex need to reach an agreement before he can move the legislation forward. Rodriguez, who was educated at University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard, also criticized McKeon for approving an interest rate hike for student loans, and for taking contributions from college loan vendors. McKeon said he was unsure how much he might have taken from the student loan vendors, but he said he welcomes the contributions. “I appreciate every one of them for their help and support, in my election and in helping me to elect other Republicans and keep our majority in the House,” he said. Erickson, 50, the Libertarian candidate, said the government should stop collecting income tax and distributing Social Security, and he advocated for the federal and state governments to get out of public education. “I’m a firm believer in very small government, the smaller the better,” he said. “And that’s why I’m a Libertarian.” Rodriguez and McKeon both repudiated a statement by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., that seemed to suggest the troops in Iraq are stuck there because of a lack of education. The debate was held on KHTS-AM (1220). The debate is in podcast format on the station’s Web site, at [email protected] (661) 257-5253160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more