13th District Candidates: On The Issues
Congressman Rodney Davis (R) and Judge Ann Callis (D) are fighting to represent Illinois' 13th District in the U.S. House. Illinois Public Media spoke with both candidates for an in-depth look at where they land on issues, and how they'd legislate.
Congressman Rodney Davis
Taylorville Republican Congressman Rodney Davis says he believes Democrats and Republicans are getting along better than many Americans believe. In seeking his second term, Davis says he’s made efforts to reach across the aisle on a number of issues, and points to compromises he made on the 2014 Farm Bill. He spoke with Illinois Public Media’s Jeff Bossert:
(to skip to a specific topic, click on the time markers in the audio)
Bridging the political divide between Democrats and Republicans
Congressman Davis says he believes that Americans think Congress is much more polarized, and there’s a lot more bipartisanship than you see in the 24-hour news cycle. Davis said he compromised on the 2014 Farm Bill, and wished he could have saved more money on the mandatory spending side. The Republican says he breaks ranks with his party on a regular basis, most recently on a measure to allow for state’s rights to determine its own medical marijuana legislation.
Davis believes Congress should close loopholes in the corporate tax code, and make sure the overall tax brackets for individuals are lower, and more competitive with nations like Canada. He also believes President Obama should sign the Keystone XL Pipeline that has been ‘studied to death’ by his administration, providing a safer alternative for transporting oil
Rep. Davis says he’s concerned that President Obama has delayed provisions of the Affordable Care Act, believing it won’t pay for itself as a result. But he says the country will see what’s working and what’s not with the next enrollment period. Davis also hopes the Senate acts on a series of ‘common sense bipartisan changes’ to the law.
Davis says there many options for changing Social Security to make sure it remains solvent, but he says the necessary debate didn’t happen during his first term in Congress.
Davis says the Farm Bill passed in 2014 gives farmers options - which includes risk ‘common sense’ management tools to go with their crop insurance. The Congressman says he’s never seen the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade measure that, once approved, means countries will be able to join without Congressional approval.
Higher Education funding
Rep. Davis says the debate of paying for a college education should be less about the debt students have upon graduation, and more about decreasing the amount that students have to pay for tuition. Davis says he has a clear record of voting to increase Pell Grants, and has introduced a measure that allows employers to pay student debt for new workers.
Davis says the country needs a conversation on fixing the broken visa system, and make sure those who are already in line for naturalization process aren’t passed by. He hopes the Senate would take up a measure that allows for simple enforcement measures at U.S. borders.
War Against Islamic State, also known as ISIS
Davis supported airstrikes, but not advocating for the realistic chance of sending in ground troops. The Congressman says he won’t entertain hypothetical questions as to when that might happen. He calls this a ‘war against humanity’, noting most of those who have been killed are fellow Muslims, because ISIS aims to convert or kill.
Davis says the US needs to be energy independent, and ships its excess resources, like natural gas, to European allies. Davis says Russian President Vladimir Putin has built a foreign policy on being the ‘natural gas sugar daddy’ to many Western and Eastern European countries that are now relying on green energy. Davis says Americans won the Cold War by making sure that the U.S. had a better economy than Russia, and needs to keep the sanctions against the country in place.
Judge Ann Callis
Ann Callis of Edwardsville, is the Democratic nominee for the U-S House in Illinois' 13th Congressional District. From 1995 until 2013, she served as a judge in Illinois’ Third Judicial Circuit, covering Madison and Bond Counties, as an associate judge at the beginning, and as chief judge in later years. Callis talks with Illinois Public Media's Jim Meadows.
(to skip to a specific topic, click on the time markers in the audio)
Breaking Through Congressional Gridlock
Callis says she has “a history of being able to reach across the aisle to get things done”, and that she showed it as a judge, when she worked with people from both parties to set up veterans’ court and mandatory foreclosure remediation programs in the Third Judicial Circuit. She says her effective communications skills will help her in making connections with colleagues in Congress, no matter their party
Callis says she would push for investment in the nation’s infrastructure to create jobs and strengthen communities for future development. She says high school vocational education could be bolstered by apprenticeship programs with local businesses. Instead of relying on the Keystone XL Pipeline for job creation, Callis supports an “all of the above” approach to energy development, including wind, solar and biofuels.
Callis says she hear voters in the 13th District who oppose privatization of Social Security. She proposes a bipartisan commission to explore ways to protect and strengthen the program, including scrapping the payroll tax cap, and saving money by cutting waste, fraud and abuse.
Affordable Care Act
Callis says the Affordable Care Act is expanding access to healthcare, and she’s heard from people who have been helped by the law, including its provision allowing adult children to stay on their parent’s healthcare until age 26. But she wants to work on controlling costs. She says the most successful parts of the law will encourage more cooperation in Congress to fix the rest of it.
Student Loan Debt
Callis supports the Durbin-Warren Student Loan Bill of Rights, as well as legislation to allow borrowers to refinance their student loans to current interest rates after they graduate.
Callis supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. She rejects arguments that raising the minimum wage will lead to job elimination, citing the example of Washington State, which saw job growth after raising its minimum wage.
Callis says the latest farm bill, which was passed two years after the previous one expired, shows “the finger-pointing and brinkmanship” that besets Congress. She says farmers have not been talking to her about the “Ditch the Rule” legislation that the House passed in opposition to EPA rules for smaller waterways, but says she would consider it after hearing the facts and listening to her constituents.
Callis says “it’s time we passed comprehensive immigration reform”, and supports the immigration reform measure that passed the Senate. She says she would fight for it in the House, but “I wouldn’t be a finger-pointer, I would try to be a reconciler”.
The Fight Against ISIS
Callis says she thinks the Obama administration acted wisely in ordering air strikes against ISIS. She advocates for a strong coalition with other nations, and that any further action, such as sending ground troops, needs multilateral support. Callis’ son is an Army Ranger stationed who served in Kuwait during the Iraq war, and she’s careful to separate her personal feelings from her decisions on what’s best for the country.
Russian and Ukraine
Callis says the U-S should join with other nations, such as members of NATO, to “ratchet up the sanctions” against Russia, if that country continues to threaten Ukraine.
Callis supports same-sex marriage, and says the recent federal rulings on state bans on same-sex marriage --- and the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear their appeals --- are part of a judicial process that “seems to be moving us forward”. She says that process should be respected, whatever the ultimate outcome.