CD 4 Candidates Debate on Immigration, China Relations and Energy Independence

Warrensburg, Missouri— On Thursday afternoon, four Republican primary candidates for Congressional District (CD) 4 took to the stage at the University of Central Missouri’s Warrensburg campus. The four candidates hope to replace Representative Vicky Hartzler in the United States House of Representatives.

Taylor Burks, Kalena Bruce, State Senator Rick Brattin, R-Cass County and Mark Alford all took a stand on several important issues throughout the debate.

The first issue debated by the candidates concerned illegal immigration and inflation. Moderator Austin Petersen asked the candidates if they would support providing jobs to immigrants if it meant lower inflation.

Brattin took a tough stance on spending, seeing inflation as a problem to be solved with budgeting rather than immigration programs.

“It has nothing to do with the wave of immigrants who come here illegally and has everything to do with a reckless and out of control government spending money – not a budget,” Brattin said of the problem of inflation. “I think the move needs to look at our spending and our budgeting. We are $30 trillion in debt, I don’t think an influx and influx of illegal immigrants into our country is the answer.

Bruce acknowledged the support for the workforce that migrants and immigrants can provide, advocating for Congress to make it easier for these workers to obtain citizenship and allow them to work with less bureaucracy.

“Congress, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, we need a reliable workforce. We need the migrant workforce that is used to doing these jobs because there are a lot of these jobs that Americans just don’t want to do,” Bruce said. “We need people who have been in our country for generations, they need a path to citizenship.”

“But at the end of the day, we have to close the borders… we have to reduce our expenses. It’s a two-part question. But there will be no single answer to solving the inflation problem. But I believe that immigration reform must take place,” she added.

Burks chose to focus on inflation rather than immigration. Highlighting his strong belief in fiscal conservatism.

“I’m the only candidate on the scene who hasn’t received federal grants that have triggered the inflation we’re seeing, when we’ve seen billions of dollars spent on P3s and government grants over the past three years. “, Burks said. “You need a congressman who will go to Washington, DC, and fight for fiscal conservatism.”

Bruce was quick to rebut Burks’ views on government subsidies, saying the help the federal government provided to small businesses during the pandemic was a necessity.

“I think this program was essential. And making sure that small businesses — especially in rural America — could stay afloat when our government, especially the Biden administration, shuts us down,” she said.

Alford has taken a strong stance against illegal immigration, placing the completion of former President Donald Trump’s border wall as one of his top priorities.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is a crisis on the border and television is not portraying it adequately,” Alford said. “We need to finish President Trump’s wall. We must deport illegal aliens. We have enough jobs here in America for Americans to fill.

Another question that sparked extensive debate came from a question from moderator Mike Mahoney. Mahoney asked the candidates how they would reconcile their worries about the China-US tension with the fact that China underpins much of Missouri’s economy.

Alford focused on creating jobs domestically, making Missouri and America less dependent on China.

“We need to create more jobs here in Missouri and in the United States, where we don’t import things from China,” Alford said. “They (China) have slowly crept into each of our homes, into your phones and into your TVs with a grip we’ve never seen before…there is power in this economic grip, we need to break this grip .

Brattin supports a Trump-style “strong arm” approach to China-US relations.

“We have to realize, yes, we are dependent on them, but they are also much more dependent on us. And with this strong arm approach, I think just like Trump has really put them (China) back on their heels,” said Brattin said “We keep selling our debt to them, we keep doing these things that put us at a competitive disadvantage. We also have to look at the human rights that they continually violate, I mean, they literally have slave labor in China.

Bruce focused on manufacturing and tax policy.

“What we need to do is bring more manufacturing here to Missouri, we’re perfectly settled here in Missouri, we have the infrastructure to support it, we have the waterways, we have the rail, and we we’re set to have some of the strongest manufacturing right here at home in Missouri,” Bruce said.

“We need to use and bring more manufacturing here at home. And this, thanks to a strong fiscal policy… We have to be able to give companies a competitive playing field so that they stop exporting things to China,” she added.

Burks believes that China is the most dangerous foreign threat to the United States and wants to bring the focus back to the states.

“This is a serious foreign policy issue because the most serious threat this country faces abroad is China. The US military is in conflict with China in our strategic defense policy in over the next five years,” Burks said.

“When we look at a conflict, whether it’s an actual economic or military conflict with China, our concern is going to be – what is our manufacturing or production capacity? How are we going to compete with a country where we have built their infrastructure? We have to focus on this country and prepare for when this conflict will occur with China,” he added.

The last question the candidates debated came from moderator Scott Faughn. Faughn asked the candidates what they would do to relieve Missourians from high gas prices.

All four candidates emphasize domestic energy independence.

Brattin focused on pressure from the Biden administration, believing a “red wave” will take over Congress in November.

“I think we need to push him to embrace energy independence, to start with the downside of what’s happened to get gas up to five dollars a gallon. I think that’s what we have to show that we’re ready to take on and fight this fight,” Brattin said. “You have to work with the people to make sure you have the best, fiscally sound America-centric policy — like pipelines and drilling here, drill this stuff now.”

Bruce focused on opening the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Biden shut down early in his administration. It also focused on farmers and herders.

“We have to be energy independent, this failed policy that we have shoved down our throats right now obviously isn’t working,” Bruce said. “We’re going to need all types of energy to keep going and be a strong America with prices that Americans can afford.”

“Farmers and ranchers can play an important role in this, we have a lot of research and a lot of development in the field of biofuels. And that’s going to be an important part of making sure we have clean, affordable energy for the American people,” she added.

Burks and Alford both focused on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and how EPA regulation can harm national energy independence.

Burks focused on administrative inconsistencies and how they hurt US oil production.

“Our energy companies will not invest in the domestic production of this country. As long as every two years with a new Congress, or every four years with a new president, they are threatened with shutdowns of our domestic production,” Burks said.

‘We must be an energy policy of the above set. And every time we flip the switch with a new Congress or a new administration and start over, it weakens the United States and drives up our prices at the pumps.

Alford took aim squarely at the Biden administration with his response.

“The F-150 is a model truck and it shouldn’t be what it costs to fill it up,” Alford said. “It’s not President Trump’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault but President Biden. I feel President Biden – the first thing he did was demonize fossil fuels and to continue marching to try to align with the crazy, wacky climate change people.

“He laid the blame and really targeted the fossil fuel industry, but he put the line of fire on families like yours and struggling farmers.”

The debate, which was hosted by The Missouri Times, will air Sunday at 5 p.m. on KMOS, the PBS station in central Missouri. Kansas City’s PBS station will air the debate Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

The full debate can be viewed here.

Featured Image: From left, Mark Alford, State Senator Rick Brattin, R-Cass County, Kalena Bruce and Taylor Burks attend a debate hosted by the Missouri Times in Warrensburg, Mo. on July 15. (Brady Hays/The Missouri Times)

Jack L. Goldstein