Noem, Varilek debate issues of debt, healthcare, agriculture - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Noem, Varilek debate issues of debt, healthcare, agriculture

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Standing side-by-side both candidates want South Dakota's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In Thursday night's debate, the candidates touched on issues like healthcare, medicare, economic growth and the nation's debt. They agreed on one topic though -- agriculture. With this year's drought especially in our state, both say there needs to be a safety net for our farmers and ranchers.

"This is a year we're riding a farm bill and with a drought going on and the farm bill set to expire, you would of thought our members of Congress would be focused on this issues and getting the job done to write a new farm bill and keep a safety net in place but also make some spending cuts to tighten our belts like everyone else," Varilek said.

"The facts are I was the first one to circulate a letter to the rest of the members in the House asking the leadership team to get that bill up for a vote. I also worked on a bi-partisan basis to make sure we asked for meetings with the leadership team and I didn't think we should come home until we got that farm bill done," Noem said.

Democrat Matt Varilek came out swinging, talking about Noem's reported absences from House Ag Committee meetings.

"I can't help but wonder whether we might not be in this situation where the farm bill not passed. If you've been focused on the issues long ago instead of skipping Ag Committee meetings," Varilek said.

Noem says this is just a smear campaign.

"This attendance issue is a false issue Matt keeps talking about. I've proven that I was at many of the meetings. I have a 99% voting record in committee and I had over 800 meetings with South Dakotans," Noem said.

Both say they want to represent you for South Dakota.

The debate lasted one hour. It was held in Vermillion on the University of South Dakota's campus. It was put on by South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

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