All this week, KET is inside the Beltway talking with members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation. We launched our D.C. excursion with a live broadcast of Kentucky Tonight last night from the Cannon House rotunda balcony. All of the members of Congress representing Kentucky were asked to join Bill Goodman on the balcony overlooking Constitution Avenue, and we were delighted that Kentucky’s junior U.S. Senator Rand Paul and third-term Congressman John Yarmuth could join Bill on the program.
There were times when Yarmuth, the Louisville Democrat, and Paul, the Bowling Green Republican, were on the same political page. But some glaring contrasts on prominent, headline-making issues facing the 113th Congress remain, one of which is immigration.
Senator Paul says the United States is still not adequately addressing student visas and screening background checks from those with refugee status. He says Congress should not rush to pass immigration reform and instead engage in a robust, debate without self-imposed deadlines on action.
On the pathway to citizenship proposals, Yarmuth and Rand Paul gave their perspectives. Yarmuth says the government is deporting unprecedented numbers of the undocumented now and argues that deporting the estimated 11 million with questionable legal status is not prudent. Sen. Rand Paul says border security is a lingering concern for conservatives like himself and he’s poised to present a plan called “Trust but verify.”
The other lightning rod issue Congress is perhaps bracing for another round of debate about is gun legislation related to background checks. The shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., nearly six months ago reignited gun control measures, particularly relative to background checks.
Sen. Paul says he’s concerned that some proposals like the Manchin-Toomey plan that recently failed in the Senate, shift criminal blame onto law-abiding gun owners. He instead favors examining the background checks already in place.
Rand Paul doubts public polling on firearms background checks, which he contends is sullied with high emotions about recent events. He thinks that as time passes, the emotions will subside when policy proposals are parsed out for possible unintended consequences affecting the rights and civil liberties of upright citizens.
Bill’s engaging discussion on Kentucky Tonight Monday night covered ideology on poverty and minimum wage, Medicare, Syria, and the guests’ collaboration on a golf tournament to benefit veterans.