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US Sen. Mark Kelly speaks with the Independent’s RT Lynch at Darbi’s Cafe on Oct. 12

PINETOP-LAKESIDE—In the second part of coverage of US Sen. Mark Kelly’s recent visit to the White Mountains, below are questions posed to the Senator and staff by the Independent and the responses from his office. The questions were submitted October 12. They haven’t been edited except typos in the questions have been corrected.

WMI: On Sept 27, H.R. 5376 the Build Back Better Act was introduced to House Budget Committee. According to Congress.com, the text the bill takes up 5 megabytes and will take “several minutes” to download and “may cause your browser to become unresponsive.” Have you read it? If so, what are the provisions that you disagree with in the House version?

When Senator Schumer says that he has 48 “yes” votes for the Senate version, are you one of them? It has been reported that the Senate version isn’t even done yet. How can you commit to voting on an unfinished bill? Readers recall Speaker Pelosi saying before the Affordable Care Act vote that Congress must pass it to find out what’s in it. Is that happening again?

RESPONSE: The reconciliation bill has not been finalized or introduced in the U.S. Senate yet. Senator Kelly has told his colleagues that the bill must be paid for, continues to work to ensure Arizona’s priorities are met during this process, and will closely evaluate the details once an agreement is reached. As you know from speaking to him at length on Tuesday, he is specifically interested in the pieces that will help rural Arizona thrive, especially when it comes to energy, water and forestry. He focused on these issues extensively while drafting and eventually passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill that he discussed with you, as well.

Here is his most recent statement on his approach on the reconciliation bill, which he gave to the Arizona Republic, and we can provide to you as well on the record: “I’ve told my colleagues that this budget reconciliation package must be paid for and make responsible investments that benefit Arizona’s economy,” he said. “There are a number of proposals being discussed, from increasing renewable energy production to extending middle class tax cuts, and I’ll continue working with my colleagues to ensure that Arizona’s priorities are met.”

WMI: Do you agree with the Senate parliamentarian that immigration issues are not to be included in a reconciliation bill?

RESPONSE: As you may know, the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that creating a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, farm workers, and essential employees does not fall within the parameters of Senate budget reconciliation rules. Senator Kelly will continue working with Republicans and Democrats to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system, including by providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

WMI: Senator Manchin had some strong words for Leader Schumer about his “un-civil” tone in the floor speech after the debt ceiling vote. Do you agree with Manchin?

RESPONSE: On civility, treating colleagues with dignity and respect regardless of party is of the utmost importance to Senator Kelly. He has been rated as the most bipartisan freshman Democratic Senator, and is always focused on building bipartisan relationships across the aisle whether it is the bipartisan infrastructure group or introducing legislation with Republican members of the Arizona delegation.

WMI: H.R. 5376 requires the USA to power 80% of its grid through renewable sources by 2030. The USA is the third largest producer of “greenhouse gases” emissions after China and India, and their economies are expected to grow. The transition the bill calls for will be costly to the consumer. If the effort is to save the planet, what benefit to the planet will the USA’s cutback have if the other bigger polluters keep going and growing?

Is it true that the electricity that powers electric vehicles is generated largely through the burning of fossil fuels, like coal and oil? If so, what’s the point?

RESPONSE: Regarding energy and climate change, Senator Kelly recognizes the role that traditional fossil fuels play in the production of electricity and the creation of jobs in Arizona. He also sees Arizona’s drought and wildfire conditions being made worse by the effects of climate change. Senator Kelly supports a balanced approach to energy policy that keeps electricity affordable and reliable for Arizona homes and businesses. He also supports investments in and deployment of renewable energy technology as an opportunity to create jobs in Arizona’s rural communities that are transitioning away from utilizing coal for electricity generation.

WMI: As you can see here in the White Mountains, various races and ethnicities co-exist rather peaceably and have for generations. Is it true that the Build Back Better plans have billions of dollars earmarked for diversity training? What would you say to a White Mountain voter when she looks at the federal tax withholdings from her paycheck, that some of her taxes must go to the government for paying for classes on how one race should get along with another?

RESPONSE: And then finally, I am not sure where your information came from on “diversity training.” That is not something we have seen.

Reporter’s note: The last question was not well researched before it was asked. The information about diversity training came from reports that the 2460 page House reconciliation bill spends $25 billion, or $25 million, on training about alleged “inherent bias” in the delivery of health care. The figure of $25 billion was reported by The Daily Mail; The New York Post and the Heritage Foundation reported it at $25 million. It will be asked again, accurately next time, if a vote-ready version in the Senate contains that expenditure.

Reach the reporter at rlynch@wmicentral.com

(1) comment

Greedyfrog505

Typical Political babel!! Saying something without saying anything!

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