Podcast

Pursuing tenure. Freshman Congressman David Young campaigning to add another two years in the U.S. House of Representatives. We're questioning Congressman Young on this edition of Iowa Press.

Funding for Iowa Press was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television Foundation. I'm a dad. I am a mom. I'm a kid. I'm a kid at heart. I'm a banker. I'm an Iowa banker. No matter who you are there is an Iowa banker who is ready to help you get where you want to go. Iowa Bankers, allowing you to discover the genuine difference of Iowa banks. Iowa Communications Network. The availability of high speed broadband service is essential to fulfilling the promise of a connected Iowa. ICN's Broadband Matters campaign showcases the importance of delivering broadband to all corners of Iowa. Information is available at broadbandmatters.com. Iowa Community Foundations, an initiative of the Iowa Council of Foundations, connecting donors to the causes and communities they care about for good, for Iowa, for ever. Details at iowacommunityfoundations.org. The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the public's partner in building Iowa's highway, bridge and municipal utility infrastructure. The Arlene McKeever Endowment Fund at the Iowa Public Television Foundation, a fund established to support local programming on Iowa Public Television.

For decades Iowa Press has brought you politicians and newsmakers from across Iowa and beyond. Now celebrating more than 40 years of broadcast excellence on statewide Iowa Public Television, this is the Friday, July 1 edition of Iowa Press. Here is Dean Borg.

Borg: David Young is completing a first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, campaigning now for a second. But it's just another hurdle among many along the trail to where he is now. Two years ago, surprising many, when a republican district convention named him their candidate for retaining incumbent Tom Latham's seat. Then, winning the general election, and just a month ago winning a primary election to again be the party's candidate. Democrat Jim Mowrer, defeated two years ago in the fourth district, is campaigning to replace Congressman Young. Congressman, welcome to Iowa Press.

Young: Thank you very much, Dean.

Borg: Let's just remind our viewers that your district is demographically very disparate I would say, Iowa's capital city, Des Moines, is included, through some of the most rural territory in Iowa over to the Missouri River.

Young: Oh it's a beautiful district. You have the most populated county in the state in this district, Polk County. And then you have the least populated county in the state in this district and that is Adams County. 16 counties, I call them the sweet 16 and I get every county, every month, at least one time and I really enjoy the relationship that I have with this district.

Borg: We have some questions for you and posing them, Des Moines Register Political Columnist Kathie Obradovich and Radio Iowa's News Director Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Congressman, you'll be seeking re-election and telling people what you have accomplished. What is your top accomplishment?

Young: Well, first of all, it's important to note that I've been very accessible to the third district. And I want to bring trust back from the people with their public officials and that's a big part of it. So if I can accomplish a measure of trust and accessibility with the people in the third district I think that's a big deal.

Henderson: But what about legislatively?

Young: Yeah, now legislatively, I've been able to work across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion on many issues. For instance, an education bill regarding gifted and talented students, we got that as part of an amendment in a conference committee into the new education Every Student Succeeds Act. As well I started a bipartisan caucus to protect Iowans from fraud, to protect their identity and we've got an amendment passed on that on the Department of Defense bill to protect service members. I've had an amendment passed regarding regulatory reform, bringing transparency to the process. And right now working on a bill to protect veterans, the Veteran Suicide Prevention Line has been going unanswered, that crisis line should not be going unanswered. People's calls, our veterans, they should be met and heard. And so that bill is moving through the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Obradovich: Democrats, their big argument against you is that you're not, you were misrepresenting yourself when you ran two years ago, that you ran as sort of a middle of the road, not necessarily not a conservative, but someone who is pragmatic. You have been talking about bipartisan efforts here but they point to you voting for yet another futile Obamacare repeal, other times when you've sided with the republican majority. What is your response to that?

Young: Well I think what I've said matches up to my record. And even when I was endorsed by the Des Moines Register last time they said that he's a conservative, through the primary and general he has campaigned as a conservative, that's his philosophy. And the important thing is to make sure that you represent yourself well for your district and you're doing what you can do to get things done. And that's what we do in Iowa, we come together in a bipartisan fashion. That doesn't mean you give up your beliefs, values, compromise to some is a dirty word, but coming together to get some things done without giving up your soul, so to speak, is what I'm doing.

Obradovich: But aren't you frustrated with the pace in Washington? You said you wanted, for example, to be, you're part of the Appropriations Committee, you wanted to have budget bills moving. Aren't you frustrated with that?

Young: It is frustrating. We live in a divided government right now, a republican Congress, democrat President. I will say that on the Appropriations Committee we have got last year all 12 bills through the committee. Unfortunately we didn't get them all through the floor of the House. This year we're on track to do the same thing, get all those bills through the committee, to the floor and then 435 members, as you know, is like herding cats sometimes. But it's important for regular order to go forward and that's what I'm trying to push forward.

Henderson: Your party had a spirited presidential campaign. Donald Trump got more votes than anybody else. Are you endorsing him?

Young: As you know, I didn't endorse anybody in the primary and I've always said that I'm going to support the nominee. But that doesn't mean that I have to stand behind everything the nominee says. Regardless of who it would be I have an independent Iowa voice and when I disagree I'll say so and when I see something I like I'll say so as well. But regardless of whoever the President is, I'm going to reach out and work on behalf of Iowans.

Henderson: So you were not the number one vote-getter in your primary yet you won the nomination. Should republicans choose someone other than Donald Trump as their nominee in the same way that they chose you as the nominee for this district?

Young: Well, I think there's little difference between a primary here in Iowa and a presidential race. But the people all around the nation spoke and that is who the presumptive nominee is going to be. I'm not going to the convention, I'll be here in Iowa and so I'm not a delegate and so we'll see what happens there. There's a lot of spirited debate about changing rules and not sticking, being bound in that kind of thing. And even on the other side as well that's happening.

Henderson: So do you think that Iowa delegates should be able to vote their conscience and choose someone other than Donald Trump as the party's nominee?

Young: Well I think they went into this knowing what the rules are and so I would assume most of them would probably stick to that rule. But there are going to be some who are going to probably step outside the box and really if they had those deep, deep convictions and principles, vote their conscience.

Henderson: Is that your advice to them?

Young: I don't really have any advice, but do whatever you can to influence the process, to make sure that whoever the nominee is to hold them accountable from what they say to what they do.

Obradovich: And are you saying that you'll support the nominee regardless of who it is? Anybody that your party puts up that's who you're going to support?

Young: Well as I see it is a republican president is more likely to sign into law some of the great things that we have passed in Congress. And also regarding the Supreme Court we have to keep in mind the next president is going to have a handful of Supreme Court nominations and I would prefer those come from the republican side who are more strict constructionists of the Constitution.

Borg: Let me ask it this way, you're on the Iowa ticket, there's going to be a republican nominee at the top. Would Donald Trump be a drag? Would you rather have somebody else for people who are voting straight tickets or splitting?

Young: Well, I'm going to run my own race and that's what we're doing.

Borg: Yeah, but could it hurt you is the question?

Young: That's the big question. Could it hurt the down ticket? We don't know. Could Hillary Clinton hurt some on the down tickets as well? We just don't know and that's why I'm focused on doing what I'm doing through the official work and then I'm not going to tell you the campaign strategy but we'll be ready in November.

Borg: Another question on Donald Trump. Who would you like to see, maybe not a name, but what characteristics would you like to see in a vice presidential pick if Donald Trump is the nominee? What characteristics would help?

Young: Someone who is more solutions oriented and not so much full of rhetoric and name-calling and really focusing on issues instead of personality. And so that is what I want to see. And I want to hear them want to take on those big issues that I haven't heard candidates talk about. We have some really big issues out there that the people in the third district are talking about.

Borg: Would you advise a woman?

Young: I would advise anybody who could get the job done and do that.

Obradovich: Is there somebody in particular that you have in mind that you would like to see?

Young: For vice president?

Obradovich: Yeah, Dean said no names, but I want names.

Young: I'm not involved in that process and I'm not really thinking about it. I'll let them vet that all out. But I haven't been called.

Henderson: Mr. Trump has proposed banning Muslims from entering the country if they come from terrorist hot spots. Is that something you would vote for as a member of Congress?

Young: Well I have said all along that we should not have a religious litmus test for folks who are coming to America. If you think about it, how did our country found religious freedom right? But I do think we need to take this seriously and realize where some of these people are coming from in the Middle East and have more stricter scrutiny when we do background checks on them and checking them out. And we have always been a country that has, especially a state, right, that has been very accepting and welcoming to refugees, those seeking political asylum. So that can continue but we have to take this seriously and really scrutinize those who are trying to come over here because ISIS has said they want to infiltrate our refugee system.

Henderson: So you're okay with Syrian refugees coming if they're checked?

Young: If, if there's great scrutiny and they're checked, yes, and in this way. I want to see the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary, the FBI Director and the Head of the National Intelligence Agency really vet them out and really almost sign their name in saying these people are okay to come over and be part of America.

Obradovich: Democrats, after the attack in Orlando, held a sit-in on gun control measures in the House. Did you stop by and take a look at that when it was going on?

Young: I was in the office and meeting with Iowans and so I was aware of what was going on but I had more, I had pressing meetings with Iowans that I needed to attend to.

Obradovich: How do you think that this will be resolved? Is there going to be any sort of gun control measures that could pass in a bipartisan way? Or is that just basically everything off the table related to gun control?

Young: Well I hope that something constructive can be done in a bipartisan manner.

Obradovich: Such as?

Young: You take a look at some of the proposals that were offered in the Senate, particularly the Cornyn Amendment. Nobody wants terrorists to have guns, right? Nobody wants that. And we need to try to help stop that, my goodness. So those on the terrorist watch list we need to make sure that they don't get guns and if there are some innocent Americans on there, and there are, law abiding citizens on there, they need to make sure that they have due process to be able to clear their name from that.

Obradovich: So you would have supported the Cornyn Amendment?

Young: That's something that I think I can support and I think we'll have something like that come to the floor of the House in the coming weeks.

Obradovich: Well are Second Amendment advocates like the NRA making a mistake by saying absolutely nothing when it comes to gun control? Are they getting away from where the American people are on that issue?

Young: Well, they have not called me or come to my office, the NRA, I've been visiting with Iowans about this and this seems like the approach, the Cornyn Amendment, that a vast majority of people could support on both sides of the aisle I hope.

Henderson: Both U.S. Senators from Iowa and both U.S. Senators from Nebraska are sponsoring something called Sarah's Law involving the death of a Council Bluffs woman in Omaha in a drunk driving accident. The person charged in that crime was from Honduras I believe and Immigration Customs Enforcement did not place a hold on that person. What sort of legislative response have you drafted?

Young: Well, Homeland Security really dropped the ball as well as folks at the local level. And we had a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on appropriations and I had Commissioner Saldana testify and that was the same day that Sarah Root's father was there testifying as well and it's heartbreaking what happened and you just want to bang your head because this was an easy one, right? I mean, he should not have been let go. Questioned her and then met later in the office with Brad Ashford, who I work closely with, a democrat from the Omaha area, and figuring out a legislative solution to make sure that those who are here illegally and they commit a crime as such that they aren't let go. So we're looking at co-sponsoring the legislation that the four Senators introduced.

Obradovich: Uncontrolled immigration was one of the issues that sparked Britain voters to leave the European Union. Do you think that Brexit, as it is being called, is part of a worldwide populist movement that will have repercussions here in the United States?

Young: Some say that and I'm not sure but I know that part of the reasoning was they wanted to make sure that they were a sovereign nation and that they had control of their borders and more of a say than some outside entity like the EU. We have heard that resonate here. But we have been talking about that for a while. I'm disappointed that we haven't been able to address this issue. When I was first elected to Congress I went down to the border with a bipartisan group in Texas and Arizona and California and I was hopeful that there is a way that we could get this to the floor and go forward with that because first and foremost I think a sovereign nation needs to control their borders.

Obradovich: And speaking again of Brexit, you write budgets, do you expect any kind of major economic impact on the United States from potential dissolution of the European Union?

Young: I think only time will tell. But I know that we have a special relationship with the UK and that we should be reaching out with them in partnership and try to grow economically together perhaps with a trade agreement.

Borg: Have you thought enough ahead though as to what the effect might be and what the U.S. role might be in strengthening the European Union now and the relationships there with British out, that is through NATO, through other agreements? What should be done? What should be the role of this nation post-Brexit?

Young: Well I think we need to encourage the European Union and take a look at their structure in how this happened and why it happened and if it's going to continue to happen, where is America's role on that? Is there a role? Or are we going to start negotiating directly then with just individual countries again like we have in the past? With the UK I think there's an opportunity here, Dean, to reach out and say, what can we do to help strengthen you and give us some advice as to what we can do in our relationships with the EU. These countries, the UK, France, Germany, they were carrying a lot of the weight of the EU economically and they're not getting much in return they say.

Henderson: Mr. Trump has said he would renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Do you think that's a good idea? Is that something you support?

Young: I don't know if it's even possible. But I know that trade is important to Americans, it's very important to Iowa. Going forward you have the Transpacific Partnership trade agreement just kind of hanging there waiting for any action on it. It's not going to happen before the elections, I'll tell you that right now, because as you have seen, Kay, through the presidential race there was no favor for even considering it at all because it has really been demagogued and we're an export state. If we were a country we'd be the fourth largest leading country in corn alone. And so we can just export to other states and countries we already have agreements with, there's a great opportunity in the Pacific Rim for our goods and services to be there and also our values as well strategically because China is right there. And we want to make sure we show strength there. And when we show strength there I think the Chinese respect that and that could help our relationships with them.

Henderson: It sounds as if when, if and when it comes up for a vote, you would be a yes --

Young: I'm still reading the 3,000 page bill --

Henderson: Well you said it has been demagogued --

Young: It really has been demagogued but I want to make sure that I vote on the right policy for the right reasons and this is something I'm hearing about from everybody everywhere all over the third district.

Henderson: One of the things that has buoyed Mr. Trump's candidacy is this idea that trade deals have been bad for working class Americans. Do you disagree?

Young: Well, in some cases it has hampered us a bit and that's why we have trade adjustment assistance, just in case, because in any trade agreement you're going to see some fluctuations maybe in labor, in industry, and we want to make sure that where people are affected that there's some relief there and then in turn we restrengthen, recalibrate, so to speak and then we go on more powerfully with our economy. And so trade adjustment assistance I think needs to be a big part of that. I voted for that in a bipartisan way.

Henderson: Your leader, Speaker Ryan, unveiled an alternative to Obamacare. Kathie earlier mentioned that you voted to repeal it. Do you support the alternative that Speaker Ryan has proposed?

Young: Well it's not in legislative form but there are five working groups and one had to do with health care, kind of a repeal and replace. I support a lot of the principles in there. I'm still looking through them. But we want to make sure that we keep that sacred doctor/patient relationship in order and it is sacred. People don't want to be interfered with someone in the middle coming between their doctor. We want some market oriented policies out there. I think transparency is one of those. And to make sure that people know what maybe the price is going to be before they go in and get a service and not wait afterwards.

Obradovich: Is it practical to say you don't want to interfere with doctor/patient relationship because insurance companies do that all the time. My insurance company does that. So having a market-based system does not guarantee that people can have their doctor.

Young: If you look at some of the industries out there, particularly health care and education, where you don't have a real market-oriented system, with health care there is involvement with insurance companies and the government as well. And so with that transparency we could maybe better understand why insurance companies are doing what they're doing and then why government is doing what they have to do through the Center for Medicare --

Borg: Congressman, I'm having difficulty, and maybe I just haven't been listening closely enough, but I can't understand whether or not you would replace Obamacare entirely. Do you want to scrap Obamacare?

Young: Well I have voted to repeal it and so I'm on record doing that. Now, is it doable? I don't know because the longer something comes into law and sits in there and seeps out into the industry and the economy the harder it is to repeal. So we've taken opportunities to pick and -- cherry pick --

Borg: I understand you voted to replace. But is it possible now, from what you're saying right now, would you again vote to repeal Obamacare?

Young: I would.

Obradovich: You've taken some heat from a vote that was taken in the House dealing with federal contractors and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and you changed your vote. You were one of the people in the House that changed your vote about that and then you changed your vote again. Walk us through how that happened.

Young: You're talking abbot an amendment by Congressman Maloney from New York and it had to do with an executive order signed by President Obama in I believe it was 2014 and it simply said no funds shall be used, it was on an appropriations bill, to undermine that executive order. That amendment was introduced almost when some of us were on the way to the floor for a series of amendments. And my understanding of it was that it had religious protections in it for contractors such as a faith-based organization or religious group who do services, chaplain services or educational services or refugee services. And I wanted to make sure that Iowa's personal and individual religious beliefs were protected. And in finding out that that protection wasn't there I corrected my vote and then ultimately, you can't change your vote after the gavel goes down, and so I corrected my vote. And then about a week later the Maloney Amendment, the same one was offered, then it was second-degreed or amended with those religious protections and so I voted for it that time and Maloney voted for it as well.

Obradovich: What is your answer to people who said you couldn't seem to decide how you were going to stand on these important rights for the LGBT community?

Young: Well, first of all, everybody has dignity and I value everybody and show kindness and respect. In this instance, it was important I think to stand behind the Constitution and our First Amendment rights. And so I laid it out just as I laid it out to you.

Borg: You mentioned earlier the Veterans Crisis Line for those who may be contemplating suicide, you found some flaws in it. What is it going to take to get it to a point where you would find it acceptable? More money? What is the remedy?

Young: I don't think it's necessarily money, it's just more oversight. And unfortunately, Dean, we find out about these things after the fact when there's a crisis. And so my amendment makes sure that the VA, the Veterans Administration, has quality assurances, lays out why the calls aren't being answered and even the texts aren't being answered, and then reports to Congress as to why they haven't been and what they're doing to try to fix that and if there needs to be any help from Congress and the law to do that. And this really struck a chord the other day as well when the GAO, the General Accounting Office, Accountability Office, a non-profit objective accountability firm as a branch of the government, laid out a report just earlier this week saying it's still not being fixed. And I introduced this bill weeks ago and it primarily came about because we had a veteran call our office saying, I've been trying to get a hold of the crisis line, nobody will pick up the phone. Fortunately our case worker had a background in counseling and was able to help ease his burden.

Obradovich: Speaking of issues that have struck a chord, as you said, one of your republican colleagues, Steve King, introduced legislation to try to prevent the Treasury from putting Harriett Tubman on the $20 bill instead of Andrew Jackson. Do you think that was a good idea?

Young: I love Harriett Tubman. I'm not co-sponsor of a bill to put here on the $20 bill. So regardless of who is on our money I want to make sure our money has value. But I think Harriett Tubman is a great person to exemplify as a hero in America.

Obradovich: Have you talked to Steve King about that?

Young: No. I don't think I need to.

Obradovich: Any qualms about removing Andrew Jackson from the $20?

Young: I haven't had those conversations.

Henderson: Do you think American currency should be more frequently changed? There are security experts who say that is what happens in other countries.

Young: Well in terms of if you want to get out in front of the counterfeiters out there, maybe there's a need to do it in that way. But just for the sake of design or enhancing the collectors out there of currency I don't know if that's the way to do it. But if there's some real problems with the security of our currency.

Henderson: You mentioned one reason that government isn't working is because you have a democratic President and a republican Congress. There is a bill about GMO labeling which has languished in the -- republicans can't even get together on an issue to send anything to the democratic President. Isn't there some indictment here of how republicans in Congress can't get things done either?

Young: Well, first of all, backing up a little bit, I didn't say government wasn't working because we have a democratic President, per se, it's just because we have a divided government. Now regarding the GMO labeling, it was very interesting to see a big letter of over 100 Nobel Laureates come out and say, GMO's are safe and if you look at the statue of Norman Borlaug in Statuary Hall, here's a guy who helped save how many billions, we don't know at this point. We passed and we did our job in the House to make sure that there is a voluntary national standard regarding labeling. July 1st, today, is kind of the date and the Senate had not, there's been different viewpoints over there in the Senate and, as you know, the bodies are different. We're majority rule in the House and you've got to get to 60 votes to get to something, to really if you agree on it. And so they have a proposal forward and so hopefully we can get to that soon.

Obradovich: Did you agree with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Texas abortion clinics? What do you think that ruling says about the Supreme Court?

Young: Well, I don't know what it says about the court but I did disagree with it because I think that there should be in any facility some kind of sanitary health standards out there when it comes to these things.

Obradovich: I don't think anybody said there shouldn't be sanitary health standards, but making abortion clinics meet hospital like standards, the Supreme Court thought that that was an undue burden. Do you disagree?

Young: If they're doing procedures there I think they should have high standards and if they purport to be a health care clinic I think that's important.

Borg: I have to call time here. Thank you for being our guest today.

Young: Dean, it's a pleasure.

Borg: Thank you. Well Iowa Press is taking a break for the next couple of months. We'll be preparing for the final push to Election Day so that when we come back Labor Day weekend we'll be set right here at the Iowa Press table to push up to Election Day. Best wishes to you for a pleasant Independence Day weekend and enjoy the summer. I'm Dean Borg. Thanks for joining us today.

(music)

Funding for Iowa Press was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television Foundation. I'm a veteran. I am a builder. I'm a volunteer. I am a teacher. I'm a banker. I'm an Iowa banker. No matter who you are there is an Iowa banker who is ready to help you get where you want to go. Iowa Bankers, allowing you to discover the genuine difference of Iowa banks. Iowa Communications Network. ICN's Broadband Matters campaign advocates for access to high speed broadband in all corners of Iowa for education, public safety, health care, government and economic development. Information is available at broadbandmatters.com. Iowa Community Foundations, an initiative of the Iowa Council of Foundations, connecting donors to the causes and communities they care about for good, for Iowa, for ever. Details at iowacommunityfoundations.org. The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the public's partner in building Iowa's highway, bridge and municipal utility infrastructure. The Arlene McKeever Endowment Fund at the Iowa Public Television Foundation, a fund established to support local programming on Iowa Public Television.    

More from this show

Iowa Bankers Association
Associated General Contractors of Iowa
UIeCare