As the election clock continues to tick, U.S. house candidates take time out to address issues affecting South Dakota. Representative Kristi Noem and Democratic challenger Matt Varilek went head-to-head in their first and only West River debate.
It was 90 minutes of he said against she said as at the University Center in Rapid City. The U.S. House candidates disagreed on just about everything except for the state of the economy. Both had quite a lot to say about the farm bill and why it wasn't passed by the September 30 deadline.
"What's changed this year on why we don't have a farm bill now is because the Democrats have virtually walked away from the bill because of reforms that we put in the food stamp program in the house Ag Committee," said Representative Noem.
"You can't help wonder if we would be in this situation with a failed farm bill if my opponent had been focused on ag [agriculture] issues earlier on," said the Democratic candidate. "On the Ag committee out of the 20 meetings that occurred during her last year in Congress she only went to 4 out of 20."
Varilek said Noem's poor attendance record factors in because she wasn't at enough meetings to represent South Dakota's agriculture industry. Varilek also said Noem is responsible for the farm bill expiring because she was on the house leadership team.
Noem fired back saying while she has more than a 90% attendance record, she's not going to attend a meeting just because. She said she has attended those that affected South Dakota. Noem also said the farm bill is a bi-partisan effort not a republican one. She said she's hopeful one will be passed soon.
Although prevalent, the farm bill wasn't the only topic on the table. The candidates also talked about energy, Medicare and the debt.