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Hagedorn fields questions at town hall in Madelia

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Rep. Jim Hagedorn addresses a town hall in the Madelia High School auditorium Wednesday.

MADELIA — First District Rep. Jim Hagedorn fielded questions on President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry, single-payer insurance, immigration, gun violence, and the recent military withdrawal from Syria, in a town hall in the Madelia High School auditorium Wednesday.

Hagedorn began by talking about his time growing up in Truman, south of Madelia in Martin County. He said after spending time in Madelia on this recent visit, he is optimistic about the city.

“This is one of the small towns in the district that seems to have things going in the right direction,” Hagedorn said. “I think this is an excellent model of what can happen in our smaller communities.”

As the district representative in Congress, Hagedorn, a Republican, listed his top goals as ensuring a strong military, secure borders with merit-based immigration based on the rule of law and a strong economy.

Hagedorn took questions from Watonwan County residents. Hagedorn, who opposes impeachment, was asked whether it was his constitutional role to oppose the White House’s efforts to deny documents or witness testimony to Congress.

Hagedorn said if the impeachment efforts followed regular order, he would follow the Constitution, but said no special power had been granted to committees and no formal vote had been taken.

“Let’s have the House vote on it and allow the Republicans to cross-examine witnesses or call witnesses,” he said.

Hagedorn argued the reason no vote had occurred was that it would force House Democrats to vote for impeachment, which could hurt them in the election.

Hagedorn said the inquiry was politics and he would not be voting for the impeachment inquiry.

Hagedorn was asked for his definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” He said his definition of an impeachable offense was, “you know it when you see it.”

Hagedorn said in terms of the Ukraine incident, he had not seen an impeachable offense.

“I read the transcript. I saw what was in the call with the Ukraine president. There is not an impeachable offense there as far as I am concerned. I won’t support the inquiry, and I won’t vote for it.”

A question regarding the inequality between insurance providers led to questions about single-payer options. Hagedorn said single-payer was not the answer because reimbursements would be lower and it could degrade the quality of medicine and drive up wait times.

Hagedorn supported allowing veterans to choose their doctors and hospitals and felt taxpayers should pay for it.

“It is the most liberal position I’ll ever take,” he said. “Veterans get the first dollar in the budget, not the last.”

Watonwan County Commissioner Jim Branstad said during the town hall that the county was dependent on its immigrant workforce, both documented and otherwise. He asked how Hagedorn would ensure protecting and sustaining the immigrant workforce.

Hagedorn said he would defend a legal workforce. The congressman wants to push for a merit immigration based model, rather than chain migration. He also supports a work program but said this was not possible until borders were secured.

Hagedorn also wants a change in asylum laws to allow citizens to request asylum from their home countries or the nearest safe country available. He believes this would reduce asylum seekers at the border and prevent dangerous 2,000-mile journeys to the border.

Asked why Trump has abandoned the Kurds to be attacked by Turkey in northern Syria, Hagedorn said there were a lot of geopolitical actions happening behind the scenes but said he did not want to see the Kurds wiped out.

“They have been good allies to us, and I think we should stand by them as best we can,” he said.

Hagedorn explained that Trump wanted to get the United States out of wars in the Middle East, but admitted it was difficult to extract U.S. military.

“I am willing to give it a little leeway to see where this goes,” Hagedorn said, “with the strong hope… that we do not allow the people that helped us fight to be harmed.”

Several people from the audience said out loud it was already too late for that.

Hagedorn answered two questions related to guns. The first was how he would protect Second Amendment rights and the second was how he would protect the country from further gun violence.

Hagedorn said he supported the Second Amendment and would defend the right to bear arms for all lawful purposes. He said there were laws on the books that were not being enforced, which needed to be fixed.

“I don’t support red flag laws because they don’t allow due process,” he said.

On the subject of term limits for Congress, Hagedorn said he would support term limits if they were uniform across all states. He said if Minnesota had term limits, but California did not, it would create an imbalance because the other state would have seniority.

Hagedorn closed the town hall talking about local projects. He said there were bipartisan efforts to complete Highway 14.

He also promoted the United States Mexico Canada Free Trade Agreement. Hagedorn said Mexico had already ratified the agreement, and Canada was waiting for the United States to pass it.

“This is going to expand exports to our two leading trade partners,” he said.

The town hall was part of Hagedorn’s 21-county town hall tour. The congressman has promised to hold a town hall meeting in every county in the district.

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