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Republican State Senator Stephanie Bice and Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn went head-to-head Thursday night to make their case for why they should be representing Oklahoma in Washington, D.C.

It was the first debate for Oklahoma’s fifth congressional district seat and hosted by OETA public television, an affiliate of PBS.

You may watch the entire debate by going to the OETA debate page.

Free Press published separate articles about policy positions of Horn and Bice at the end of September.

The pandemic, bipartisanship, the Affordable Care Act, national security, and military spending were all hot topics discussed during the debate. 

With less than a month left until the November elections, Free Press will be providing coverage of races in the Oklahoma City metro area in depth. By doing so, we hope that you, the reader, gain a better understanding of the choices you will have on November 3.

The Pandemic  

Both candidates were asked what exactly should the federal government do to help states with the pandemic. 

Horn started off by highlighting the importance of being bipartisan and said that she has been doing so with her vote for the CARES Act and funding public education. 

She said she had voted against the HEROES Act bill because she thought it was not transparent enough. In a previous interview with Free Press, the congresswoman explained in depth why she voted no on the bill.

Bice echoed similar sentiments by recognizing the importance of wearing masks and working together. She said that there’s an opportunity to open up a federal PPE program and implied that Horn was not effective in her policy-making for not doing so. 

Healthcare 

Horn was clear that the Affordable Care Act should be protected at all costs. 

Protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions was also a main pillar of her defense of the ACA. And she explained that there are thousands of Oklahomans with and without pre-existing conditions that are covered through the program.

 “You’re going to hear that [Bice] wants to abolish the ACA, but what you’re not going to hear is a detailed plan to replace it,” Horn said. 

Horn explained that “if the ACA is repealed, there is nothing to replace it,” which is even more dire during the pandemic, in her view.

Bice responded by stating her support for repealing the ACA as it impacts many middle class Oklahomans. “We’ve seen a significant increase in prescription drug prices, in premiums and deductibles,” Bice stated. 

She continued to say that the repeal of ACA needs to be done in a careful way to protect Oklahomans and that health savings accounts were good alternatives for those who are on the ACA.

The state senator went on to imply that Horn supports “Medicare for all” by bringing up that the Congresswoman’s party has members who do support it. 

Horn responded by clarifying that she does not support “Medicare for all.” “My grocery list has more details than your healthcare plan,” she said to Bice. 

Bipartisanship 

In the “spirit of bipartisanship,” the candidates were asked what they admire about each other. 

Bice said that she admired how the Congresswoman has put herself out there in politics, as she has been a target of many negative ads, and mentioned that working together is crucial for a functioning government. 

Horn complimented the state senator’s work on criminal justice reform

National Security 

The candidates were asked what they consider to be the most pressing national security issues the U.S. is facing at the moment. 

Bice introduced the topic of China and how she believes that the Chinese Communist Party started the pandemic. 

“Oklahomans need to know [that] the Chinese government is not our friend. They want to take advantage of every opportunity, whether its trade deals of manipulating currency to their benefit,” the state senator said. 

She also expressed her support for President Trump in terms of justifying the Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani’s death by a U.S. Air Force drone strike. 

Horn said that she’s extremely experienced in national security as she’s a member of the House Arms Services Committee. “We have to invest in our troops both here and abroad,” said Horn. 

The congresswoman mentioned that she introduced a bill that would investigate and hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the pandemic. 

Military Readiness 

The moderators mentioned that the National Defense Strategy Commission’s recent report showed that the U.S military is lagging behind China and Russia’s and further asked what should the U.S. government do. 

Horn said that military readiness includes military family housing and investing in cutting edge technology. In her view, that means modernizing military systems and clamping down on the theft of intellectual property. 

Being ranked first on the world stage was another priority for the congresswoman as she brought up Trump’s inaction towards Russian bounties being put on U.S. soldiers’ heads. 

The senator said the most important part of military readiness is actual investment. She was part of Tinker’s Honorary Member program in which she learned the importance of the military base to Oklahoma City. 

Cyber Security 

Bice said that strengthening cyber security is crucial and that municipalities and banking systems should be protected at all costs as foreign hackers could intervene at any moment. 

Horn brought up how she’s part of The Committee on Science, Space and Technology in which she learned the importance of investing in cutting-edge research that can help with issues such as election security and technology education. 


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