Last night after his town hall on whether or not to launch military strikes against Syria, Representative Cleaver made a few minutes to chat with me about the town hall that had just wrapped up, but also about a couple of other things that affect the people in his district as well.
The following is a transcript of that conversation:
Show Me Progress: First of all, thank you for holding this town hall and for making the time to speak with us, we know you’ve had a long day. First of all, did you hear anything here tonight that changed your mind, or that gave you pause…did you hear anything here tonight that you hadn’t already considered?
Rep. Cleaver: Well, I didn’t hear anything that I hadn’t already considered, but I had not heard Syrian Americans speak passionately, and in some cases painfully about what they believe should happen, and I think because they are Americans we ought to listen to what they have to say.
Show Me Progress: They have a unique perspective.
Rep. Cleaver: Yes. And I listened to them tonight, probably with a far greater level of sensitivity than maybe anyone else, because they’re speaking experientially.
Show Me Progress: That’s good…I’m glad I have a congressman that thinks that way…You famously return money to the district. How has the sequester affected some of the projects that would put Kansas Citians back to work?
Rep. Cleaver: It has been one of the worst things that has happened in Congress, probably in decades, and if you think about this…we haven’t had a budget in four years, and most people would be surprised to find out that is the same time we stopped doing earmarks, or designated spending, so you stop spending money in members’ districts, and you stop getting budgets approved.
Show Me Progress: The Republicans infamously stripped SNAP out of the Farm Bill, and that’s the most effective stimulus out there. How is that going to affect the people in your district?
Rep. Cleaver: Well, significantly, because there are so many stereotypes about SNAP recipients, and it’s important for people to know, 500 farm organizations, 500 rural farm organizations sent letters asking Republicans not to separate SNAP from the agricultural part of the farm bill, because they know that if you can keep it together, you will have rural and urban members of Congress supporting it…
Show Me Progress: I just wrote a post about the City Market, the Farmer’s Market at the City Market, giving two-for-one tokens for SNAP dollars…
Rep. Cleaver: Yes. You know, when you look at the fact that rural areas have a higher percentage of students using benefits from the SNAP program that Jackson County, and I know that’s counter-intuitive to the American way of thinking but it is a fact.
Show Me Progress: Again, thank you for your time Congressman Cleaver, we really appreciate you hanging around to talk to us, especially considering how early this morning your day started. We’ll talk again soon.