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WASHINGTON — As Senate Republicans work to achieve their goal of repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, Senator Claire McCaskill told KMZU’s Brian Lock she simply wants a seat at the table on the healthcare debate.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Senator McCaskill added that agroterrorism is one of the greatest threats to the U.S., even if it can often fly under the radar.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill

Click below to hear the full Newsmaker which aired live on KMZU.

 

While terrorism is a regular part of political discourse in the modern era, the threat of agroterrorism can often be swept under the rug and forgotten. Senator McCaskill indicated she believes this is dangerous, and worked with her Republican colleagues in the Senate to pass a bill to strengthen protections against such a menacing threat.

“I am proud to say that my Republican colleague Pat Roberts and I sponsored a bill and President Trump signed it into law just a few weeks ago,” McCaskill said.  “That [bill] will put into law a responsibility for the Department of Homeland Security to always be working on the issue of agroterrorism”

 

McCaskill described agroterrorism as efforts by a “terrorist organization” to contaminate America’s food supply with a deadly disease. Crops are also at danger of being killed off by agroterroristic means, which would result in starvation of millions across America and the globe, McCaskill emphasized.

In addition, McCaskill sees the U.S. postal service’s woes as a danger – especially for rural communities across Missouri.

“I have been really worried that in an effort to make the postal service more financially stable, they’ve been cutting corners,” McCaskill explained. “Typically when government cuts corners its rural areas of my state that get hurt the most.”

McCaskill told KMZU News that she has been working to sustain postal offices in Missouri’s rural towns and villages to ensure that residents of the far-flung reches of Missouri can still receive mail and packages in a timely manner. She went on to say that a priority of hers is to maintain the six-day-a-week delivery schedule for the United States Postal Service.

The Democrat from Rolla believes that any costs could be covered by creating a more level playing field with commercial carriers such as UPS and FedEx, companies McCaskill said can get sweetheart deals at a disadvantage to the Postal Service.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

Senator McCaskill also detailed her concerns about the Trump Administration’s initial budget proposal, which cut the Department of Agriculture’s budget by roughly $70 billion. She advocates cost-sharing programs for crops such as cotton which shes said make the economics of agriculture more workable for Missouri’s farmers and producers.

“We have a lot of cotton producers in the boot heel and they have a very expensive input and don’t have the same kind of cost-sharing program that some other row crops have,” “We had this program in place during the Obama administration and I am hoping the Trump administration will continue it.”

“I’m worried because they are cutting the agriculture budget so significantly,” McCaskill asserted. “The budget the president submitted to congress cut the agricultural department by $70 billion and the budget laid out by House Republicans continues to cut the agriculture department. We just had cuts in the agriculture support program since the last farm bill. I just want to be very careful that we don’t shortchange the ag economy in Missouri.”

Debate regarding the healthcare bill – Barack Obama’s legacy achievement known as the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, is raging on Capitol Hill Wednesday as Senate Republicans scramble to work out a deal to pass the 51 vote threshold and sent to President Trump’s desk, where he has said he is waiting “pen in hand.”

McCaskill took a swipe at Senate Republicans on the process of advancing some form of healthcare through the Senate without any cross-bench support or hearings regarding what is in the bill. Despite that, the Missouri Democrat said she is ready to come to the table and negotiate – talks which McCaskill said could include compromise on the individual mandate.

 

“I’m willing to negotiate on a lot of things. I just want to be in the room,” McCaskill announced. “This notion that we’re going to reform our entire healthcare system in a back room with a group of Republican men is a very bad idea. We need to fix what we have and we can do that in an open, transparent, public way with both Democrats and Republicans at the table. We all want the same thing- affordable health insurance for the people represent.”

McCaskill remarked the improving the individual healthcare market could be achieved without large cuts to the Medicaid program and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

“I am open and willing to work with my Republican colleagues to compromise,” McCaskill told KMZU’s Brian Lock. “If we can find a way to get more healthy people into the market that keeps the prices low without the mandate, I’m certainly willing to talk about that. But it is time for us to sit down and have public hearings and public discussions about this and not try to do it they way they have so far, with a small group of Republican men in a back room somewhere.”