By Sarah Nagem
Voters in much of southeastern North Carolina will choose between Republican David Rouzer and Democrat Charles Graham for Congress.
The newly drawn District 7 for the U.S. House includes Robeson, Bladen, Columbus, Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties, and most of Cumberland County.
Rouzer has represented the district, which previously stretched north to the southeastern suburbs of Raleigh, since he was first elected in 2014. Before that, he served two terms in the N.C. Senate and owned a small business.
Graham, a member of the Lumbee tribe, has represented Robeson County in the N.C. House for the past 12 years. He is a retired educator and a small business owner. If elected, he would be the only Native American east of the Mississippi River with a seat in Congress.
Rouzer, a conservative who has criticized President Joe Biden’s policies and expressed doubts about the fairness of the 2020 election, is favored to win another term. Graham, who has at times sided with Republicans, is hoping for an upset.
Here’s where both candidates stand on issues.
Rouzer and Graham both say inflation is a top priority.
In a statement in August, Rouzer said Congress should “make permanent” the 2017 tax reform that lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.
Graham told the Wilmington Star-News that “corporate greed is impacting everyone’s wallet and that is unacceptable.”
Late last year, Rouzer said an increase in federal spending, “passed under the guise of COVID relief,” was driving inflation. In late 2020, he voted against increasing a round of stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 per person, saying the money should be targeted to those most in need.
In 2017, when Republicans in Congress didn’t find enough votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Rouzer called the legislation commonly known as Obamacare a “growing disaster.”
Meanwhile, Rouzer introduced a bill that was passed by the U.S. House this summer to expand access to mental health care for veterans.
Graham has been an outspoken supporter of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. In Washington, he says, he would work “to lower the cost of prescription drugs, protect people with pre-existing conditions, preserve access to substance and mental abuse disorder treatment, and rein in high insurance premiums.”
Rouzer lauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, saying the “historic ruling is right constitutionally, legally, and morally.” Some states have since outlawed abortion, but North Carolina is not among them.
“It is the people’s moral obligation to fight for and protect the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves – the lives of those who are no different than our own,” Rouzer said in a statement on his campaign’s website. The ruling, he said, was “a significant win for life, and I will continue to support pro-life measures in Congress.”
In recent years, Graham supported Republican-backed legislation requiring doctors to save the lives of babies who survive abortion attempts and to ensure patients don’t pursue abortions based on factors such as the race of the fetus.
On his campaign website, Graham says he “personally chooses life” but supports increasing access to women’s reproductive rights. He says the Supreme Court should not have overturned Roe, which had been in place for nearly a half century.
“Charles believes that difficult health decision should remain between a woman, her family and her doctor,” according to his website.
Rouzer is a critic of Biden’s immigration policies, saying they are “incentivizing illegal immigration and creating a crisis that is growing worse by the day at our southern border.”
In 2021, Rouzer voted against the American Dream and Promise Act, which had bipartisan support. The legislation would give immigrants who entered the United States as children a simpler way to become citizens.
Rouzer recently helped to introduce the Asylum Accountability Act, which would strengthen penalties for people who enter the United States illegally and do not attend their asylum court hearings.
Graham says “law-abiding immigrants looking for better opportunity in the United States should have an easier pathway to citizenship.”
“In Congress, Charles will work to reform our immigration system by fighting to keep families together, protect the border, and ensure due process under the law,” Graham’s campaign website says. “He will keep our promise to DREAMers by supporting the bipartisan Dream Act.”
Student loan debt
Rouzer spoke out against Biden’s plan to give student loan borrowers up to $20,000 in debt relief.
“Welcome to Joe Biden’s liberal utopia,” he said in a statement. “Those who work and pay their bills get punished; those who don’t, get a free ride.”
On his campaign website, Graham said he would be in favor of forgiving $50,000 of debt for those with federal student loans.
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