Former Congressmen Visit RWU

Kaylee Pugliese, News Editor

As part of a Congress to Campus program, two former congressmen visited campus to speak with political science and journalism students.

Republican Gil Gutknecht and Democrat Joe Hoeffel answered questions from RWU journalists.

Seniors Rosalita Capoldo and Jordan Phelan asked the first two questions regarding education. The first question referenced funding for public and private schools.

Hoeffel said that more money should be put into public schools rather than charter schools that are “corrupt” and a majority of children get their education publicly.

“If a local school isn’t good in a community, we need to focus on how to make them better to be able to give every kid a good education,” Hoeffel said.

Gutknecht said that students and parents should be getting their money’s worth, which is why charter schools are more valuable.  

“Are the children getting their money’s worth? Are the taxpayers getting their money’s worth?” he asked. “Every child has the right to a quality education.”

The congressmen were also asked about sustainability and climate change.

Gutknecht stated that he has met some of the top scientists in the world in organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I do believe that the overall temperature of the Earth is warming,” he said, “and I do believe some of it is man-caused. But I am somewhat more skeptical of how much of that is really happening and how much of that is caused by human activity.”

Hoeffel said that he wishes coal could be burned cleanly but knows that it can’t.

“We aren’t getting much from the Trump administration on the subject,” he said. 

Other questions to the Congressmen included topics like women in Congress, female reproductive rights and government involvement, transgender rights, and the First Amendment.

When asked about CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass being revoked by the White House, Gutknecht and Hoeffel had different responses.

“I think the president has been just so irresponsible in his treatment of the press,” said Hoeffel. “He should not be demeaning the whole profession of journalism.”

He said that revoking his press pass was an overreaction.

Gutknecht was unsure of whether of not Acosta’s press pass being evoked was reasonable saying that it may have been an overreaction but he doesn’t have to “deal with Acosta every day.”

“This was the day after the elections. Most of the people in the press room, including the president, had been up late watching the midterms,” he said. “They were tired. That does not justify the behavior of either of them.”

In addition to their visit to the journalism class, the Congressmen also spent their time speaking to political science classes, and held an open luncheon at the Sailing Center on Wednesday, Nov. 14, to answer more student questions. The two men gave an interesting perspective, relating their past experience as members of Congress to real-world issues happening today.