In Texas’ 10th Congressional District, a rematch focused on health care, criminal justice reform

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the race for Texas’ 10th Congressional District, a rematch of 2018 pits incumbent Republican Rep. Michael McCaul against Democratic nominee Mike Siegel, who two years ago lost by just over 13,000 votes.

Meet the candidates

McCaul, who is seeking a ninth term, is the ranking member of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and the former chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. Prior to serving in the U.S. House, McCaul worked in both the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

McCaul believes he deserves a second term because of his effectiveness, which Georgetown University ranked 25th among members of Congress and highest among representatives from Texas in 2019.

“I work across the aisle to get good things done for the American people,” McCaul said during an interview with KXAN.

Siegel is a civil rights lawyer and former public school teacher who also worked as a Teach for America corps member. He committed at the outset of this campaign to note accept any contributions from corporate political action committees.

Siegel has staked this campaign on improving access to health care, education, housing, and addressing climate change.

“The question is what should the government be doing in this moment of multiple overlapping crises and I’m running a campaign that we should be putting people first,” Siegel said.

Health care

McCaul believes that states should have broad latitude to control how health care is delivered. He favors Medicare and Medicaid block grants to figure out what works best for each state, instead of relying on a government-controlled health care system.

“Each state, we have 50 different laboratories,” McCaul said. “Let’s have some experimentation, see who can come up with the best health care delivery.”

Siegel supports Medicare for All and says the United States has proven throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that it has money for universal health care if it were to become a true priority.

“We need to guarantee health care regardless of whether you lose your job because how many millions of people lost their job through no fault of their own?” Siegel said.

Criminal justice reform

McCaul supported the criminal justice reform package written by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), which would have increase transparency and provided funding for body cameras.

“We need to heal the nation of its racist wounds and not increase more division in the country and I don’t think defunding the police is the way to go about this,” McCaul said.

Democrats blocked that bill because it didn’t end qualified immunity for officers, which shields officers from liability for constitutional violations in many cases. McCaul has accused Siegel of wanting to “defund the police” in recent campaign advertisements.

Siegel said his views on public safety are not limited to the “narrow hashtag” to defund police. He does support an end to qualified immunity but believes public safety includes access to health care, education, housing, and well-trained police officers.

“We need a national reckoning with racial justice,” Siegel said. “The legacy of slavery and Jim Crowe still, unfortunately, live in some of our police departments. There are legitimately racists officers who have a badge and a gun and unfortunately haven’t faced scrutiny, or investigation, or accountability.”

The Texas 10th Congressional District includes part of Travis County and stretches east to Harris County.

Early voting begins in Texas on Oct. 13. Election Day is Nov. 3.

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