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Government and Politics

Cleveland congresswoman and head of black caucus remains uncertain on Syria
But Marcia Fudge is clear on domestic policy

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Fudge welcomes more time for Syria diplomacy, while calling on Congress to address domestic issues.
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In The Region:

President Obama has delayed his call for a vote in Congress to authorize military force against Syria. And Cleveland Congresswoman Marcia Fudge is among those who are relieved. WKSU' M.L. Schultze spoke with Fudge the day after the president' announcement about that and about domestic politics.

LISTEN: Q AND A with Marcia Fudge

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Marcia Fudge is head of the Congressional Black Caucus, and says the caucus is united in welcoming the opportunity to get more information and to use more diplomacy before a military strike on Syria. But she also says President Obama has not yet answered all her questions: chief among them, what the United States gains if Bashar al-Assad remains in power.

“It is just my own personal view. If, in fact ,he is the person he has demonstrated himself to be by releasing chemical weapons on his own people, what is to prevent him from doing it again if he’s still there.

She concurred with the president’s assertion that the U.S. cannot police the world, but says it does have “some moral obligations to the rest of the world.”

Still, she’s relieved and hopeful for efforts by diplomats to get Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to a third party.

“I think that is the best thing that could possibly happen. At some point as a nation we … have to find a way to work at peace …  And that we are moving together with other nations to find a diplomatic solution to the problem.”

Meanwhile, back home...
During the discussion of Syria over the past few weeks, Fudge has repeatedly raised what she sees as the need for domestic spending on social safety nets as well. She acknowledges her calls have gone nowhere in the GOP-led House.

“I’m looking next week at the possibility of a nutrition bill coming to the floor that would cut $40 billion dollars from SNAP (foodstamps). We’ve already passed … cuts to Title I funding. We’ve already cut Head Start, we’ve already cut cancer screening. … We’ve cut everything that has heretofore been a safety net.”

She says resources diverted for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – “wars we should never have been in” – should be funding such programs. And she says  Democrats need to ramp up the arguments to the  American people.

“Hunger and poverty have no party. Education has no party. Safety in your community and a decent place to live has no party. And so if we can finally get people to say to their own representatives, “I understand that you think balancing the budget or cutting it is important, but at what costs?” Democrats may gain Republicans’ attention.

Affordable care and Medicaid
One of the most divisive issues in that Congress is the Affordable Care Act, which is being implemented this fall. Fudge ways people will understand that it improves their lives, much as Social Security and Medicare have.

She acknowledges, though, that some parts need to be changed, and challenged Republicans to help do that, instead of trying to stall the entire effort.

Fudge and at least one Republican share a view on one issue. She’s lauded Gov. John Kasich for his push to expand Medicaid in Ohio to some 275,000 more people. But as the effort has bogged down in Columbus, she’s started to question Kasich’s sincerity.

“I do believe he’s giving it lip service. . I was finally starting to believe that the GOP in Ohio had the best interest of the people at heart. But when you think about the fact that … …  if the governor of Michigan can do it, clearly John Kasich can do it. … He’s the head of the Republican party in a state that has a Republican House and a Republican Senate. And you mean to tell me the governor can not get them to take a vote?”

Kasich has pushed publicly and repeatedly for the expansion of Medicaid, and state lawmakers have promised to take a look at Medicaid reform this fall. 

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