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Congressional candidate Thomas Clatterbuck talks US involvement in foreign conflicts, the economy, and immigration ahead of IL Primary

Thomas Clutterbuck (R) is running for the 13th congressional race in Illinois.

URBANA – The 13th congressional district of Illinois is seeing some new faces this election season. Two Republicans, Joshua Loyd and Thomas Clatterbuck, are running in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. They hope to advance on March 19 to challenge Democratic incumbent, Rep. Nikki Budzinski in the November general election.

Clatterbuck, 31, is in his last semester of law school at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He covered politics as a reporter for a now-defunct independent online news service. Later, he worked in the Sangamon County Courthouse in Springfield as a deputy clerk. Clatterbuck also took jobs working for Illinois Senate Republicans and US Rep. Mary Miller, R-Hindsboro, to gain experience. Click here to read a profile of Clatterbuck and Loyd by St. Louis Public Radio reporter Will Bauer,

Clatterbuck spoke Illinois Public Media politics reporter David Pierce, about the United States providing aid to Ukraine and Israel, the lack of passage of the US Farm Bill, as well as addressing America’s immigration policy. We’ve also embedded a video version of Clatterbuck and Loyd addressing various issues below.

Clatterbuck: “America can be an incredible force for peace in the planet. America can be a very stabilizing influence. And the most important thing America should be doing is making sure that these conflicts can come to a successful conclusion with the minimum amount of bloodshed, especially for our allies, but also for the civilians on the other side. Because I’m not gonna pretend there aren’t ‘bad actors’ out there, but there are a lot of innocent people who are being hurt in these conflicts. And we need to make sure that we can bring them to a swift but respectable conclusion.”

David Pierce: As far as Congress not renewing the Farm bill too. What are your thoughts on that? Given that they’re Republican led too.

Clatterbuck: “That was a very unfortunate situation that happened last winter because the [Agriculture] Bill is incredibly important for our farmers. But it’s also incredibly important for our urban communities because our whole Ag policy hinges on the fact that our farmers are very, very good at growing food and the fact that we don’t accept starving children in this country. That is not something we’ve accepted for decades. And so we need the [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] benefits to consume the agricultural surplus but we need the SNAP to make sure that family farms are economically viable. And so really letting both of those constituencies down again, I’m not going to point fingers at who’s at fault but should not have happened.”

DP: “Because it’s kind of like a ‘double win-win’ almost where you have farmers who are growing food that they have to sell before it goes bad? But then you have starving families that will have the funding to be able to purchase from them so that their product doesn’t go bad?”

Clatterbuck: “Absolutely. And again, as much as it’s maybe not pure free market economics. This really is, as you said, a ‘win-win’ situation because there are so many people, so many vulnerable communities. Because when we say ‘vulnerable communities’, we typically think of urban communities. Rural communities are vulnerable too. They’re just as vulnerable maybe in different ways. And so having a bill that can serve the vast swath of people. People salivate at the prospect of having such a bill in other areas. And so not getting this one done is definitely something I would want to get done as soon as possible.

DP: What are your thoughts on immigration and how that’s going?

Clatterbuck: The number one problem with immigration right now that Congress is actually able to fix is the fact that we don’t have nearly enough personnel to make our immigration system function. It’s the equivalent of saying, ‘we need a new playbook, because instead of fielding 11 players on our football team, we’re only fielding 8’. Until we fill out the roster, we have enough judges, we have enough prosecutors, we have enough border agents. Until we’re making sure that we’re fully staffed, we don’t really know if our immigration system works. We know it doesn’t work at half staff, but we don’t know if it actually functions if we were funding it the way we need to be funding it. My primary response to that question is ‘let’s put our money to make our systems work the way we say they’re working and then see what needs to be changed’.

DP: Thomas, tell me. What do you think about the House of Representatives not being able to pass a border security bill despite it having bipartisan approval in the U.S. Senate?

Clatterbuck: There were several things in the Senate bill that were gonna be ‘political non-starters’. Especially because, as I’ve already alluded to, the primary problem we have is a matter of mechanical enforcement of the rules we already have. Changing the black letter law, changing the statutes without funding the system the way it needs to be funded, is fundamentally attacking the wrong problem. And I’m not gonna say that was the only reason people had, but that’s certainly a very good reason. And the reason I would give for voting ‘no’ on any bill that doesn’t properly fund the system and providing the personnel we need to make whatever system we adopt work.

DP: With you running up against Nikki Budzinski, who is the incumbent in this district that was specifically drawn for a Democratic representative. Some would say. Why do you feel that you can run this race?

Clatterbuck: My campaign is not about people voting against Congresswoman Budzinski. I wanna be respectful there. This is not about getting people to vote against Democrats. Thís is about putting forward a substantive platform about rebuilding industry, about regulating technology, about building on our excellence. I don’t want people to vote against Congresswoman Budzinski. I want people to vote for me. And when you look at the map that we have, yes, it does favor a Democrat, but not nearly as much as people believe.

David Pierce

David Pierce

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