Inflation, abortion top final Kuster-Burns debate for 2nd CD

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster said her Republican challenger was concealing his position on abortion legislation, while Robert Burns accused the five-term Democratic incumbent of not doing enough in Congress to deal with rising costs during their second and final debate Friday.

The two candidates for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District agreed during their WMUR-TV debate on tax exemptions and credits for people who are making their homes more energy efficient, but differed on the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for families.

Burns, who runs a quality control and pharmaceutical safety company, said he would not support the program. “What we need to do is lower the cost of energy for everybody, not just a select few that are going to get a $500 voucher,” he said. Kuster supports the program and asked for more money.

In bringing down costs overall, Kuster said she believes in a multi-pronged approach, including the production of lower-cost food closer to home. Burns said he is in favor of opening up more gasoline production in the United States and building new plants to process diesel fuel.

“The Biden administration was in complete denial over the inflation and the oncoming economic disaster that we’re heading towards right now,” Burns said. “She’s been in there for 10 years. They haven’t been able to take care of these problems.”

Kuster responded that New Hampshire is “woefully behind” neighboring states in using solar energy. She said she was pleased about the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes investment in renewable energy.

“We can’t keep chasing oil and gas and pipelines forever,” she said.

Burns said Congress should have been working on investing in nuclear power and advancing battery technology years ago, but now, “it’s a little late.”

“But why is the state dragging their feet on the net-metering? That’s a big problem here,” Kuster said.

“Are you running for governor or Congress?” Burns said.

On the subject of abortion, Burns, who is pro-life, said he supports a federal “heartbeat bill” banning abortion at 12 to 15 weeks. He said he has always agreed there should be an exception for the life of the mother.

Kuster, who supports the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to access abortion care nationwide after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, said Burns was attempting to change his position.

She said Burns has described himself as “100 percent pro-life at conception” and that Republicans in Congress are sponsoring a bill that would ban abortion at conception. She said the legislation that Burns supports would criminalize abortion, putting women and doctors in jail.

“Well, of course, that’s completely untrue,” Burns, adding, “this is absolute fear-mongering.”

On other topics, both candidates disagreed with a decision by Florida’s governor to pay for flights from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard that carried migrants who entered the country illegally. They also were against the setup of immigration checkpoints on New Hampshire highways.