Students interview Shaheen in DC

  • Photo by Seth Farmer—

For the Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, January 26, 2017 11:24AM

Senator Jeanne Shaheen took roughly 25 minutes the day before the 58th Presidential Inauguration to answer questions from five high school students from southern New Hampshire, and one student from Franklin Pierce University. Several advisors to the trip were also present for this on-the-record interview. The Senator was a welcoming person who seemed pressed for time, but took our questions seriously, and answered each extensively.

The first question was about the importance of pushing the Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act if they insist on repealing it. The Senator talked about the importance of the 600,000 people in New Hampshire who will lose health care if there is no replacement, and said that she and the Democrats would continue to oppose the repeal until replacement was confirmed.

The second question pushed the Senator to answer the most pressing problem in New Hampshire - the opioid crisis. But as the Senator put it, “there really is no one magic bullet solution.” She suggested places where money needs to be directed like prescription drug monitoring programs and helping the recovery of those affected. The third question shifted away from New Hampshire and toward President Trumps cabinet picks. According to Sen Shaheen, she and the other Democrats should avoid being disillusioned by some of the picks. Sen Shaheen responded by saying “democracy works but doesn’t always work they way I want it too.” She continued to say that she would vote for people that she thought were qualified, like General Mattis and General Kelly. However she would vote against anyone she thought was not qualified, did not have the experience and the understanding that is a must in each position.

The Senator was also asked why the attempt to extricate James Foley was more successful in Libya than it was in Syria. Sen Shaheen responded by discussing how the challenge on the ground in Syria was far more difficult than the challenge in Libya due to the fact that the power Libya was more removed, and the U.S could communicate through the Hungarian Embassy. When asked about how women in Congress could influence the rest of Congress to continue to fund Planned Parenthood, the senator stated that they only need 3 more votes to have 51 and be able to block the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

I got to ask the last question, which was “as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, what do you feel are the most pressing foreign issues facing the U.S in 2017?” Sen Shaheen gave an extensive and lengthy response. She stated that the times we face now are the worst she can remember, and not since World War II have there been foreign issues of this quantity and caliber. Sen Shaheen listed the following issues; Russia’s claims to Ukrainian land and the annexation of Crimea, Russia’s threat to the EU, President Trump’s thoughts on NATO, North Korea’s arsenal of missiles, China’s growing influence, and the deadly moving shadow that is ISIS.

It was an honor to meet Sen Shaheen at her office in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Almost halfway through her 2nd term in the U.S. Senate, she is only the second Democrat to be re-elected to this office in New Hampshire. She also holds the distinction of being the first female elected as Governor of New Hampshire. She served as governor from 1997-2003 and was elected by N.H. voters three times before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate.

Kole Patten is a senior at Conant High School.