Though much of the unity between United States Democrats and Republicans goes unseen, Kansas 1st Congressional District U.S. Representative Roger Marshall, M.D. told The Pratt Tribune in a phone interview March 25 that the United States got a glimpse of these political parties working together for the common good during trying COVID-19 times.
The largest economic rescue bill in US history was passed in the Senate the last week of March, with the senate unanimously in favor of a $2 trillion stimulus package. This bill was created to try to help Americans who have been and will continue to be negatively affected by COVID-19.
The vote was 96-0, proving that mainstream media portrays the two parties to be far more separated than they actually are during the current coronavirus pandemic, Marshall said.
“Before social distancing, we worked out together in the gym every day, giving each other a hard time like all friends do,” Dr. Marshall said.
He did admit that some politicians in Washington D.C. however, have gotten in the way of passing this bill for self-motivated reasons such as publicity, hurting Americans everywhere.
“They tried to get some television time to slow it down,” Dr. Marshall said. “Every day this was delayed, hurt Kansas.”
The stimulus bill, passed by the House the following Friday, then approved by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, includes getting more supplies and resources to healthcare providers, providing families with the money they need to get through unemployment due to the coronavirus, expanding unemployment insurance and helping small businesses stay afloat.
“Overall, it’s good, it’s not perfect, but I’m pretty comfortable where it is right now,” Marshall said.
Details of the coronavirus relief package include a provision that every family with an annual income of up to $75k will receive $1200 per adult and $500 per child, with those numbers decreasing for families with an income of up to $99k.
This money could be in American’s hands very soon.
“I think it could be as early as next week that there could be auto deposits in people’s checking accounts,” Marshall said. “In the meantime, we’re doing things to help small businesses and keep those folks employed by doing small business loans that can be forgiven if they keep people employed.”
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Marshall and other politicians have been more unified than most Americans think, according to Marshall. He said he is very involved in bipartisan committees and gatherings, as are many currently elected officials.
Before coronoavirus restrictions were put in place, 40-50 representatives held a bipartisan prayer breakfast every Thursday to pray for the nation’s leaders and families. Similarly, Marshall has always participated in a bipartisan dinner every Tuesday night with 15 to 20 other senators and congress members. These friendships and shared experiences traverse into legislation discussions, where Marshall said he worked frequently on a bipartisan basis, including on healthcare legislation.
“To get on the main news channels you have to be loud and obnoxious for the most part,” Marshall said. “Producers don’t want me on television saying I’m good friends with Collin Peterson, the democrat chair of the House Ag Committee, or that I’m good friends with Jimmy Panetta. They want me to be throwing people under the bus.”
In an attempt to unify the leaders of our country, Marshall led his freshman class when he entered office in 2016 to sign a pledge of civility.
“The letter said we were not going to get on national television or on the House floor and attack each other personally,” Marshall said. “We agreed that we could disagree with policy but never say bad things about people themselves.”
Marshall said that about 75-80 percent accepted and signed the pledge. To him, building relationships with both democrats and republicans is a big deal, especially when dealing with legislation.
“I’ve always tried to stay focused on goals and objectives. If you and I can agree that we have the same goal, then I will sit down and talk with you all night to figure out how to get there,” Marshall said. “I think the solution you and I come up with will be better than the solution I have by myself.”
Since Marshall personally works with President Trump, he said he sees what he is really like behind closed doors.
“He’s actually a very good listener, but he’s very intuitive as well. He’s always looking weeks and months ahead,” Marshall said. “He’s very positive and upbeat. I think it’s amazing how he’s withstood 90 percent of the media being against him.”
According to Marshall, President Trump keeps a conversation focused and on track.
“I think he very much believes in this concept of iron sharpening iron; that we can have a pretty frank discussion behind closed doors,” Marshall said. “We’ve got a great relationship. I’m proud to stand beside him.”
Before getting involved in politics, Marshall was a private-practicing physician in Great Bend, Kansas for 25 years, and then he ran for political office 3 years ago.
For the young generations of high school and college students, Dr. Marshall gave advice regarding going into politics.
“My encouragement would be to be involved in your community, then see where your life takes you. I don’t think we need professional politicians,” Marshall said. “I think what our founding fathers meant to have for senators and congressmen were people who knew what was going on in the real world.”
Marshall said he felt his knowledge and experience as a physician, military background, and experience working as a business person in agriculture and a community bank formed a base for his own political career.
“I do think young generations should stay informed in government decisions and get involved in their communities,” he said. “When the opportunity arises, you’ll be better prepared for that day if you choose to go into politics.”
Marshall is running for the United States Senate position for Kansas in the August 2020 primary.