Tim Johnson discusses his ‘primary focus’ as United States senator

John Hult

John Hult

Q: Please state your name for the record.

A: Tim Johnson.

Q: And you are from?

A: Vermillion, SD.

Q: What is the most important piece of legislation this year that affects college students?

A: Well, we’re working on the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act.

It might not be completely done until next year, but we have begun at least a debate on higher education and that involves Pell Grants, work study pograms, emergency student loans, and I think it’s very important that we put as much emphasis onto that program to make sure that every college student has an opportunity to get his or her degree without graduating with crushing debt when they are done.

Q: You have a child in the military, what is your opinion on the war in Iraq?

A: We can be immensely proud of our military.

Our troops in active duty have done an extraordinary job and we have the greatest military in the world.

But I think it was a mistake for Bush not to secure a broader international coalition.

We’ve alienated many of our allies and now we are faced with dealing with the financial costs of this war.

Most of the debts are U.S. debts and I am very troubled by the unilateral role the U.S. plays in terms of what it does with our budget.

An $87 billion supplemental appropriations the president has asked for is equivalent to three times what our nation pays on K-12 education a year and we’re told that we can’t come up with the $8 billion needed to fund No Child Left Behind.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: My favorite part of my job is making a difference for South Dakota.

To be able to know each day that there are things I can do to create opportunities for our economy and create a better way of life for all South Dakotans.

Q: What is your least favorite part of your job?

A: My least favorite part is probably the raising of money for campaigns and the activities that running a campaign entail.

These campaigns cost too much and take too long and I voted for campaign finance reform, which is a small step in the right direction.

Q: Who do you favor for a Democratic presidential nominee?

A: I haven’t endorsed anybody on the presidential side.

There are a number of good people there, … whoever gets the nomination. … I think we’ll have a very competitive race in 2004 and I’m waiting to make up my own mind on the Democratic side.

There are several people who would be potentially good presidents.

My primary focus has been getting the job done in the Senate and I’m not going to spend too much time going over presidential politics.