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Pete Sessions, Colin Allred Spar Over Heath Care, Immigration In Dallas Debate

Anthony Cave
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, left, and his Democratic challenger, Colin Allred, debate at Temple Shalom in Dallas on Oct. 21.

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions and his Democratic challenger, Colin Allred, traded jabs Sunday night at a debate moderated by KERA's Sam Baker at Temple Shalom in Dallas.

Polls show a close race between the candidates hoping to repesent Texas' 32nd Congressional district, which includes most of northern Dallas and its northeastern suburbs.

Things got testy almost immediately over Sessions' health care legislation — which he calls "The World's Greatest Healthcare Plan" — and whether it covers pre-existing conditions.

So does Sessions' plan actually cover pre-existing conditions?

"Matter of fact, it does," Sessions said. "I have a 24-year-old Down syndrome son, there is no Republican plan, never has been, as a matter of fact, we're for guaranteed issue, when you can keep your health care." 

Allred countered: "This is a moment when I'm thankful for Google."

Allred continued: "I'm really not interested in some plan that he's put forward that has never gotten a vote in the Congress. I'm interested in what he has voted for."

Allred pointed out Sessions' votes against the Affordable Care Act and its pre-existing conditions protections. 

Baker also asked the pair about the caravan of at least 5,000 Central American migrants currently headed toward the U.S. border. 

"They are here politically to take advantage of the United States of America," Sessions said. "They're attempting to take advantage of a law that would allow them to come and literally walk across the border." 

Allred countered that the current "patchwork" immigration system isn't working.

"We need to have a due process system in which we are able to hear people out who come here who have a credible fear for their life, which they can apply for refugee status, and if they are granted, make sure we open our arms to them," Allred said. 

The New York Times, in talking to a sample of 500 voters, called the District 32 race a close one. Hillary Clinton won the district during the 2016 presidential election.

Anthony Cave reports gun culture as part of a new national reporting collaborative called Guns & America.