Sixth District Democratic challenger Lucy McBath, left, and Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel.

Where 6th Congressional District candidates stand

Sixth District congressional candidates Karen Handel and Lucy McBath agree on little when it comes to Washington’s most pressing policy matters. Here’s where they stand on several top issues:

Health care

Handel, R-Roswell, was not yet a member of Congress when the House voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but she said she would have supported the GOP’s American Health Care Act. Handel has pushed for replacing the ACA with “market-based, patient-centered reforms” that would not penalize Georgia and other states that did not expand Medicaid.

McBath, a Democrat from Marietta, frequently discusses her two past battles with breast cancer and promises to be a strong defender of women’s health care issues in particular. She has advocated for preserving the ACA, instituting a public option on the health care exchanges and expanding Medicaid in Georgia. She also wants to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55.

Abortion

McBath has denounced GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and vowed to fight for the health care provider’s services, which include abortions. “I fully support funding programs that help enable women to have the autonomy to make reproductive decisions,” McBath’s campaign website states.

Handel voted earlier this year for a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. As a senior official at the Susan G. Komen Foundation, she engineered the group’s 2012 decision to halt its partnership with Planned Parenthood. Handel has advocated for the federal government to spend more on community health centers.

Taxes, economy and trade

Handel predicted that GOP tax cuts would be “transformative” for local families and small businesses. She has also touted various deregulatory efforts. After initially raising alarm about President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, she recently indicated the duties’ short-term pain would be worth it for the long-term benefits of more favorable trade agreements.

McBath has been critical of the new tax law for benefiting large corporations and the mega-rich more than others. However, McBath said the law’s middle-class tax cuts should be made permanent. The Democrat also wants to raise the minimum wage and plump up the federal earned income tax credit. She’s promised to “support international trade that is free, fair to American workers, and protects environmental and labor standards.”

Firearms

McBath became involved in politics as a spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety shortly after her teenage son was fatally shot in 2012. McBath said she decided to run for Congress due to the GOP’s lack of action on gun control policies, particularly after this February’s school shootings in Parkland, Fla. She has pushed for universal background checks for prospective gun owners and the institution of “red flag” laws to keep firearms out of the hands of people at risk of violence.

After Parkland, Handel focused heavily on school safety. She backed legislation reauthorizing federal grants to fund school safety training and physical improvements to schools. She’s also touted her support for more narrowly tailored efforts to boost information sharing between federal agencies through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Handel received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association in 2017.

OUR REPORTING

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is covering the issues and candidates up and down the ballot in a busy election year. Look for more at ajc.com/politics as the state heads for the general election on Nov. 6.

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