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AZ-Sen: McSally and Sinema debate the border wall, Social Security, underage prostitution

Arizona U.S. Senate candidates, Republican Martha McSally (left) and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema are vying for a U.S. Senate seat in a tight race in Arizona. (Chip Somodevilla (left) and Alex Wong (right)/Getty Images)

Arizona U.S. Senate candidates Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, went after each other on contentious issues during their debate this week.

The two U.S. representatives are competing in a tight race for a Senate seat held by Jeff Flake, who is retiring.

Accusations flew on both sides, so the Arizona Republic decided to “fact check” McSally and Sinema’s comments against their previous statements and voting records.

Here are some examples:

Where does McSally stand on privatizing Social Security and Medicare?

During the debate, Sinema accused McSally of having a plan to privatize Social Security and Medicaid, which McSally denied.

According to the report, McSally voted in 2017 to support a “nonbinding, 10-year budget resolution by Republicans” that could have slowed the expansion of Medicare spending.

GOP leaders have called for reforms on programs such as Social Security, but have not specifically voted to cut program spending or increase the retirement age, the report states.

In 2012, McSally outlined her support of raising the retirement age while allowing younger workers to “invest in lieu of paying into Social Security,” according to reports.

"We have to keep the promises we’ve made to our seniors and protect the retirement benefits they’ve earned," McSally wrote. "At the same time, we have to take measures to strengthen and sustain it for future generations because it is currently unsustainable. For younger workers, we need to consider approaches such as gradually increasing the retirement age and allowing them to invest a portion of their Social Security payments in ways that will allow them to maximize their returns."

What did Sinema say about johns who had sex with underage prostitutes?

McSally accused Sinema of opposing a bill in the Arizona Legislature that would have boosted penalties for people who solicit underage prostitutes.

"When she was in the Arizona Legislature when they were trying to hold johns accountable for going after victims of child sex-trafficking, she was advocating for the johns, saying that the girls 12- and 13-year-olds, you know, looked older," McSally said.

She was referring to a 2017 bill that would have increased criminal penalties for those who engage in prostitution with underage girls.

McSally pointed Sinema to a clip on the website www.therealsinema.com. On Friday afternoon, the website was shutdown due to a security threat, according to a message on its landing page.

The clip indicates Sinema opposed the original version of the bill. The reason is that she saw it as “a penalty for people who don’t check details during prostitution,” according to the report.

In the clip, Sinema said, "We all agree prostitution is bad ... I don’t think there’s any disagreement that pimping is wrong."

“If you happen to get a 17-year-old prostitute, when you're going on the streets, who appears to be 24 or 25, that the penalty for engaging in an illegal act is going to be greatly enhanced because of that person’s actual age, which you could not have known," Sinema continued. "I guess I'm having trouble understanding the reasoning of the justification behind that."

According to the Arizona Republic, “Sinema is clearly concerned about the bill's fairness to those soliciting prostitution."

“Sinema supported a revised version of the bill that allowed those charged in underage prostitution cases to raise a legal defense that they could not have reasonably known the prostitute was underage,” the news outlet reported.

Did Sinema vote for funding for a border wall?

Sinema said she voted last year for a bill that included $1.5 billion for "border security, which included funding for President Donald Trump's border wall."

She voted for a final bill in the House that allowed “raises for military personnel and reforms for the Department of Veterans Affairs,” according to the report.

Sinema and other Democrats wanted a separate vote on the border wall, but that did not happen.

Sinema reportedly said, "I do not support every provision in this bill and voted twice to remove funding for the border wall. The wall is a waste of taxpayer money that will not ever be built, and won't keep us safe.”

What was said about a long-term extension of the Violence Against Women Act?

Sinema claimed that McSally opposed a long-term extension of the 1993 law. But McSally denied it.

“In September, McSally voted to temporarily extend the act until Dec. 7 as part of a broader resolution to keep the government open until at least that point,” according to the report. In contrast, Sinema has sought a long-term extension.

Republicans have not supported a Democratic version that offers a long-term extension of the law. That’s partly because of provisions concerning stalking and “gun sales to people subject to protection orders,” the Arizona Republic reported.

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