The major party candidates running in Iowa’s second congressional district this year met in their first debate of the season Thursday evening. Both Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack and Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks agreed congress is dysfunctional.

Miller-Meeks said Loebsack is part of the problem because he moves in “lock-step” with President Obama.

“He is a puppet of this administration and a puppet of Nancy Pelosi, so he does what they want him to do,” Miller-Meeks said. “His voting record shows that.”

Loebsack said he’s worked with Republicans on key issues.

“This year I’m the person who led the charge in the U.S. House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis to get the funding back in for Meals on Wheels,” Loebsack said.

Both said economic sanctions are the appropriate response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the two discussed the rise of Islamic militants who’ve taken control of parts of Syria and Iraq. Miller-Meeks faulted President Obama for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq in December of 2011.

“In World War II when we had troops that remained in Germany, we had troops that remained in Japan, that we were able to help those countries transition to a more stable form of government, to a growing economy and out of war,” Miller-Meeks said.

Loebsack said the country was “war-weary” when Obama made the call.

“Iraq is not World War II,” Loebsack said. “Iraq is not even North and South Korea and if you’re suggesting that we keep 39,000 troops in Iraq as we did in Korea for all those years or hundreds of thousands of troops as we did in Europe, that makes absolutely no sense.”

On domestic issues, Miller-Meeks said congress must address the growing number of states allowing marijuana to be used as medicine.

“I think you do have to look at decriminalizing the medical use of marijuana,” Miller-Meeks said. “I do think that’s something on a federal level, when you have states acting in that regard, and then that’s in contrast to what the federal law is.”

Loebsack chimed in on the issue as well.

“My answer’s very short,” he said. “I’m in favor of medical marijuana use.”

However, neither embraced the idea of going the next step and making marijuana a legal drug for everyone, just like alcohol.

Miller-Meeks said the Affordable Care Act has not made insurance more affordable, but she did not call for repealing the bill. Loebsack accused Miller-Meeks of flip-flopping from her positions on the issue in previous campaigns. Miller-Meeks has twice before run against Loebsack, losing in 2008 and 2010.

Thursday’s debate was held at City High in Iowa City and broadcast live on Iowa Public Television. The video of the hour-long event is now available on IPTV’s website.