Two Republican candidates for Senator Claire McCaskill’s office have taken part in their second debate. While former state treasurer Sarah Steelman and Congressman Todd Akin agreed on many issues, they challenged one another over earmarks.

Akin supports the use of funds targeted at specific purposes. Steelman says her opposition to those appropriations has cost her support in her own party.

Both said there are federal agencies they would eliminate if they could, singling out the Department of Education. Steelman challenged Akin, however, saying he has had opportunities to cut funding to such agencies and hasn’t done it. “Yes, the EPA is too big and the Corps of Engineers is out of hand, but Congress has set by and let that happen … With all due respect Congressman Akin, what have you done about it?”

Akin says conservatives have made the efforts she refers to, but blames the Senate for not passing them. “That’s the thing that kills everything we’re trying to do.”

Both candidates highlighted their splits with leadership in their own Republican party. Steelman highlighted the divide over earmarks, while Akin noted voting against the No Child Left Behind Act, despite personal requests from President George W. Bush to vote in favor of it.

The candidates also noted the absence of fellow candidate and St. Louis businessman John Brunner, whose staff said he could not be at the debate at Branson High School due to a scheduling conflict. Steelman accused Brunner of trying to buy the election.