Senator Blackburn on the Budget, Border and Afghanistan

29 Sep 2021

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CLAY: We bring in now Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee — and, Senator, as we get ready here, I want to give a shout-out first. A couple of weeks ago I met your husband, and he said he had been a longtime Rush listener, that he loved listening to Rush and that he is enjoying listening to Buck and I as well.

So I’m assuming that he is probably listening. Your husband, Charles. He is a stalwart patriot, obviously — good dad, I’m imagining, and good grandfather as well. So I know you’re the senator, but I wanted to give him a shout-out because I know he’s listening as well.

SEN. BLACKBURN: Well, Clay, you are going to make his day. Yes. He enjoyed listening, and every night when we talk — and, of course, I’m in D.C., and he’s home in Tennessee. And so many times Chuck will say, “Let me tell you what Clay was talking about today” or something that happened on OutKick. So, he’s a good one. He’s a keeper.

CLAY: Well, we appreciate that. All right. Let’s dive into some of the chaos that’s going on right now. It’s a wild week on Capitol Hill, and I know there’s a lot of wild weeks, but this one is really up there with the budget mess going on right now. What’s gonna happen in the Senate with reconciliation in your mind? What do you think Kyrsten Sinema out of Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia are going to do based on what you’re hearing? What’s gonna happen with the budget side of the equation in the Senate?

SEN. BLACKBURN: Well, what we think will happen this week is that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will offer a continuing resolution. This will take us through December 3rd, and that way there’s not a government shutdown. Pelosi really did not want a government shutdown to happen on her watch. Then they will go back to dealing with the $3.5 trillion budget, which really is closer to 5.5 trillion.

But they do not get support from Sinema, Manchin. They’ve got some issues with Hassan, with Tester. You’ve got some of the moderates in the House, Democrats that won purple districts or districts that were slightly red. And those people are upside down in their polling. So they’re not wanting to back this $3.5 trillion spending bill.

And I think what they will do is take the number down so that they can just get some of these programs on the books, because they feel like, if they can lower the age for Medicare, put in place the early childhood education program, expand Medicaid, put in place some of these programs like “tree equity” (crosstalk) —

BUCK: Told you about that one.

CLAY: Buck told me about that one.

SEN. BLACKBURN: (laughs) Yeah. — that we won’t be able to get ’em off the books. So that’s going to be what Pelosi has to say. Now, the third bucket is the debt ceiling, and the Democrats are on that one on their own. We wouldn’t be having this discussion had they not run up so much spending right off the bat, had they not…

The bipartisan bills that passed under President Trump could have been done for much less. The Republican number was always less, and who ran it up in order to get “bipartisanship”? It was Pelosi that added hundreds of billions of dollars. that’s their issue; they’re going to have solve it.

BUCK: Senator Blackburn, it’s Buck. I want to ask you about the border. I actually have some contacts who have been down there recently and well south of the border as well who have sent me information about the latest on the continuing caravans now of largely Haitian-origin migrants making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Is there anything that you think could get this administration, at this point, to take action that would actually secure the border, given what we’re seeing? Or are they just so allergic in a sense to imposing, implementing some of the Trump-era policies that worked that they’d prefer to have a border that’s effectively a sieve and de facto open than deal with the fact that the American people are currently seeing it’s easy to get into the country now if you come across the border.

SEN. BLACKBURN: Well, you’re right about that. They’re expecting people to not really pay attention to this. I think Obama kind of kicked ’em pretty good yesterday when, in his remarks, he said you can’t sustain an open border like this. I mean, we’re a sovereign nation, and when you have these waves of people coming in 10, 15, 30,000 — and we’ve already had upwards of 1.5 million people cross that border this year — this is a real problem.

It’s also a problem for a lot of these communities where they’re finding out that illegal immigrants are coming into their communities. They don’t have covid vaccinations. They have no idea individuals are coming. They need additional educational benefits, social service benefits, health benefits. And, of course, that cost gets transferred to your local government.

And some of our local mayors… We’re actually, Buck, working on legislation that would require more transparency with these communities because they just find out, you know, you have children showing up for school and all the sudden the school systems got to go get a portable classroom because they’re out of space.

It’s things, problems of that nature. But the border, people are very concerned about it; women are concerned about it. A lot of security moms out there. And whether it’s crime in the street, an open southern border, the debacle in Afghanistan, we are hearing a lot about — so much from women about — the issues of security.

CLAY: Senator Blackburn of Tennessee talking with us now, Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show. I know you have been aggressively questioning General Milley, General McKenzie, and Defense Secretary Austin about what happened in Afghanistan.

SEN. BLACKBURN: Correct.

CLAY: What, in your mind, have you learned from what they have said in response to those questions, and what should those three men do as a result of the debacle in Afghanistan, in your mind?

SEN. BLACKBURN: Yes. Well, first I think it’s important to note — and I add General Miller, who was with us in a classified setting a couple of weeks ago, what we know is the president was advised that you could not draw down the troops and exit the military force before you got all of the American people out. So he received that information. But then he did not take an action on that information. We… Quite frankly, I think that he… Uh, I hate to say it but, Clay, he didn’t tell the truth when he was talking to George Stephanopoulos.

CLAY: Yes.

SEN. BLACKBURN: Because — now, all of those — the three generals and the secretary have said the president was told it was unwise. Even general McKenzie said, “You need 4,000 troops, not 2,500,” and we know that it was the president who made the decision to give up the Bagram airfield, to let the embassy go and just to focus on HKIA. We know it was the president or his team that decided that they were not going to defend Kabul, that they would let the Taliban go ahead and take it.

And this is when they were offered to keep Kabul until they got people out. We know that the Department of State and the Department of Defense still –this far into it, 45 days into this, they still — cannot tell us how many Americans, how many of our partners, how many of our Afghan partners are still in Afghanistan waiting to come out.

Every time we turn around, they say, “Well, it’s about a hundred.” Well, you know, some of the groups like Task Force Pineapple and Nazarene Fund, these groups of veterans who are Special Ops guys who were working to get people out, have brought out a hundred here, 175 there. So, for goodness’ sake, it’s more than a hundred! My office alone had 2,000 cases. So this is reprehensible that they still do not know who is left behind enemy lines.

BUCK: Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Senator, always appreciate you coming by the Clay and Buck show. Thanks for being with us.

SEN. BLACKBURN: Good to be with you. Thank you!

CLAY: Tell your husband, hi. I know he’s a big fan, Buck.

SEN. BLACKBURN: (laughing) Will do!

CLAY: I like to hear that.

BUCK: He’s got great taste in radio.

CLAY: Great taste in radio!

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