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Florida Senator Rick Scott On Senate Rules Changes, Freedom for Venezuela, And Rep. Ilhan Omar

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Florida Senator Rick Scott joined me today:




HH: Joined now by United States Senator Rick Scott of the great state of Florida. Senator, good to talk to you.

RS: Hey, it’s hard to think of my new title as senator, because…

HH: I know. I got over that without doing the, doing a stumble. So I was proud of myself.

RS: Nice job.

HH: …after 8 years of governorship, how are you enjoying the new body?

RS: You know, I like the people. There’s a lot of good people up here. It’s frustrating that it doesn’t work. That’s why, you know, I mean, think about this. They say oh, we all want border security. We hate government being shut down. Oh, we care about these DACA kids. But do they do anything about it? No. I mean, look at this compromise bill. It, you know, the positive is it looks like it’ll pass. It looks like it won’t shut down government, which we shouldn’t be doing. But is it securing the border? No. I mean, I was out in Laredo last Friday and talking to border security, and they were telling me all their problems. These Democrats ought to go down to the border and say this to them. I don’t, Democrats ought to say they do not care about this border security and safety. They’re not giving them the technology, they’re not giving them the manpower, and they’re not giving them barriers. They ought to go to the town halls with the American public and say you know, we don’t care about your safety. We don’t care of drugs come across the border. We don’t care if terrorists come across the border. They ought to say we don’t care, because that’s exactly what the Democrats are saying.

HH: Well, you also mentioned the body doesn’t work. And there is going to be a proposal by Senators Blunt and Lankford to change post-cloture debate times. And I looked at this morning, and I shook my head, because I know the Senator Majority Leader’s been trying to get movement on this for a long time. And here it comes, and it says two hours for everyone except cabinet nominees, I agree, Supreme Court justices, I agree. But they included circuit court nominees. There will be at least 30 Circuit Court nominees. That’s 900 hours of dead time. Why don’t the Republicans just go for it and get a win?

RS: Well, I think what they’re trying to do is to be, I think what they’re trying to do is say, because there was a conversation about it yesterday, and what they were saying is some of these things, you know, Circuit or Appeals Court judges, or I mean, it should take a little bit more time. But I’ll tell you what. Everybody’s getting frustrated with what the Democrats are doing. And so the more Democrats do this, there’s a greater chance these things are going to change. We’ve got to get this going.

HH: But Senator Scott, what I want you to hear and take back to the caucus is I watch this, and my audience watches this very closely. And they’re going to take a win and turn it into a loss because they blink. And the Republicans always blink on nominees, and Democrats always play hardball. So it’s weak, weak, weak to make Circuit Court nominees wait 30 hours. And that’s 900 hours of wasted time that could go to other nominees as opposed to 60 hours. So it’s a loss of 840 hours of floor time. And everybody in this audience knows that the Republicans are just weak-kneed and round-heeled on this.

RS: Well, here’s what we ought to do. We’ve got to have, one, I’ve proposed some things, with some others. We need to have term limits. We need to get more people up here that are just up here to say I’m going to be up here six or twelve years, whatever it is, to get things done. And think about it. We are, you know, people shouldn’t get paid when government shut down and we don’t pass a budget. So I’ve sponsored a bill on that.

HH: But Senator, I get that. And I want to move on to other stuff like Venezuela, but here right now in front of you is 30 hours on Circuit Court judges. Will you go back and work your caucus and tell them that’s just crazy? And our voters are watching, and they perceive what should be a win is going to be a loss because we are weak-kneed and round-heeled on this. I don’t know what they’re afraid of, either. I really have no idea what they’re afraid of.

RS: Well, I know a lot of people are working to try to reduce the hours, and I’m going to continue to do the same thing.

HH: All right. Let’s go to Venezuela. Well, first, let’s go to Representative Ilham Omar. I want to play for you, she engaged Eliot Abrams, one of America’s most distinguished diplomats, in an abusive exchange yesterday in which she said the following thing, Senator Scott.

IO: Yes or no, do you still think so?

EA: From the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy. That’s a fabulous achievement.

IO: Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?

EA: That’s a ridiculous question, and I will…

IO: Yes or no.

EA: No. I’m sorry, Mr. Chairman…do I…

IO: I will take that as a yes.

EA: I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack which is not a question.

IO: Yes or no, would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, if you believe they were serving U.S. interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?

HH: That’s enough. You get the sense of what was going on here, Senator Scott. What is the deal with Representative Omar? What do you think she is there doing? And does she define the Democratic Party?

RS: It sure, well, clearly, she’s not been reprimanded by the Democratic Party for what she said. It’s, I mean, she’s been very anti-Semitic. Nothing has happened to her, right? And so they’re not holding her accountable, so they must agree with her. It’s disgusting what she’s saying. And oh, gosh, you just see the pictures and think about in Venezuela and some of these other countries, you see what these people are doing, and you see these little babies not being, malnutrition. 80%, Hugh, 80% of the kids under 5 in Venezuela have malnutrition. 90% of the families don’t have enough money just for food. I mean, we have got to do, we have got to keep coming together and keep putting pressure on how do we get Maduro out of there. I was with President Duque last night from Colombia, and we were talking about what we do to continue to put pressure. And he realized, remember in Bogota, they had a bombing just recently, and that was from terrorists from Venezuela. And who’s doing all this? Cuba. And Prince Charles, Prince Charles going to visit Cuba?

HH: I didn’t know that. That’s unfortunate.

RS: There’s a picture of him. Yeah.

HH: Did you talk with President Duque about at what point does Brazil and Colombia, with American support I’m sure, take military action against a country that is destabilizing the entire continent?

RS: Well, I mean, what we talked about is everything’s on the table. We’re continuing to do everything to ratchet up the sanctions. I talked to the ambassador to the OAS yesterday about that. So we are, every day we’re seeing what else we can do to make sure Maduro doesn’t have the resources to continue to pay off the military, because that’s the only reason the military so far has not completely switched to Guaido. But President Trump has done the right thing, and other countries have of recognizing President Guaido. They’re putting together humanitarian resources. I think my understanding is President Guaido is asking for a significant caravan of humanitarian resources this month, and so let’s see if the military stops it.

HH: The dictator, Maduro…

RS: I mean, that’s the pressure.

HH: The dictator, Maduro, has murdered 40 people by my count in just recent weeks, according to your colleague, Senator Rubio, and many other sources. Is there a point at which the Venezuelans and the Venezuelan-Americans you talk to in Florida just want to drop the flag and go, as George H.W. Bush did in Panama, but supporting this time Colombia and Brazil to do it?

RS: Well, the, I did a roundtable on Monday with the Venezuelans in Tampa, and the week before in Miami. And one of the individuals there said look, I was in the U.S. Army, he’s a Venezuelan who’s an American now. I was in the U.S. Army. I’ll go back, because there is clearly now from the Venezuelan community at least a recognition that Maduro has got to go. And it might be, the only way he might go is through military effort. So the President has kept everything on the table. I was with Vice President Pence, and he has said the same thing. The goal, though, is for Maduro to step aside without more bloodshed.

HH: That is the goal, but I do think at some point people are starving the death, and they’re blocking relief that Colombia and Brazil are not, and the Venezuelan community in America, both our citizens and the refugees we’ve taken in, are going to demand more. Let me close with the Green New Deal. It’s a piece of work, and I hope that Mitch McConnell brings it to the floor, along with the rules change covering Circuit Courts. Do you expect your Democratic colleagues to vote for this bit of insanity?

RS: It’s going to be fun to watch them. I mean, think about it. It would shut down air travel. We’re going to get rid of all fossil fuel. You know, we’re basically going to kill our entire economy. And that’s what they want to do.

HH: What about the cows? Don’t forget the cows. They’re hiding in places.

RS: I know. So you know what’s fascinating is what they’re saying is ridiculous. It makes no sense. But they’re all buying, they’re all buying into it. And it seems like all their presidential nominees are buying into it. Here’s what you can do. If you want more money for the environment, you know how to do it? Create a better economy. When we added 1.7 million jobs in Florida, our revenues grew in the state, and so we could invest record amounts of money to take care of our environment in Florida. You want to kill our economy, there will be no money for the environment.

HH: It will be Venezuela. If the Green New Deal comes in, we’re going to have our own Venezuela.

RS: Right.

HH: Let me close by asking you, yesterday Gavin Newsom killed the high speed rail project that cost $5.5 billion dollars and has left us with a California Stonehenge. Do your Democratic colleagues realize when they vote for the Green New Deal resolution that the Leader’s going to bring forward, they’re voting for high speed rail that didn’t work in the one place where there was $5.5 billion dollars spent on it?

RS: Remember, I killed it in Florida in my first month in office. And all these people criticized me, but I knew it would never work. And so, and one publisher said to me oh, look, you were so stupid. All that money went to California. So California just went and wasted all that money. So you’re right. I mean, this stuff is just crazy. You come up here, and you think who does this stuff? Who in their right mind would think this way?

HH: Your Democratic colleagues across the aisle, and they are sometimes crazy. But please go back and tell Roy Blunt and Jim Lankford not to buckle on Circuit Court nominees. We’re watching. That’s 900 hours of productivity, and I cannot believe the caucus is going to flinch. Thank you, Senator Rick Scott. Thank you very much.

End of interview.


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