Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe joined me this AM to talk about the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, the paralysis at the Pentagon, and the prospects for the AHCA in the Senate if it passes the House:
HH: I’m glad to have one of the wisest heads in Washington, James Inhofe, Senator from Oklahoma joining me. He’s been there a while. He understands what’s going on in a lot of fronts. Senator, it’s always good to talk to you. Thank you for joining me.
JI: Always nice to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Let me start with a Politico story this morning. You’re on Armed Services. The story says Hill Republicans say they’re growing frustrated with Mattis. The Marine general was welcomed as a moderating force, but he moves to name Obama veterans to Pentagon, and is irritating allies in key committees. It’s by Eli Stokels and Eliana Johnson. And it lays out basically that General, now Secretary Mattis, doesn’t want any Republicans at the Department of Defense. What’s going on?
JI: Well, you know, I wonder the same thing, because Mattis, I just think we’ve always said, in fact, I said on your show once he was just a great decision and all that, but it seems like people try to go, bend as far as they can the other way to make sure they’re not going to be accused of something that would not be loyal to one side. So let’s give him a little time. Give him a little time. He’ll come out.
HH: Yeah, but I mean, we’ve got people like Jim Talent, Randy Forbes, have been swept aside. Every service secretary he’s nominated has been a Democrat as far as I can tell. I like the Center for New American Security. I’ve actually gone there, but they’re mostly Democrats. Have you talked with him about this?
JI: Nope. I have not. I have not. But we’re talking among ourselves, and I just think that it’s, it’s, I’m concerned like you are.
HH: I just, I just think if we’re going to rebuild the United States Navy, for example, we need someone like John Lehman there who has actually got the credentials to do something like that. Let me move on to yesterday. I’m embarrassed for the United States Senate, Senator Inhofe. The Democrats yesterday were rude. They were dumb as buckets in many cases when it comes to the law, and they had no interest whatsoever in what Judge Gorsuch had to say. They interrupted him so often. What is wrong with your colleagues? We did not act that way, we being Republicans, with Justice Kagan and Justice Sotomayor.
JI: You know, yeah, I was listening this morning on that, and some of the quotes, now I didn’t hear as you did, or your office did, all the ridiculous things that were said. But after I listened to it, I had a hard time believing I was hearing this thing. And this is unprecedented. And you have a guy here, now I have a particular interest in this case because of Hobby Lobby being in Oklahoma. It’s one of the truly great success stories. I remember when the Green family was out making pictures in their garage back in the 70s. And look what they’ve come into. And all they want is to be able to make their own decisions. And besides that, those who are criticizing the Hobby Lobby thing, let’s keep in mind the courts reversed that. They’re on their side. So the Democrats who are trying to think of something smart to say about that one completely lost sight of the fact that the courts agreed with them.
HH: And Amy Klobuchar, who is a lawyer, didn’t even seem to understand that it’s based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is a statute that Congress passed and defined corporations as being covered by it. Al Franken covered himself in his typical glory, but Sheldon Whitehouse went so far as to impugn the Judge’s integrity, suggesting that he was a creature of dark money. I was just astonished, Senator.
JI: Well, I was, too, and I think that they’re, they’re really on the wrong side. He’s going to be confirmed. He’s going to be confirmed, and they’re going to have their day in the Senate, but let’s see, remember what they did to Scott Pruitt or Jeff Sessions. Scott Pruitt actually had 1,670, I think it is, questions for the record that he had to respond to. The largest I’ve ever heard of before in the confirmation of someone in that position was 300. So they’re doing this with all of them. It’s a stall game, but they’re not winning it.
HH: You know, Senator…
JI: He’ll be a great, he’ll be a great United States Supreme Court justice.
HH: Some of my colleagues in the law had to send a letter to Jeff Sessions and Scott Pruitt today because the staff at EPA and Justice are ignoring what the President wants them to do on waters of the United States. It’s like a rebellion in the ranks. Have you heard about this? The permanent government is simply refusing to accept the results of the election.
JI: Well, I know it, and they’re in denial. They’ll continue to be in denial. And, but don’t worry about it. I don’t know whether you read the article in the Washington Post last, what, Friday, I think it was, where they were talking about all the people in there that came from my staff, which is really kind of humorous, but these are the ones who really know what is going on. Keep in mind now they haven’t been able to replace these guys, and so there is resistance. They’re still, it’s almost as if they don’t know there is an election. But we’ve got to get these people confirmed, get them lined up, and when that happens, you’re going to have a whole new group over there, and they’re going to get these things done.
HH: I do believe the deputy administrator of EPA is coming over, the designated deputy director, I don’t know confirmation, is from your staff. I’m very comfortable with this, that you actually have followed the EPA for years. You know where the abuses are. So I’m very happy to have your team helping out Scott Pruitt who is a genius. People need to know that. I was telling the agricultural community he’s really smart.
HH: We’ll get there, but I just think it’s going to be a long slog, because this is about the rule of law. And there are election deniers out there who will not go along with the people’s vote.
JI: They are, and Scott Pruitt is, they keep saying well, he’s the guy that sued the EPA. Well, yeah, so did 27 other attorneys general around the country. And just, but it has to, you know, let people know that they’re really right on this thing. And by the way, these regulations, I know that you have a sophisticated audience. And they know what a CRA is. Most people don’t. And the fact that we’re getting these CRA’s through, the one last night on the floor that was handled by Dan Sullivan…
JI: Now how many people out there know that that was a rule that said you in Alaska cannot regulate your own hunting and fishing?
HH: I know. I loved it that the senators were, the senators…
JI: And that’s a no-brainer. But in the last, and then other one…
HH: Go ahead.
JI: …that I’m most concerned about, of course, is the Clean Power Plan, which is, goes all the way back to my activity back in ’02, I guess the McCain-Lieberman bill is the first one that tried to, the global warming thing, and they were unable to do it for all of those years. And each time that came up for a vote, and we’re talking about the Clean Power Plan, the cap and trade, some people know it by, they could not do it. So along comes the President, Obama. He decides well, if they won’t do it through the legislature, we’ll do it through regulations. That was kind of the genesis of all these regulations These are all, they have one thing in common. They were not able to do it if they had to do it through the will of the people through legislation. And this one is the big one. It’ll come up this next week. That’s the Clean Power Plan.
HH: Good for you guys. I actually believe the folks at Pacific Legal Foundation, more colleagues of mine at the bar, are doing the red state, www.redtaperollback.com. They think the CRA can be used even more aggressively after you get through these first set of rules, that you can go back to whenever they didn’t file a report and repeal a rule. I hope you’re as aggressive as hell. I know you will be, but these bureaucrats, when that administrative state discussion came up yesterday with Gorsuch, they really didn’t play transparently with the American public. They’re defending non-responsive government. They’re defending bureaucrats running things, Senator Inhofe, and I would think Democrats who were the party of the people long ago would be very upset by the idea that the administrative state has taken over our lives.
JI: Well, yeah, but let’s keep in mind. All the CRA’s that we’re talking about, all the executive orders, these are things that are aggressively going back and taking away from the bureaucracy…
JI: …and is entrenched in Washington. And let’s keep in mind, there’s a partisan reason for this. We had the Democrats who really, they want to have regulations coming from Washington. Then they can go home and they can say don’t blame me, all this abuse, this over-regulation that we have, this came from an unelected bureaucrat. Well, the CRA takes that excuse away from them. It forces them to get on record. That’s something that people are overlooking. And it’s very, very significant.
HH: Let me close by asking you about, Speaker Ryan’s going to join me at the bottom of the hour, the American Health Care Act. I think it will get out of the House. He’ll make some more amendments. He’ll get it there. It will get to the Senate. I have proposed using tax law to do other changes to make sure we roll back tort law that favors plaintiffs and drives up medical costs, to get interstate transfer or interstate sale of insurance increased, to roll back essential benefits. Are you an optimist about getting repeal and replace through the Senate, Senator Inhofe?
JI: Yeah, I think, here’s the problem you have. You have the temptation of people who want the attention. They know that with only two votes to spare on the Republican side that you know, it’s not going to be easy. And someone can complain about it, and they immediately get the cameras shining on them. This is the way that it should be looked at. You may not like, and there are a lot of things I don’t like about what the products that they are playing with over in the House. But let’s keep in mind it’s doing a lot of things. It repeals the mandates. It repeals the taxes. It sends the regulations to the states, HHSA’s, all of these things it does. So maybe it’s not perfect, but let’s go ahead and start, because if you don’t do that, and those individuals in the Senate who are complaining about it, this, let it come over to the Senate, let’s do unlimited amendments, let them have every amendment that they want, and let it go through the process, because the alternative to that, keep in mind, Hugh, is you keep what you got, and we don’t want to do that.
HH: No. And so at the end of the day, do you think we get repeal and replace? We have 30 seconds. You think we get that done this year?
JI: Yeah, I think we will get that done this year, but I think also, we need to shift over and start concentrating on the Clean Power Plan, because that’s going to come up next week. I just got an email this morning. It will be up this coming week. And I wrote a whole book about it, The Greatest Hoax, and everything that we wrote about is now happening. And I think that’s a very exciting thing. It’s hard to keep up. There’s so many things right now that are going on, but that’s a big one I hope you’re talking about.
HH: We will be doing that, Senator Inhofe. Terrific work. Thank you so much. Keep fighting the permanent government back there, because they are not giving up ground easily, even though we had an election and they lost.
End of interview.