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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Senator Pat Toomey Calls For Nuclear Option if Democrats Block Defense Spending Bill

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The audio:

01-24hhs-toomey

The transcript:

HH: I am joined by United States Senator Pat Toomey from the great state of Pennsylvania who may have a rooting interest in the Super Bowl in two weeks. We will check on that. But is the President right, Senator Toomey? Good morning, welcome.

PT: Good morning, Hugh. Thanks for having me. The President is absolutely right. The way that the business world has responded to the tax reform has been absolutely fantastic. You’ve seen the huge wave of additional compensation for workers, a wave of new investment. This is everything we expected, but admittedly, it’s coming more quickly than we expected.

HH: It is sort of a volcano eruption of good news, and Josh Kraushaar reported today that Americans feel better about the economy than they have since before the 9/11 attack. Are you surprised by that, Senator Toomey?

PT: I’m really not. You know, the unemployment rate had gradually, slowly, painfully gotten, you know, drifted downward. And so now with all of this good news, it’s really going to mean upward pressure on wages, more opportunities for people to switch to a job they prefer. I mean, it’s going to increase compensation. It’s going to mean a better standard of living. So it’s understandable that people feel really good about it.

HH: Now here is your colleague, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, on with Neil Cavuto yesterday after the Disney news of bonuses for 125,000 employees. Here is Senator Van Hollen:

CVH: No, I’m not surprised. These corporations got hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts, and I hope people will remember what the President actually promised. I mean, he said this many times. Our Republican Senate colleagues held up charts on the floor of the Senate. They didn’t promise one time bonuses. They promised $4,000 a year increases in people’s base pay. $4,000 pay increase, over ten years, that’s $40,000 dollars. We’ve seen none of that. And in many of these companies, the same day they make the announcements, like AT&T and Wal-Mart, the same day they made announcements, they actually cut their workforce. In the case of Wal-Mart, they cut the Sam’s Club…

HH: So Senator Toomey, what are they doing? Are they going to pretend this isn’t happening?

PT: They’ve gotten themselves in a terrible position where you know, the political imperative is more important than acknowledging what they see with their own eyes. If they continue insisting that they have to denigrate, and they have to trash this tax reform despite all the good it’s doing, they’re just going to shred whatever credibility they’ve got.

HH: What do you think they’re going to run on – too much growth? Return Nancy Pelosi to Speaker?

PT: No, well, I think it’s simply going to be anti-Trump. We’re not Trump. I think that’s their message. They don’t have a message. They don’t have an agenda. They don’t have any idea about how to achieve prosperity or security. It’s all anti-Trump. I think that’ll be their message.

HH: Let’s go then to the Senate and this charade that we went through, the Schumer Shutdown. It was a total strategic defeat for the Democrats. And they’re pretty in disarray as one expects when a retreat is not organized or well led. When we get our act together again in the Senate, will there be rules reform so that on appointments and appropriations, at least, we do not have these charades?

PT: Well, I certainly hope so, Hugh. I have stood up in conference on a number of occasions and reminded my colleagues that the idea that we tolerate a minority of senators blocking our most fundamental responsibility, which is to spend the taxpayers money to fund the government, blocking us from even considering the legislation that’s required to do that, and therefore we wind up with our back up against the wall at the end of the fiscal year and we hand over all kinds of leverage to Chuck Schumer to decide under what circumstances he will agree, this is madness. And there’s absolutely no excuse for it. You know, we’re going to negotiate spending levels for the next two years, this fiscal year and the next. Once those levels have agreed, now whether or not I agree with them and can support them, and I probably won’t, because I think we’re going to have a big increase in non-Defense spending, which is not appropriate, but having said that, once we’ve got a level, there’s no excuse in the world for not doing appropriation bills. So my idea is simple. We go down to the floor. And we move to take up the first appropriation bill. And if that is blocked, if the consideration of the bill is blocked, then we should change the rules so that a simple majority is all it takes to move onto an appropriation bill.

HH: Now I agree with that.

PT: There’s no excuse for blocking these.

HH: That’s the Reid Rule applied to appropriation bills, carving out a new exercise of the Reid Rule, which was originally used for appointments other than the Supreme Court.

PT: Correct.

HH: Then Mitch McConnell applied it to the Supreme Court. And Pat Toomey is urging that it be applied to appropriations bills. Do you think there’s…

PT: If the Democrats won’t work with us and simply support moving onto the bill, then absolutely, yes.

HH: Do you think you have 50 votes for such a move?

PT: I don’t think we do today, but if we go through this exercise, and we’ve agreed on overall spending levels, and the Appropriations Committee reports out their bills on a bipartisan vote, which is the way they typically operate, and when we get to that point, if we go down to the floor and say okay, here’s our Defense Appropriation bill, let’s move to get on the bill and begin the debate and begin amending and move to final passage, ultimately. If that effort is blocked, then I should certainly hope we would have the 51 votes we would need.

HH: So it is fair for me to tweet out Pat Toomey urges nuclear option on appropriations bill if blocked?

PT: Yup, that would be accurate.

HH: All right. Let me turn to the Russia investigation, because I am very worried about this. Mike Lee was on the program last hour and fretted that the FBI has been weaponized. Do you share his concern?

PT: Look, I think there’s a lot of concern with how the FBI behaved during the last election. Whether their actions were politically motivated, there’s certainly a lot of reason to believe it might have been. I think there should be a release of more documents so the American people can see for themselves. It’s very disturbing that some thousands of texts and/or emails between two folks involved in this decision making process suddenly disappeared. There’s a lot of smoking guns here. And we really should get to the bottom of it.

HH: Do you think Attorney General Sessions should resign?

PT: No. No, I don’t think so.

HH: Do you think Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein should recuse himself from the Russia investigation supervisorial duties?

PT: Well, I think, you know, we need an investigation of the FBI. You know, I think that’s the case. And I’m not a fan of having special counsels, but you know, we’ve got to find a way to do that right.

HH: Well, that does raise, do you have confidence that Rod Rosenstein, it can’t be General Sessions who leads that investigation, because he’s recused into the subject matter of the investigation.

PT: That’s right. That’s right.

HH: So it would be Rod Rosenstein, but he’s also implicated in this by extension, having gone to try and stop the release of memos to the House Intelligence Committee to Paul Ryan. So he’s involved in this. So do we need a second special counsel?

PT: Well, you know, that’s a possibility, Hugh. I haven’t gotten quite to that point. I really hate the use of special counsels. We see how badly that usually goes. But I agree we do have a problem getting a thorough, honest hearing of what happened with the FBI. You’d like to think that there would be somebody in the Justice Department that could lead that effort without having to be a special counsel.

HH: Well, let me be specific. The third person in the DOJ is Rachel Brand. And she’s very, very accomplished and very, very competent. Would you support a Rosenstein recusal and a Brand stepping into the breach?

PT: I’m not, I’m not familiar with her. I would need to do my homework on that. But that’s the kind of scenario that I would prefer to a special counsel.

HH: All right, now let’s turn to the important thing of the Eagles V. the Patriots. As many people forget, Bill Belichick began his master plan by destroying football in Cleveland. And after that, the way was open to what he’s got. Now the Eagles stand athwart the tide of history. Are they going to win?

PT: I have to say after seeing Sunday’s performance, my prediction is they are going to win. I think Nick Foles is back. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the game when he is at the top of his game, and he was on Sunday. Again, the Eagles defense once again demonstrated that they’re probably the best defense in the NFL. They, you know, they were firing on all cylinders against a really good team, and they completely, completely crushed them. So I’m feeling great about the Eagles’ prospects, and I’m predicting the Eagles.

HH: Here’s another fun fact to know and tell. Nick Saban and Bill Belichick have never won a title in the same season over the last decade. And of course, Nick Saban won this year. So you didn’t know that, did you?

PT: I did not know that. But there you have it.

HH: There you have it. Senator Pat Toomey, great to talk to you. Good luck in two weeks, and watch those, the recusal business. I just think it’s going to be a very interesting unfolding.

End of interview.

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