The incoming chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, joined me to start today’s show:
HH: I begin this day and this hour with my first appeal for you about 2016. I want you to get on board with Ron Johnson’s reelection campaign. You can go over to www.ronjohnsonforsenate.com, because the Wisconsin Senator will be a target of Democrats in 2016. He joins me now. Senator Johnson, welcome, I hope you are happy in the majority.
RJ: Hello, Hugh, yeah, we had a pretty big smile on our face, and it’s still on there, but I think we’re approaching it with the sufficient and appropriate humility and realizing it’s a pretty serious responsibility the American public have bestowed upon us.
HH: Now you had in the last Congress chairs on the committee on the Budget, the committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Foreign Relations, Homeland Security and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Are you staying on the same committees, Senator?
RJ: Probably. I will, in kind of an unusual set of circumstances. I’ll be chairman of Homeland Security/Government Affairs Committee, so that’ll be a very good platform to highlight the problems facing this nation.
HH: Wow, that’s remarkable. You get to be the chair of Homeland Security after six years?
RJ: Yeah, and I’ll tell you my number one priority on the Homeland Security side will be to secure the border and finally enforce that security.
HH: Well then, I’m going to be talking to you about that fence a lot. I wrote about it today. But I wanted to begin because you were on Foreign Affairs, Foreign Relations, by talking about Iran. The President is going to sign this bad deal with Iran. It’s almost certain. Do the Republicans have the votes along with the Democrats to first pass a crushing of that deal and then re-impose sanctions?
RJ: We might. And first of all, Harry Reid, he would never bring that vote to the floor. I mean, there’s been a lot of bipartisan support for certainly threatening additional sanctions. I think there would have been support to stop the relaxation of sanctions. You know, Hugh, let’s face it. That negotiation was lost really before it began by relaxing the sanctions, and basically implying, implicitly agreeing to allow Iran to enrich uranium. Those negotiations were never going to be successful. And now this president, what is his, you know, let’s put it this way. You never want him negotiating a deal for you.
RJ: He goes to China and harms our own economy in a deal that doesn’t require anything out of China. You know, he’s going to allow Iran now to continue to enrich uranium, really threatening that region. The foreign policy, the domestic policy of this president has been a disaster. It’s going to be, we’re going to be having a hard time digging out of this whole that he’s dug for us over the last six years, and when he’s finally through, eight years.
HH: Now Ron Johnson, though, Senator, he will never submit the Iranian agreement, which I expect that [Secretary] Kerry will announce next week or the week thereafter, to the Senate. He would never, it would not be ratified. So he’ll do an executive agreement that allows Iran to enrich uranium, in fact, nuclearizing Iran. The Congress can cancel that, but you’ll need two-thirds of the Senate and two-thirds of the House. Do you think you have the votes to do that in the Senate?
RJ: Just possibly. You know, I haven’t done a whip count, a head count on that, but I know that there is strong support of Israel. There is a great deal of skepticism of what this president has done with Iran, even on the Foreign Relations Committee. I mean, those hearings have been pretty brutal for the administration as they’ve come before the committee on a bipartisan basis. This, you know, what President Obama is doing internationally is, again, it’s a tragedy, and it’s seen that way from both sides of the aisle.
HH: Now let’s talk about your soon-to-be purchased chairman of Homeland Security. That means the President’s executive order is aimed at your committee. It’s lawless, it incentivizes bad behavior. In fact, if you’re in this country illegally, and it turns out to be what it says, you’re going to have every incentive to have a child immediately in order to be able to stay here. What are you going to, but what can you do about it, Ron Johnson? I’m not sure there’s actually anything that the Senate and the Congress can do.
RJ: Well, first of all, we’ve got to highlight the fact what you just did right there, is this isn’t going to solve the immigration problem. This is going to exacerbate it, because this is a further incentive for additional illegal immigration. So you know, our reaction should be any action he’s taken, in other words, it’s going to be very difficult to defund the lack of action. But where he takes action, issue green cards, or you know, print anything, or proactively do something, we can defund that. We can put riders on appropriation bills that prevent him from spending money to take those actions, pass that point. What we can do is, and what we should do, and what I think there’ll be a great deal of public support to do, is finally secure the border. So I think we should seize that moment, and let’s pass a very strong border security bill, because Hugh, we’re going to need it, because he’s creating incentives just like he did when he deferred action on childhood admissions. What happened? We got tens of thousands of children streaming from Central America. He’s creating the same thing only on a more massive scale.
HH: Sure. If you told people that they got to stay in the United States if they did three laps around the capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, they’d do six. I mean, you’d have an endless stream of people running laps around the capitol. They’ll do whatever they have to do to stay. That which gets rewarded gets repeated. But let’s talk about border security, and I want to talk specifically about a fence. The border with Mexico is 2,000 miles long. About a thousand miles of it is passable. We need a double-sided, high, tall, strong fence with a road between it. And a lot of Republicans don’t like to talk specifically about the fence, and about making it notwithstanding any other law, and getting it done, Senator. Will you get it done?
RJ: Well again, I want to study exactly where those, where that fencing should be, and exactly what the structure of it. Hugh, let me step back with it. I’m a manufacturer by background here. I’ve done a lot of problem solving doing root cause analysis. And if you really want to secure the border, to me, the number one component is let’s eliminate all the incentives for illegal immigration. Now President Obama’s going to increase this incentives with his deferred action. But if you really look at the problem, you’ve got to realize the number one incentive for people coming into this country, like it’s been for generations, is for people to come here seeking opportunity and work. So the first thing we ought to do is less legalize, and let’s have a functioning guest worker program so we really do reduce the amount of illegal immigration. It’s going to be a whole lot easier than if we reduce that flow to secure the border.
HH: I don’t think that…
RJ: I’m on board for whatever fencing we have to do, whatever additional border patrol agents we’ve got to do, additional interior enforcement. 40% of illegal immigrants here on visa overstays, so we absolutely have to do an all of the above strategy. But I really think the number one component should be a functioning guest worker program. And by the way, quotas established by the states, prevailing wage rates established by states. In other words, if you’ve got a state that does not want any guest workers, that should be their right to set their quota at zero.
HH: Well Senator, I agree a guest worker program is necessary, but it’s not number one, and I’ll tell you, I think the Republicans will get blown up if they make that number one, because as I’ve been doing this show for 15 years, twice as long as you’ve been in the Senate times 50% again. All I ever hear about is the fact that if you’re serious about the border, you build a fence. And Charles Krauthammer put it this way. There’s a fence around the White House for a reason.
RJ: No, I mean, I agree. I’m not disagreeing with that at all. We’ve got to do all those things. But again, what I’m just trying to point out, again, a root cause analysis of this is why are so many, what causes so much illegal immigration, is people are here seeking opportunity.
HH: I know, but I don’t know how a guest…
RJ: And we need to address that as well.
HH: How will a guest worker program, I’m in favor of it, because the economy needs it. But how would that deter the people who didn’t get the guest worker visa? If they didn’t get the guest worker visa, they still have an incentive to get here unless you put employer sanctions in place, and unless a fence stops them.
RJ: Well again, you’ve got people here already. That’s a different issue. Right now, we’re trying to stop additional people coming into the country illegally. And so you try and legalize that slowly. You try and legalize that flow. You try and control it. So you have less illegal immigration, and then it’s easier to control a smaller number of people coming here illegally.
HH: You see, I guess I’d have to be persuaded by that, because all of the kids who came up on the trains, they would never have qualified for a guest worker program. But mom and dad put them on the trains anyway.
RJ: Oh, I understand, but again, that, because there was an incentive for them to come. That’s, what I’m saying is look at this from root cause analysis, and let’s eliminate the incentives for illegal immigration. Hugh, here’s another one, which is another reason why I voted against the Senate bill. The Senate bill included $260 billion dollars of welfare benefits for non-U.S. citizens.
RJ: There’s another incentive. You know, deferred action on childhood admissions was an incentive. So I just want to look at this like a manufacturer does in a root cause analysis of solving a problem, and let’s really reduce all these incentives for illegal immigration.
HH: Well, we agree, but I’m sure a manufacture looks at infrastructure, and that’s the fence.
HH: Let me close by asking you…
RJ: I don’t argue with you at all.
HH: Let me close by asking you about this executive order. You’ll stop everything that could be stopped via a rider. But I don’t want to get people’s hopes up. I don’t want them to be disappointed with the new Republican majority. The President can choose not to enforce the laws. It’s wrong, it’s not Constitutional, but he can choose to do so.
RJ: Correct, and there’s not much, again, you can’t defund the lack of action.
RJ: I mean, what can you do? And unless the courts get involved, and let’s face it, the courts have been very reluctant to get involved. Speaker Boehner’s talking about, has initiated a lawsuit on other executive actions. I’ve had my own, I’ve got my own lawsuit that’s pending appeal in the 7th Circuit, you know, challenging President Obama’s unlawful ruling under OPM to grant members of Congress and their staffs special treatment under Obamacare. But the courts work at a snail’s pace.
HH: Well, good luck in that. Good luck in everything. Congratulations on the chairmanship of Homeland Security. I look forward to many conversations with you, and to getting your reelection campaign underway, because they’ve got you targeted, don’t they, Senator Johnson?
RJ: I will be, and I appreciate the shout out there. I’ll need all the help I can get.
HH: Well, get a cot and bring it to the studio. We’re looking forward to helping you throughout this year and next.
End of interview.