Senator Tom Cotton joined me this morning to discuss the amendment he co-authored re blocking sales of U.S. parts to ZTE and resolution of the families separated at border via the pending spending bill:
HH: Joined by United States Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas. Good morning, Senator.
TC: Good morning, Hugh, good to be on with you.
HH: Thank you. Before I get to the border issue, I want to talk about ZTE and the fact that the Defense Authorization Act is going to pass the Congress with a ban on selling U.S. parts to the telecommunications company, ZTE. You are the author of this amendment. Why did you author it? And why are 85 senators supporting it?
TC: ZTE, Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies are virtual arms of the Chinese Communist Party, Hugh. They are grave threats to our national security and our telecommunications infrastructure as well as the privacy of American citizens. So I’m very pleased that the Senate adopted the amendment I had with Chris Van Hollen and Chuck Schumer to prohibit the federal government from buying their products, from loaning or granting money to American companies that use those products, as well as put ZTE on the sanctions list. Now we went farther than the House. We’ll have to reconcile our provisions with the House. I’m hopeful that we can move them in our direction, but that’ll be the subject of negotiations in the coming weeks.
HH: Are you going to be on the conference committee, Senator Cotton?
TC: Typically, the members of the Armed Services are a part of the conference committee, especially on the key provisions that they adopt. So I’ll be working very closely with Senator McCain and Senator Inhofe, who’s standing in while Senator McCain is gone, as well as Jack Reed, all of whom supported our measure.
HH: And in the House, who comes over to do that? Who is the counterpart to you on that?
TC: Well, the main people that do it are the chairman and the ranking member. So that’s Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith. But I’ll be working with other members as well, including some members who are closer to me in my tenure level, like Liz Cheney from Wyoming or Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin, the turncoat who I helped get elected and then beat me in a footrace last year.
HH: Well, that is sad, and you weren’t competing this year, and so he reminded me a few times about that. Let’s turn to the border. This is an unwinnable issue, and I don’t want to talk about straw men. I just want to talk about Ted Cruz is going to bring a bill to the Senate floor to double the number of immigration judges, expand the number of detention centers, by the way, which would allow fencing around those detention centers which can be placed near the border, and to expedite the processing of asylum claims so that we can also keep children together with parents during their period of detention. Will you support the Cruz bill?
TC: Hugh, I haven’t seen Ted’s bill, yet. I can say this, though. What the Democrats are proposing is their most radical open borders lawless proposal yet. Let’s just call a spade a spade, Hugh. 49 Democrats have now supported a bill by Dianne Feinstein that says children at the border are literally a get out of jail free card. If you show up at our border, you have to be released into our country never to be seen again. They are literally a get out of jail free card, and a get into the U.S. free card. Moreover, Hugh, let’s look at this from another angle. All across America, there are parents who are separated from their children because they have been arrested for a crime, or they’ve been convicted of a crime. And their children are placed with the next of kin, or their children are placed in foster care. That probably happened last night in Arkansas multiple times. Yet the Democrats aren’t crying for those American citizens. They’re willing to treat illegal immigrant criminals better than they treat American citizens who are charged with a crime. So what they are proposing shows just how radical and extreme the Democrats have become on immigration. Hugh, there’s a very simple solution to this. I am working with many senators to get this solution on the spending bill we’re considering this week. The Trump administration’s hands are tied by liberal judges and Democrats who have ruled over the years that children at the border can’t be detained for more than 20 days. That’s why when their parents bring them to the border, or just as likely, kidnap them or buy them from human traffickers to pose as parents at the border, the parent is taken into custody, the child can’t be detained for more than 20 days, and therefore placed with a relative or placed in a kind of foster care. All we need to do, Hugh, is overturn the so-called Flores Settlement, allow families to be held at the border, provide a little bit of extra money to the military and DHS for family housing units while those claims are adjudicated. We’re going to offer an amendment this week on the spending bill. It can be done promptly. But it’ll expose the Democrats for what they are – advocates of totally open borders, because they don’t want families held together at the border, Hugh. This is not about family separation for the Democrats. This is about an open border policy that lets children be a get out of jail free card and a get into the U.S. free card. I don’t think many Americans support that policy.
HH: But allowing families to stay together at the border is the solution, not releasing them.
TC: Of course, not. But Hugh, that’s not the Democrats’ solution. The simple solution that most Americans would like to see is that when an illegal immigrant shows up and tries to cross our border illegally with a child, that that family unit is held together at the border…
TC: …while the illegal immigrant’s claim is promptly processed, which happens in a matter of days or weeks, Hugh. And in most cases, they’re going to be sent back to their country, and that’s where the family can be reunified – back in their home country, not in our country. Hugh, that’s not what the Democrats want.
HH: And that, I get it. I get that.
TC: The Democrats want all those people released into the United States never to be seen from again.
HH: I get that, but the political argument right now, as is playing out on TV screens, on the Today Show and across the media, is devastating to Republicans, because it isn’t about keeping families together during adjudication. It’s about separating them during adjudication, and that’s got to change or the consequences will be devastating in the fall. Agree or disagree, Senator Cotton?
TC: Well, I would simply encourage all of my Republican colleagues to expose the Democrats’ position for the fraud it is, and the extreme radical open borders position that it is. Again, we can easily fix this problem by allowing DHS to hold family units together at the border. That’s not what the Democrats want. They want totally open borders.
HH: It is true. That is not what they want, but it’s what the GOP has to support. Senator Cotton, thank you, as always. Congratulations on ZTE.
End of interview.