Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson joined me on today’s show to talk about the DoD budget and the negotiations with Iran:
HH: Now let’s talk with United States Senator Ron Johnson joining me. He’s the chairman of the Homeland Security [Committee]. Senator Johnson, welcome back, always a pleasure to talk to you.
RJ: Hello, Hugh, how are you doing?
HH: Great. First, give us your website for the reelection campaign, right? We’ve got to throw in lots of help for Ron Johnson in 2016.
RJ: Well, I appreciate it. It’s www.ronjohnsonforsenate.com. It’s pretty simple.
HH: All right, now I’m going to have your governor on tomorrow, Scott Walker, and he’s turned a lot of heads early in this. You’ve got a lot of political talent up there in Wisconsin, but the Democrats aren’t going to give you a free ride, are they?
RJ: No, Democrats never give anybody a free ride, and of course, the press does not give Republicans and conservatives a free ride, which is an even more significant problem.
HH: So let’s talk about Defense spending. I just spent a half hour with Senator Rubio talking about this. Where do you see the Defense budget coming out of the Senate? And where do you think the House and the Senate are going to agree we’ve got to fund the DOD?
RJ: Well, I think most Republicans, if not all Republicans, are concerned about what this administration has been doing in terms of hollowing out our military readiness. And let’s face it, when we’re facing the threats we face globally, let’s face it. President Obama’s foreign policy has not exactly been a masterpiece. Across the board, whether it’s domestic policy or international policy, President Obama has made it worse. And so we are in a real pickle here, and I think we’re supportive of doing what we can to make sure that the military is properly resourced. I’ll be the last to say that the military spends all its money efficiently, the Department of Defense. It should be audited. But you know, we’ve got to make sure that the military is properly resourced. I think we’ve come up with a process in our budget to allow that, the discussion, to be handled in the appropriations process. Hopefully, we’ve got that compromise, because Hugh, we’ve got to pass a budget here. We’ve got to be able to reconcile the House, so we set up that appropriation process so we can start prioritizing spending. And again, I think most Republicans, conservative believe that the top priority of government is the defense of this nation. So hopefully, we’ll be able to funnel more dollars into the Defense Department so we keep this nation safe.
HH: Talking with Senator Ron Johnson, who I thought of on Sunday night, because I get the Centcom Command Alerts. I try and stay abreast of all that. And they sent one out, Ron Johnson, you’re chairman of Homeland Security. ISIS threatened the families of 100 American military active duty by publishing what they said were their home addresses on the web. And I immediately thought this is a different world, and that’s Homeland Security. That’s your bailiwick. What do you think of that?
RJ: Well, Hugh, that is why we need to defeat ISIS sooner rather than later. And you know, people need to understand President Obama uses this rhetoric. He states the goal – degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS. President Obama’s definition of defeat isn’t what I think a normal person’s definition of defeat is. His definition is let’s just kind of basically sorta maybe over the next three years kind of contain them, and really put that, deliver that mess to the next commander-in-chief. Hopefully, we’ll have a real commander-in-chief that’ll take care of the situation. So that’s what we need to do. We need to defeat ISIS. They are evil, they are barbarians, their acts are barbaric, and the sooner we defeat them, the better.
HH: So what is Homeland Security doing, though, about, I mean, there’s a debate over surveillance. There’s a debate over how much is too much. But when you’ve got lone wolf terrorists who have acted in such a way in London and other places in France, what’s Homeland Security doing? And what’s the Congress urging them to do to protect against that threat made so real over the weekend?
RJ: Well you know, one of President Obama’s better appointments really is Secretary Jeh Johnson. I mean, he’s a serious man. I believe he was the counsel at the Defense Department that signed the orders on the drone strikes. So I mean, Jeh Johnson is a serious person. He wants to succeed in keeping this nation safe. They’re doing a number of things. I mean, we have, we have strengthened our defenses. We can look at TSA and go now is this the most effective organization? Probably not, but we have hardened our defenses as it relates to air travel in airports. I mean, he’s certainly increased alerts and looking for these undetectable bombs. I mean, but the problem, Hugh, is that the threats are many. I heard one intelligence expert and one of our allies say that we’ve always been looking for the needle in the haystack. The problem is there are more needles, and the haystack is getting bigger, and that’s just true.
HH: Do you think that, I’ve got to ask you, do you think that the possibility of a mass casualty attack between now and the election is high?
RJ: Well, I won’t say mass casualty, but listen, we are certainly at risk for these violent extremists. And again, I don’t want to start listing potential things that can happen. Let’s hope none of these things do happen. But our best defense is defeating ISIS so that they are viewed as losers, so they stop inspiring some of this homegrown violent extremism. We have to get greater control over our borders. But Hugh, what we’re doing in our Homeland Security Committee is we are holding hearing after hearing now on border security. It’s incredibly complex.
HH: Ron Johnson, we look forward to talking to you more and more as 2016 rolls along. Come back often, Senator.
End of interview.