In a special interview Friday on the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy welcomed U.S. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Blackburn explained the nature of her new green lighting bill which would not allow illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. She stated that this a national security risk and further explained how current legislation by the Democrats were doing everything they could to federalize the election process.
Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend Senator Marsha Blackburn. Good morning Senator Blackburn.
Blackburn: Good morning! It’s so good to be with you. And aren’t we happy to see sunshine in Tennessee today?
Leahy: We sure are. I was talking with Crom Carmichael who is here with me today. You, Marsha, are a very hardworking Senator and you’re always involved in talking with the constituents and putting out some really good bills. I think you have a new one. You had a conference call on Wednesday about a new bill. Tell us about this bill.
Blackburn: Yes. This is really simple. It is the stop green-lighting driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. And the reason we are doing this is that now that we are going through real ID compliance. What do we see in 14 states doing? It is reverting to that process of giving a government-issued taxpayer-funded ID to those who have come into the country illegally.
And they are claiming that they are going to stamp these with a stamp that says, state use only. But I got to tell you, there is probably no TSA agents, no anybody that is going to look at that and say, oh, this is for state use only. Plus, if you’re getting a driver’s license then what is the next thing you can do?
You can register to vote when you get that driver’s license. So, we are really concerned about this. As I said, we’ve got 14 states, this week Virginia became the 14th. And they are going to do this. It is a national security risk. People have forgotten that those 9-11 hijackers…how did they get on those planes? Drivers licenses. We have got to stop this because it’s an issue that’s going to get away from us very quickly.
Leahy: So this bill as I understand it would block grant funding from the DOJ for local law enforcement in those states with sanctuary policies that permit the illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. Do I have that right?
Blackburn: Actually, what it would do is block all three buckets of money. It would block the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds. These are the memorial grants that go to the state and locals. So you’ve got three buckets. You’ve got grants that go directly to the state.
Grant money that goes to the state and flows to the local. And then local entities. And so, let us say if a sanctuary city exists within a state that’s not a sanctuary state, just that city would be ineligible. It’s a state like California that’s declared itself a sanctuary state then the entire state fund pool would be brought.
But let’s say there is a county in California that has said we are not a sanctuary, they would still be eligible for funds. If you’re going to be a sanctuary and give these drivers licenses, you are not going to get taxpayer-funded federal grant money.
Leahy: I’m guessing that all the Democrats are whining and moaning that this is mean and unfair?
Blackburn: Of course they are. The usual chant that they give is that it’s not compassionate. And it’s not mean. Let me tell you something on behalf of these Angel Families that I work with on a regular basis and n behalf of families who have had auto accidents.
Who have had their homes were broken into and their property was stolen turning out to be a criminal illegal alien that committed that crime. This is the reason for doing this. And we have realized so clearly that it takes more than just securing the border to deal with the illegal alien population in the country.
And going after these JAG funds and locking those down so that entities that say, we’re a sanctuary, we’re giving government-issued drivers licenses which will corrupt our entire national security. It’s what people used to get to apply for TSA pre-check or to get on a plane. Or to identify themselves for other services.
They use a driver’s license as their primary form of ID. And this is a program that exercises reciprocity state to state. People do not have to stop at the state line and get a driving permit when they go from one state to the next state. So this is a common-sense measure.
And I think that it gives these sanctuary states and cities who are going to give these drivers licenses a choice. They can say we’re going to continue to circumvent federal law and thereby, that we understand, that means that we’re not going to get this money.
Or we are going to comply with federal law, and we understand that we’ll be able to apply for these grants. Of course, New York’s Mayor Cuomo was over at the White House yesterday trying to talk to the president and trying to plead his case on this if you will, because they have now blocked residents of New York from going into the trusted traveler program.
Leahy: So let me ask you this Senator Blackburn. In the event, the stop green-lighting of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants was to pass, most likely not the House when the Democrats control it. But maybe if the Republicans take back the House next time around it might pass.
I guess it would then have a legal challenge. I know that the DOJ had a proposal that wasn’t law back in 2017 similar to this but the judges’ ruled against it. Is your thinking here we’ve got to codify this as a statute so the liberal judges won’t overturn it?
Blackburn: Precisely. There are several things that we need to codify. Of course, the president has been successful in some of his challenges. And we know that codifying this so that sanctuary entities cannot have the access to those federal funds. It’s their choice. It’s their choice. If they want to circumvent federal law, then they’re just not going to get taxpayer money.
And if they’re going to comply with federal law then with our provisions as federal law then they’re going to be able to apply for those funds and use those funds on behalf of their constituents. But the rest of the United States ought not to be put at risk because they choose to circumvent the law.
Leahy: Well this is obviously a common-sense bill which explains why the Democrats oppose it. What are the chances that we will pass in the Senate?
Blackburn: Well, we will see this pass in the Senate. When I filed it I already had six co-sponsors. We are doing well. Ken Buck has filed the companion bill over in the House. And we will talk about this during the year. We’ll get it to the Senate and then we’ll put the pressure on for House members to have the opportunity to cast a vote as to whether or not they want to support federal law or they want to circumvent federal law.
Leahy: Sounds like this might be a key vote that would play a role in the House elections in November of 2020.
Blackburn: We certainly think that it will. And we think it’s going to be a good thing for individuals in both the Senate and the House to have the opportunity to stand up and say, we think taxpayer dollars should only go to entities that agree that they are going to abide by the law.
Leahy: You did something else this week which I think was very positive for conservatives. I’ll phrase this as a little bit of Democratic skulduggery. There’s a report from MSN that said Democrats tried to get consent to pass two bills that require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about foreign offers of assistance as well as legislation to provide more election funding. But you opposed this request. Tell us a little bit about what you saw the Democrats trying to do with that and why you made the very good decision to oppose this request?
Blackburn: Yes. As we learned through the impeachment trial, Democrats are trying everything they possibly can do to federalize the electoral process. They want to be able to control the ballot box. You’ve got them coming in here and saying we need to put money and put the federal government in charge of elections.
And in Tennessee I have to tell you, we just think that is silly. Our elections are safe. They’re secure. Our ballot box is secure. And the last thing people want is to have the federal government running local and state elections.
Leahy: Senator Blackburn, thank you so much for joining us and keep up the good work in Washington.
Listen to the third hour here:
– – –