Live from Music Row Friday morning 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. – host Leahy welcomed Congressman John Rose (R-TN-06) to the newsmaker line to explain why he voted against the $40 billion to Ukraine aid and explained the consequences of President Biden’s weak leadership.
Leahy: Right now Congressman John Rose who represents the 6th District of Tennessee, which is basically Middle Tennessee, Wilson County, and parts therearound. Has now a little bit of Davidson County. Congressman Rose, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.
Rose: Good morning Michael Patrick.
Leahy: How are you doing? We are glad to have you.
Rose: Doing well. Thanks for having me on the show this morning.
Leahy: So inflation is out of control, spending is out of control. Our foreign policy is a disaster. The Biden administration then comes up and says we want to give $40 billion of additional aid to Ukraine. You voted against that. Tell us why.
Rose: I think it’s important to make clear to everyone that I support our efforts to assist Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty from Russian aggression. However, the folks of Middle Tennessee sent me to Congress to watch out for their interests and to make sure that their tax dollars are being spent wisely.
And the way that this proposal that came up earlier this week was presented, I think did anything but that. And so I just didn’t feel like I could vote for it. I’m concerned that we’re borrowing $40 billion and that’s what’s happening here.
This is not paid for. So we’re putting this on the proverbial credit card, borrowing it from foreign countries like China that are not our friends, and mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren at a time of record debt and inflation. And there was not a single thought given to how we might pay for this.
Leahy: Yes. I agree with your vote in this instance. There were only 57 other Republicans that joined you in voting against us. It did pass in the House. It’s going to go to the Senate. Do you have any idea what the Senate is going to do on this?
Rose: My sense is that it will probably pass there. I think the Democratic members in the Senate are all most likely to be supportive, and obviously, the Republican leader on the Senate side seems to be pushing it. I think there is some pushback over there from people like Senator Rand Paul in Kentucky.
But whether he’s willing to stand up and is able to slow the train down enough to actually consider some of the questions that should be considered.
I don’t know. I guess I think probably not. And I think generally from talking with Tennesseans, they’re supportive of the plight of the Ukrainian people, and they’re encouraged by seeing the Ukrainians stand up to fight for their freedom. And so they want to see our country be supportive.
But if you consider that this bill was $40 billion, it started out as $33 billion. The president proposed it a little more than a week ago. And then somehow it grew to $40 billion.
If you take the amount of money that we spend in our country on everything from US Customs and Border Protection to the Coast Guard to TSA and ICE and you combine all of those, that’s about what this number is.
So we would be spending more to defend the sovereignty and the borders of Ukraine than we spend to protect our own borders here in the United States.
It’s just troubling that there was no fault given to perhaps how we might offset this with other spending reductions or any other consideration for how we might pay for this.
And frankly, I saw how the president, we all saw the disastrous way in which he withdrew from Afghanistan. And frankly, I have no confidence in the Biden administration’s ability to spend this money wisely, and there was no strategic plan put forth.
There’s no oversight aside from the normal oversight that Congress might give. I think as you enumerated at the top of our segment here, I don’t think that this president has earned that kind of trust from this Congress.
Leahy: How many pages were in the bill? When did you get a chance to first look at it?
Rose: Gosh, I’ve forgotten on the number of pages, but we had a little less than seven hours from the time that they gave us this bill until our final vote on it.
And so not a lot of time to look at it. I think I heard one of my colleagues saying that Chip Roy from Texas saying that his staff was still reviewing and our staff were still looking at it as well.
We were just not satisfied that we could fully, in that period of time understand what the bill was saying. I was contemplating trying to offer an amendment so that there would be some offset somehow in the budget, but there was no time to do that.
The Democratic leadership, this bill went through our Rules Committee. It came to the floor under a rule that prohibited amendments.
The train was just sailing down the tracks with no opportunity to really even have a meaningful discussion about how this might be done better.
Leahy: Isn’t that what Congress is supposed to do? Have meaningful discussions about how we spend our money?
Rose: Absolutely. The normal order of business in Washington would be that this would be sent to the committees of jurisdiction. They’d have an opportunity to not only debate the bill, but also offer meaningful amendments to it, and then eventually it would make its way to the House floor.
And I say eventually, that process doesn’t have to take weeks. It could have been done this week and still have been done in a timely fashion and given the opportunity for members to debate and have an opportunity for their constituents back home, the voters back home to reach out and let them know how they feel about it.
Michael Patrick, I do want to stress I have been supportive of several pieces of legislation and several efforts aimed at helping the Ukrainians so I could go through a list of them.
There’s a dozen or so things that I have supported. In fact, I’ve supported virtually every other effort that has come forward to try to help the Ukrainians and I want to see us assist them.
But I think it’s also worth noting that the old saying, a stitch in time saves nine. And certainly, as we’ve seen over and over again with this administration, President Biden’s just feckless leadership led to this problem.
And now it’s costing billions and billions of dollars to make up for bad policy that was put in place by this administration over the last year.
And so when you have a kind of bumbling, stumbling President that ends up saying things like, well, if there’s a small incursion into Ukraine, we might not do anything.
And a President that makes mistakes like the one in Afghanistan that telegraphs to our foes around the world and to the despots like Vladimir Putin around the world that this country is not really going to stand up then you’ve got to double down, triple down, quadruple down in your response in order to send a different message.
And I suspect if you ask Vladimir Putin, he’s probably a little bit surprised surprise that now we are disinterested in Ukraine when we acted as though we weren’t going to do anything. And this is what you get with weak leadership.
Listen to the interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.