Live from Music Row Tuesday 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 U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) to the newsmaker line to discuss his decision not to vote for the 40 billion-dollar aid package to Ukraine and the concerted effort by the Biden administration to “transform” the United States of America.
Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line now the most disciplined man I’ve ever met, Senator Bill Hagerty. Good morning, Senator Hagerty.
Hagerty: Good morning. Good morning. What a nice compliment to start today. I wish my children felt the same.
Leahy: Here’s the thing: We’ve known each other for a couple of years now. And when you say you’re going to call in at 6:15 exactly, when the clock goes from 6:14:59 to 6:15:00, the phone rings every time. It’s Senator Bill Hagerty. That’s very impressive.
I don’t know how you do that. How many times a day do you have, like, a call you have to make or something you have to do? That’s very impressive.
Hagerty: Well, it’s constant. That’s the way to stay on top of it, though, is to be timely.
Leahy: A very good point. Speaking of being timely, last night in the United States Senate there was a vote on advancing this 40 billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine. Senator Paul had a procedural objection to it. It passed in the Senate.
I think it was like, 81 to 11. Eleven Senators voted against it and both of our senators from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, and you, Senator Hagerty, voted against it. Tell us why you voted against that 40 billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine.
Hagerty: Well, everyone’s got their own reasons and I’ll let the others articulate their own. But mine is very simple. It’s not that I don’t want to see Ukraine win, and I don’t think that Russia should in any way be supported. In fact, it’s the opposite.
But the answer for us is quite clear, and it’s right at our back door. We need to fix what’s happening here in America first. We need to be taking our own problems seriously, as a nation before we dump 40 billion dollars into protecting the sovereignty of another nation.
We’ve got a collapsed southern border where, you know, I’ve spent time down there just recently watching a flood of illegal immigration coming across the border. Illegal fentanyl coming in and killing our kids.
There’s basically a war being waged on America, right here, and the Biden administration is doing nothing about it. And then when you look at our energy policy, that is the answer to fixing the situation in Ukraine, that’s turning around America’s energy policy, getting us back to work again with American domestic-produced energy.
That would take the overall prices of energy down across the world. That would defund Putin’s war machine. In fact, it’s energy prices that are propping up Putin’s war machine on Ukraine, but this administration ignores that.
Instead, they keep waging war on American industry. They just canceled a million-acre project up in Alaska, a couple more down in the Gulf of Mexico.
They’re waging war on American industry when we should be actually increasing our output, lowering prices, taking inflation down, and defunding Putin at the same time. That‘s the answer.
Leahy: Forty billion dollars is an awful lot of money and, you know, we’re in a deficit, we’re in an inflationary spending situation. How much are other countries providing to help Ukraine in their defense against Russia?
Hagerty: The United States has already committed a good deal of funding at this point. I think the Europeans are up to about 12 billion Euros, we’re close to that same number already. But this 40 billion would take us up to four times that. Way beyond any other nation.
And we’re not even close to being as proximate to the problem as the European nations that are far closer, that are far more vulnerable. We should be, you know, insisting that the neighbor countries that are closer do more as well. I just think the whole thing is wrongheaded, again, presenting a false choice of spending billions of dollars or letting Russia win. No. We should be going back into the production of energy here. We should be watching our European neighbors step up more.
Leahy: I personally agree with your choice here in this situation. Your argument makes perfect sense to me. I can tell you that our listeners and our readers overwhelmingly also appear to agree with you on this. But here’s the problem – what you say makes perfect common sense to me, and yet, this bill, this aid package, passes in the Senate 81 to 11.
If you take you and Senator Hagerty, rather Senator Blackburn, from Tennessee, both using common sense to oppose it, there are only nine other U.S. senators that opposed it, all Republicans. Why is there such momentum for such reckless spending to support Ukraine?
Hagerty: As I said, every senator could answer for themselves. There’s a lot of emotion around this, Michael, as you can imagine. People want to see Ukraine win, and so do I.
But the question is at what cost? And what do we sacrifice here in America to do that? Again, it’s a matter of putting our own nation’s interests first. And if we were to do that, I think we wouldn’t even be in this situation.
Because if we were putting America first, Vladimir Putin wouldn’t be emboldened to have done this in the first place. He wouldn’t be looking at us the way I’m sure he is now, a nation that won’t even defend its own borders.
And a nation that will allow them to commit war against us with fentanyl from China. And Russia is looking at this, and they’ve laughed all the way to the bank.
Again, we put Vladimir Putin in business by waging war on energy, raising prices around the world, and giving him a massive windfall which he’s used to fund this war machine against Ukraine.
We could have stopped it, it should have never happened, but it’s the Biden administration’s wrongheaded policies, particularly on energy, but also with respect to our border and our national security.
And if you think about Afghanistan, that emboldened Putin like never before to to pull something like this. So this is the problem that we’ve got right here with this administration. Let’s call it out.
Let’s stop the wrongheaded policies right here at home, and that will turn this thing around far better for America than dumping more and more money, inflationary money, onto a fire that continues to burn.
Leahy: It looks like this aid package, will pass. You’ll be in the minority. I think you made the right choice there, in my view. If this passes forty billion dollars to Ukraine, how do you see this – it’s hard to predict this situation, but I guess it’s been about 82 days, two and a half months since the invasion. It’s kind of a bit of a stalemate. How is this going to play out for the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
Hagerty: I think what it does is it allows it to just continue to grind on. Again, we won’t change policies that would actually stop Putin. But what we’re going to do is continue to fund an ongoing effort here.
I’m certain that Ukrainians will work hard. They’ve shown great spirit, I support that. But I think what we should do is actually put a pin in Vladimir Putin’s balloon and shut this thing down. And the way to do that is by getting back into the production of energy right here in America.
Leahy: Does President Biden, or Secretary of State Blinken, you’re a former ambassador to Japan, you know the international world. Do they ever call you for advice, Senator Hagerty?
Hagerty: They are attentive to their own lead, which is the theology and the religion of climate, and wanting to collapse our southern borders to quote, “transform America.”
They are living on a different planet, Michael, and I don’t think they would find my advice anywhere close to the deeds that they’re conducting. I would be telling them to do the exact opposite.
In fact, if you just look at Biden’s actions, if you were to only do the opposite of what he’s actually executed, we’d be in far better shape.
Listen to the interview:
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