CLAY: We bring in now Senator Marsha Blackburn of my home state of Tennessee. Senator Blackburn, thanks for taking time to join us in a busy week on Capitol Hill. And I want to start with you here. I know we got a lot to get into. But Dr. Fauci, based on the NIH’s own statement that came out this morning, it appears that he lied in front of Congress. At a minimum, he should have to retract much of the testimony that he has given by gain-of-function research involving covid. Do you agree with that prognosis, that analysis that I just provided? And what should happen to Dr. Fauci based on this latest NIH statement?
SEN. BLACKBURN: Well, Clay, he should immediately be put on leave because of what he has done; and then he should be required to go back to the committee under oath and to correct the record under oath. Now, of course, I think that Dr. Fauci is one of those that should be removed because when we were saying early on we need to investigate this lab, he came out in defense of that lab.
CLAY: That’s right.
SEN. BLACKBURN: And now we understand why. He was in favor of keeping that quiet, why he didn’t want us investigating the lab, why he didn’t want us to look at the partners they have in some of this research.
BUCK: Senator Blackburn, it’s Buck. I want to know what you think of the testimony today. I know you haven’t watched all of it, you gotta other things you gotta do but you have Merrick Garland, the attorney general on Capitol Hill, responding to some pretty upset GOP members of Congress over the letter he put out from his office stating essentially that parents who are speaking out at these school board meetings about particularly critical race theory but other issues as well are possible domestic terrorists or insurrectionists. What do you make of it?
SEN. BLACKBURN: Well, of course this was completely inappropriate. And moms and dads going to a school board meeting to question people that are elected and a school system that is paid for with taxpayer dollars. Some of these school boards are so arrogant and out of touch, they have forgotten that they do not work for the teachers union. They work for the people of that jurisdiction who have elected them and put them on that school board. And if you want to know why there is pornography or sexual assault or why there is critical race theory or the 1619 Project or why their children are being forced to wear masks, you have every right to go and petition your government and ask those questions. And if those individuals don’t want to answer the questions, then they ought to be resigning.
CLAY: Senator Blackburn, a lot to get into, as I said when we started this interview, but you recently visited the border. We now know 1.7 million people have crossed the border, which is a record going back all the way to 1986 and there’s some unique circumstances associated with 1986. So for many people listening to right now border crossings the highest level of their lives.
CLAY: What should happen. Yeah. What should happen with Secretary Mayorkas, and what did you see when you were at the border?
SEN. BLACKBURN: Well, we thought we were going to have Secretary Mayorkas in front of us today but he has covid and did not want to testify by remote and virtually for us today. But what I saw was a lot of chaos and confusion. There’s a Border Patrol that want to do their job. The Texas highway patrol and the National Guard have stepped up under Operation Lone Star in order to protect that border. You’ve got Border Patrol that were very concerned about the Haitian migrants, the 60,000 that are headed towards that southern border. And they were very specific in their conversations with me. And, of course, I’ve been going down there now for over a decade. When I had legislation, I was working with them to deport the criminal illegal aliens. And what they’re seeing is a lot of uptick, not only in the humanitarian crisis with the trafficking of individuals, the criminal element is just much more aggressive.
You know, there are shootings on the Mexican side of the border. They have not shot at our National Guard and highway patrol and CBP yet. They also are very concerned about all the got-aways and the amount of drug trafficking, human trafficking, the bad element that do not want to be apprehended. And that has picked up. There are hundreds of thousands of got-aways that are getting through that border.
And I said, “Tell me what you need us to do first.” And they said, look. This situation is fixable. And that is their term. They said first go back to building the wall. That was a huge help. They’ve asked for it for decades. President Trump moved forward on it. Second, put Remain in Mexico back in place and catch-and-release so that people are not just apprehended, put on a plane to your community, told to show up in court two years later. And then allow them to exercise Title 42 so that people who are HIV-positive, people that have covid, people that have measles are not going to be put on those planes and moved into the country’s interior. And those are things that as they say if you do this and if you enforce the rule of law, we can keep this country safe.
But right now we don’t know what is coming across the border when it comes to weapons or drugs or traffickers. We don’t know if there are people that are known terrorists in the got-aways, because we don’t really know who it is that is coming in. And you know, one thing that was so interesting, when I was leaving McAllen I met with a TSA agent. They have set up a special screening process to screen these individuals coming in to the country illegally because they do not have documentation. So they have a special screening line for them so that they can put them onto commercial flights.
BUCK: We’re speaking to Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Senator, the bill that the Democrats and the Biden White House wants to get through, the massive reconciliation bill, $3.5 trillion of spending, the additional trillion of infrastructure and who knows what else, it has stalled out for now, so much so that yesterday Clay and I were talking on the show about reports that Senator Manchin caught in the middle of all this, your colleague, may decide to perhaps leave the Democrat Party. I’m wondering if you could just shed some lightly on where does the whole process with this massive Biden agenda bill stand, and what do you think about the reporting on Senator Manchin of West Virginia?
SEN. BLACKBURN: Well, first, the reporting on Senator Manchin, I’ve not discussed this with him personally. I don’t see him changing parties. I do think that there are several in the Democratic Party that would like to conduct themselves in a more independent framework simply because they don’t agree with what is happening in the Democratic Party. And a big part of that is this massive spending bill. And of course last week we heard that they were so frustrated they couldn’t get the three and a half trillion, which is, which is really five trillion, across the finish line; so they were gonna pare it back, keep all of the programs, put ’em in as pilot projects or as one-year programs, but make them mandatory so that then in following years you have to fund these programs.
So you would see all of this increase in the welfare state, government pushing to take control of your kids, your health care, your bank account, they would still move forward with that, move forward with the Green New Deal, move forward with what they’re wanting to do with Medicare and Medicaid. It’s just they would do it for a shorter period of time and say, “Look. We got our wish list down. We can pay for this with one and a half trillion dollars.”
CLAY: Senator Blackburn, last question for you, and I appreciate your time. I saw you tweet out about this, and I know we discussed this before. Enes Kanter, who is a basketball player for the Boston Celtics, came out and said, among other things, that — I think everybody, almost, listening to us would agree with him — that Chairman Xi in China is a brutal dictator and that the people under his thumb deserve freedom. As a result, China has pulled Boston Celtics games off television inside of their country. Do you hope to see other NBA players speak out like Enes Kanter did against China, and do you support him fully in his commentary?
SEN. BLACKBURN: Yes. You know, we have really been surprised with how some of these American corporations — the NBA, Apple, and others — kowtow to the communist Chinese. And this just shows you if you are not in complete agreement with them, then they are going to cut you off.
And look at what they are doing. Chairman Xi of course he is a brutal dictator. Look at the genocide that they’re carrying out on the Uyghurs. Look at how they treat the Tibetans. Look at what they have done to the Hong Kong freedom fighters. Look at how they are terrorizing Taiwan, continuing to fly those fighters across Taiwan. We know what they are doing. Look at what they did last week with testing out hypersonics and beginning to say, “USA, we can hit the homeland.” Look at how they have partnered up with the Taliban there in Afghanistan so they can get that land route. I just think the more people realize that the Chinese Communist Party is a bad actor, they are not a competitor, they are not an ally, they are an adversary. They want to be globally dominant by the time we get to the middle of the century. And we have to push back. So for Enes Kanter, good on him for going after the Chinese Communist Party.
BUCK: Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. Senator, we really appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much.
SEN. BLACKBURN: You got it. Take care.