Home Budget, Economy Video: Sen. Mark Warner Rips “radical right-wing group of bullies…in the House…trying...

Video: Sen. Mark Warner Rips “radical right-wing group of bullies…in the House…trying to make America look bad”; Hopes Speaker Mike Johnson Can “Do the Math” That He Needs “100 plus Democratic votes on any piece of legislation”

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See below for video and a few highlights from today’s press avalability with Sen. Mark Warner. Among other things, Sen. Warner commented on his “bipartisan CODEL” to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel); government funding (the disaster of shutting down the government, a short-term extention, etc.); the “radical right-wing group of bullies” in the House of Representatives, in which “there’s no legislator that can pass in the House of Representatives at this point without Democratic support”; the urgent need to get aid to Ukraine; etc.  See below the video for more, including highlights from Sen. Warner’s comments!

  • “First, I want to give a brief report from my my trip to the Middle East. I led a bipartisan CODEL of Intelligence Committee members. We visited Saudi Arabia. We visited Jordan, And we visited Israel. Top line: I’d never spend any time, real time in Saudi Arabia before. So I went with real interest on whether some of the reported changes that were taking place in Saudi society were real or not. And I have to tell you, I was impressed. This is a nation state where as recently as five or six years ago, you couldn’t go into a restaurant that was not segregated – men, women, families, foreigners and different sections. This is a country now where men and women are active. There’s a lot of women that are uncovered. They’re up to about 40% of the workforce being women. Enormous amount of development. And I believe, honestly, Saudi Arabia is interested in a defense treaty with the United States. There’s a lot of questions that would have to be answered on that. There are also still a great deal of interest in normalization of relations with Israel. But again, that kind of normalization or building upon the already existing relations between Israel and those nations that they signed the so-called Abraham Accords on, Sunni nations who I think as a group which are obviously concerned about Iran and its proxies around the region. But that kind of development is not going to take place until we can find a way to put an end to the level of violence in Gaza.”
  • In meeting with the Israeli leadership, including the Israeli prime minister, we uniformly pressed the Israelis to go ahead and provide the tax revenues that they have collected from Palestinians, allow those tax revenues to actually go to the Palestinian Authority to…pay the Palestinian security services, because it is those security services that are still working with the Israelis to make sure that the West Bank doesn’t explode. It’s remarkable to me in many ways that those security services are still going to work. I was hopeful coming out of our session, with Secretary Blinken traveling to the region, that we would have had an announcement by now, that that policy change would have been made. It hasn’t. I’m disappointed. We also urged the the Israelis to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza. Literally, you’ve got 90% of the people who’ve been displaced. We’ve got to get humanitarian aid in to those individuals. There’s got to be a future for a two-state solution. But at the same time, let me be clear, as I was at the beginning of this conflict, in the immediate aftermath of October 7th, Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that has reiterated that if it’s allowed to rebuild, it will do another October 7th. And I saw the videos here, I saw them again in Israel, of the absolute brutality of these terrorists. But eliminating the Hamas senior leadership and taking them out of governing, which is a legitimate goal Israel has in terms of self-defense, but that does not extend to a level of casualty rate that now has passed 23,000 in Gaza. And we implore to the Israelis that with growing concerns in America in terms of support for Israel, particularly among the younger generation, and the fact of any potential for a long-term peace or particularly a long-term peace in terms of aligning against the Iranian-backed proxies, whether it be Hezbollah or Hamas, or whether it be the Houthis out of Yemen or some of the Shia-backed groups attacking our troops in Iraq, that kind of future collaboration is not going to happen until until the level of violence goes down now. I think there are many in the Israeli government and security services that understand that. But they’re a messy democracy, just as we are a messy democracy at times. And this is an area that I’m hopeful long term, but I’m extraordinarily concerned short term in the next 30, 60, 90 days.”
  • “Next subject is government funding. It appears that we will have to move to, again, some kind of short-term extension, which, let me assure you, is bad for Virginia taxpayers, bad particularly for our men and women in the military, bad for ship repair. But the alternative of shutting down government is stupidity on steroids. And no state is hurt more by a government shutdown than Virginia. We have so many federal employees, we have so many defense installations, and we have to avoid that at all cost. And my hope is, while there remains this radical right-wing group of bullies, let’s call them what they are, in the House, who I don’t think represent the mainstream of even the Republican Party, what kind of price they’ll continue to extract out of the new Speaker, Speaker Johnson, we’ll have to stay tuned. But, you know, I think the Speaker understands with a 2-seat margin in the House, there’s no legislation that can pass in the House of Representatives at this point without Democratic support. So there’s going to have to be these kind of bipartisan agreements.”
  • “And I want to make one other comment. I know that the conversations on the border are getting very, very close. The border is a mess. There needs to be not only additional funding, but there does need to be policy changes. We need to have enforceable border rules that don’t allow people to come across without any kind of expectation, especially if they have no expectation that are going to even meet our amnesty requirements. But we also, the clock is ticking on our support for Ukraine. As chairman of the Intelligence Committee, I am worried that if we don’t get this aid soon to Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will be successful. Even if there was some level of negotiated settlement, he will have all of the cards and Ukraine will have no leverage. Matter of fact, it’s even gotten worse since before the holidays because you have Viktor Orban, who is the Hungarian prime minister, who is very much at least indirectly in the pocket of Putin, who’s holding up the European aid. I don’t think that European aid will get released unless we do our part and release the aid to Ukraine. The $60 billion is an incredible important because it will it will again strengthen Ukraine’s hand, even if they have to move to a negotiated settlement. And it will also ensure that we don’t have American troops in conflict with Russia…because of a victorious Putin. His eyes will be next on the Baltic states or NATO nations. And I find it also more than a little bit hypocritical of some folks who are saying, well, I don’t care about Ukraine, but I want to help Taiwan stand up against the the Communist Party in China. And the Taiwanese elections are Saturday…If the leading entity wins, there may be pushback from China because the leading entity, political party in Taiwan is… wary of the PRC. But, you know, the idea of those who are saying we’re going to honor and help Taiwan but want to leave Ukraine in the lurch, if I was a Chinese Communist leader, I wouldn’t take that commitment if America leaves its other allies behind…”
  • “Obviously, the Iranians view the Houthis, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Shia groups in Iraq and Syria as their proxies. But the Houthis are, you know, somewhat unique. You know, they are obviously awful at governing. They control a large swath of Yemen. But they’re pretty good at fighting….The Houthis’ leader believes that he is higher in stature than the Supreme Leader in Iran. So the ability of the Iranians to actually rein in the Houthis is tenuous at best. And the fact that the Houthis could end up, you know, and they already have are affecting global shipping… anything that goes through the Red Sea, that goes through the Suez Canal as major shipping lines like Maersk are starting to say, we’re going to go all the way around, all around Africa to get product that adds time. It adds costs. It would be such a shame if just as we feel like we are coming out of this high inflationary period, that if this external cost was…slapped back upon upon the economy…And while there is a coalition of 18 nations that are trying to stand up to the Houthis and take down their drones or take down their attack to attack shipping, I hope other nation states, some of the nation states in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia and some of the nation states like China and India, who are depending on some of this shipping, they need to be part of this coalition as wellI do wish more of the nations that are affected by this interruption of commerce would stand with the United States and Britain and those countries who are stepping up to make sure we keep those shipping channels open.”
  • “I would like to get get additional information [about Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin], but I would say what happened is, frankly, I don’t understand how this could happen. You know, somebody that high in the chain of command. There had to have been people around him that knew he was in the hospital. And some of those people should have relayed to the White House… So I think that behavior can never happen again. And I think you’ve already seen the chief of staff in the White House lay out to all cabinet secretaries, if you are incapacitated in any way, you got to let folks know. And it appears as the story comes out that he was in for prostate cancer… and he didn’t expect to have the complications arise. But that’s still begs the fact that he should have let the White House and the…security establishment know about that fact. And this should never happen again. And in terms of future actions…I’m giving the White House the benefit of the doubt to get all of the facts out first on what happened. But on a going forward basis, it should be explicitly clear that this should become a firing offense.”
  • “I just hope that the Speaker understands that the only way he’s going to get anything done, I believe, with all the resignations and other things, he’s down to a two vote margin. And you’ve got ten or 15 of these guys and gals who will vote against anything. They’ll vote against anything on the border, they’ll vote against anything for Ukraine, they’ll vote against any budget deal, no matter what the number is. They are  kind of the most anti-government crowd and I do not understand their goal other than trying to make America look bad. So the only way the the Speaker can get stuff done is with Democrats. And if he has to go through the normal rules process, you’re never going to get a rule through even…because you’ve got some of the hard-right guys on the on the Rules committee. So he’s going to have to pass a lot of this legislation on what’s called suspension that requires 290 votes. So he’s going to have to get basically 100 plus Democratic votes on any piece of legislation, whether it’s the border, whether it’s Ukraine, whether it’s funding other government. And I just hope he realizes that reality. It’s one thing to sit in the cheap seats and take pot shots and, you know, complain and moan but, you know, Mr. Johnson is now in a leadership role….what, third line of succession after the vice president or maybe even second in the line of succession after the vice president….With that leadership comes responsibility. And I hope he realizes that and can do the math.”
  • “I think the most important lesson that Dr. King taught, one was the notion of nonviolence, that you can disagree with others – and you think about some of the civil rights leadership who were beat up, spit upon, cursed out – but he he kept to that truth that nonviolence can overcome hatred. And boy, oh boy, we need that message in our country right now…My biggest fear for our nation is not external threats, but internal divisions. And I hope we can all practice a bit of Dr. King’s philosophy. I also think that…the arc of history always heads towards justice. I pray every day…that that truth will become reality. And I think about in the Middle East with the enormous tragedy around October 7th and the aftermath, that out of that tragedy, there should also come opportunity for some level of regional alliance between Israel and the Sunni states, echoing Dr. King’s philosophy.
  • “I cannot think of a more important historic moment than these coming weeks of whether the United States will honor its commitment to this democracy of Ukraine, with all its flaws, against the authoritarian nature of Putin. And if our failure to honor that commitment, the ramifications that will have in Taiwan and with China, the ramifications that will have for those in the Middle East who look to America still for leadership, those emerging nations in South America and Africa. This is something that is so important and we should not lose sight that the witching hour is upon us. The amount of operations that will shut down if we don’t get this aid out soon could be catastrophic.”
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