U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today joined “Full Court Press” with host Greta Van Susteren to discuss the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping the Senate majority, court-packing, affordable health care, and affordable energy, among other topics.
Thune also spoke on the Senate floor about Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court and her outstanding experience and qualifications.
On helping to slow the spread of COVID:
“I would argue that we need to continue to abide by and follow and implement the CDC guidelines when it comes to masks and social distancing. The medical treatment part of this is going to continue to improve. But at least for the foreseeable future, people have to take the steps, the cautions that are advised by the CDC, and do their very best from spreading it…”
On keeping the Senate majority:
“I believe we will win. I think our candidates are trending in right direction, and, you know, but obviously we have some really hard seats to defend in states in the country where the Republicans traditionally don’t do that well. And obviously the better the president performs, the more it helps our down-ballot races, specifically with the United States Senate where I would argue we are the firewall against a lot of these radical ideas. I think if for whatever reason we lose the presidential race, we definitely need to keep the majority in the Senate to prevent what I think would be some really bad things from happening, to include the Democrats doing away with the legislative filibuster and trying to expand the Supreme Court.”
“I think that there are cooler heads over there. I hope they prevail, but I also know how much pressure they’ll have from their far left. They believe – Chuck Schumer, the Democrat leader of the Senate, he’s looking over his shoulder at AOC on a daily basis. There’s a lot of talk about a primary election perhaps for his seat in New York, and they have, they bring a lot of pressure, I think on these Democrat senators, from the left, from the progressives in their party to take some of these radical steps. I hope that doesn’t happen. Even Justice Ginsberg said at the time she thought nine was the right number. It’s been nine since 1869. I think expanding the court, trying to politicize it, is the wrong thing to do for the country, and obviously, I hope that irrespective of what happens in the election and the aftermath of it, that that won’t be a path that they will choose to go down.”
On election interference and big tech:
“A lot of misinformation, you know, then a story gets picked up, it goes viral, and – the defense secretary used to say that ‘a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on,’ and I think that’s what you’re dealing with in terms of a lot of this social media stuff that comes from these countries. They’re trying to get misinformation and disruption into our election system, and I think that the platforms have a lot to do with trying to prevent that from happening. We’re going to have them in next week for some of these issues. Facebook, Google, Twitter are some of the biggest targets of these foreign countries that want to interfere with American elections, and it’s important to hear from them on the steps that they’re taking to prevent that. But it is critical that this is an issue that we focus on because we have to have confidence and trust in this country in the democratic form of this government is that it’s fair and accurate, and clean elections.”
On affordable health care:
“I think it has to do, in our view, at least, with creating a competitive model – where you have more competition out there. That tends to drive down prices, and the one thing that Obamacare did is it basically defined in law what health insurance has to be. … But I think what Republicans want to see is a competitive, vibrant health care market where people have choices and where companies that are competing for their business to – in order to get their business, have to bring their prices down.”
“I think the other thing that Republicans want to see is transparency. I mean I think one thing you want to have in health care today – you don’t know how much things cost. Most markets, a competitive market, at least, you know what things cost. And you know, pricing is transparent, and that’s something that isn’t true in health care. So we would clearly like to see that as well. I think there are good ideas out there from many of our members [who] have introduced bills. But in the end, instead of having government-run programs where the government tells you what you can get, where you can get it, what it’s going to cost you, the best way to get prices down – and I think that’s where most people – it’s affordability is the issue that they care most about.”
On affordable energy:
“[P]articularly those who represent, like me who represent biofuel states, we want to see more biofuels in the fuel mix in this country. And there’s always this view that some industries that get subsidized more than others – and that they always come after support for ethanol – but the oil industry also benefits a lot from some of the same sorts of government assistance.
“So, I guess what I would simply say is I’m all in favor of looking for renewable sources of energy that lessen the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are going out into the atmosphere. I think we all ought to be for that. But realizing in making that transition, you’re going to have a need for a long foreseeable future for oil and gas and some of the more traditional sources of energy. And I think that what the former Vice President … suggested is that he wants to get rid of that, and it’s consistent with what they want in the Green New Deal, via mandate, via government fiat, is the goal is to incentivizing those things. And I think there’s a very big difference between these things – these two people are approaching affordable energy for the country.”
On Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court:
“Along with her character, competence, and command of the law, Judge Barrett brings a clear understanding of the proper role of a judge. She understands that the job of a judge is to interpret the law, not make the law. To call balls and strikes, not rewrite the rules of the game. Or as Judge Barrett said in answer to a senator’s question, ‘I apply the law. I follow the law. You make the policy.’ As Judge Barrett made clear in her hearing, she will be the kind of justice who leaves her personal beliefs and political opinions at the courtroom door. She will look at the facts of each case and judge according to the law and the Constitution – and nothing else. Mr. President, when I came to the Senate, I hoped to have the opportunity to put judges like Amy Coney Barrett on the bench. I was proud to vote to confirm her to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. And I look forward to voting to confirm her to the Supreme Court tomorrow.”