Wyoming Senator John Barrasso talked with Fox News Radio's Guy Benson on the precautions the Senate is taking up to ensure members are safe as they return to work in Washington. Barrasso, A medical professional himself was asked if he feels confidant that the work in the Senate is being done in a responsible manner? Barrasso replied,
"Absolutely. There are 100 members of the 86 were there to vote on Monday night. And we're taking all the precautions were spread out and we're doing it there, 30 million Americans who are out of work right now. And we need to be here and we need to be focused on those people who are out of work and what we see with both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. They seem to be trying to exploit the situation when we're trying to get things done."
Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Guy Benson: Also thrilled to be joined now by U.S. Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming. He's the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Senator, good to have you back.
Sen. Barrasso: Always great to be with you, guy. Thanks.
Guy Benson: I'll also point out in this age of the pandemic that you're a medical doctor, which I think informs a lot of our discussion about these issues, although I want to start with what seems to be one of the big brewing arguments on Capitol Hill, and that involves state and local assistance and what that should look like for localities and states that are getting really hammered in their budgets by coronavirus. There is, I think, a push by some on the left and certainly some states to get preexisting budget budget woes sort of cleaned up and patched with the largesse of federal tax payers in the middle of this crisis. And there has been some pushback from conservatives and Republicans saying, no, we're not going to do that. That's been conflated by some who are saying now the Republicans don't want to help at all on this front. They're basically telling these states and localities to drop dead. What's your view on this and how do you think the correct balance can be struck when the legislation is being written?
Sen. Barrasso: No, that's exactly right. Guy, you know, $150 billion has been sent to the states within the last two weeks. That money has not yet been spent. And I think states need to have some flexibility in how they use that money. But we need to. And we have pushed the pause button on additional funding to the states. Now, of course, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, they want a trillion dollars more. They want a blank check. They want a bailout. They want all of those sorts of things. But there's no appetite for that now. But on the Republican side of the aisle, because this is all borrowed money. What we want to make sure is that first hundred and fifty billion dollars is used properly. Now, at first, the guidelines were so strict that we needed some expansion of that. So they can use this for firefighters, police officers, sanitation, those sorts of things, given some flexibility in the $150 billion that has already been sent to the states within the last two weeks. But before there's any kind of a new project, look to looking down into the future, we have made it very clear this is not to bail out states that have had bad behavior for decades. It has to be anything else, has to be targeted and temporary and focused on the corona virus medical crisis that we're facing.
Guy Benson: So how do you do that, sir? Because I've had a number of Republicans on this show over the last two weeks, and everyone seems to agree on that point. We had Leader McConnell here a week ago Monday. And I guess my question is, is someone who is not terribly intimately familiar with the crafting of legislation that process. One of my concerns is how you draft this thing. Because I am in favor, as you just said, of helping states and cities who need some help to make sure that we're not laying off first responders in that kind of thing in the midst of this and making sure that this assistance, as you say, is targeted for pandemic related corona virus caused problems, but nothing else, and certainly not preexisting budget problems stemming from, you know, too many promises and unfunded liabilities and pension reforms. But but sometimes funds can be fundable. How do you how do you write in legislative guardrails and limitations to make sure that the money that. Well, I think eventually flow will flow for the intended purpose, but not a dime for this other stuff.
Sen. Barrasso: Well, you're absolutely right. That was the discussion at our policy lunch yesterday. The Republican senators, again, steering committee today. That is the full discussion because you're borrowing money from future generations to do any additional money. And the whole 2.7 trillion that we've spent already has been borrowed money. So you need to put specific guidelines on any new additional money that would go out. But the question is, what are the needs going to be? And to me, the most important thing we need to do is open the economy again, get the country moving forward, get the economy going, get people back to work, because the sooner we can do that, the less money that's gonna be needed by the states, by the cities and around and around the country. That is the number one thing we need to do. We push the pause button on spending. We need to push the start button on the economy.
Guy Benson: And I want to get back to the reopening of the economy in just a second. But one other point that McConnell mentioned to us last week, and he's been sort of doing a media tour about this is liability shields in the next round of legislation. He said it's a red line for him. And the idea would be to make sure that health care professionals and business owners acting in good faith can't be sued for their provision of care or for their reopening of their businesses. My question is this, because I'm I'm in favor of that idea. I know the Democrats have a very significant trial lawyer lobby that will fight against that. But. Well, again, there's a balancing act here in terms of how you craft legislation, because I'm not sure that let's say there's a health care worker or a doctor who egregiously does something wrong or a business owner that ignores the guidance, ignores the laws and puts people in danger knowingly and recklessly. I'm not sure that person should be indemnified. So how do you make sure that it's not that lawsuit abuse doesn't run rampant in an unfair way? When we start looking back on this without letting some people who might be guilty of something off the hook.
Sen. Barrasso: Yeah, well, you're absolutely right. We need to have sensible protections to our health care workers. Are frontline people or individuals who are trying to open their business again. So, I mean, you're right. You know, I believe planers would have to prove gross negligence, recklessness. You know, exposing customers or workers or patients in a reckless manner. But you know as well as I do, the trial lawyers have been sharpening their knives on this. They you've seen the ads. You know, Sue your mom's nursing home, sue the college. If they let you out of school early, sue you. Sue your employer. Sue the boss. Sue the apartment complex. If you've got Corona virus, call us now free consultations, 800 numbers to call. We cannot allow the next epidemic to be the epidemic of lawsuits. And you re really successfully reopen this economy. Consumers have to have confidence to come out and small business have to have confidence to open without fear of lawsuits. And that's, I think, the right position for Senator McConnell to have to make sure that we provide sensible protections to our health care workers, people on the front lines and the small businesses, the mom and pop businesses of the country, they're trying to reopen.
Guy Benson: Senator Barrasso, at the beginning of this week. So let's back up. A few days ago, even last week, the word was that the House and the Senate were going to reconvene for this week on Monday. Then the Democrats who were on the House decided, never mind were reversing course very abruptly. We're not going to come back. And that drew some criticism from Republicans. Pelosi and Hoyer saying the attending physician from Congress said it's not safe. And when you guys open your doors in the Senate on Monday, the opening salvos from the opening speeches from McConnell and then Chuck Schumer not really focused on this. McConnell was talking about the agenda. Hadn't Schumer said we shouldn't even be here. This is dangerous. The doctor told us it could be dangerous. You guys are here to do judges and other things. This is reckless. So before we get to the judge question just on the health piece of it, because I've been an advocate for remote voting. I think that there's a lot of people in the Senate in particular who are older. And I'm I'm worried about social distancing in that kind of thing. What is your opinion on this question? Is it safe for the Senate to be open for business? And what about this piece about the attending physician? It seems like there's some confusion over what was actually said.
Sen. Barrasso: Well, the Senate is here working. The House has decided to stay at home. We are taking all the precautions. We're socially distancing. We are in the committee meetings. There are things that need to be done today. The Environment Public Works Committee, which I chair passed a major water infrastructure bill for the country. The president says we need to move ahead with water and highway and road infrastructure. We've done a highway infrastructure bill passed unanimously in the committee today. The water infrastructure, dams, ports, all of that passed unanimously through the committee. So there is work to be done. We believe we're doing it safely. People are wearing masks, washing their hands regularly. Most of the staff is working from home, working to hand centrally to members are here.
Guy Benson: So you're a doctor, as I mentioned? Yes. You feel confident that the work in the Senate is being done responsibly?
Sen. Barrasso: Absolutely. There are 100 members of the 86 were there to vote on Monday night. And we're taking all the precautions were spread out and we're doing it there, 30 million Americans who are out of work right now. And we need to be here and we need to be focused on those people who are out of work and what we see with both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. They seem to be trying to exploit the situation when we're trying to get things done. You saw their list of liberal demands. It's like a ransom note. And they've they've once, while we weren't here, held the American people hostage in the sense of the mom and pop businesses, because we wanted to put more money in the paycheck protection program. We wanted to because that was the fund that was out of money. They wanted all sorts of additional things on top of that. I think here to work for the American people.
Guy Benson: Sorry to interrupt. I just want to say there's a lot of, I think, unclear and muddled messaging from the Democrats, because what we've heard in the last just few hours, last day is from Schumer. We shouldn't be here at all. It's not safe. Pelosi said the same thing. And then when you guys have moved forward with judicial confirmations. They say this is terrible. This is a wrong priority, we should be focused right now immediately on coronavirus. We have to do coronavirus stuff right now. But they're also saying, well, we shouldn't even be here and the house isn't here. And so, you know, confirmation is something that is exclusively the province of the U.S. Senate. I'm just not sure that they can have it both ways, especially since, as you alluded to, Senator, on two separate occasions already in the last month, they have filibustered and delayed needed coronavirus relief. And now they're saying we need to do more right now, but also we shouldn't be here. But also, we can't do judges, but we also can't pass legislation because the Democrats aren't here and they run the House. It's a little bit confusing. It feels political. So let me ask you about the judge part of it. Is it a fair knock? I've given my opinion on this. Is it a fair knock that in the middle of a global pandemic, Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans are moving forward with judicial confirmations, for example, Justin Walker to the D.C. Circuit. Democrats are saying you guys are doing this for political reasons and you are doing so at the expense of Corona virus and needed aid on that front. What's your response to that critique.
Sen. Barrasso: The Democrats have been blocking President Trump's nominees for over three years? They have put up one roadblock after another. You know, they've made us file cloture on nominations that in the past would have gone by unanimous consent. So there is a significant backlog of President Trump nominees on Monday. We confirmed the inspector general for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that should have just gone routinely. But in terms of the Senate being here, I view us as essential workers, just as there are essential workers in every community in America. I think it's a it's a weak excuse from Nancy Pelosi to not be here, to not have the House here. And the Senate is doing its job.
Guy Benson: And you guys can walk and chew gum. Right. It's just because you're holding confirmation votes on judges doesn't mean that that precludes debate, discussion and formulation of coronavirus legislation. Writing these. It's it's not like there is literally one thing that can be on every senator's mind 24/7. It's it's a very strange way of framing it.
Sen. Barrasso: Well, it's absolutely a strange way of for me. You're right. We're doing a lot of different things working on various components of this. Their hearings are the Budget Committee, the Finance Committee. The Appropriations Committee is going to be working on funding of the government of the Environment and Public Works Committee today. The Intelligence Committee had hearings yesterday. We are back in the business of working for the American people one at a time when 30 million Americans are out of work and we get together in a very large room with microphones so we can all see each other. But had discussions yesterday for an hour and a half today for an hour and a half on what is the best path forward for the American people, the American economy, and where we stand on so many different things, including and we didn't get as the issue of China, you know, never again. And you're going to hear this uniformly from the Republicans. Never again will we be dependent upon China. As we have been in the past for vital supplies and medicines and all of the things that we have now we've been exposed to during the Corona virus, in addition to the virus vulnerabilities that we can never allow to to impact us again as a nation.
Guy Benson: Last question, Senator Barrasso, and it has to do with reopening the economy. I promised we would circle back to it. I think that states doing this in a sensible way, in a careful way, makes sense, especially a state like yours, which is so rural and has so few cases and deaths from coronavirus to try to apply one standard to New Jersey and then the same standard to Wyoming is is silly. And I'm glad that's not the case. My question, though, is this it seems like President Trump, who wants the economy reopened, is cheering on some governors whose plans actually violate some of his own task force guidelines and gating thresholds. Does it does it create a problem where the White House says, here is our policy on reopening? And the president says bravo to governors who aren't actually following that policy.
Sen. Barrasso: Well, Wyoming has reopened on Friday and we're following the guidelines. We think there we want because we want to do it smartly. We want to do it safely. And we think the guidelines do fit that know the county. I live in 70000 people. We haven't had a case in two weeks. The we have hospitals that have basically shut their doors for almost two months now. No income coming in other than emergencies. And yet they've never had a case of Corona virus in the county. So this is a big, vast country. One size doesn't fit all. The president is right to be optimistic about the need to open the country sooner rather than later. But if you haven't had a case in two in two weeks, you don't see the numbers drop. Because the number is zero. So we're we're going to continue doing what we believe is right. In our communities, and I believe we're going to see more and more of that. And I think by next week we have 30 to 35 states will be a partial phases of opening. And that's where we need to get that's that's much more important than more money to keep the country on life support. As we get beyond the disease, we need to get the economy open.
Guy Benson: Senate Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso of Wyoming, a medical doctor as well, so appreciate your time, Senator. Stay safe and we'll talk to you soon. Thanks, guy. We'll take a quick break. We'll come back. It's the Guy Benson Show. I want to talk about speaking of states and different standards and different plans, a juxtaposition that was pointed out on Twitter. And I think it it harkens back to a point I made about Florida earlier in the week on Monday. I want to revisit that because I think it's a. It also ties into my opening monologue about New York and some really tough questions that need to be asked of Governor Cuomo. I'll get to that right after this.