Senator Mike Braun of Indiana talked with Fox News Radio's Guy Benson about today's virtual Senate hearing on the government's COVID-19 response. Senator Braun also commented on the proposed three trillion dollar relief packaged proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Saying "I Think It's Politically Risky, Because It To Me Is Like The Green New Deal."
Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Guy Benson: Thank you for listening. Well, I spent the first few segments of this program giving you some of my thoughts on today's hearing in the U.S. Senate featuring Dr. Foushee played a lot of audio. I have more to say to come. But I want to turn the reins over now to someone who is actually there. U.S. Senator Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, recently joined the U.S. Senate. He ran a logistics and distribution company for 37 years. And now, as I mentioned, he's a senator. And you are part of today's hearing. Senator, what were your big takeaways after those hours, listening to your colleagues ask questions?
Sen. Braun: So, Guy, all through the hearings, you kept hearing the discussion on testing. So I didn't get to come to the discussion until about a little over two hours after it began. But it was not going to fail to make the point that early out of the gate, it was basically the CDC and the FDA that cost us a little over a month. And you don't hear that in any of the constant discussion of testing. Whenever you stress something like that, you've got to be careful, because we all agree with that. I went to our discussion here about 10 days, two weeks ago with the CEO of one of the pharmaceutical companies headquartered in Indiana. He said there has never been anything addressed, like finding not only the appropriate tests that are quick and accurate. He pointed out that the genomes only been available around four months and that early on the CDC did not want to look at South Korea's because they wanted it done here. That didn't work. So they basically, you know, put the slow start out there and companies have been working feverishly on getting one that's both quick and accurate. You never hear that either, because all of us agree we need more testing. It's just that you can't blame the administration on that. You know, we look at the bureaucracy with rugged feet.
Guy Benson: So let's let's think about that because, you know, I think undeniably there have been failures on testing and were much better, much, much better now than we were. There's no question about that. But it seems like we did squander a lot of time. And part of that was because the CDC made. They screwed up. Right. They they sent out defective tests at one point. And then they also made the decision not to basically rely on the South Korean model, which, as you pointed out, was not a great call. And they were basically keeping the shackles on private industry for far too long. There were mistakes, very significant and costly ones made. What's the fair way to address those mistakes without making it immediately partisan or political, which it seemed like some of your colleagues were trying to do?
Sen. Braun: Well, I think you look at the kind of litany of remember PPE and then ventilators. You don't hear any of that anymore than it was how critical care, hospital bed capacity. That's not an issue. This is going to be a continuing let me on all of this as it relates to how do we get through it. It's a tricky virus. You know, when we now know the predispositions, even among some young people, might put it in peril. But you just constantly hear the continuous blame of everything on the administration. And yes, they're always going to be mistakes made in something like this. This is the federal government in this. And all the tests are not going to come from the government. It's going to come from the industry itself. And in talking to the pharmaceutical companies, they believe they're as far along on producing the tests as they could have been other than the 35 to 40 days where they were delayed out of the gate. That was my point. I think it needs to be made.
Guy Benson: What about this issue of reopening? Because I know that it's controversial. The pace of reopening has become a flashpoint. Some governors taking heat. Others not as much heat overall. Were you satisfied with the answers that you heard from Dr. Fachi and the public health officials on the reopening piece of it?
Sen. Braun: You know, I think that they're still going to air on the side of what's been a one size fits all approach. And we watched with horror how it unfolded in New Jersey and New York through most of the country. It's different in most characteristics. We had the benefit of seeing it coming in, talking during that five week hiatus, talked to tons of business owners, small, medium and large. They all know that there are certain things you're going to have to do during reopening. My wife's business, for instance, in downtown Jass. Her hometown could have easily stayed open, but was declared by a bureaucrat that was not essential. They don't have elbow to elbow traffic in there anyway. Could have stayed open. Our local hospital had to cut out all elective surgery and stuff where they earn revenue. We've had 45 to 50 cases. So it's that kind of decision, this bureaucratic that I think when we dispassionately debrief it, we're going to see that we should have been doing two things at once. From early on, not a one size fits all where the epidemiologists have been controlling the dynamic. On the other hand, we can't miss one thing they tell us in terms of incorporating in how you do this going forward. So it's a classic case. It was a simple approach that due to urgency, due to the unknown characteristics of the virus I was okay with. We should have pivoted earlier through most of the country where it was so different from New Jersey and New York. And we'll pay the price for that economically as things cascade here over the next month or two with bankruptcies and unneeded economic carnage. That would have been different had we taken a more complicated approach to it from the get-go.
Guy Benson: Senator, one of your Democratic colleagues, Maggie Hassin from New Hampshire, I think asked good questions about nursing homes. There were other senators on the other side who I think we're trying to make very obviously obsessively political points, and I'll probably address some of that later in the show. But Hassen was asking about nursing homes. We've seen the truly shocking numbers of deaths in nursing nursing homes as. When it comes to the general population. And it's just disproportionate in some cases, 30, 40, 50 percent of deaths in a given state from coronavirus have occurred in nursing homes. It seems like that ought to be a pretty significant focus of our public policy and public health initiatives moving forward when it comes to coronavirus. What are your thoughts on that?
Sen. Braun: Definitely. Even before we left, I was talking about that in a couple of floor speeches back in late March about how we protect the most vulnerable. We were already seeing because it led off in the state of Washington, how it got a foothold in nursing homes. And you're right in Indiana. I think it's double the rate nationally and why you wouldn't put more resources, the available test towards building an iron dome around the most vulnerable elderly with co-morbidities. That's again, an approach. It should have been in place with more diligence. And it wasn't because we were doing a blanket shutdown that was shutting down places unnecessarily and then not focusing on the places most vulnerable.
Guy Benson: And by the way some of that, some of that's on governors, too. I know this always comes back to Washington and the president, but there are governors who, like Ron DeSantis in Florida who identified this early and has had a much better result in his state as opposed to Governor Cuomo in New York and some other places. I mean, there there is a leadership requirement here, not just in Washington, but the people who are making decisions for their states. And I think that some states have handled it better than others. I guess the logistical question I have, Senator, is this I'm all for the idea of just protecting the vulnerable and the elderly to the greatest extent possible, cause they're dying by far and the biggest numbers. But but that's easier said than done, right, because younger people have to care for the elderly in these old age homes or retirement homes or nursing facilities. And it's not like you can force all of these workers to sleep overnight at these nursing homes. And early on in the process, back when you were talking about it, we didn't have the capacity to do a lot of testing for all of these folks every day. And in some cases, we still don't. So how do you how do you pursue the goal that you and I agree is a no brainer while recognizing that? People come in, in all those places, whether they're cooking, whether they're serving, whether they're nursing. Who art in those populations, who then just one of them slipping through can create this horrible chain effect where so many people die.
Sen. Braun: No. And I mean, you're going to have to do what you do in most situations. You don't have one approach. You've got to devote the resources of contact tracing. You're going to have temperature scans. You've got to make sure that you you treat that with just a higher level of diligence. Like I said earlier, I don't think that's an impossible mission. We now know it's a fact because we've got all the data that tells us that. And really, we should have gotten the cue from what we saw in the state of Washington. They put the clamp down in some fashion to where it didn't turn into a disaster out there. And you look at Ron DeSantis, who would have the population right. Most vulnerable and has found a way to do it. That's the laboratory of the states that ought to be shared. And we ought to ask those two governors what they did, what the nursing home associations did and learn from it. It's just that if we don't do that, we are going to be, in my opinion, look at not only the health concerns that come from a tanking economy, but something that's going to be much worse than it ever needed to be because we stuck too long with the original approach. We weren't inquisitive enough about what Washingtons and Floras did. We just went with it because the dynamic was being controlled from one place. I see that changing now. That's what gives me optimism. And I wish politically that the other side would lay off of it because they still need the coordination and the leadership coming from the White House and the federal government. This will be solved in the trenches, not by the federal government. And we've got to get the economy going. The real economy, not trying to replace it with more government subsidies that we're OK out of the gate. I think it's silly to look at that as a solution going forward.
Guy Benson: So on that exact point, Nancy Pelosi just within the last hour came out and announced the new legislation that she's going to put forward a three trillion dollar relief bill. And just reporting this is what Politico said about the legislation that is being crafted behind closed doors with no Republican input in the House of Representatives, quote, Neither this bill nor anything resembling will ever become law. It's a Democratic wish list filled up with all the party's favorite policies. That's from Politico. Sure enough, here comes this three trillion dollar bill that Pelosi has now said she's going to introduce. It includes, among other things, a change in the salt tax deduction, which would be at a tax cut for rich people in blue states. I mean, it's nothing to do with coronavirus. We know that there are going to be bailouts of states beyond just corona virus needs. This is what the Democrats want. And it's just a huge Christmas tree of various provisions and people are just trying to go through it. Your reaction to the three trillion dollar measure just in principle? Don't know all the details. And I guess the follow up question is if Politico is right and it seems like they are, if nothing like this will become law and it's this gigantic monstrosity of legislation, isn't it a waste of time to even introduce something like that in the first place?
Sen. Braun: So I think this is a reprise of package three. If you recall, when she struggled in the town that got delayed from a Sunday to a Wednesday, I do all that extraneous stuff in it here. They view this as being on the cusp of another crisis in the sense that, you know, we still haven't got it tamped down. She knows that. There's a great urging across the country of replacing the government stuff she's talking about with the real economy. Look at Tesla. Look at what Elon Musk is looking at doing. I think she does that. It'll put their cards out on the table. That'll make them look like opportunists to get their agenda across. It's never going to happen. We do want liability protection. Talked about it the other evening with several other conservative senators. And there's not going to be much appetite for paying any price to get that across the finish line. That needs to be done independent of anything she might want on a wish list like that. I think it's politically risky because it to me is like the Green New Deal. That was the driver for the Democratic platform that Senator Sanders was pushing. Look where that went. Really nowhere. But it's not going to go away because that's what they really believe. The American public. Needs to have a heads up to it. will coast them politically.
Guy Benson: I think that their attitude is we're going to pass something out of the Democratic House and we're gonna say that the Republicans in the Senate and President Trump don't want to do it. And doing nothing as opposed to this bad thing means that you want people to die and they don't care about Corona virus and they're leaving states out to dry. Those those are the talking points they're going to use. I think they're going to expect a lot of cover from the media. And Republicans need to be ready with compelling counterpoints because I think we can see what's coming. Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, longtime business guy, private sector guy, now in the U.S. Senate, part of today's hearing, Senator. Always a pleasure. Thank you for making time.
Sen. Braun: Thank you, guy.
Guy Benson: Taking a quick break. When we come back, I want to fact check something that we heard from Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia. He was painting a dark picture of America's response to covet 19 and got something very, very wrong. We'll tell you about it next.