Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton came to see me this morning:
HH: Together with US Senator Tom Cotton for a brief moment. I was panicking that for the first time in the Hugh Hewitt Show’s 20 years, an Arkansas senator would have boastful rights over Ohio state senators when it came to college football. But with that the world is right again. Ohio State is undefeated. The Arkansas Razorbacks are 3-5. Good morning, senator. Welcome.
TC: Good morning, Hugh. It is good to be with you. I am happy to hear the Christmas music again. On the plus side, three wins for Arkansas in recent years are pretty good. So we’re pretty excited about the direction of the program.
HH: The program, and then you have Alabama. You have to break through Alabama. So yeah, it’s a good start.
TC: Well that’s right. Same thing for everyone.
HH: Senator Cotton, yes, you have four weeks to do a lot of work. The lame duck goes until January 3rd. What do you think is the Senate’s priority for you?
TC: We still have some lifelong appointments that we will fill. We would like to confirm the candidate to replace Judge Barrett, now Judge Barrett on the 7th Court of Appeals. There is an opening in the northeast of the court of appeal. You may have seen the news, Hugh, that Judge Blum of the 7th Circuit, who was the chief judge of the Circuit across the country, assumed senior status yesterday, as I believe Ronald Reagan appointed him in 1983. So I told Mitch McConnell that if anyone can get a Circuit Judge certified in a month, it’s the Senate Apex Predator.
HH: You know, I agree. And there is Kate Todd in the White House attorney’s office who might be eligible. You finished the job. That can and should be done.
HH: You know what Barack Obama said. If you can win, you should do it.
TC: Yes, and so we have these lifelong judges in the appeals courts. There are still many district court judges, including some judges in California, your home state. Of course we need the democrats to work together. Obviously, if those judges from a state such as California or New York are appointed with two Democratic senators, they have the approval of the two Democratic senators, as each senator still has a veto over judges from their home state. And we hope that in the end the Democrats will be overwhelmed by the Christmas cheer and agree to reassign any judges in their own states who have approved them. But we also have some …
HH: You know, I’m curious Senator about that. Will Kamala Harris as a Senator, President of the Senate as Vice President, get blue panties? Or does she have an incentive to move people like Rick Richmond if she could get one of them for one of us?
TC: Hugh, everyone, every Senator gets blue panties. So you know in a year or two when Joe Biden is president and we have an opening in Arkansas and John Bozeman and I are going to have a veto. We cannot dictate who that choice may be, but we can block any of those decisions. This has been a longstanding Senate custom. These blue panties are literally Hugh, a blue panty that a Senator returns at the beginning of the trial. If Rick has moved on, or a judge has stepped onto the judicial committee, got through the committee and is standing on the floor, it means the blue slip step has already been overcome. But the Democrats still need to work together. We will not prioritize judges from states like New York when Democrats object, when we can approve judges from states with two Republican senators or one Republican senator and one Democratic senator. However, there are a few other important dates as well. They’re taking Liam Hardy to the armed forces appeals court. That is a 15 year appointment.
TC: We have appointments to independent boards and commissions, such as one of my longtime advisors, Kyle Hauptman, who goes on to manage the credit union.
TC: Or Brian Brooks who goes to the currency inspector’s office, or John Barger who goes to the Federal Thrift Savings Board. All of these are perpetual appointments going beyond Jan. 20 and will play an important role in tackling regulatory overshoot by the Biden government or countering China. And some of these roles have very important efforts to make that happen. Finally, of course, there are laws. We want to pass the Defense Act for the 60th time in a row. We want to pass a four year spending bill so that we can prioritize the important programs that we all care about, like the long-term weapons program in the Department of Defense. And personally, I’d love to see another coronavirus relief bill that is limited, certainly smaller than the CARES bill in March, but tailored to those who need it most, whether they are in the aviation, restaurant, or food industries Working in the Monetary Area To help schools stay open, as is the case in Arkansas, are reopening them in other states. However, at their request for $ 3.5 trillion in unrelated measures, the Democrats must embark on just their liberal wish-list. But that’s kind of an overview of what’s going to happen here over the next two or three weeks.
HH: Let me ask you before we run out of time. Do you have an opinion on the Minister of Defense? There seems to be controversy within Team Biden about who it should be. I thought it would be Michelle Flournoy, and given her background, I’m pretty fine with that. As someone who has served in uniform and is in the armed forces, what do you think?
TC: Hugh, I’m going to let Joe Biden decide who he wants to be the next Secretary of Defense and I’ll evaluate that person on the matter. However, I’ll say that I read a very disturbing inside report on why a candidate for Secretary of Defense was not rolled out with the rest of his national security team last week. They said it should send the message that we are going to deprioritize military power as an instrument of American power. Nothing could be more foolish. The idea of peace through strength depends on a strong military, and everyone, allies and enemies alike, know that our military is second to none and is used to protect our national interests, making it less likely that you will ever have to use the military in primarily.
HH: Yes, diplomatic power doesn’t work without military power. I find that worrying too. I didn’t read that I’m glad you told us about it. Senator Cotton, keep coming back and good luck you’ve achieved a great deal in the last four weeks of the 116th and speak to us on the 117th.
End of the interview.