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WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning to discuss sequestration and the Hagel, Lew and Brennan nominations to the President’s Cabinet.
Key excerpts of the interview:
Chuck Hagel Nomination to be Secretary of Defense:
“…if anyone saw his testimony, it was very unsettling, it was weak and it was wobbly, and, you know, you want competence and confidence in the person that is going to be Secretary of Defense, and what we saw was a lot of confusion by this nominee. So, what we're doing is just asking for some information, a little more time to get some more of the speeches that he's given, to see what he said because he said one thing on one day when it's popular and then at another time says another thing. The Defense Department—this is a very, very important job. This is the number one employer of the United States, and we need to have somebody there who can manage that, do it well and give confidence to our military.
“This is a nomination that's being rushed through by the Democrats. There really shouldn't be a rush in something of this importance. All we've asked is for another week, we’ve asked a number of questions, they’ve continued to obstruct. This President said we have the most transparent Administration in the history of the country. Then why are they trying to hide and not allow us to get some information so we can vote a week from now?”
On How Effective Hagel Would be as Defense Secretary:
“I have grave reservations. I think he's been wrong about Iran, wrong about Israel, wrong in Iraq, wrong with nuclear weapons, absolutely I plan to vote against him.
“I think he's going to be less effective because of the fact that the President nominated him. There were a lot of Democrats on Capitol Hill that don't believe he was the best choice, and I’m sure the White House is very disturbed with how poorly he did during his confirmation hearings. I think it is going to impact him as he tries to limp across the finish line to get confirmed.
“The Cabinet is chaos right now because of so many resignations. I think we have another seven or eight to confirm.”
On John Brennan’s Nomination to be CIA Director:
“He’s had his hearings, it’s not yet come up for a vote, they want to do that because there are questions by both Democrats and Republicans—questions about drones, questions about Benghazi, lots of questions both sides of the aisle. So, they’re not making kind of a political statement on him because Democrats have legitimate questions that they want answers to.
“I still want to review the hearing. They have classified hearings and then those that are not classified. I’ve seen the public. I want to read some of the other information.”
On Jack Lew’s Nomination to be Treasury Secretary:
“Jack Lew, again, a long history public service, but they have to ask and answer questions regarding his time on Wall Street, the large bonus payment that he got not too long before the big bailout of the group that he was working for on Wall Street, his investments in the Cayman Islands for which the President criticized Mitt Romney. So, we need an Administration that doesn't say, you know, do as I say, not as I do. You know, Tim Geithner, the former Treasury Secretary, I voted against him because he hadn't paid his taxes. American people deserve answers to these questions because the Treasury Secretary, Candy, works not for the President or for Congress, works for the American people.”
“Let me be very clear, and would I say this to the President as I say it to you—these spending cuts are going to go through on March 1st. Their taxes are off the table. I’ve read the Democrat proposal that even Chuck Schumer said is just a chess piece. The Republican party is not in any way going to trade spending cuts for a tax increase.
“I think there are much better ways to do these budget cuts, and I welcome that sort of discussion with the President, but the cuts are going to occur. We're talking about 2.5% of what we spend this year, and this is just the first year of ten years of cuts, so you have to be realistic about this. Families all across the country, Candy, have had their budgets cut by larger than that as a result of the economic downturn.
“I believe the President has a lot of authority that he can decide where, how this works, and, yeah, he can make it very uncomfortable, which I think would be a mistake on the part of the President, but when you take a look at the total dollars there are better ways to do this, but the cuts are going to occur.”