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Video: Sen. Mark Warner Says He’ll Give New Speaker Mike Johnson “the benefit of the doubt,” but He Doesn’t Have “a lot of hope” Given Johnson’s Far-Right Views, Apparent Loyalty to Trump

See below for video and highlights of Sen. Mark Warner earlier this afternoon, speaking to the press about new, far-right House Speaker Mike Johnson; the Israel-Gaza situation; the mass shooting in Maine; etc.

  • I want to express my condolences and the folks in Maine where the shooter, unfortunately, is still at large. I don’t know any of the facts. I’ve not had a chance to get any briefing, but it’s crazy in my mind that these kind of shootings continue to happen in our country. And while lots of elected officials offer thoughts and prayers, we still can’t find a rational way to get particularly weapons of war off off the streets. But I’m hopeful law enforcement will bring this perpetrator to justice. Obviously, the sooner the better.”
  • “It appears now that we have a new Speaker of the House of Representatives. I don’t know Speaker Johnson…I’ve not met him. I am a little concerned that it seems like what was partly the way that he was elected was because of his I think some of his positions that concern me greatly, the fact that he was willing to overturn the 2020 elections, the fact that he has spoken out so vehemently against women’s health care choices, the fact that it feels like on virtually every issue from protecting Social Security and Medicare to standing by some of the most outrageous claims that former President Trump made, he seems to be out of that mold now. I owe him and the House the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this new leadership position will bring him new responsibility and a more temperate view because the House has got to get to work. We’re less than a month away from another government shutdown and it is really important that the House and us in the Senate do our job and act on the president’s and national security request. We need to get additional military aid to our friends in Israel. We need to not walk away. And we do need to continue to fund the brave soldiers and people of Ukraine against the authoritarian aggression coming from from Putin and the Russians. We need to make sure that we all can do all we can to shore up our possibilities in the Indo-Pacific and put a big warning in terms of making sure that China doesn’t take preemptive action in any area. And part of that as well means supporting our our friends in Taiwan. So the House, after these weeks of antics, needs to get its act together, do its job, just as we have to do our job in terms of providing the security that’s needed and making sure the government doesn’t shut down.”
  • “And on one item on the security, I think it’s really important that the president included in this package humanitarian aid. The truth is we can still have sympathy for the innocent Palestinian citizens, that that doesn’t have to translate into any kind of appropriate or a that’s translated into any kind of sympathy, though, for Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization and we make ourselves stronger. And frankly, Israel stronger if we make sure that the innocent citizens in Gaza and increasingly, as the bombing increases in the West Bank that those individuals have basic humanitarian aid, so that when Israel does take out Hamas, that it doesn’t end up resulting in even more terrorists born out of that out of that violence because they were not provided adequate food and water during these challenging times.”
  • “I’ve joined a couple of other colleagues again this week in contacting the Department of Labor. We still have a real problem in this country in terms of child labor. We see it in some of our poultry processing plants, even in Virginia. We see it out in the Midwest and some of the pork facilities and other agricultural facilities. There’s a reason, you know, as far back as over and ten and 12 year olds to work in unsafe conditions. It is remarkable in my mind that we’ve seen some backsliding on that, particularly with with migrant children. And I want to make sure that we hold Dole to task in terms of doing its job.”
  • “And then finally, a bit of good news. The administration announced two tech hubs this week. Virginia received two of, I believe, the 31 that were announced. One is based in the New River Valley. That’s around additive manufacturing, which is much more. How do you produce an a better value high tech manufacturing  cross a host of fields? Defense in particular, but across a host of fields. And then we also received another tech hub designation for the Richmond/Petersburg area, something that we received prior federal funding for both in terms of next generation biotech research, but also literally biomanufacturing around much cheaper production of insulin. I think one of the things that came out of the the law we passed last year in the IRA that basically said insulin for seniors shouldn’t exceed 35 bucks a month. This facility is trying to produce insulin at 30 bucks a month. And as somebody who’s the father of a diabetic daughter, type one diabetic daughter, I’ve been blessed enough to be able to afford to pay. But my daughter has seen in the 20 plus years that she’s had to take insulin on a regular basis. The prices of that insulin quadruple. That is crazy. No other country pays at these levels. So we need both the kind of legal drug price negotiation, but we also need these next generation production fillers, facilities that are literally being built out in Petersburg. So the fact that we got two of the 31 tech hub guarantees was a great win for Virginia.”
  • “I do worry about the the Speaker’s record as a backbench congressman. He was, you know, for not for for keeping governments open. He was one of the ones who seem to be willing to shut down at the drop of a hat. He’s been against funding for Ukraine. He is not for women’s health care choices. I mean, you go down the litany of issues, what his prior positions have been in it. It doesn’t give me a lot of hope now. The flipside is I owe him as the benefit to prove me wrong. And maybe rising into this position will make sure that he will actually get the people’s business done, which is don’t shut down the government and make sure that we provide this support package for Israel, Ukraine, our friends in Asia, in a unified way, because in a unified way, it will get it won’t get the vast majority of votes coming out of both the House and the Senate.”
  • “I think…we need to be crystal clear that the Middle East is in the position it is today because Hamas on October 7 brutally broke into Israel – murdered, butchered over 1400 Israelis, took hundreds of women and children, soldiers hostage. And Hamas is an organization that was, I believe, hated by most of the Palestinians in Gaza. And so I believe Israel has not only a right to defend itself, but when you are living this close to an organization that by the way, does not accept even the two-state solution that most other nations in the region, most Arab nations in the region, are actually supportive of, their only political objective is to push all the Israelis into the sea, that is an untenable position. And I think Israel has the right to go in and eradicate as much as possible the Hamas leadership, at least at the same time. I think it’s important that Israel operates within the rules of of of warfare. There are such a thing which means no disproportionate harm to civilians. It means getting supplies again, to some of the folks who are most in need. Remember, Israel was willing to send in supplies, you know, a couple days into this. It was Hamas who was unwilling to let those trucks roll. And rightfully, I think, the Americans, I believe even the Egyptians, as well as the Israelis, were concerned, that if these trucks of aid rolled and simply fell into the hands of Hamas, a terrorist organization, there was no guarantee that would get to the Palestinians in Gaza. So I think there Israel needs to operate within the rules of war. And I think one of the things that I give the president a lot of credit for, the fact that he went within a few days of the tragedy into an active combat location, reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel. But what I think he did that was the bravest was he was willing to acknowledge that in the aftermath of 9/11, when Americans were just like Israel, Israelis are now angry, rightfully justice and justifiable anger about the brutal terrorists who attacked on 9/11. Israel had the same honest, brutal anger against Hamas when he said, you know, we in America maybe overdid because we didn’t have clear enough plans. We ended up in a 20-plus-year war in Iraq. We ended up in a 20-plus-year war in Afghanistan. So the willingness of a president…to acknowledge in a foreign country that, hey, at our moment of crisis, we didn’t think long and hard enough about what our objectives are. And to acknowledge that I thought was an enormously courageous and it appears that it’s having some effect, that at least the Israelis are thinking through a strategy, you know, their ability and their military power to take back part of Gaza is is not in question. But the real question becomes. You know, what do you do after that? How do you, at the end of the day, bring some level of governance back to Gaza? That’s not going to be Hamas. And my hope and prayer is that what’s been happening over these last few days is that there’s been a lot of thinking, contacting and planning about what happens after the shooting stops.”
  • “…what I can do in the Senate to avoid a shutdown is do my job. And doing my job  means voting for a spending package that keeps the government operating. It means adhering to the deal that was cut between the president, the former speaker of the House, that had the majority leader and the minority leader of the Senate sign on. That was a framework that all of the quote unquote, major players agreed to stick to the deal. And I think the Senate will do that, and we’re working through one of them. We’ve got 11 or 12 appropriations bills, we’re working through three of them right now in what’s called a minibus. Only kind of Washington speak would call it that. But we do our job. The House has got to do it. But the idea that the House is going to somehow come up with some crazy set of demands that might not even be done, that might not even be dictated by the House leadership, but might be dictated by the former president as he travels from one of his indictments to another. That kind of notion that that the government of the United States and the legislature of the United States ought to be listening to demands from a former president, that is not a way to keep the government open.”
  • “I know as I speak to my friends who are very active in the pro-Israel movement in this country and from Israel, I make the case, one, we’ve got to minimize civilian casualties. And two, and I said this to all my friends who are supportive of aid to Israel, you know, this whole package the president has put forward and I’ve not heard anybody say they’re doing this yet, but some members, some Republican members are saying, hey, we’ll do Israel, but to heck with Ukraine. That’s just not a tenable  circumstance to throw over the Ukrainians 18 months after they have literally beaten the Russian army time and again to throw over Ukraine when we’ve had other nation states join NATO’s because of our our partnership would do irreparable harm to America as well as the fact and this is the thing that makes me particularly crazy, is that I got guys that say, well, I don’t care about Putin, but I’m really worried about President Xi. Well, you gave Putin a win that gives President Xi more license in his neighbor. In terms of the ability to minimize casualty casualties, I’d like to see these numbers lower. But when Hamas so heartlessly puts their missiles sometimes firing from the roofs of inhabited houses or stores their munitions in a mosque or in a populated building, it I think it demonstrates the inhumanity of Hamas. If they cared, this is an organization that says it wants to fight against Israel, yet they use their very own Palestinian citizens as shields. It’s disgraceful. It’s one of the reasons why, I think is as history will ultimately write, that one of the things that motivated Hamas to act at this moment in time is that every day Palestinians in Gaza were so sick of Hamas that Hamas might lose their ability to rule. And with that rule was enormous graft that the Hamas leadership would skim off from international aid coming in. So, yes, I think Israel will try to minimize, but we’ve got to realize we’re not they’re not dealing with a civilized entity, enemy, a civilized enemy would not put the people that they claim to represent in such harm’s way.”

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