AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – We are so pleased to welcome back to “The Means Report,” Georgia’s own 12th District Congressman Rick Allen. He’ll cover the fallout from Afghanistan as troops and others continue to leave that country. Also the law regarding Georgia elections that came about this year now being challenged by the federal government. We’ll get Congressman Allen’s thoughts on that, and whether he thinks the Georgia voting law can stand up. And healthcare costs always a concern. We want those rates to be lower. We’ll see what’s going on in Washington in that regard.
Brad Means: Congressman Rick Allen, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us today. How does it feel to be back in the 12th District? Are you staying busy?
Rep. Rick Allen: Yes, I tell you. Brad we got so many crises in this country right now. There’s not a spare moment. I mean, boy we have a total lack of leadership in Washington DC, and it’s just creating problems for people everywhere. I just got off a phone call with all of our healthcare professionals in the 12th District hospital administrators, the hospitals are full. Please tell people to consult their physician, and if their physician recommends getting a vaccination so that they can live, to please get a vaccination. The statistics and these hospitals. I mean, we’re losing people simply because they’re not… Well they’re are compromised to some extent health-wise, but in addition to that, they’re not vaccinated. And frankly, the vaccination is the only thing that’s gonna save their lives.
Brad Means: Well, and a lot of people, and I was debating whether to lead off this edition of “The Means Report” with Afghanistan or the pandemic, but since you’ve mentioned it, what about that vaccine hesitancy? Don’t you think that now that the FDA has granted full approval to the Pfizer shots, that more people might get them? Or are you still picking up on people being very hesitant?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, people are hesitant because it’s become political. And it was political from the very get go. And I mean, you don’t know how hard we worked and the past administration, the Trump administration worked, because we knew from… Yeah, of course there’s a big debate between public medicine and private medicine. But basically the experts were telling us that the only way we were gonna stop people from dying was a vaccination. And of course, obviously to set record time with that, we had to go to the private sector to get those vaccinations quickly. And of course the government funded that, we actually ran the programs so that it takes to get medicine like that to the people simultaneously, so that it wouldn’t go and take two to five years, which is what the public medicine people were telling them. So the bottom line is we got the vaccinations out there. And frankly, with this Delta variant, now it’s three times more infectious, it’s affecting people who are younger. And like I said, I think it’s important… It’s a public health crisis, and it’s important for people to go to their physician or to go to a clinic or to the health department and have a physician see them, look at their makeup as far as their health and their ability to withstand this virus and then make an intelligence decision on whether to get the vaccine or not.
Brad Means: Congressman, what do you think about school children and those who work in our schools? Should they be wearing masks? I know in Georgia and in South Carolina, a lot of pushback from parents who don’t wanna be told to put masks on their children.
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, that’s… I’m not a doctor. And again, there seems to be tremendous debate. We do know that some mask or more… Really the only mask that protects if I had… The only thing that happens if I have the virus and I have a mask on, that protects you. And the only thing that can protect you is the N9. And that’s what I understand that all of the professionals had at least decided. But again, it’s still, again, we can’t seem to get everybody on the same page.
Brad Means: Yeah, no you’re right. I know, and the push to get everybody vaccinated continues every day. It’s so many nights, it’s our top story on the news, but I will say that a lot of people had 2021 circled as the year that we put this pandemic behind us, obviously that’s not coming true. What do you see for the immediate future? Is this a sickness and illness we’re gonna have to just deal with for a while?
Rep. Rick Allen: Certainly the flu was something that we had to deal with. Polio was something we have to deal with. I mean, this may just be another.
Brad Means: Yeah, you’re probably right.
Rep. Rick Allen: And measles, we have to deal with the measles. These things are out there, there are health risks. And this is just one more and I will tell you this, we need this administration to let’s… We need to do an investigation as to where this came from. Because we have, the Republican Conference has done a complete investigation as to where this came from. And from everything we’ve determined, it came from a lab in Wuhan in China, and that needs to be addressed.
Brad Means: Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna take a quick break right now. We’ll take our first break early in the broadcast, because I do wanna get into the Afghanistan situation with you, get your thoughts on it and what you expect to see in that country going forward, Congressman Allen, as well as where we stand on the war on terror, as “The Means Report” with Georgia Congressman Rick Allen continues.
Brad Means: Welcome back to “The Means Report,” we are continuing our conversation with 12th District Congressman Rick Allen from Georgia. Congressman Allen, we talked about the pandemic in our first segment and what your hopes are going forward. What about going forward in Afghanistan? Few people said that this withdrawal would be smooth or easy. Did you expect it to look like it does? And what do you see for the immediate future there?
Rep. Rick Allen: This has been the worst foreign policy debacle in the history of the United States. It seems that this administration wants to blame it on the previous administration. Well, I can tell you, we have done hearing after hearing. Our former secretary of state has done a number of interviews describing exactly what the former administration had succeeded in, withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan. I think everybody wanted to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, but there had to be conditions. And for this administration to be so uninformed of exactly what might happen either the president is not listening to his advisors and ignoring them, or he needs to get new advisors, because they blew this one. And for example, what was it in June? That the president came on and he says, the Taliban does not have the capability to take the country back. The security forces will hold. And of course, that was probably true when the security forces had air cover provided from Bagram, and all of that disappeared overnight, with all of our equipment. Who made that decision? There’s gonna be a lot of forensic hearings on this. We’re gonna get to the bottom of it, but it is just like I said, worst foreign policy debacle in the history of this country. And my heart goes out to those service members that pay the ultimate price and their families. Obviously we’ve been in prayer for them, and it just didn’t have to be this way.
Brad Means: Congressman, let me ask you about the 13 service members killed in that initial suicide bombing, when the US troops and others were beginning this Exodus. The US response to that was to do a couple of drone strikes and kill a few people they believed were associated with ISIS. Is that an appropriate response? And what kind of message did that response send to the Taliban and ISIS and others?
Rep. Rick Allen: I think that that response is all they had at the time. I’m hoping that our military is looking at other options. These people need to pay. The other thing Brad, you don’t do is you ask the Taliban to be your security force. I mean, how did these people get through the Taliban? How’d they get through those checkpoints without… It sounds like to me, somebody got paid off. And of course, unfortunately, that’s the way these people do business over there. And if that’s the case, then they need to be held accountable as well.
Brad Means: Are you concerned with terror groups… I talked to a political scientist about this the other day. Are you concerned with terror groups thriving and getting bigger and better and stronger now that the US is gone?
Rep. Rick Allen: Absolutely. Yeah, our ability from an intelligent standpoint has been severely diminished, in that part of the world. And our ability to strike has been severely diminished. So yes, we’ve got a major problem that we’ve gotta solve militarily. And, for example, the open border, I mean, we have potential terrorists who can just walk across the border. We should immediately because of what we’re seeing and the development of what we’re seeing, close our borders and be much more careful about who we’re letting into this country.
Brad Means: Yeah, so much of this war on terror congressmen is fought online. I know you spend a good bit of time when you’re back in the district at Fort Gordon and our cyber security efforts there. Do you think that’s what the war on terror is going to look like going forward? That it’s going to be primarily waged online? And if so, what does that mean for Augusta and Fort Gordon’s role in the war against terror?
Rep. Rick Allen: I think as far as the superpowers are concerned, we’re gonna be fighting the war online. As far as terrorist organizations, it’s on the ground. We need to know what’s going on on that ground. And we can monitor, we have methods and I can’t get into too much of that because it’s all classified, but I’ve seen our capabilities and they’re enormous. We can track bad guys, but then dealing with them and stopping it on a level we need to stop it and really keeping those people out of this country, is critical and it’s gonna be very difficult to do without our ability, as far as the intelligence gathering that we need.
Brad Means: Let me ask you this question. I thought of it earlier, and I think I know the answer to it, but just to maybe give people an idea of how things work in Washington. Why can’t you pick up the phone or go through the right people and get a meeting with President Biden and tell him that you think he’s doing a bad job? Is that just not how it works, that you have to go through all the channels and you would never have that kind of sit down with him?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, if you wanna go back and look at floor speeches, you can hear it all you wanna hear it. We were talking to the speaker, they tell us not to mention the president. But I’ll tell you, Brad, it’s been one crisis after the other, and all of them are self imposed. I mean, think about energy, for example, don’t you think the Middle East loves his decision on the war on fossil fuels. We’re begging them to increase production, so it’ll lower the price of gasoline at the pump. You gotta be kidding me. We were energy independent for the first time, since the Eisenhower administration, just a year ago, and we’ve given that up and that is powerful tool for this nation to use, and it’s powerful for our economy. Of course, then we have the border crisis. And of course now we’ve got the Delta variant. And are you seeing a lot of attention on this out of this administration, compared to the previous administration? The previous administration we’re doing press conferences each day, talking about what people needed to do and giving people comfort. And let me tell you, our hospitals are full and they say, we have not peaked. So you got that crisis. And it’s just one after the other and the kind of money these people are talking about spending. We did an infrastructure bill. We can’t even… I’m in a Chick-fil-A to get a sandwich and one line was closed because they didn’t have the help, I didn’t think I’d ever see that at Chick-fil-A.
Brad Means: Yeah, Chick-fil-A usually is a fine well-oiled machine.
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, that’s what the young lady told me. She said, “I’m sorry, we’re just short of help.” Now again, it could be the Delta variant where they’ve got people who are having to be confined, because they’re infected. That’s happening in our hospitals right now. Some people just aren’t able to work because they have to be confined, because they’ve been exposed to COVID.
Brad Means: Why don’t you like this infrastructure bill? Georgia is gonna get some great stuff from it, aren’t we?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, where are we gonna get the people to do it? Have you thought about that? And what kind of price are we going to have to pay for it?
Brad Means: It seems like there’s an endless supply of money. So I guess my answer to that would be, just dig into that endless pot of money that appears to be coming out of DC and pay the people with that.
Rep. Rick Allen: Brad a hundred, my colleagues, sent a letter to the president, we are not voting to raise the debt limit. They don’t have to come up with pay for us. This spinning is totally out of line, it’s unsustainable, and it seems like everybody knows it, but the White House and the Democratic majority.
Brad Means: You mentioned speaker Pelosi a few minutes ago. Does she or the other Democrats… And I think I asked you something similar to this last time. Did they ever just look at you in the hallway or the parking lot or the train and say, “we have the numbers, “I don’t care what you think, this is all going to happen.”
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, we were called back to Washington last week, we voted on $5 trillion of spending. Not one Republican voted for that. So you tell me how the house is being run. In fact, the vote was a rule vote, which means you’re supposed to then debate the bill or the spending, and then vote for the spending. And she said, we’ll deem the rule to be the bill. I’ve never heard of that before. So we’re doing away with all our procedures.
Brad Means: Yup, but what did they say when you say, “why are you doing this? “Why are you throwing all of our procedures out the window? “This is not right.” What did they say back to you?
Rep. Rick Allen: It’s this way or the highway.
Brad Means: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Rep. Rick Allen: I mean, there’s no feedback from their standpoint. I asked Steny Hoyer I said, “what are y’all doing?” And he said, he didn’t know. He’s their leader.
Brad Means: That’s not encouraging. Listen, let me hit on a couple of Georgia things with you while I have you here. Governor Brian Kemp says he would welcome some of those Afghan refugees into Georgia. Do you support that? Would you like to see the state of Georgia help them?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, we have people that helped us and I think we ought to help them. They need to be thoroughly vetted. But because we’ve had over 500 requests from those who serve in Afghanistan, who built relationships with the Afghan people who helped us, and we could not have sustained our forces without them. And I think that I would be glad to have them here in Georgia, not only from the standpoint of what they did for us in Afghanistan, but what they can do from an intel standpoint here.
Brad Means: A lot of people say, no, please don’t do that, some terrorists will sneak in with those groups. But are you saying we have the technology to track those folks and make sure that they’re not bad guys?
Rep. Rick Allen: Okay, let me restate this. These are people that fought next to our people in Afghanistan, in a foxhole, they defended the American people and our way of life alongside our military veterans. Shouldn’t we allow those people to escape Afghanistan, or they’re gonna die? Where are they gonna go? I’m fine with him coming to Georgia.
Brad Means: Georgia has a new election law that is now being challenged as you know, by the department of justice. Congressman, do you think the peach states voting lock and hold up to that court challenge?
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, 57 members of Congress and we led the brief, we filed an Amicus brief in favor of the law and against the DOJ’s political attack on the law. They saying it’s suppressing vote. Okay, show me, show me how it’s suppressing the vote. We have voter ID in this state, like 34 states have voter ID. Delaware has a voter ID law. And so is that the problem? Well, no, they say, well we’re not against voter ID. Well, okay, so we need the same ID… A voter ID in place and absentee if you’re gonna use the absentee system to round up more votes.
Brad Means: Let me ask you this real quick, ’cause I don’t wanna run out of time.
Rep. Rick Allen: Representation under the law. So I don’t see the DOJ’s case. I don’t see… Brad, 80% of the people in this nation want voter… They want secure elections.
Brad Means: Yeah, congressman real quick, and I mean like 60 seconds, what are you doing to help us with our healthcare costs? People are tired of these huge medical bills.
Rep. Rick Allen: Well, I am serving as the… I’m the ranking member on the Health Employment Labor and Pension Committee. We insure about 60% of the people in the workforce out there. We are working hard on means and methods to reduce that cost. The problem with the government is for every dollar in premium and tax money, you send to the federal government, maybe you get 20 cents back to take care of a patient. We pay 10 times what any other nation pays for healthcare. Now we got great healthcare, but we can certainly do better than 20 cents on the dollar.
Brad Means: Well, we appreciate your efforts in that regard, for sure. Any thing that leads to more affordable health care is a good thing. Congressmen, as I said at the beginning, I know how busy you are and I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today.
Rep. Rick Allen: Thanks Brad
Brad Means: I hope you’re staying safe and healthy.
Rep. Rick Allen: Well we’re in the district but we’re being careful. But thank you, and thank you for this opportunity to talk to the people.
Brad Means: Absolutely, Congressman Rick Allen from George’s 12th District.