tv Washington Journal 05172022 CSPAN May 17, 2022 6:59am-9:00am EDT
minister of greece will have a joint meeting of congress. after that, the house returns for legislative work on a workforce trying bill. that is live on c-span. at 9 a.m. eastern, live on c-span2, defense intelligence officials testify about a pentagon report on u.s. military sightings of unidentified flying objects. then, the senate will gather at two: 30 p.m. eastern to continue debate on the $40 billion aid package for ukraine. on c-span3 at 10 a.m. eastern, a hearing to examine opportunities for increasing energy and mineral partnerships between the u.s. and canada, in an effort to rely less on russia energy. you can also watch all of our programs online at c-span.orgcon "washington journal," we take a look at the current state of the economy and border security with
kentucky representative jane's comber and also a discussion on the baby affirmed -- baby formula shortage. and later, representative of florida joins us to talk about the economy and health care. ♪ host: since last summer the u.s. provided over 3.7 billion dollars in security aid to ukraine, almost half in april alone. last night, the u.s. senate advanced a $40 billion aid package, largely along bipartisan lines but there is growing opposition by some republican lawmakers to additional ukraine aid, most citing concerns of will fiscal responsibility. welcome to "washington journal," wednesday, may 17, 2022 for tuesday the 17th of may. we will spend the first hour asking about usaid to ukraine
and is it too much? if that is your thought, the line is (202) 748-8000. if you do not think we are giving enough, the line is (202) 748-8001. for those of you think we are giving the right amount, that line is (202) 748-8002. you can send us a text to (202) 748-8003. make sure to tell us your name and where you are texting from. we look for your comments on facebook and twitter and instagram @cspanwj. we will hear from lawmakers on the floor of the senate and their tweets as well. we would love to hear from you and the line we have set aside a little differently. also some of the latest news this morning from ukraine on the battlefront. but here is the u.s. senate, the vote last night reported by alexander bolton in the hell at the hill.com. the senate advances $40 million
ukraine a package. the senate monday overwhelmingly advanced a $40 billion ukraine aid package that easily passed the house last week but stalled in the upper chamber because of an objection by senator rand paul kentucky. senators voted 81 to 11 to end debate on a motion to proceed to the legislation setting up a final bill -- final vote on the bill later in the week. it's an important test of republican support for continued u.s. humanitarian and military assistance for ukraine after several prominent republican voices including former president trump questioned the size of the $40 billion package. some republicans including the haggerty of tennessee announced before the vote they would not support it. "i certainly do not have anything against ukrainians. one to see them when but pumping more aid into the country when we are not taking care of our own country, the best thing president biden could do is stop the war he has waged on american industry. -- industry."
we will show you comments in particular in particular from senator rand paul and his objection for moving forward on the legislation in a bit. that bill passed in the house last week, a $40 billion a package. here is where some of aid is going. $20 billion is going for additional security assistance including cooperation with nato allies, 8.9 billion dollars to help ukrainian economy for energy supplies and services, and $3 billion humanitarian assistance, and particular in the form of wheat and other commodities. who in assure you the congressional research service who keeps track of how much congress is spending, among other things they do. this is the latest from crs, this is crs. congress.gov. u.s. security assistance to
ukraine. this was updated at the end of april. the united states has been a leading provider of security assistance to ukraine both before and after russia renewed its invasion of ukraine february 24, 2022. from 2014 when russia first invaded ukraine to april 25 2022, the united states provided more than $6.4 billion in security assistance to help ukraine preserve its territorial integrity, secure borders, and improve interoperability with nato since the start of the 2022 war. the 2022 war. the biden administration committed a total of more than 3.7 billion dollars in security assistance to "provide ukraine the equipment it needs to defend itself." that is from crs, the congressional research service. the lines for you, if you think the aid is too much, the line is (202) 748-8000. if it is too little, (202) 748-8001. for those of you that thing fade
packages or the amount we have given so far is about right, (202) 748-8002. from reuters this morning, overnight news, this is the headline, more than 250 ukrainian troops surrendered at kyiv. it aimed to evacuate remaining searchers -- soldiers as fighters that held for 82 days began to surrender. on that a package which advanced on the senate floor last night, the majority leader spoke before that vote and was critical of rand paul's opposition to moving forward late last week. [video clip] >> we have a moral obligation to pass this assistance as soon as we can in the senate. the vast majority of us in this chamber united in getting this a done as quickly as possible, including myself and republican leader.
last thursday the junior senator from kentucky prevented the senate from getting ukraine funding out the door and to the president's desk. the arguments he made on the floor last week made clear he outright opposes giving aid to the people of ukraine as they fight russian authoritarianism. senator paul's obstruction of ukraine funding is totally unacceptable and only serves to strengthen putin hand -- putin's hand in the long run. i urge him to drop the opposition so we can reach an agreement to get this package passed in the senate as soon as we can. but to be clear, his obstruction will not prevent ukraine aid from ultimately passing the senate. one way or another we will get this done and send a clear message to ukraine and the world that america stands on the side of democracy and against putin's deeply immoral campaign of violence. host: that a package advances with a final vote later in the week asking you about the amount of aid we are giving to ukraine.
if it is too much, (202) 748-8000 is the line to call. if it is too little, (202) 748-8001. and if you think it is about right, (202) 748-8002. let's go to new hampshire and hear from pete, first out. good morning. caller: good morning. bill, right? host: yes, sir, go ahead. caller: yes, bill, what i would like to know and what is a folding me, i'm dead set against this because basically several things. number one is i would like to know and i'm sure a lot of other folks, seeing how we are the taxpayers in this country, i would like to know how many allies we actually have left in nato, number one, but number two, what is their share in all of this financially? host: in terms of our allies how much they are contributing? caller: yeah, absolutely.
real numbers. i do not need made up numbers. the actual -- what are they contributing financially to the russia/ukraine more effort? host: and your thoughts on how much we are giving? why do you think about that? caller: i think it is too much at this point because -- you know, donald basically had it right. he had our so-called nato allies speak to the fire. if you recall, and made them start and teeing up their fair share in this nato system. the other thing, it goes to a bigger point, bill, what i would like to know is. we are just burning money. if you look at the amount of money we're printing right now in this country, to try to take
care of our financial problems, we have a federal reserve -- it goes back to the federal reserve and imf. janet yellen, these people are under jimmie allen and they are just printing more money to funnel through the imf to begin with. it will come to a point where our country at the rate we are currently spending and our deficit of approximately $30 trillion, this country will go into a solvency. that is where we are headed, down a long, dark, spiraling path financially. china will inevitably take up control of this country. we cannot continue to borrow money from china to give it to other countries. host: appreciate the call. he mentioned the former president, donald trump, and donald trump at a statement about this a package that has passed the house and is moving forward in the u.s. senate, the largest single package so far for ukraine aid.
the former president writing saying the democrats are sending another $40 billion to ukraine yet america's parents are struggling to even feed their children. there's a massive formula shortage but no one is talking about it. this is a national disgrace. it is unthinkable in the year 2023 -- 2022 american families are unable to your baby formula for the children, the pay mothers and fathers are going through literally cannot get nutrition for their newborns and infants is the mark of internal shame on the democrat party. america first says the former president will be spending time talking about the infant formula shortage in the u.s. later in the program. senator rand paul spoke last week on the floor of the senate and was seeking to amend this bill, seeking additional oversight. here's the senator from the floor of the senate last week. >> this bill under consideration would spend $40 billion. this is the second spending bill for ukraine in two months and
this bill is three times larger than the first. our military aid to unit -- to ukraine is nothing new to them. since 2014 the united states provided more than $6 billion in security assistance to ukraine. in addition to the $14 million congress authorized a month ago. if this bill passes, the u.s. will have authorized roughly $60 billion in total spending for ukraine. for those that say this is not enough, for those of you in this chamber that's a our military spending is never enough, let's put $60 billion into perspective. according to hell ucsf, a security assistance at the stimson center, they have become the largest recipient of u.s. military the past two decades. insect -- except for the top five countries some $60 billion is more than every country in the world spends on their entire military expenditures. if this passes, our total 80 ukraine will almost equal the entire military budget of russia
and it is not as if we have the money lying around. we will have to borrow the money from china to send it to ukraine. the cost of this package we are voting on today is more than the u.s. spent during the first year of the u.s. conflict in afghanistan. congress authorized force and the president sent troops into the conflict, and the same cannot be said of ukraine. this proposal towers over domestic priorities as well. the massive package of $60 billion to ukraine dwarfs the $6 million spent on cancer research annually. $60 billion is more than the government collect in gas taxes each year to build roads and bridges. the $60 billion to ukraine could find substantial portions or entire large cabinet departments. that nearly equals the entire state department budget, the 60 billion exceeds the department of homeland security budget and department of energy. and congress just wants to keep spending and spending. host: that senator paul talking
about the opposition of the a package -- aid package last week. it has advanced on the u.s. senate lord and we expect a final passing but later in the week and we are asking about usa to ukraine. is it too much, (202) 748-8000 is the line to use. too little, (202) 748-8001. about right is (202) 748-8002. other republican members of the house and senate, here is todd young of indiana, senator young tweeting this over the weekend saying "our support to ukraine should not be governed by emotions and blank checks but tailored in accordance with our own economic resources and appropriate guardrails to ensure it is used effectively unaccounted for." from andy biggs on the house side of things, andy biggs says "my congressional colleagues, we cannot send $40 billion to ukraine. my colleagues and i were barely given time to read the bill text, our government doesn't have the money and there is no
way to tell all this money will be spent." let's go to calls and hear from nick in sarasota, florida. go ahead. caller: good morning. i think all the republicans like rand paul and the president are all exactly correct. the numbers you put up show only $20 million -- $20 billion of it was for military assistance and the other was for humanitarian aid and economic support. we needed some of that here. i'm a retired veteran and i have a 5% raise and now the inflation is really closer to 10%. i don't believe that a number at all. we could have built the border fence and finished it by then, put more money down there. it is too much and all borrowed. that is what gets me but nobody like your previous caller i agree with him too, what is the numbers of the other countries giving over there? we need to see that so we are
seeing we are not once again having our wallets emptied as taxpayers. host: we were here -- will hear from john next. caller: hello. thanks for taking my call. what i'm not hearing from anybody is this is bidens war. putin warned us or he warned the world he did not way ukraine in nato and biden specifically said we invite ukraine to nato. putin said don't do it and biden came on the radio and said pruden will attack russia. we knew they would attack because he did not want them in ukraine. this is russia's missile crisis. we put missiles in northern italy in 1960, russia put missiles into cuba in 1960-1961.
they took them up because we took our missiles out of northern italy and greece. this is russia's missile crisis. why would we want to put missiles on the ukrainian/russia border? . i don't know why the biden administration came up with this idea. they want to ruin washer -- ruin russia and that is ok but why kill ukrainians to do it? host: this is from the editorial side of the wall street journal this morning from their opinion pages, the former chess player and chairman of the review democracy initiative, the headline of his editorial says this is no time to go wobbly on russia. he writes the goal is to save ukrainian lives as western leaders say in the only way to do it his arm ukraine with every weapon president volodymyr zelenskyy once as quickly as possible. the cease-fire that leaves russian forces on ukrainian soil
would only allow mr. putin to continue his genocide and mass deportations undercover as he is been doing since he first invaded in 2014. on the floor of the senate last night, president pro tem, senator leahy of vermont falling -- calling on the senate to pass the aid package. [video clip] >> the horrors we have witnessed in the weeks and months following vladimir putin's attack on ukraine are an abomination. an affront to all civilized people. entire communities wiped from the faith of the earth -- base of the earth, countless lives ruined. we've seen pictures of unarmed civilians executed randomly in the street, civilians. millions of desperate people fleeing because one man's zeal to destroy what is ever
necessary to realize his own twisted version of the world. all of this fueling a humanitarian crisis across the region, spiraling costs and sparking a global hunger crisis. this congress needs to act decisively, act now to reaffirm our unwavering support of the ukrainian people. and protect their lives and country. host: that aid package advancing pretty much in bipartisan efforts. mitch mcconnell back from a congressional delegation trip to ukraine as well, speaking on the floor. also tweeting about his support, saying a delegation of senate republicans just cut ukraine
after meeting with president zelenskyy they saw firsthand the courage, unity, and resolve of the ukrainian people. new york times this morning there headline, mcconnell tries this way isolation and his party. they say hours after meeting with the president of key -- in kyiv, mitch mcconnell issued a counterargument to the isolationists there questioned united states should be sending a do ukraine. this is not some hand out the republican of kentucky declared. this could just as easily have been directed at lawmakers. he leads "it is important for the united states to help and important for free world to help." is important to the ukrainians to win and hopefully not many members of my party will choose to politicize this issue. asking you about the amount the u.s. is providing an aid to ukraine with this $40 billion package pending. if it is too much, (202) 748-8000 is the line to call.
if you think it is too little, (202) 748-8001. if it is about right, (202) 748-8002. chandra in miami, florida. you are on the air. caller: good morning. host: good morning. caller: i've been watching this with my wife. listening to c-span and stuff. today, a call [indiscernible] i'm getting so emotional here because brutal dictators around the world are destroying the
whole world. people don't understand what they're going through. give them $40 billion, give them 100 billion dollars to put an end to this mass. and charge him, they seize all of these assets and take care of this thing here. i would say no more [indiscernible] we came to this country to get away from this all, you know? i'm sorry to get emotional. thank you. host: we will hear from liz next in anderson, south carolina. go ahead. caller: yes. too much. that is the way i feel.
the dictators are always gonna be here. we have a humanitarian problem here in our country right now. mothers cannot get baby formula. they are having to wait in line to get free, small amounts of formula to get them by, gas four dollars per gallon, meet $10 per pack for a pack of cube steak. how much longer are they going to keep giving money to other countries? we cannot help these people forever. we can't. we need help here. it is a mess. if people keep voting for these democrats, liars, this is how our country is going to continue
, and we are going down a rat hole. thank you. host: from the washington post, the headline from the analysis by olivia knox is progressives mostly line up behind bidens ukraine policy. he writes defined the beltway stereotype of democrats in disarray, president biden allies in congress have shown remarkable unity when it comes to supporting his ukraine policy. even as he has laid out an open-ended commitment backed by escalating economic and military assistance. the result has been to give the president much needed political breathing room in foreign policy at a time or the fate of what remains on his domestic agenda is very much in doubt. democrats fear a round in midterm elections. in the vote to send ukraine's nearly $40 billion in economic and humanitarian assistance, democrats went 219 to zero in favor on the house side. the senate may approve the
package later this week. on the vote to extend world war ii lend lease military assistance programs to expedite weapons shipped to ukraine and other eastern european countries, democrats went 221 to zero in favor. the senate adopted it by votes. banning russian imports, just to progressives, cori bush of missouri and representative omar of minnesota voted no. the final tally among democrats was 291 to two. that analysis in the washington post,.com -- washingtonpost.com. you can send us a text to (202) 748-8003. this is from brian in annapolis that says we have a huge stockpile in northern california and arizona we can fast track to ukraine. also need to get them fighters and more antiship missiles. i do not support $40 billion to
ukraine until other countries contribute as much says michelle in pennsylvania. this tweet from kurt, how about a breakdown of how the aid is delivered? you are pitching the segment like it is cash being flown during the middle of the night. we showed you some breakdown of the $40 billion, the proposed $40 billion a short while ago and we will do that again. let's hear from ned in an apple us, maryland. go ahead. -- and annapolis maryland. caller: i trust the president on this. i trust the bipartisan vote in the senate. i don't know the exact breakdown and i agree there should be oversight and there will be oversight i'm sure. there will be hearings on where the money will go, there will be accountability. we have to prepare ourselves. there will be some corruption along the way.
a big program like that has that happened but i think the priority is first comes first, we have to do everything we can as a country and we owe it to ourselves as a country and people in ukraine to try to assure their victory. if president biden says $40 billion and republicans say $40 billion, let's get it over there now. host: the washington post is reporting on spending in the one of the previous covert aid packages. they are reporting billions in benefits siphoned by fraud. they write serena brown thomas just arrived home from her ship as a custodian when she noticed an envelope in the mail bearing her name, address, and last four digits of the social security number. the letter said she was awarded unemployment benefits which was a problem since she never applied. 32-year-old notified her bosses believing last summer she put the matter to rest for the real
trouble would not start until september when brown thomas did find herself out of a job. she cannot get the financial support she needed. mired in bureaucratic battles, she said she faced a month long struggle just to prove her identity to the city. "i'm still trying to figure out how to get a lot of stuff paid," who at one point was arguing over her eligibility. "it was easy to get my unemployment number and -- social security number and unemployment." attacks targeting the generous coronavirus aid programs. the more than $5 billion approved has become a wellspring for criminal activity, allowing fraudsters to siphon money away from the hardhead american workers and businesses needed to help most. the post writes the scope of the fraud targeting federal-aid initiatives is unknown even to years later with unemployment
benefits however the theft could be significant. testifying in a congressional history -- hearing this spring, a watchdog estimated there could it be -- there could be at least $163 billion in unemployment over payments. comments on the ukraine aid, if it is too much, (202) 748-8000. if it is not enough, (202) 748-8001. if it's about right, (202) 748-8002. representative clay higgins of louisiana was with us last week on this program and talked about the aid package that had come up for a vote in the u.s. house. [video clip] >> the $40 billion we just sent to ukraine, i voted no for different reasons but one of the dynamics that came into my consideration was 100% of that $40 billion was deficit spending. was a deficit on the ukrainian people? no. it was further deficit spending
added to the debt of the american people. so although i support ukraine and its defense and i think we should have been more aggressive in our involvement early on before russia began this renewed invasion of ukraine, that they began in 2014 by the way to be clear, so i think we should have been more aggressively involved in ukraine since they are our ally. the reality is we are not and russia took advantage of the postured weakness america has shown over the last year and half. we are engaged in ukraine and i certainly support my ukrainian brothers and sisters standing on the front line of freedom in europe at this time. however, i work for the american people and $40 billion of
foreign military aid pass under a rule, a procedure in the house, under a rule, no debate, no amendments, passed in five hours, i was a no and i would be again in the same circumstances. host: some of the breakdown of that $40 billion in proposed aid, it is passed in the house and moving forward in the u.s. senate, 24 -- 20.4 billion dollars in military assistance, money to bolster european security. in cooperation with nato allies, $8.5 billion for the ukrainian economy, including support like food, energy, and health care services to the ukrainian people and $3 billion for humanitarian assistance, largely in the form of wheat and other commodities. before the vote in the senate, support from democratic senators on twitter including senator chris murphy who tweeted this, "
russia's attack on ukraine is exacerbating -- excuse me, he says fyi trump served as including donald trump, jr. our online pushing for republicans opposing more defense spending for ukraine." this week the house voted to support ukraine i passing a bipartisan funding bill that will equip ukraine with training , weapons, supplies, services, and intelligent support for as long as they needed. the united states will stand with ukraine. from senator mark warner of virginia, russia's attack on ukraine is exacerbating food shortages globally. it's time for the senate to act and pass aid to support ukrainians. deborah is in massachusetts next. good morning. caller: good morning. how are you? host: i'm fine, thank you. caller: i'm trying to wrap my head around the funding that has gone to ukraine. while i do agree with most of
it, i believe that the funding as far as cash goes should go more towards equipment and a portion should go towards humanitarianism, and i say that because prior history shows that the funding that was sent to ukraine from years past was misused by mr. biden. that is on tape. as a conservative i want to help the ukrainian people where the suffering is real and a lot of people do not believe that even on the concern -- conservative side as well as my democrat friends side. so that is basically what i have to say. host: we touched on more vague deeper dive into ukraine aid. the congressional research service does this and they have a report, crs. congress.gov, and
they do the tally on how much u.s. security eight has been provided to ukraine and they write the fiscal year 2022 security assistance packages have been funded through regular and supplemental appropriations and that is basically what this $40 billion is as well. there is further information, a big report on how that information is being spent at crs.reports.congress.gov. caller: thank you for taking my call and i will be brief. rand paul was on tv last night and they said the american people are trying to overthrow his nato on the money for ukraine. on russian national television. that will tell you all you need to know about republicans and the money going to ukraine.
my second point was out of the funds, i understood and they could be wrong, was to replace materials we have already given them in our sources. republicans scream about military defense, that is going in there, that is replacing it and putting it back in america, saw the scrap and malarkey, the guest on thursday, it is ridiculous. i do not have more, then that. caller: to chris in washington, d.c. good morning. caller: i'm not for the $40 billion. it is amazing how political ideologies just separate people who have the same common sense. i will give you an example of what i'm saying. there was a lady a few calls back and i agree with
practically everything she was saying, talking about how we need the money. that $40 billion, we have a food shortage here for babies. right? we have inflation and high prices everywhere but you have to take this and blame it on the democrats when everybody has their pockets out, their hands out for military-industrial complex. i know that is a concern people utilize but that is $40 billion on everything here that we need to take care of at home. how long are we going to dump money? another thing that was said that it was critical also and this is what i'm talking about political ideologies again, eileen left about trump might have been right about this. how much money are the other nato nations putting into ukraine and helping the fight? how long are we going to prolong this? how much money are we going to give him tell this thing ends?
then where does that put us as americans and where does that put us with what we need here? that $40 billion could do a lot of good right here and now since we are having a hard time feeding babies. host: thanks. katie is next also in washington. go ahead. katie in westminster, maryland, go ahead. caller: actually it's pronounced kade. i believe the $40 billion is close to accurate. i think what is lost on this is it is not just going to be forgotten. there is a return of investment on it. the world is globalized and part of the worn ukraine, the issues, there will be supply issues for the rest of the world that will impact us, so the sooner we can wrap this up and push the russians out, the more we will get back from that $40 billion.
everything is globalized. you cannot take an isolationist view on that. the reason we have prices is because of markets. if we do not do anything, we let the russians push through and ukraine starts to be affected, there supplies, for the rest of the world. we will see prices continue to skyrocket. we have to do something. we can't just leave the ukrainians how to drive because it will eventually bleed over to us. it is money spent but there will be a return on it. host: we are reporting this morning in other news on the massacre over the weekend in buffalo, new york. this is the front page of the new york times and their headline, despite state law, buffalo suspect purchased rifle. online posting suggests months of preparation and planning. it shows has the suspect evaded a state law that could have prevented him from owning a gun. new york's red flag law took effect in 2019 allowing judges
to bar people believed it to be dangerous from possessing firearms yet the 18-year-old man accused of killing 10 people at a top supermarket saturday was able to buy an install style weapon despite having held from a mental health evaluation last year after making a threatening remark at his high school. the times writes he described his remarks and responded to a school project questioning -- questioned by writing he wanted to commit a murder/suicide as a joke according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case and was released. the postings that came to light on monday make it evident he was lying. "i got out of it because i stuck with the story that i was getting out of class and i stupidly wrote that down." "that is the reason i believe i'm able to purchase guns." ""it was not a joke. i wrote that down because that swells planning to do."
on monday, the state police confirmed they did not seek a red flag order against him who is now charged with one of the deadliest races massacres in recent american history. president biden today will head to buffalo. we expect to bring covers of that on the c-span networks. the president yesterday at the white house, and mental valor ceremony for peace officers and law enforcement officials are cross the country recognized and honored aaron salter, the retired police officer working as a security guard at the grocery store when the gunman claimed his life and nine others on sunday. here's what he said. [video clip] pres. biden: we pay tribute to all law enforcement officers and families who understand what it takes, what is at risk to save and protect all of us. that includes paying tribute to buffalo police officer aaron salter, who gave his life trying to save others when the government shine killed tennis and people in a grocery store --
when i gunman killed 10 people in a grocery store. no one understands more than all of you here today the pain and anguish those families in buffalo feel. when it happens, it's like you are pulled into a black hole inside of your chest. everything, everything, and it is hard. but as you know, part of the special community, because the firefighters and police officers will always be there for you. i notice a small consolation, but they will always be there for you. and your family, children, and grandchildren, all family. host: again president biden heading to buffalo later today. any update from the associated
press on the mass shooting that happened in california's lower the weekend, authorities hate against taiwanese led to chargers hack. a gunman motivated by political hatred against taiwan shut the doors of the california church and head to firebombs inside before shooting at a gathering of mostly elderly parishioners, killing a man who tackled him and possibly saved dozens of lives monday. david chow of las vegas, a citizen who grew up in taiwan, drove to orange county saturday and the next day he attended a lunch held by irvine taiwanese presbyterian church which worshiped at geneva espoo terry in church. though he knew no one there, he spent about an hour mingling with about 40 attendees and executed his plot. authorities said at the news conference. our question about ukraine aid, the usa to ukraine, military and security aid, humanitarian an --
humanitarian aid. if it is too much, (202) 748-8000. if it is too little, (202) 748-8001 if it is about right, (202) 748-8002. commas on social media, a tweet that says america get ready to provide more aid eerie ones fighting is stopped, what is left to ukraine must be reinforced against russian expansion. he says as much as i agree with helping ukraine event itself from russia, i would like to see a similar charge for the defense of our nation from the south. this one says vote republican in the midterms and you will be signing the death certificate for ukraine. listen to these collars telling you as much. let's hear from our callers, paul in south carolina. go ahead. caller: yes. i think definitely put is a war criminal and we need to help ukraine. i'm concerned about the aid, the money come of the covid relief.
there was $100 million stolen by criminals, and who knows where the money goes. it is hard to understand how money can go missing. if you look at democrats and republicans, they are all millionaires and if you look at their salaries, that is not possible. everybody is divided because they intend to cue our country divided between democrats and republican. it is time we unite. host: to sioux city, iowa, good morning to rick. caller: hello? host: go ahead. you are on the air. caller: thank you. i guess my sense is politicians need to articulate they strategic value of -- the strategic value of ukraine. one thing i read was in 2013 there was a major natural gas
line down there and it goes all the way up into crimea. and that is of the majority of the fighting is going on her now. i know royal dutch shell thought enough about it that they would come in for $10 million of direct investment to go check the wells out. my sense is putin/russia gets a hold of that, of course that is money in their pocket, not to mention the agriculture and all of ukraine. not to mention that, as ukrainian can't get their wheat out of the country, the price russia can charge for their wheat goes up and that money goes into their pockets in order to fund the fight there. as far as what europe has done,
they have the 4.5 million people onto the continent. they are taking care of those folks. i think we were in there for about 100,000 is it? host: in terms of refugees, ukrainian refugees to the u.s.? caller: yes, sir. host: i think the original figure -- you are right, is 100,000. caller: right. so i'm just taking ap care. yeah, so my sense is if they -- i do not know what the answer is given all of ukraine and have that. over they do with ukraine? i realize there army is not good but they seem to be pretty good at missiles.
they can reach out and touch it and it is not like those missiles are just coming across -- actually, it makes them fast enough like they were coming across the delaware. you know i mean? versus all the way across the pond. so yeah, i think the funds are about right and i would say this, in 19 needy four, i can remember when ukraine had the nukes. that concerned me. i was like who are these soldiers? i didn't know who they were, i just wanted that i didn't want nukes there with people i didn't know anything about and whether someone could turn the key and launch them. i think it was a good idea that we gave security to ukraine saying nobody will come and bother you. but guess what, here we are. i don't know what the answer is. do we just say we are in a bind for cash right now so we cannot
do this? we raised our hand in 1994 and said we would be there for them and we need to do just that. like i said, the politicians need to stress what the strategic value is to us and get that point across to folks because i think everybody gets the fact nobody wants to see folks hurt. everybody is willing to raise their hand for that. but i get all of the concerns about cash and when i bought this thing had -- thing could parlay into something much larger if we do not stop it right now. we are not -- our troops are not fighting this fight. if there was ever a place you wanted to be put your cash out, is somebody else's fighting the fight for you and willing to do -- host: i appreciate your input. the u.s. congress and house and senate are likely to get --
european view from a european leader and joint meeting from the congress, hearing from the prime minister, speaking in congress later today at 11:00 eastern and we will have live coverage of that here on c-span. washington monthly has a preview of that with the headline, a feature place saying it has lessons for the u.s.. they write democracy is in trouble here and abroad according to the highly regarded world values survey data. most americans under 60 do not consider it "absolutely essential to live in a democracy." the first time since 2004, the transformation index recorded more autocratic states then democracies around the world. it is more than a little timely on may 17 the prime minister of greece, the country that invented democracy, will address the joint need -- joint meeting of congress. the return of democracy to its birthplace. this is the first time a greek prime minister will address a joint meeting of the u.s.
congress. president joe biden also invited prime minister mitzie talkies to address others at the white house. it is famously the home of democracy but one lesson at home is how i lost it at times and had to clawed back. it had to fight foreign powers and military. even creators of democracy must fight for democracy as u.s. and other freedom -- as does the u.s. and other freedom loving nations. live coverage of the prime minister's address later on c-span. our next caller is reno, nevada. go ahead. caller: good morning. thank for taking my call. i got put on the line that says we are spending about the right amount by the gentleman who answered my call because i believe that in a cynical way i think in our country, as -- one
i saw the money added up to about $32 billion out of 40, which allows for about $8 billion of corruption illegally. which is about proper in our situation of climate of governments. 20%. i'm worried. i think a lot of the callers also give voice to such wide wisdom and depth of thought. people agree and disagree for different reasons, but i do not think it is wise to keep only money for weapons and guns that i heard someone log the weapons center being built in our country. if we are a military-industrial controlled country that has democracy as its front, and we are not really dedicated to democracy, we are spending about the right amount. if we would have our leaders stand up and be counted as real
democracy, not parties but democracy, leaders of the world, we would give them money for aid and we will put an end to this war and get them to payroll and we would find a way to be leaders. i'm trying to wrap everything up but david gergen was a wise man about 80 years old and he said people should probably recuse themselves from president like biden next time and trump and i think that goes to senators and anyone, the policies and mcconnell's. it is time for people to step aside. we are spending about the right amount and we don't care one bit about democracy in america, and the world, or anything. thank you for your time. host: that's fine. thanks for your comments. we go to georgia next on the line.
caller: yes, good morning. can you hear me? host: we can. caller: before i give my reason that the money would be too much , a waste of money, before i give the details, why i think that, i would like to go to the concept of the previous caller about usa, america, and how america was funded. i read a book of nyu in 1992, the title of the book was the history of education in usa, america from 1600 to 1990. in the book, here are some
acronyms that used in the book, and it was an eye-opening book for me because it told about 400 years of history come almost 300 years at the time, 1600s, and was how america was funded and how the first immigrants came here and how it was basically christian based ideological -- ideology. they used acronyms but dw f, that meant dead one male -- male. they also used in background about our forefathers, wasp, white anglo-saxons protesters.
this was the history of the first immigrants coming, christianity and freedom of religion, liberty, and that is what was the formation of this country [indiscernible] in a church. host: ty that if you can. that informs some of your own political views to our question here, what you think that means? are you seeing our role in terms of the united states as providing more aid to crate and countries like that? caller: because it is hypocrisy right now. it is a fight going on between euro. ukraine and russia in the majority of them are caucasian, white people you can say like that, europeans. for them, ukraine is basically
the last 15 years very corrupt nation and ukraine was not in a good spot because of fight with russia and portraying russia as [indiscernible] we are pumping ukraine basically as a proxy war to fight with russia. what i was saying in the same context yesterday in the news became that somalia is an african country, $40 billion, forget about the money but there's thinking that for europe we are sending money because two white people are fighting, two white nations, and we are trying to give money over there to prop one country against another or one ethnicity against another. host: thanks for the call and i'm glad you mentioned somalia because i had that i wanted to bring up the story in the
washington time, biden reverses trump with new simile mission. president biden signed an order monday to redeploy hundreds of u.s. troops to somalia, countering lawmakers rebel groups, and the effort that reverses president trump's decision to withdraw permanent forces from the country over the reservations of his military commanders. the times said this is an associated press story, u.s. troops will be position from elsewhere in africa to train and provide other support to simile forces in their fight. let's hear from joe in louisiana. good morning. caller: good morning. thanks for my calls. i think it is entirely too much money because everybody knows the last 17 years how corrupt ukraine administration has been and there are multiple stories
from western media outlets. if we are going to one hand protest and detest the actions of the nazis 80 years ago, we can't turn around right now and support a neo-nazi paramilitary organization with $40 billion. that is pretty much the fight and ukraine. the russian military are standing ukrainian army and if we are going to support a paramilitary group, it is turning it is turning into a terrorist eight. host: so is your view the leadership of ukraine is a neo-nazi group? caller: there are factions inside of government, correct. it has been reported by western media for the past 70 years
until the hostilities broke out. if we send them $40 billion, look at mar you pull -- mariupol right now. the standing military arm has been routed by russia and we are going to send in $40 billion when the fight is pre-much over. once russia finishes taking care of the areas where the russian speakers are, they will force the rest of the country, it will be the rest of the nation looking like mariupol. host: we will give the last two twitter with further usa to ukraine. who is tracking the money and arms? how do we keep them from russian possession? there is more had on "washington journal." next we will be joined by the top republican on the house oversight committee, james comer of kentucky and we will be talking about republican investigation priorities if they
win back the house in november. later we will take a closer look at the baby formula sorted impacting low income moms across the country. that conversation with the national women infants and children association. >> lawmakers are taking a closer look at a report on u.s. military sightings of unidentified flying objects. defense intelligence officials who acknowledge the sightings testify before a subcommittee at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c-span two. you can watch on the free c-span now video app or online at c-span.org. on wednesday, abortion access and care in the u.s. are the topic of the house judiciary hearing with testimony from an abortion provider from alabama. watch at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three, online, or watch
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if it happens here here or here or anywhere, america is watching on c-span, powered by cable. >> "washington journal" continues. host: we are joined by congressman james comer of kentucky. he is the ranking republican on the house oversight and reform committee, the ranking member. wrapping up your sixth year in congress, welcome back to "washington journal." guest: it is great to be back. host: we finished the last hour talking about our viewers -- talking with our viewers about an aid package and now a senate action having move forward last, what was your view on that measure and how did you vote on it? guest: i voted against this package. i voted in favor of the earlier package. i support ukraine.
i support everything they are doing. we have already given them over $10 million. it is important that ukraine defeats russia. we have a terrible inflation problem here in america and it has -- was created by overspending in washington. why can't we give ukraine a little bit at a time instead of one big blank check? one of the things that some senators are calling for as an inspector general, i think the appropriate route is to give the appearance that congress is trying to get the taxpayers at a time in we have government-induced inflation. i think congress has to get back to regular order. we need to debate these bills. there needs to be more transparency in where the spending goes. we have seen that with the ppp loan program. that was a huge amount of money
that helped a lot of small businesses but it also enriched a lot of major corporations and wealthy people. my objection to the bill is it is too much spending. there is not enough transparency. there is not enough oversight. if we can fix that, then i could perceive supporting smaller packages. host: how much have you overseen the spending there? guest: the democrats just got a grade by a nonpartisan group that grades government oversight , gave the democrat majority an f because they have not been interested in providing any government oversight by the administration. they are off changing -- chasing issues. we have had meetings with ceos of energy companies trying to encourage them to decrease production and get off the climate disinformation campaign.
they are investigating the washington redskins football team right now, the democrats. they are doing everything except providing government oversight. if you look at the spending problem we have in america with all the covid-related money, stimulus money, ppp loan money, the fraud, unfortunately the democrat led house oversight committee is providing basically zero government oversight. host: i want to get into the issues that are your priorities. as ranking member, potentially if you become chairman of the committee, just on the weekend news, the horrible massacre in buffalo, new york, the murders. what is your reaction? guest: terrible. anytime there is a tragedy like that, what can congress do? our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of the family. it is needless, unnecessary tragedy. host: i want to get your reaction to what people have
pinned some of the blame on the political nature of this alleged shooter's manifesto and the reasons for doing it. some members of your own party quoting liz cheney. liz cheney said that house republicans leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism history. what begins with words in's in far worse. republican leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them. guest: i think republican leaders have denounced the use of rights of premises him. -- of right supremacy. i totally disagree. i do not think anyone in our conference has done anything but condone unnecessary violence, racism, any type of wrong. i fundamentally disagree with what liz said. there is no room for racism in america.
host: james comer is our guest. we welcome your calls and comments. (202) 748-8000 is the line for democrats. (202) 748-8001 for republicans. all others, (202) 748-8002. there is a historian roll call about a meeting with kevin mccarthy and business leaders, house republicans make case for november victory at a roundtable on inflation. inflation affecting every american. what role will your party do differently on the inflation front if you gain the house in november? guest: hopefully from where i said, we will provide oversight. i think that you will see an attitude among the memories of congress to follow the will of the people when the house oversight committee starts proving all of this wasteful unnecessary spending that the democrat led congress has had over the past year and a half has really created what we see
now and this the highest inflation rate in my time. we have to get spending under control. we have to try to claw back unnecessary spending. we have to prevent waste fraud abuse and mismanagement in the federal government. that is what we are seeing now. every major crises is a result of bad policy or neglected incompetence at the biden administration, whether it is the energy prices because of their bad energy policy, whether it is the increase in crime, the lack of border security that is leading to increased drug flow, increased trafficking, the baby formula shortage. the fda warned the biden administration months and months ago and they did not have a backup plan. we have to get this congress under control. we have to get spending under control. we have to provide oversight and transparency and i think that is where republicans can begin.
also try to stop these bad policies, try to reverse the energy policy. try to get some security on the southern border. try to get crime under control. these will be the priorities of a republican led congress in january. host: you touched on this a moment ago in terms of hearings and oversight on the cdc and the covid response, the money appropriated by congress. what are some specific areas you think the potential earring -- potential hearing and oversight hearing? guest: would be i do not know where to beginguest: -- i would not know where to begin. the government had a policy of paying people not to work. what we have learned is many states were victims of fraud or national fraud, people that were still working that were going to unemployment. this is a prospect in the hundreds of billions of dollars, if not, trillions of dollars. this is something we will have
multiple hearings on, trying to not only identified the problem, but try to fix it where it does not happen again, where we do not repeat history if there was ever a large unemployment rate. then you have the ppp loan program, a very abuse program in certain areas with certain industries that should not have been eligible for loans that got millions of dollars worth of loans that they did not have to pay back or pay taxes on that. then you have the spending, the press about unnecessary respirator purchases at ridiculously high prices. there were always be bad actors that have gouged the system, overbuild for all sorts of covid treatment. these are the types of hearings we will have. host: do you think it is too late to claw some of that money back? guest: it will be very difficult. the overall objective is to never repeat this again. i know that the fed and congress
many times over the last few decades, anytime congress goes on an unnecessary spending streak. history will show the majority of congress lost their mind during covid with respect to the american people's checkbook. the deficit and the national debt grew and unimaginable numbers -- grew at unimaginable numbers with little to no transparency or oversight. we want to get back to the origination of covid. we just dug up a lot of emails, transcribed a lot of the mills that were redacted to the public with respect to communications between dr. collins, dr. fauci, and different scientists and advisors at the very onset of covid-19 where it really appears there was a converted effort to dispel the lab week period from day one without ever sending any investigators in to look at it. most americans think that
covid-19 came from the lab in wuhan. i certainly do. we will continue to try to get the american people the answers they deserve with respect to where did this virus start and is the american government going to do anything to hold that person accountable. host: there is a piece in "the washington times" about hunter biden, the biden family. "hunter biden took care of uncle jim amid the laptop scandal." you have made no secret that you would look into a hearing, an investigation on hunter biden. what are you interested in? guest: we have an ongoing investigation with hunter biden and i will tell you every week, it gets wears. we are in possession of that job, the house oversight committee. the republicans. we are going through every email and bank record. i will tell you, hunter biden
has gotten away with things that i did not think the average american could have gotten away with from financial standpoint, from a banking standpoint. the people that he has done business with, many of whom are on different watch lists and lists that the government should not be doing business with, no one in the american government should be doing business with, russian oligarchs, chinese communist party. there is a history there, a pattern of hunter biden profiting off of foreign nationals that most companies and certainly no individual is allowed to do business with. i think that there are a lot of questions that hunter biden's business associates could answer. i wish they would answer questions, but unfortunately we have caught president biden in one line where he said he had no knowledge of a business
associate of hunter who went to the white house 27 times. there are emails where this individual said he had hunter's tax refund from delaware and he was going to deposit it into the vice president's account and was going to write a check for the amount of money that he owed hunter biden. if you have access to someone's checking account, you are at least somewhat familiar with them. the more that will come out because of these emails, the worse it will be for the biden family. host: let's hear from our viewers and listeners. james comer with us on the oversight committee, the ranking republican. lexington, kentucky. stephen on the democrats line. caller: thank you for having me and thank you for allowing this moment to talk to someone from kentucky. i moved here two years ago. i love it.
i have lived in florida, nebraska, colorado, california. my question for you is why hasn't kentucky passed marijuana laws? there is so much potential here in this state and we are slowly being surrounded by other states that are seated with the revenue coming in and the full potential and i would say the majority of your citizens here are for it so why hasn't this happened? guest: thank you for the question. that is a question for the kentucky state legislature in frankfort. i was in the state legislature for 11 years from 2001 to 2011 before becoming commissioner of agriculture in kentucky. i'm familiar with the state legislature. i keep up with what they do and they had an opportunity to pass a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. i agree with the caller that it is popular in kentucky, medical stick around -- attica marijuana. recreational marijuana, the poll numbers are not the same.
when you look at the governments's model to treat pain in america in the past has been right in an prescription for an opioid and medicare and medicaid will reimburse that year that has not worked out very well, especially in the state of kentucky. you have people that have pain, i think we need to look at alternative forms of pain relief as opposed to what the current business model is in kentucky, that is to write someone a prescription for a pain pill. the marijuana issue is something that will be brought back up in the legislature but that is more in the state legislatures domain than congress. host: tina, republican line. caller: if you could explain or inform the public about what is going to be occurring at the upcoming geneva conference next week.
it is my understanding that the who's governing legislation body will be taking a vote on our healthcare system here and it sounds like it is going to pass, which is going to be a serious concern for our national sovereignty as far as i understand it. could you please explain that to all of us? guest: you did a very good job of explaining it. you know more about it than i do. i am not familiar with that but i will familiarize myself with that today. let me say this about the who. i have a very low level of confidence in the who. this is a decision that trump made to pull america from the who as a result of their clear and apparent cover-up of the origination of covid-19.
i am still not a fan of the who. i do not think american tax dollars should go to the who until they come clean with what all went on in the lab in wuhan. every day that the oversight committee digs up more emails, we seem to find more information that proves that at the very least fauci and collins knew what was going on in that lab. whenever you got time to send people into look at the wuhan lab, they send the ceo of eagle health alliance. a lot of problems with who so we will certainly get caught up on what is going on in geneva. host: a call from your district, daniel in murray, kentucky. good morning. caller: good morning. host: go ahead.
caller: yes. i have a comment for mr. comer. i am a constituent of yours and i just want to say that we feel very fortunate to have you as our representative. you as well as thomas massie and rand paul, we are very proud to have representation with some backbone and i like what you said a medical about making any kind of funds for ukraine in installments and rand paul's idea of inspector general for those thing because the people are waking up for the slush fund and the money-laundering that is ukraine. that is all i have to say. guest: thank you for the call and everybody in kentucky thinking about murray right now with the deputy sheriff that needlessly lost his life
yesterday in marshall county. with respect to ukraine, i think we have to get a handle on spending. we should have learned -- if we should have learned anything from kobe, it is you cannot learn anything from covid, you cannot just write a blank take. -- a blank check. one of the unintended consequences was massive inflation. if you print $40 billion more to ukraine, that will make inflation even worse. i think the american people are yelling loud and clear they want to put america first. host: let's hear from ralph in georgia. democrats line. caller: yes, thank you for taking my call. please let me explain my view. my concern is that we have two
democrats and republicans. it seems like they are always at odds. we are here to send you people to office to handle these problems but all i hear right now is that the republicans, when they get back in the office, they will do this and do this against the democrats. the republicans are always saying right now, they are not supporting anything that the democrats do. hunter biden, go ahead and investigate that. but stop saying these things. you don't think that putin and ukraine is listening to us battling against each other. we are not getting along but yet and still, we are going to go over and tell another country how we are going to help them and stand by them losing people.
we are losing people here. the republicans have said nothing about what happened on sunday. blacks go to jail once lay in. host: we will get a response from congressman comer. guest: i think every republican in washington has condoned the unnecessary violence and i did not know what more can be said. a lot of republicans hope when biden became president that he would be a uniter. that is what he campaigned on. every policy that has come out of this administration with the exception of perhaps the infrastructure bill has just been overly partisan, far left wing policy. i think you will see this november the american people do not support that type of left-wing agenda. joe biden becoming vice
president and president, was considered a middle-of-the-road guy, a dealmaker who wanted to bring people together in the senate. his first year and a half in the office has not demonstrated their willingness to work together. they have had majority in the senate, majority in the house, and the white house and they have tried to run roughshod over america, what they cannot pass in congress, the president has tried to do by executive order. i just did not see a lot of effort from schumer, pelosi, or joe biden to be bipartisan and hopefully when republicans get the majority, we can stop the bleeding and that is inflation and unnecessary government spending, try to get the border under control, try to get crime under control in the big cities, and look for ways to work with democrats moving forward. host: after the protest following the leak of the draft supreme court opinion on abortion, you and several of your republican colleagues on
the oversight committee called on merrick garland to project supreme court justice is. you wrote to the attorney general. what was the nature of your request and has he responded? guest: no, he has not responded. what we want to do is make sure that they are providing protection for the supreme court justices. this is clearly an effort to try to intimidate the court, this leak, and much of the rhetoric, from the far left door the justices and we did not want to see that happen. host: when congress has security details, are you surprised of the nine supreme court justices? guest: do not haveguest: some members of congress -- guest: some members of congress do have like pelosi and mcconnell. i think they walked to the airport with more security detail than the president.
why does she have security video and i was shocked that the supreme court does not. this is something that we need to take very seriously, especially right now when they are dealing with an issue that gets people's emotions as high as abortion. host: republican line, brenda, go ahead. caller: i have a question. 99.4% of the population is in the hands of a document that is going to the world health organization on may 22 and they do not know why you do not know this. it causes the united states to surrender its health sovereignty during a pandemic. it affects every country on the globe, read the document. it is 193 countries on it as well as the united states and it
was submitted for approval for may 22. i am completely surprised you do not know this because i am not into politics. i watch the show and so many people are talking around it -- about it around me and you do not know this? what are your thoughts on this? guest: there is so much stuff on the internet. this has not been discussed in congress or anything else. i do not think there is going to be -- i am not even going to comment on it. i did not know what it is. there are a lot of conspiracy theories on the internet. this may be actually happening but i am not familiar with it. host: from new york, clyde, democrats line. go ahead. you are on the air. caller: ok. good morning. once upon a time, i used to be a republican. i am an independent but i vote democratic.
i wanted to tee off in that you made about buffalo. i would like to say this. not all republicans are racist but all racists all republicans. guest: i do not disagree, but go ahead. i have met racist democrats, but go ahead. caller: number two, you spoke about the pandemic. do you believe what trump was saying about it was a democratic hoax or is it a chinese whatever because this thing was supposed to go when he said it was supposed to go that summer of 2020, but he blamed it on the democrats. i want to know do you believe
what he believes? guest: i do not know that he blamed it. i will jump in here. i do not think he blamed it on the democrats. i think he blamed the democrats of overreacting to covid. in that sense, i do agree with the president. both president trump and president biden miss cac later this severity of covid and the -- miscalculated the severity of covid and the longevity of covid. i know people who have covid so we have to take this seriously but we cannot shut the economy down, we cannot continue to spend trillions of dollars unnecessarily because there is a pandemic. we have to figure out in the future how to do better during times of a pandemic without bankrupting the american people. host: one more question about five of your republican colleagues who were subpoenaed by the january 6 commission.
your thoughts on that and the work of that committee in particular? guest: i do not consider the january 6 commission a legitimate committee. if you talk to the american people and listen to their concerns, there are a lot of concerns, the january 6, the -- the january 6 committee never comes up. this virtual education really set our american schoolchildren behind. these are the areas where we will focus moving forward. host: i would say good luck in your primary but you are running unopposed. when the november election come around -- comes around, what is number one issue for your constituents? guest: the number one issue is to get government spending under control.
$30 trillion national debt and growing every day. we cannot continue to be the policeman for the world. we cannot continue to pay people not to work. we cannot continue to waste money in the same fashion it has been wasted before. people who know me know that i try to be a watchdog for the taxpayers, try to give back to the taxpayers. the role of the government is a limited role but we have too much government. we have government bureaucracies that are out of control, government spending out of control, and my goal is to get spending under control and get the government off the backs of the private sector. host: congressman james comer, we thank you for being back here on "washington journal." up next, a closer look at the baby formula crisis, the problems in delivery and supply and how it is impacting low income moms across the country. we will be joined by brian dittmeier with the national women, infants & children association.
a short break around 9:00 to go to the u.s. house ahead of the joint meeting with the greek prime minister. later, one of the house's no was member, democratic congresswoman sheila cherfilus-mccormick of florida who won a special election last saturday on the shooting in buffalo and why she ran for office. that is ahead. ♪ >> lawmakers are taking a closer look at a pentagon report on u.s. military sightings of unidentified flying objects. defense intelligence officials who acknowledged sightings testified today before a house subcommittee live at 90 5 a.m. eastern on c-span two.
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to subscribe anytime. >> "washington journal" continues. host: up next, we will talk about the baby formula shortage in the u.s. with brian dittmeier , the senior director of public policy for the national women, infants & children association. welcome to the program. guest: thank you for having me. host: what is your organization? the national women, infants & children association, what is its mission? guest: we are a nonprofit representing the state and local providers of the wic program and the wic program provides nutrition assistance and nutrition services to low income pregnant, postpartum women, infants, and children under the age of five. host: who qualifies for that assistance and how many women are currently availing themselves of that aid in the united states? guest: wic is a means test the
program and its income eligibility often aligns with medicaid. there are 6.2 million nationwide including 1.2 million infants who receive formula benefits through the wic program. host: how is the wic program funded? guest: it is a federal program that is administered by the states, but it is federally funded. host: is the funding under the biden administration going up or down? guest: it remains relatively consistent throughout the trump and biden administration. but one of the big pieces during the biden administration is that there has been an increase in the fruit and vegetable benefit for women and children. that has been what we have seen over the last two years. host: the connection to the baby formula shortage is that much and you can tell us the amount, much of the baby formula used in this country is used by wic
recipients, correct? guest: exactly. about 60% is purchased by wic families. host: tell us how the shortage in the u.s. developed. what is behind that? guest: the most significant factor behind the shortage is the closure of one of abbott nutrition's manufacturing plan ts. this was a food safety concern. some deadly bacteria was found and potentially linked to at least two infant deaths and several illnesses across the country. those cases are directly related to those products. in discussions with the food and drug administration and inspections by the federal government, abbott decided to voluntarily recall certain infant formula products on the market. host: how many manufacturers are there of baby formula in the u.s.? guest: about four companies
control about 89% of the domestic infant formula. it is a highly concentrated market. one of the pieces we have seen coming out of this plant closure is not only is it a centralized market, but each of these manufacturers have highly centralized operations as well. one of the statistics that has come up is that the sturgis, michigan facility that is closed is responsible for 1/5 of infant formula production in the country and drives the overwhelming production of a certain specialty formula that is needed for infants with digestive issues, infants with allergies, and infants with metabolic disorders. host: we welcome our callers for questions for brian dittmeier. (202) 748-8000 is the line for wic recipients. (202) 748-8001 for new parents. for all others, in the eastern
and central time zones, (202) 748-8002. mountain and pacific, (202) 748-8003. brian dittmeier, has your organization raised concern about the concentration of companies in terms of the availability of supply of baby formula in the past? guest: yes. for about 30 years, three have been competing in the space so this is not a new dynamic but we are seeing an increased competition in recent years where two of those companies control about 75% of the market. on top of that, you have seen a decrease in imports. about 98% of infant formula purchased in the united states is produced domestically. a piece of that comes from limitations in canadian products
with a recent trade agreement under the trump administration. we have seen increased steps to centralize the market over the past several decades and it is certainly concerning that we are at this point where one manufacturing plant closing can have this ripple effect throughout the entire manufacturing sector and of course lead to some significant distress, anxiety, and frustration in parents across the country. host: is the formula shortage in the u.s. affecting other countries? guest: that is my understanding, although not to the bulk of what we are seeing here in the united states. but we certainly know that some of the products manufactured in sturgis, michigan were shipped internationally as well. that is part of the recall. host: the all others line is (202) 748-8002. brian dittmeier, there was news on this front overnight before we did the segment. here's the reporting of "the new york times."
the fda and abbott reach an agreement on baby formula to ease the shortage. production would restore in two weeks and store shelves would be stocked several weeks later. what is your reaction? guest: this is a really encouraging step. most acute is the need for specialty formula and abbott nutrition has indicated that will be the first product line on the manufacturing agenda. we know that we need to fill the gap for the specialty formula to address these specific digestive and metabolic needs of infants with conditions. one of the pieces we need to be verifying is that it is not a flip of the switch. it is going to take a few weeks for that product in the sturgis, michigan plant to get on the shelf. we have been seeing that effect with manufacturers across the industry. you have seen nestle-gerber indicating that they are increasing production at the beginning of march, that nestle
gerber was indicating that they are flying in products from manufacturing plants abroad as well. despite these efforts, it has not yet translated to increased stock on the shelves. we are certainly hitting what i think is the most frustrating point of the supply challenge, but hopefully in the weeks to come between the ramp-up of production between other manufacturers and the beginning of production at sturgis, michigan, we will see increased supply in the weeks ahead. host: just a reminder of our phone lines, (202) 748-8000 if you are a wic recipient. if you are a new parent, (202) 748-8001. for all others, (202) 748-8002. was there any evidence that some of the shortage was due to hoarding that we have seen in other areas throughout the pandemic? guest: since news of the recall,
this has been one of our concerns. frankly, with the press coverage of the last week, we are hearing increase in panic buying across the country. retailers have generally been putting limitations on purchases and only allowing a certain number of cans per transaction. it really has been a whole of community effort in this moment where the wic agency, the retailers, manufacturers, food banks, everyone is working at this point to identify where supply is and connect families in need with that supply. at this point, it is a truly hyper-localized issue because of how limited the supply is and how that gets distributed through different channels and eventually put either on the shelf or in food banks as well. we have to identify where the supply is in each community. host: are there some spots in the country that are
particularly short supplied? guest: one of the dynamics we are very mindful of is making sure that rural communities get supply as it comes back onto the market. that is a key piece of the conversation. the distribution panel has been working effectively over the last couple of weeks. the main issue is that there is not enough product out there. it truly is a supply issue. host: let's hear from darlene from oregon. go ahead. caller: one of the things that concerns me most is our country is having a huge conflict over pro-choice and those folks who are against any kind of abortion or birth control but yet, we cannot feed the babies that we have here right now. i am also concerned that they are only four manufacturers in a country of 350 million people that are producing this product. to me, that is unconscionable.
could you tell us why there are only four manufacturers left in our country that supply the baby formula? thank you. guest: that is certainly an issue of high concern here in washington and one that a lot of legislators are starting to probe around. last week, senator tammy duckworth reached out to the federal trade commission and asked for a study on the infant formula market and the reason behind the consolidation. on top of that, we also saw legislators from both parties reaching out to the usda to figure out what powers that exist to help spur further competition in the market. that will be a topic that we move forward on in the weeks and months ahead is that we really have to bring more players into this space and we have to encourage diversification of operations within these players as well. we cannot allow one manufacturing plant to have this
command over the supply. we have to really take a holistic approach across the sector. to your earlier point, we really have to be supportive of a wide range of policies that support new parents. everything from increase prompting -- increased funding for the wic program to paid leave. it will not be the immediate solution, but we have to recognize that over decades the manufacturers have built a customer base through very aggressive marketing including free samples and presence in the hospital. that has helped cultivate a customer base and undermined breast-feeding efforts. we have to figure out an addition to supporting paid family leave and financial support for new parents, we have to be thinking how do we build a society that is more supportive of breast-feeding and workplaces that are more supportive of breast-feeding because that is
often one of the most significant barriers to breast-feeding. host: the line for new parents is (202) 748-8001. let's hear from jen in florida. go ahead. caller: i am a wic recipient. i am also a breast-feeding mom and i work. while i was breast-feeding and he really is not that easy. it is very difficult. i think a lot of men need to start getting involved and seeing how much work it takes to breast-feed and take care of a baby. also, as far as the formula, do you foresee any issues in the future with this kind of thing happening again? what do they do to plan for emergencies like this? i am seeing it all over my community where there are hundreds of women that cannot
get access to breastmilk. host: have you had any issues -- caller: breastmilk and formula. host: teddy had any issues of finding formula on store shelves -- have you had any issues of finding formula on store shelves? caller: the whole community has. there are facebook pages, they are looking for formula. i have access to costco, i can get you in there. i have a couple of extra cans, stuff like that. what is our government doing? they knew that this manufacturing plant had two sick people, yet they did not make any plans to start importing milk or whatever they needed to do to make sure that our citizens were able to get formula. host: thanks for chiming in. we appreciate that. brian dittmeier. guest: thank you so much.
there are a lot of pieces here as well. the first piece is that we have to take a two step approach. the first step is we have to fight the gap in supply immediately and then we have to take those that a hard look at the sector and figure out how we build a more resilient supply chain in the future. it will really take steps like diversifying the actual operations of manufacturers while also promoting competition in the sector. those steps are certainly being evaluated at this point. there will be a lot of lessons learned from this that will be implemented in the months ahead as well. to your earlier point around breast-feeding support, i think that is critical. wic provides breast-feeding support not just for moms, but we really try to make it a whole family effort and we work with dad, grandparents to help build the family support for the
breast-feeding effort because it is a financial cost to breast-feed as well as a time cost and you really need that family support moving forward. on top of that, going to that whole of community approach to how do we address the immediate supply, it is critical that we have not just community stakeholders like the retailers, the wic agency, and the food bank, but thankfully the mom groups have been really effective in this time. we have been able to identify where supply is in community and connect moms in need with the supply. one of the pieces i want to touch on when we have moms at this moment is talking about social media, bit of concern about some of the practices that are being elevated on social media and not necessarily saying that it is happening in your mom grew particularly, but we are seeing a number of homemade infant recipe formless circulating online and another
-- a lot of encouragement to dilute formula and both of those practices are risky. it could result in long-term risks to your baby. we would caution against both of those approaches. i would also flag as well that we are encouraging families to continue to wait until you are one to introduce cows milk. the academy of pediatrics came out with some guidance on this front but we really want to make sure that those three risky behaviors and infant feeding practices are cautioned against, especially since so many parents are stressed. we really encourage either breastmilk or infant formula at this time. it really takes that holistic approach to see how we can connect families with what they need. host: we will go to tom in tennessee. go ahead. caller: thanks for taking my
call. i had another comment but when i heard the lady talking about abortion, she is wanting to kill all the babies. that will take care of it, right? instead of feeding them, let's just kill them all, that is what she is saying. we have got to make sure they are never elected again. host: next is stephen in pennsylvania on the others line. caller: good morning. everybody should take a look at the report that was filed by the fda and the cdc concerning the bacteria that was supposedly being found in that factory. that did not have anything to do with them shutting it down and they have been trying to get that back online and the biden administration has refused to do it. all you have to do is get your
public records. the cdc and the fda did not find any connection with that bacteria with the loss of two children. that is sad to begin with, let alone the administration not coming up with a way to figure out the problem and get it back online or letting them do so. all you have to do is read the format that just came out. host: brian dittmeier, the fda did allow that plant come back online, correct? guest: that is breaking news of yesterday. we are encouraged by that step. i do want to underscore that it is often said that infant formula is one of the most highly regulated products in the country and there is a reason why that is, but because -- because it is often an exclusive source of nutrition for infants. particular care has to be put into the safety of these products as well as baby foods to make sure that when infants are consuming them that they are safe.
i am encouraged that all stakeholders, both the fda and abbott nutrition issued a voluntary recall in february, took the concerns around it seriously because this is a matter of life and death and we need to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to promote safety in the food supply. host: a comment from a viewer in blairsville, pennsylvania who says, "i saw how much powdered milk -- powdered baby formula cost. i was astounded. there is not much in the formula unless it is a special kind. now i know prices are so high because of government subsidies." is that true? guest: i would not necessarily say that government subsidies are the reasons for the price but that is certainly a matter that should be explored in any federal trade commission along with a number of other factors
that are driving price concerns and market consolidation concerns. one of the pieces that i would say is most significant is well -- significant as well as around the marketing. these manufacturers spend a lot of money to market their products in hospitals. one of the concerning practices that we have heard is that these companies are still sending three samples to unsolicited free samples to families during the supply crisis. one would think that you would rethink that practice when you are having difficulty stocking the shelves. we have to take a look at the marketing as well as the pricing and the operation of these manufacturers to make sure that we have a more resilient supply chain method that responds to the needs of parents and not the needs of sharing heather's --
needs of shareholders. host: last week, the president laid out additional measures that the administration is taking to address baby formula shortage. i want to play his comments and get your response. [video clip] pres. biden: number one, we are releasing guidance today to all the states in the possible flex abilities in the wic program because they are sort of strict guidelines. if you have a wic, you can purchase a certain amount of formula but you cannot purchase more. the problem is the packaging issues are becoming a difficulty. we are changing it so that the wic program, you can buy what is on the shelf. it is the top issue raised with me. the flexibility should not depend on whether you have it packaged exactly what meets the
requirement for people on the with program. secondly, the fda issued a statement. i was on the telephone. on the wic program, when i spoke to walmart and the major distributors yesterday, or the day before, i cannot remember, they wanted this flexibility because they did not want to be violating the law. the top issue for retailers. the fda just issued a statement about importation of formula from abroad. the fda has been looking at working with manufacturers to facilitate the incorporation of formula from abroad from places like europe where we can get more product on u.s. shelves. that is underway. it will be in a matter of weeks or less, getting more formula on shelves. the fda is ensuring and
maintaining the high safety standards. host: brian dittmeier, on the importation of baby formula, is that something that is allowed under federal law? guest: one of the pieces that we are seeing out of the fda guidance is that there are a lot of barriers to importing formula in the first place. we are seeing that issue being explored by the fda and congress on what steps need to be taken to allow for the importation of formula. in the immediate steps to make sure that there is supply in my thoughts to this crisis, but that will be a question on the table as we think about the long-term resilience of the supply chain is do we need to be importing more formula moving forward and if so, how do we make sure that any formula imported is aligned with safety standards and all of the other
requirements that exist? host: we have a moment or two before the house. let's get a quick call from rei in virginia. caller: we had a similar problem in australia a few years ago where people were buying a lot of baby formula off the shelves and therefore, there was not any baby formula for other people. they found out that they were exporting these formulas or these baby formula to china and they had boats coming in and shipping them out. can you address that, please? guest: we have to take stock of the resilience of the supply chain. since so much of our production is domestic, that we need to be assessing if exports are a part of the factor as well. right now what we are seeing is
that so much of the product that is produced by domestic manufacturers is moving forward into the american supply chain and we are even hearing from multiple manufacturers that they are flying product in from international facilities to provide more supply for the united states. again, we have to stay focused on the immediate challenge before us while also being very mindful of what long-term steps are needed to build a more resilient supply chain out to make sure that these manufacturers are prepared to address any concerns, any safety challenges while still assuring supply for the market here in the united states. host: brian dittmeier, senior director of public policy on the national women, infants & children association. joining us. guest: thanks for having me. host: when the greek prime minister comes in, and when
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