Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) told Breitbart News exclusively that the wide-scale incompetence in Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration on display through the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan is proof that it is foolish to think Biden and his administration could manage the implementation of a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure plan in the United States.
“I think that what’s happening in Afghanistan is really exposing to the American public how completely incompetent the Biden administration is,” Hagerty said on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel. “And to think that they would be in charge of administering more government dependency programs when they can’t even administer a NEO [noncombatant evacuation operation] operation over in Afghanistan I think is a complete folly.”
US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 1, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP).
It is worth noting that later in the day, after Hagerty’s appearance on the program and while Biden continues to leave thousands of Americans stranded in Taliban-controlled territory, the White House released a readout of a phone call Biden had with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday. The phone call supposedly centered on both the ongoing evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, and on the multi-trillion-dollar spending plan push in Congress. Weaving the two failures together, the White House readout of the Biden-Pelosi call said in part:
This afternoon, the President and Speaker Pelosi spoke by phone about the ongoing evacuation operations in Afghanistan as well as the President’s Build Back Better agenda and the upcoming House action this week on key domestic issues.
The President updated Speaker Pelosi about increasing progress made evacuating American citizens, our allies, Afghans who aided American military and other efforts, and additional vulnerable Afghans as rapidly as possible.
The President also reiterated his support for Speaker Pelosi’s work to advance the rule that would provide for the House’s consideration of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better Agenda—which would cut prescription drug costs, reduce the cost of housing and education, strengthen care for veterans, take on climate change, and help families afford childcare and care for older Americans.
The U.S. Senate a couple weeks ago passed a $1.2 trillion spending plan that proponents claimed was an infrastructure bill despite the fact it was filled with leftist agenda items and not really infrastructure—and despite the fact that it was not fully paid for according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis. In the end, 19 Senate Republicans joined all Senate Democrats in backing that plan—but the final passage of the bill was delayed by several days as Hagerty held up the process refusing to provide unanimous consent so Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could, as he sought to, rush it through.
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (C) addresses the press on the infrastructure package at the US Capitol, in Washington, DC on July 28, 2021. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
“Well, I’m sure you feel the same way. I’ve got infrastructure in my DNA,” Hagerty said. “I’ve worked my way through school shoveling asphalt on the road crew. My father worked road construction, my grandfather was in the road construction business. I believe in hard infrastructure that has a real return on investment for American taxpayers. We heard for months that we were going to get a hard infrastructure package. What happened was we had 2,700 page bill dropped on our desk. The Democrats had the pin on this. I know my Republican colleagues were working in earnest and in good faith to try to put hard infrastructure in place but when you don’t control the drafting process you often wind up with something that’s not exactly what you planned for. Well, this went way beyond what I think anybody had planned for in terms of opening the door for the Green New Deal, a lot of other things that had nothing to do with infrastructure in this bill. And then on the very day, when we got the Congressional Budget Office scoring, which is the cost analysis—what will this bill cost?—we’ve been told all along, it will be paid for. In fact they missed that mark by a long shot, by over a quarter of a trillion dollars. I’ve got children that are going to be bearing this. Our grandchildren someday will be bearing this debt, a quarter of a trillion dollar mess. And the response from Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, was ‘let’s go ahead and accelerate it and pass it tonight.’ Give us five days to review a 2,700-page bill and just to put that into perspective, the King James Bible is 1,300 pages. This is twice as long as the King James Bible—five days to review the bill, maybe six by the time we voted. And then, no time to review the cost of it at all—just accept the fact that they missed it by a quarter of a trillion dollars in the hole, in the red.”
What’s taking so long? Romney told me that they are correcting all the “its and ats.”
Schumer was supposed to come to the floor around 2:15 with what was expected to be the final update. We are still waiting. https://t.co/Rrbk3KZIdP
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) August 1, 2021
Hagerty held them up as Democrats and even Republicans tried to pressure him to just let it all sail through no problem. He refused to back down.
“We’re supposed to accelerate the passage of this. I was not going to let that happen,” Hagerty said. “The fact that we kept it open and that we began the debate, the American public got to find out what was in this bill. Five of my Senate colleagues moved their vote and joined us to resist this. It is not the result I’d hoped in the Senate. But I think what we’ve done is cast a victory for the American public for transparency. What we’ve allowed the American public to see is the past that this is leading to, which is the $3.5 trillion, Bernie Sanders-authored Green New Deal-revisited totally socialist debt bomb that they’re about to unleash on America. That debate is begun. I think we’re going to put a lot more pressure now on the members of the House of Representatives, particularly those members that are in swing districts that are going to have, I think, a very tough time voting for this now.”
GOP proponents of the Senate-passed plan have, inaccurately, claimed that bill is not connected to the broader $3.5 trillion plan upon which congressional Democrats intend to use a gimmick called “budget reconciliation” to pass with only partisan Democrat support. That reconciliation gimmick allows Democrats in the Senate to circumvent the chamber’s filibuster rules and pass a bill with a simple majority. Since the Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, and Vice President Kamala Harris cuts ties, reconciliation is the only route Democrats can go to pass a bill this partisan and extreme since GOP senators are not going to vote for it. Zero Republican votes are expected in either chamber—the Senate or the House—for the $3.5 trillion plan.
After the Senate’s Democrats and establishment Republicans finally worked around Hagerty—he forced the process to drag out for several days longer than they wanted—the Senate Democrats immediately jumped into work on adopting and then passing the budget resolution which will serve eventually as the vehicle for getting the bigger $3.5 trillion bill through Congress. The Senate passed that framework on purely partisan lines, while the U.S. House was on August recess, which was originally scheduled to last until September 20 but is now likely to end early as Pelosi is calling lawmakers back to Congress next week to pass the budget framework so the Senate can then begin work on the $3.5 trillion bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is looking to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a broader $3.5 trillion budget framework simultaneously, an effort to keep House Democrats united as the chamber prepares to take up the plans. https://t.co/oBzaKNWxqN
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) August 16, 2021
Interestingly, however, Pelosi is refusing as of now to even consider in the House the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion plan until the Senate takes up and passes the bigger $3.5 trillion plan. The Senate cannot take up the bigger bill until the House passes the budget framework so it can use the resolution as a vehicle to pass the bigger one, but there are some so-called House Democrat moderates—nine in total, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)—who say they will not vote for the budget resolution until Pelosi takes up the Senate-passed smaller plan in the House. It remains to be seen how this internal Democrat game of chicken between moderates and radicals plays out, but Hagerty said he is particularly concerned that Pelosi’s plan works and forces so-called moderate Democrat Senators like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and others to back the broader extreme agenda.
Gottheimer tried to gut The Democratic Party
Nine centrists, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), signal they could vote against the $3.5Trillion Reconciliation unless Pelosi first permits a vote on a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.https://t.co/G4GZ7SSZHt
— Dennis S Brotman 🇺🇸 #DemCast #DemCastGA (@DenbrotS) August 22, 2021
“Well, my concern is that Nancy Pelosi actually follows through with her strategy and I think that’s the notion that she will hold the infrastructure bill that both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema worked very hard to obtain—she’s going to hold that hostage to get the $3.5 trillion bill passed and if they ever want that infrastructure bill to see the light of day, they’re going to have to vote to pass that $3.5 trillion spend-a-palooza, if you want to call it that,” Hagerty told Breitbart News. “The socialist package that Bernie Sanders has designed that’s going to just put more debt, more taxes, and much more inflation into the economy right now. She’s going to use the infrastructure bill to hold hostage those that would probably not vote for the $3.5 trillion package otherwise. That’s her stated plan. That’s that’s stated strategy. That’s been my great concern.”
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 14: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) attends a news conference to introduce legislation to transform public housing as part of the Green New Deal outside the U.S. Capitol November 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. The liberal legislators invited affordable housing advocates and climate change activists to join them for the announcement. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
But, Hagerty said, he is working hard to ensure and is hopeful that Manchin, Sinema, and or other Democrats will oppose the bigger $3.5 trillion bill.
“I would certainly hope so,” Hagerty said. “Again, I think she is just kind of trying to get more leverage over them because if they want the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package through, they’re going to have to vote for the $3.5 trillion. I hope and pray we can persuade one, both, or more of them, not to vote for any of this in the end.”
Hagerty thinks the momentum is there to stop the Biden agenda in its tracks—and Biden’s decision to literally spend time in the middle of the crisis in Afghanistan calling Pelosi to talk about this agenda seems to indicate that Democrats in Congress are also concerned they may not have the juice they thought they did to get it done.
“The people of Tennessee didn’t elect me to be popular in Washington, D.C.,” Hagerty said. “They elected me to represent their best interests, and that was exactly what I was attempting to do and again as I say we moved a number of my Senate colleagues to change their vote and come to our side. We didn’t get the result I hoped for but I do think that we created some momentum to help us in this fight to push back certainly against the larger $3.5 trillion bill that’s coming next.”
But this brings back up the larger point of wide-scale incompetence on display from the Biden administration as a whole in Afghanistan right now—something that has been evident across the board from Biden’s total failure in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic to the border crisis he unleashed to his mismanagement of the economy sparking inflation and so much more—and whether his team is even capable of handling such a program. Hagerty said Biden and his team cannot be trusted to implement such an “infrastructure” plan, and if it ever saw the light of day if Congress gives Biden the resources that will become painfully obvious to Americans quickly.
“We’re exposing right now to the American public, the details of the of the infrastructure plan and the so-called what do they call it the soft infrastructure, human infrastructure, plan that really is just the Green New Deal and more socialist programs,” Hagerty said. “The American public is waking up on so many dimensions to what the Biden administration is really trying to do and how incompetent they truly are.”
That Biden incompetence on display in Afghanistan, Hagerty said, is particularly profound. The freshman senator from Tennessee, the first ex-Trump administration official elected to the upper chamber of Congress, served at the beginning of now former President Donald Trump’s administration as U.S. ambassador to Japan. He told Breitbart News every U.S. ambassador is supposed to have what’s called a “noncombatant evacuation operation,” or NEO, plan. Clearly, Hagerty said, Biden’s team in Kabul failed in every respect on this front as the Taliban rolled through Afghanistan late last week and finally took complete control of the country last Sunday.
“It’s heartbreaking is what it is,” Hagerty said. “What we’re seeing is complete and utter chaos, and it’s chaos on our side. It reveals an utter lack of planning, reckless and feckless leadership here. Biden focused on the press release that would have declared victory for pulling American troops out on the 20th anniversary of September 11. That’s what he was focused on. They didn’t put any plan in place—they were just ready to celebrate a victory that wasn’t about to happen unless they planned thoroughly. You know that before I became a United States Senator I was U.S. Ambassador to Japan, third largest economy in the world. At any point in time we would have 250,000-plus Americans there. As the chief of mission there, it was my responsibility to have a plan in place to evacuate, to take care of, to keep safe, all Americans that would be in that country at any point in time. When I got there, Kim Jong Un was launching intercontinental ballistic missiles coming from North Korea over Japan. I completely reworked my plan. We had contingencies. We had developed the plan. And that was my responsibility as the senior American in that country. Our responsibility is to be in position to keep Americans safe and to be able to extract them when necessary. That has failed completely here. It is called a noncombatant evacuation operation plan—the NEO plan for short. Completely failed here, they didn’t have anything in place that would work. They just went in and recklessly withdrew and put tens of thousands of American lives at stake.”
Afghan citizens pack inside a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they are transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. The Taliban on Sunday swept into Kabul, the Afghan capital, after capturing most of Afghanistan. (Capt. Chris Herbert/U.S. Air Force via AP)
What is truly remarkable at this stage is a full week now since the Taliban took over the Biden administration—the president himself on down through the State Department and Pentagon and everyone else who is supposed to be in charge there—does not have a specific number of Americans they abandoned behind enemy lines to the Taliban. There is a massive focus from the media and political class on Afghans who helped in the war effort—no doubt, important—but the answer to how many American citizens, what should be the U.S.’s highest priority, are stranded is still as of now unclear. Hagerty said that since a visa was necessary to enter Afghanistan until the government fell, this is information Biden’s team should have—a master list of every American in the country—but the fact that they do not have that information of proof of their incompetence.
“They certainly they certainly should have that information,” Hagerty said. “In my planning, I always assumed that there would be more Americans than we had recorded just because you need to have that sort of surge capacity in place. And here they don’t have any kind of capacity in place to deal with it, but you’re right they don’t even seem to know how many Americans are there and they certainly don’t know what to tell them. And as I hear what’s happening with Americans, they’re being told to stay home, to make their way at their own risk to the airport and back and forth, there’s no consistent message—yet other nations are going in and sending special forces to don’t go directly to their citizens and extract them. I’ve heard stories and it’s hard to just as an American citizen. It is so hard to hear this, that Americans are trying to find favor with other nations so that they can be extracted, other nations that are actually on the ground protecting their people and we can’t get a consistent message or consistent direction from the Biden administration that all Americans will be extracted. We need a message that is very clear, that our timeline isn’t arbitrary, our timeline isn’t something that’s been set by Joe Biden in a press release. Our timelines is when every last American is saved and out of that country. That’s what we need to be operating right now and we’re not getting clear and consistent messaging to that affect. What you heard, or just what you stated at the beginning of this conversation about the inconsistent messaging from the embassy in Kabul right now—this is, this is terrible.”
Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
What’s more, Hagerty said the wide scale misinformation—and contradictions between Biden administration officials since the White House, Pentagon, State Department, and others are not on the same page and have regularly contradicted each other—“certainly is” making “it worse on several levels.”
“You mentioned the dissent cable. That is a well known avenue of communication that goes straight to the Secretary of State,” Hagerty said. “Clearly, they decided to set that aside because it didn’t fit and wasn’t consistent with their plan for their September 11 press release. Everything, everything that they’ve done has been oriented toward some type of media event, rather than actual execution on the ground. The only execution that we’ve seen here, that’s working, is the execution of Joe Biden’s reputation and America’s reputation abroad and to take a minute on that, our allies are now looking at us with extreme concern. Where’s the American resolve? Can they count on us? Our allies have been depending on us and our leadership, and we pull the plug over there and left them holding the bag as well. Brits have lost life and treasure there. Germans, you got multiple NATO partners that are seriously questioning America’s resolve and America’s trustworthiness and you’ve got the Chinese Communist Party really leveraging this right now, pumping out through their propaganda network that America cannot be relied upon. They’re doing this to scare Taiwan. China, Russia, Iran are again just laughing all the way on this. They can’t believe that we’re handing this type of propaganda victory to them. This is something that is going to take a generation to recover from—the stain that Joe Biden has put on America’s reputation. I look at my children and I, I pray that we’ll turn things around. This is unbelievable that we would take the reputation that we have established as the beacon of liberty and freedom in the world, and subject it to this type of embarrassing.”
LISTEN TO SEN. BILL HAGERTY ON BREITBART NEWS SATURDAY: