Rep. Russell Criticizes McCain, Breaks With White House On Immigration
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Congressman Steve Russell struck an accusatory tone against Senate colleagues and the White House in an interview Tuesday morning over recent political headlines in Washington.
When it came to the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Russell (R-OK) said he and his fellow representatives were upset and angry with Senators Susan Collins and John McCain, the latter surprisingly voted no last week killing a promise Republicans had been making for seven years.
“We were very angry,” Russell said. “Why are you going to fly in from Arizona just to have the same outcome and result? Why disappoint the whole country?”
Russell said the push to redo American healthcare is likely dead, at the moment, with just 15 days of session left. He guessed efforts to repeal and replace the ACA could be restarted in January, but the delay has stalled efforts on other GOP platform issues such as tax reform.
Russell also took issue with a new White House-backed bill to cut legal immigration in half while placing a premium on English-speaking immigrants with high powered degrees.
“(On) the Statue of Liberty, the plaque on the bottom doesn't say, ‘send me your physicians, your Nobel laureates, your biophysicists.’ It just doesn't say that. It says give me your tired your poor, your hungry, your retched masses,” Russell said quoting the iconic poem by Emma Lazarus on the base of the Statue of Liberty.
However, he made it clear he didn't want his disapproval of the bill to be taken as a change in his thinking about the problems of illegal immigration.
“We can't just ignore the problems because it doesn't meet our sensitivities or it doesn't meet our compassion or it doesn't meet our politics or whatever it might be,” Russell said, when asked about President Donald Trump’s push to increase the number of customs and border patrol agents by 5,000.
The Congressman also addressed rumors he wouldn't be running again in 2018 amid more rumors he may be tapped to lead either the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Army.
“And the moon is made of cheese. I don't know where these things come from!” Russell said with a sarcastic tone. He added his commitment is to his state if voters choose him again.
“[I]f the Oklahoma voters are happy to have me I would like to continue.”