Sullivan Discusses Biden’s Job-Killing Climate Plan, Cruise Ships & Iran Deal on Full Court Press

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) joined Greta Van Susteren on Full Court Press this weekend to discuss a range of issues, including President Joe Biden’s upcoming address to a joint session of Congress, the Biden administration’s job-killing climate plan, efforts to get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to finally issue health and safety guidance for cruise lines, the role American natural gas can play in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, and the dangers of resuscitating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran.


Van Susteren: Democrats and Republicans are facing off over President Biden's American Jobs Plan. The White House says it will create millions of good jobs and rebuild our country's crumbling infrastructure. The proposal costs more than $2 trillion dollars. This past week, the GOP offering a counter proposal at a fraction of the cost, just $568 billion dollars. The President now signaling he's ready to negotiate, but some Republicans remain skeptical. I spoke to Republican Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan. I asked him what he wants to hear from President Biden at his first address to a joint session of Congress.

Sullivan: I want to hear what he said in his, in his inaugural, which is bringing the country together, but then actually doing it. Here's the thing that's really been frustrating for me. I've been trying to work with this administration. As of last week there have been nine executive orders from the Biden administration that are focused solely on Alaska. And they are job-killing. They are hurting the opportunities for our workers in my state. There's no state in the country that has gotten that kind of attention from this administration. With all due respect to the Biden administration, the war on Alaskan working families from the Biden administration has got to stop. 

Van Susteren: Well, are they talking to you? Did they call you up and discuss things with you?

Sullivan: It depends on the issue. But on a lot of these issues relating to energy workers in Alaska, relating to access to our federal lands, I'm just hearing about them. I read about them in the press and that's a frustration. 

Van Susteren: Can’t you just - I mean, no one calls up or you don't call up anybody or say what's going on? Things are just happening – is that what you’re saying?

Sullivan: Well, look, trust me, I reach out to this White House all the time. Now, with the former president, President Trump, I would have just called him, right. He was very responsive to Senators. 

Van Susteren: But he's your party. He was your party. Was he responsive to Democrats too? 

Sullivan: I think he was responsive. I think he was responsive to Democrats. I mean, I don't have a great indication on that, but there's certain members in the White House said I certainly try to let them know about the issues. Let me give you another example, on cruise ships. We want safe cruising. We want people to be able to get on a cruise ship with regard to the pandemic in a safe, healthy way. We can't get guidance from the CDC on how and when to open the tourism season for the great state of Alaska. And this isn't just about cruise ships, it’s about hundreds if not thousands of small businesses in my great state that are at risk of going under again if we miss another tourism season.

Van Susteren: If you call the CDC - because it's not just your state that has problems trying to figure out what's going on with cruise ships. You know, what should be a safe way to do this - Can you call them and can you get some guidance from them? 

Sullivan: Well look, I've talked to CDC Director twice in the last three weeks. 

Van Susteren: And?

Sullivan: What she told me and Senator Murkowski, quite frankly, just wasn't true. She said they were going to issue guidance the day she talked to us for all five phases of reopening. That wasn't true. They said they were going to issue guidance - 

Van Susteren: It isn't true or she just hasn't been able to formulate it, she’s been busy -

Sullivan: It didn't happen.

Van Susteren: It didn't happen.

Sullivan: It didn't happen. Look, she's new. I've been saying she needs to kind of look at her staff and say, hey, when you're giving me instructions to say to certain senators, you want to be accurate. So far it hasn't been accurate.  

Van Susteren: In terms of the President's speech this coming week, I assume he's going to talk about his family plan, his American Family Plan, his American Jobs Plan, paid for by a rise in the corporate tax rate. Is that going to happen do you think? The corporate tax rate going up? 

Sullivan: No, I think there are other ways that you can pay for this, certainly.

Van Susteren: But is it going to get passed do you think?

Sullivan: Right now, I don't think there's support on the Republican side to already increase the taxes that we lowered and made our country more competitive. So I think there are other ways to look at paying for an infrastructure bill and more negotiations with the Democrats and the White House on that now.

Van Susteren: All right, now, let me turn to the other, the sort of soft infrastructure the President has been talking about, the American Family Plan, which would be things like childcare, universal pre-care, things like that. And the President, in order to finance that program, he wants to raise personal income tax on the very wealthy, not people who have $400,000 and lower. But the wealthy. Is that going to go up? Is the personal income tax going to go up on the wealthy?

Sullivan: I think raising taxes on Americans when we're in a recession, right now, is not generally the way -

Van Susteren: Even on the very wealthy?

Sullivan: Well, again, they always talk about the very wealthy, but then you look at the details of their plans and they start to come down I believe on middle class families. So it's the devil in the details. Raising taxes on Americans, on small businesses, on employment generators in terms of businesses during a recession, I don't think is a good idea.

Van Susteren: Coming up - the climate change crisis, how to preserve the environment without killing jobs. I asked Senator Sullivan after the break. Welcome back to Full Court Press. This past week, President Biden hosting a two-day global climate summit. The President announcing that by 2030 the U.S. will slash greenhouse gas emission levels by roughly 50%. The goal would require immediate change. Renewable energy would reportedly have to make up about 50% of the nation's power supply. And that would mean largely phasing out coal-fired and gas-fired electricity. This move, Senator Dan Sullivan says he opposes.

Sullivan: I believe that we should be continuing all-of-the-above energy: renewables, oil, gas. And this administration, unfortunately, is targeting American workers in the oil and gas sector. I totally disagree with it.

Van Susteren: Or they would say, not that they're targeting American workers. They have a different view. They would say that they're trying to preserve the environment for the next generation. I assume that, you know, I assume that would be the argument. You know, the Republicans look at it one way, Democrats look at it another way. 

Sullivan: Sure. There's no country on the planet that has higher standards than we do. So, if you need energy, which you do, why do you not want to produce it in the place with the highest environmental standards, which we have, by American workers, who are the best in the world? So to me, that argument on the environment really doesn't hold water. And here's something else. You know, our country reduced greenhouse gas emissions by almost 15% from 2005 to 2017. That's more than any other major economy in the world by far. And we did that because we produced a lot of natural gas. 

Van Susteren: It may be by far, but it still is a problem.

Sullivan: Oh, it’s still a -

Van Susteren: I mean it’s a terrible problem. It may be something that, you know, good, we're going in the right direction that way, but it still remains a continuing problem with Republicans having one idea about it and the Democrats having another idea about it.

Sullivan: But I think there can be a lot of bipartisan support around the idea of continuing to produce our own resources in a very high standard environmental way. And when we do that, when we've done that, especially the revolution in natural gas production in America, we have lowered greenhouse gas emissions more than any other major economy in the world. That's progress. My view is we need to keep that going. 

Van Susteren: Alright, Iran. Is there going to be a new deal with Iran?  

Sullivan: I hope not. I was strongly opposed to the last JCPOA. I read it in all kinds of detail. I think it incentivized the Iranians’ additional terrorist behavior. You know, they're the largest terrorist state in the world. And as someone who's now 27 years in the Marine Corps, I have not forgotten what the Iranians did to so many of our soldiers, particularly in Iraq, where they were sending very sophisticated IEDs to Shia militias, and killed and wounded over 2,000 of our best and brightest American soldiers. So I am not a supporter of the Iran deal at all. I think that -

Van Susteren: Is there any deal that could be - that could satisfy you?  

Sullivan: There could be a deal if it was much more broad, particularly focused on Iranian terrorist activities. They're the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Israel, many of the Gulf Arab states with these Abraham Accords. And a lot of that realignment, which is very positive for us and for Israel, is because I think the countries in the region saw that the biggest threat from the region wasn't each other, it was Iran and we need to continue that strategic realignment with Israel and some of our Arab allies and I think that's an important area of progress and I think the Biden administration is committed to that.

Van Susteren: Thank you to Senator Sullivan. 

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