The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado, that aired on Nov. 26, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Republican Congressman Ken Buck, also from the state of Colorado. He announced his retirement from Congress earlier this month. Good morning to you, sir. You still got a bit of business to handle in these next few weeks, that's for sure. Congress has a lengthy to-do list, reauthorizing the FAA, finishing the defense bill, taking on all of these supplemental requests from President Biden, can you get all of that done in the remaining weeks?
REP. KEN BUCK: We can. We have three weeks of legislative business ahead of us, if not more, and we can get those things done and they're very important to get done.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have, on that issue of Ukraine, which I understand is controversial among some Republicans, you are part of the Freedom Caucus. That's put you more to the- to the right of your party, but you are for aid to Ukraine. I'm wondering if you think it is possible to do what Senator Bennet- Bennet just laid out and said was essential, which is have that aid pass no matter what, you know, even if it doesn't get bundled with the border bill.
REP. BUCK: I think it's absolutely essential to get aid to Ukraine. I think President Biden has slow-walked different types of military equipment that Ukraine has needed and we need to make sure that they have the very best equipment and support that we can give them in fighting the Russians. I hope it gets done. The question, Margaret, is always where does the money come from? And so to expect that the Democrats help us find ways to pay for the Israel aid and the Ukraine aid, I think it's absolutely fair. For the Senate, we've already sent the Israel aid to the Senate, it is sitting there, has been for weeks, they have done nothing. I think that's irresponsible. We need to work together to find ways to pay for this aid and then to make sure that both the Israel aid and the Ukraine aid are sent to those countries.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you voted against this latest short-term spending bill to keep the government open. Do you anticipate that the new Speaker of the House, Speaker Johnson, will face more of a rebellion from- from the right flank of your party if he tries to partner with Democrats on this?
REP. BUCK: I don't think that most Republicans blame Speaker Johnson for the problems that he is now facing, the challenges he's facing. Those were created during the McCarthy time period and Speaker Johnson is doing a good job to work his way through those issues. So no, I don't think he's going to face a rebellion. I think he's going to face support, when he finds ways to reduce our national spending, our $36 trillion debt at the end of next year. $1 trillion of money that is being spent to service that debt, those are real existential issues that America needs to deal with and I think Speaker Johnson is going about it the right way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Does that mean Speaker Johnson has been working through the break and has a plan to do this and a way to pay for it in the next three weeks?
REP. BUCK: Yeah, absolutely. The Israel aid was conditioned on the 87,000 new IRS agents–
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, that's dead on arrival in the Senate and the president said he would- would- would veto that as structured.
REP. BUCK: Well, and the Democrats are going to own that if we don't get aid to Israel. They haven't sent a package back to us and said, we don't agree with all of these cuts, we agree with some of them. And if the Democrats want to hold up Israel aid that's up to them. I think it's important that we find ways to pay for the needs that Israel has and Ukraine has and to do it in a responsible way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, well, we'll have to see if that can get done. I want to ask you about how we introduced you, which was mentioning your retirement. We've seen a tremendous number of retirements announced in just the past few weeks. It's the highest number of retirements in a single month for over a decade. You said, "too many Republican leaders are lying to America." Who do you have in mind when you said that?
REP. BUCK: I have – everybody who thinks that the election was stolen or talks about the election being stolen is lying to America and that's everyone that is- that is making that argument. Everyone who makes the argument that January 6 was, you know, an unguided tour of the Capitol is lying to America. Everyone who says that the prisoners who are being prosecuted right now for their involvement in January 6, that they are somehow political prisoners or that they didn't commit crimes, those folks are lying to America. As a Republican Party, if we're going to offer good solid policy answers to the real challenges we face in America, we've got to get past the lies and we've got to have credibility with the American public. And I think we can do that, but we have to move forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That you know that the Speaker of the House tried to reverse the 2020 election result by signing on to that Texas amicus brief, by CBS standards that makes him an election denier, but you support him.
REP. BUCK: I do support him. I signed on to that brief also and I believe that going through the courts to challenge an election is absolutely proper and it's been done dozens of times in- in American history. What's wrong is to try to stop a legal function, a legislative function like counting the votes in an election, as happened on January 6. Mike was not the leader of the party at the time that so many Republicans voted against the the certification of electors and while I disagree with some of his–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do he need to be more clear, though, now?
REP. BUCK: I hope he is- I hope he becomes more clear. I hope all of my Republican colleagues become more clear and recognize the fact that Joe Biden is an existential threat to this country. We need to defeat him and we do that with someone who's not lying to the country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Congressman Ken Beck, we appreciate your time on this post-Thanksgiving holiday weekend–
REP. BUCK: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: –We have some good news we want to share with all of you just out of Gaza. We have learned from a source with knowledge that four-year- old American Abigail Edan, is in the custody now of the Red Cross. The Qatari foreign ministry also says 39 Palestinians will be released by Israel as part of this latest hostage swap in exchange for those prisoners being released. We will be right back.
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