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Transcript: Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska on "Face the Nation," March 3, 2024

Sullivan: Senate aid bill is about protecting U.S.
Sen. Dan Sullivan says Senate foreign aid bill is about "industrial capacity to protect" U.S. 06:53

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska on "Face the Nation" that aired on March 3, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Good morning, and good to have you here in-studio.

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: Good to be here. Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have said the US is in the midst of one of the most dangerous times since World War II. We just heard from the House Intelligence Committee Chairman saying it is imperative to get this aid to Ukraine. They run out of ammunition soon.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you confident Republicans can deliver this? 

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: Well, look, I voted for the supplemental, and I voted for the supplement- the national security supplemental, and I did for a couple of reasons. The first one is what you just said Margaret, which is, this is a new era of authoritarian aggression. We got the dictators all around the world. Xi Jinping, Putin, Iran, the Ayatollah is in Iran, North Korea- they are working together. We need a strategic response to that the very dangerous time. Second, the Biden administration, with regard to national security, has not been serious. They cut the defense budget every year inflation adjusted cuts. By the way, Secretary didn't mention it they cut Homeland Security every year too. Those are the two areas this administration consistently cuts, weakens our Homeland Security, weakens our defense. But this aid should be much more in terms of how we talk about it. In terms of the supplemental it's less a foreign aid package and more a package about rebuilding our- our own industrial capacity to- to build weapons for ourselves. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mitch McConnell talks about that, but it's your fellow Republicans in the House who seem skeptical because the Democratic votes are there.

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: Part of the reason I'm on your show today is to talk about it because 60% of this supplemental- and it look it's not a perfect bill, the House can make it better. 60% goes into our ability to build weapons for America, everything from nuclear subs. By the way, almost 40% of our attack subs are in maintenance right now. We don't have the industrial capacity to protect ourselves. Xi Jinping is scared to death of American subs. This supplemental unlocks $6 billion for our sub capacity to build subs, $5 billion to produce 155 millimeter howitzer rounds, and everything in between. Javelins, stingers, tomahawks. So this is about our industrial capacity to protect America first. And then of course, we need to get some of these weapons to our allies who are facing existential threats, whether it's Taiwan, Israel, and Ukraine, and I think when you talk about it from that perspective, it should unite Republicans, not divide them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I imagine it would help if Donald Trump endorsed this package. He hasn't done it. Here's what he said last night at a rally in Richmond about Vladimir Putin.


DONALD TRUMP: Putin, you know, has so little respect for Obama that he's starting to throw around the nuclear word. You heard that: nuclear. He's starting to talk nuclear weapons today. I was waiting for that to happen. But we have a fool, a fool as a president. He said we will never leave until there is complete and total victory. Yeah, we might be there for a long time.


MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you have endorsed Mr. Trump. He seemed there to confuse Biden for Obama. He also suggested that there were U.S. troops serving in Ukraine. Are you comfortable about his mental fitness?

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: Yes, yes. Compared to the current president? 110%. And as your polling shows, I think the American people have real concerns where President Biden is with regard to his fitness for office, particularly his mental acuity. And relative to President Biden- or relative to former President Trump, I don't even think it's a close call when you see the two in action. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But to be clear, there are no US troops serving on the battlefield in Ukraine. There are military advisors. But there aren't troops, correct? 

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: No, but I mean, look, I mean, the other thing that-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Okay, but some within your party believe that. And that's what he suggested there-- 

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: -- I would- again, I would go back to who is demonstrating more mental fitness to be the president and I don't even think it's a close call between President Trump and President Biden right now. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You recently retired after 30 years in the Marine Corps. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: Jim Mattis, you know him well--  


MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Retired and revered general wrote in his resignation letter from the Trump administration, he had to leave because of a difference of views on treating allies with respect and being clear eyed about competitors.


MARGARET BRENNAN: John Kelly, also retired Marine Corps General who's served with Mr. Trump described him as a person that has no idea what America stands for, has no idea what America is all about, a person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. That's a stunning assessment from two people who served alongside him as to the values of Donald Trump. Why do you think he represents your vision for America?

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: Well, I think one of the things- and look, I respect General Kelly and Secretary Mattis tremendously. I think the key though, Margaret, is to look at the record. And the record of what the Trump administration working with Republicans did in terms of foreign policy was dramatically stronger and focused on our allies, than certainly the Obama administration, the Obama-Biden administration, and let me just give you a couple examples-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --You remember why Mattis resigned? 

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: I do remember why, directly why Mattis resigned-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- That tied directly to our allies-- 

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: -- I mean, I'll give you an example. In terms of Russia, particularly, you remember President Biden- president, the Biden-Obama- Obama-Biden administration, was providing them MREs after the invasion of Crimea. What did the Trump administration with Republican support do? We got them javelins, we significantly--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Lethal support for the first time.

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN: -- Significantly bolstered, significantly. American troop presence in the Baltics and in Poland, which the Obama administration refused to do. We dramatically increased American defense spending. The second term of the Obama administration, Obama-Biden, cut defense spending by 25%. They wrecked readiness. I'm the ranking member on the readiness Subcommittee on Armed Services. Trump in the Republican Senate, we brought rep- military readiness back. And we unleashed another element of American power, and that's American energy. So these are all strong elements of the Trump administration record, working with Republicans that made us stronger. And right now if you look around the world, you see chaos, and a lot of that, in my view, has been driven by the Biden administration's weakness.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I have to leave it here because we are out of time, Senator, good to have good to be here. We'll be back in a moment.

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