What will happen if illegal immigrants continue to pour across the southern border? What should the Biden administration be doing to address soaring inflation? And what threat does China actually pose to the U.S. right now? 

Over and over, Americans are witnessing the “failures of this administration,” Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., says. 

“Obviously, Democrat control of all three—the White House, and the Senate, and the House—has devastated our country, whether it’s the border, or the economy, or foreign policy,” he says.

The Tennessee lawmaker joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” from The Heritage Foundation’s annual Resource Bank conference to discuss the biggest issues facing America today, and what the Biden administration should be doing to address those problems. 

Also on today’s show, we cover these stories:

  • Ukrainian officials guarantee that any U.S. weapons sent to the country won’t be used to conduct attacks in Russian territory.
  • The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is about to be freed from all remaining court oversight. 
  • The Supreme Court issues a ruling that could affect the outcome of the cliffhanger Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania.

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Rob Bluey: We are joined on “The Daily Signal Podcast” today by Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee. Congressman, it’s great to be here in your home state. I always like to ask what’s on the mind of your constituents these days as you meet with them and talk to them about the issues that we’re confronting, not only at a national level but perhaps here in the state as well?

Rep. Mark Green: Yeah, sure. Thanks, first, for having me on and thanks for all that [The Heritage Foundation] does. We really appreciate you guys.

You know, when I travel around the district, it’s sort of a close race between inflation and the border crisis is what’s the most concerning. And if I had to, I mean, if you pinned me down without poll numbers, I’d say probably the border wins out in Tennessee. But yeah, both of those are very important.

Bluey: Let’s talk about each of those, and we can start with the border. We have a situation where we have seen month after month the numbers go up and up. It seems that this administration, despite what they might be saying publicly, is not taking the steps that it needs to to secure the border. In fact, they’ve undone so many of the policies of this last administration that seemed to be working. What do you want our listeners to know about the situation as it’s impacting people here in Tennessee?

Green: Yeah, so, the issue with the border is just pure lawlessness. It’s a refusal to enforce the laws, to secure the border. Even with regards to Title 42, the percentages of people that they’re actually turning back has decreased every month since [President Joe] Biden’s been in office.

So not only are they not doing Migrant Protection Protocols, the “Remain in Mexico” stuff, despite a court order and a refusal of the Supreme Court to enjoin them, they are also not enforcing effectively Title 42. So what we’re seeing is a huge percentage of people coming into the United States, staying in the United States.

And now they’ve just released an interim final rule to change the entire asylum processing situation. They basically want to undo the [Justice Department] part of that and give it all to [the Department of Homeland Security], which would violate not only the Constitution, but the laws that have been written by Congress.

So the net result is, of course, all these people pouring into the United States. And with [Customs and Border Protection] addressing those individuals, particularly the children that are unaccompanied, it keeps them from doing their job at the border.

And fentanyl has poured into the country. The price of fentanyl was $98 a point, that’s how it sold, back in January. It’s now $20-something, $28, $23, somewhere in that range here in Tennessee, according to our sheriffs, which is an easy explanation to any casual observer why so many thousands of Americans more are dying to fentanyl overdose. And these tragedies are all, the blood of these people, all on the hands of Joe Biden and [Homeland Security Secretary] Alejandro Mayorkas.

Bluey: Let me ask you about fentanyl because it’s an issue that I don’t think gets the attention that it deserves from many media outlets. I mean, we have tragedies, obviously, happen in this country every day, but I mean, this is one that has taken the lives of over 100,000 Americans in terms of drug overdoses. What can we do to raise awareness and address this problem, make not only people aware of what’s coming across the border but actually helping people maybe get through and recover from some of the tragedies that they’ve experienced in their families?

Green: Yeah. So fentanyl, the illegal fentanyl that comes across the southern border, is lacing so many other things. And I think parents need to talk to their children and make sure they know [if] a buddy hands them a Xanax, it probably isn’t a Xanax. And there’s a strong chance that it’s fentanyl.

I interviewed a mom, and we’re going to be releasing this video probably next week, she had lost two teenage children. They were at a party, took Xanax, and it poisoned everybody in the room and everyone in the room died. So this is unbelievable what’s happening, and it has to be addressed.

So, yeah, I think your point is valid. We need to educate people and that means educating the children. But we really need to secure our border and stop the fentanyl from coming in.

Bluey: We certainly do. Let’s shift to the topic of inflation. Americans across the board are suffering. They’re seeing historic, in some cases 40-year highs in inflation. It seems that despite what President Biden has said, outlining in a Wall Street Journal op-ed just this week his plan to fight inflation, it’s not really making a difference. And his policies don’t seem to align with what we, as conservatives, would necessarily prescribe as solutions. What do you hear from your constituents when it comes to the impact that they’re facing when it comes to inflation?

Green: Well, obviously, when the price of food is up almost 10%, it’s devastating to people who are on tight economies, tight budgets. And you layer into that the increase in fuel, and clearly not unrelated, right? I mean, the assault of the Biden administration on the fuel and fossil fuel industry in this country has a downstream effect on everything else. The farmer has to put diesel in his tractor.

The thing that most, I think, angers Tennesseans, anyway, is the comment that the president made about we’re going through a tough transition, as if all this is intentional. I mean, they don’t care about how their policies are impacting the average American, the average Tennessean. They just don’t care.

All they care about is worshiping the god of their green energy, green climate change stuff, and it’s destroying people’s lives. And we’re pushing back as much as we can, but inflation, the energy crisis, the supply chain crisis, all of that is devastating the lives of Tennesseans.

Bluey: It certainly seems that they admitted, or the president himself admitted, what we all suspected was the case, that they want to make this transition to a green energy situation. We at The Heritage Foundation and The Daily Signal believe all of the above sources, but we’re not yet at the point where they want to move us in that direction.

So what can you, as a member of Congress, do? Obviously, not in the majority, but what can you do to keep the pressure on, maybe in hopes that they actually do open up some domestic production?

Green: Well, I think Americans have got to start telling their stories, and I’m telling their stories. Farmers that tell me they’re not going to have any profit margin this year; people who are saying they can’t afford food; they can’t, of course, afford baby formula because there is no baby formula. Tennessee’s been hit especially hard by that. And it’s just, again, failures of this administration.

So the more we can tell those stories, the more pressure it puts on the Biden administration. It also helps us win election in the fall, and we need to take back the majority in the House and in the Senate. Obviously, Democrat control of all three, the White House and the Senate and the House, has devastated our country, whether it’s the border or the economy or foreign policy.

You look at the debacle in Afghanistan and that clearly was probably the point at which [Russian President] Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine. And now that’s cost tens of thousands of lives and it’s cost us billions of dollars to go in there and to try to prevent that from happening. So all because of a failure of Joe Biden in Afghanistan.

And so, across the board, Democrats in control of the House, Senate, and the White House, very bad for America. We got to fix it.

Bluey: You have a piece of legislation that would address the baby formula shortage directly. … You mentioned that it’s impacting Tennessee. What would your legislation do? And what should Americans know about the situation that we currently find ourselves in?

Green: Yeah. The current regulations basically prevent overseas competition and they created, I guess the true word would be oligopoly amongst four manufacturers in the U.S. The federal food aid programs buy in bulk from certain vendors so it basically puts everybody else out of business. So we have this monopoly.

And then you have one manufacturer who had a bad thing happen at their plant, whistleblower, the report never got to the top of the organization. Oh, wait. There was no one at the top of the organization because the president took over a year to put somebody at the FDA in the midst of a COVID crisis.

So that failure of the administration, that failure within the [Food and Drug Administration], the failure to go and inspect the plant in a timely fashion, has resulted in the situation that we’re in.

So my bill would just allow the president, in an emergency situation, to waive those stupid regulations and allow us to bring in competitively internationally manufactured up to standard baby formula.

And I got a call from an Australian company that’s ready to supply. They’ve got millions. I mean, there are many companies out there. I’m not invested in the Australian baby food, baby milk or formula industry. This is just purely trying to answer a problem. But there are many sources out there and it’s time for the president to act.

This is a crisis. We needed an “Operation Warp Speed” on this, but unfortunately, they lack the ideation or the innovation in this administration to come up with something like that.

Bluey: Well, it sounds like a commonsense solution to me. Thank you for your leadership on it.

Let’s talk about foreign policy. You brought it up before. You have also been an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party, recognizing them as a real threat to the United States.

As you survey the globe, what do you want our listeners to know about some of the challenges that we face? You mentioned Afghanistan and Ukraine, obviously, but what are some of the other hot spots in the world that we should be paying attention to?

Green: Yeah. The biggest threat with China right now is, of course, their threats to Taiwan. And it’s an urgent situation because 94% of the high-end semiconductors are manufactured in Taiwan. So if we think the supply chain crisis is bad today, let China have 94% of the market share on high-end semiconductors. We wouldn’t be able to make a missile or F-35 or any anything, right? Cars. The backlog in cars is because of the backlog in chips.

So we have to do everything within our power to deter China from going to Taiwan. And [Chinese President Xi Jinping] has said he’s going to do it. I mean, the guy said it’ll happen in his lifetime. They’re flying fighter jets and bombers into Taiwanese airspace left and right. So our No. 1 imperative is to deter that.

And that’s why I think supporting the Ukrainians is so important. If we block Russia, if Xi Jinping is watching, and he is, how the West has come together to support the Ukrainians, perhaps, maybe it’s a deterrent to China.

But elsewhere, their Belt and Road Initiative is destroying economies of small developing countries, addicting them to the Chinese handout, and basically taking people out of the west’s orbit in their effort to undo the liberal rules-based order that was developed after World War II.

So they’re a threat to free markets and, I mean, they’re a threat militarily in the South China Sea. I mean, we have to push back.

Bluey: We’ve talked a lot about a lot of policy issues here. One of the things that I know House Republicans are working on is an agenda so that voters will know when they go to the polls in November what your plan is, should you be in the majority in 2023. Can you talk to us about that process and where things stand right now, and some of the issues that are really animating you and your colleagues?

Green: Yeah. So, Kevin McCarthy, our current [House] minority leader, and hopefully soon-to-be speaker, has put together seven task forces, one of which I’m on. I’m on the China Task Force. But there’s an economy one. There’s a health care one. There’s one on freedom, and just guaranteeing the freedoms of Americans that Washington, D.C., seems to be taking away these days a lot. But each of those task forces is tasked in its area of concentration to write the legislation that will be used in the next Congress.

On top of that, on top of the task forces and the legislation, there’s a commitment to America. And we’re not stealing Newt [Gingrich’s] Contract with America, but it’s pretty close. And we’re going to come up with five to eight things that we guarantee that we’ll do when we’re in control. And we’ll be articulating that commitment to America in August.

Bluey: Congressman, you’re somebody who has served our country. Thank you for that. We have just passed the Memorial Day holiday here this week. Any words that you want to leave us with as we wrap-up today’s interview about those brave men and women who are putting themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis?

Green: Yeah, sure. And thanks for asking that. You know, for me it’s personal. I lost friends in Afghanistan and Iraq when I served in a special operations unit, and so we were at the tip of the spear, as we would say. And I see those faces in my mind’s eye all the time, but on Memorial Day it’s obviously more important to me or more relevant.

I think the thing I would say is it’s not just the warrior that gives his or her life, it’s their families that are impacted. And we need to love on those Gold Star families, especially the children. I mean, think about it. Who’s going to walk that little girl down the aisle someday? Who’s going to teach that young boy how to pin his boutonniere on his tuxedo?

And we can’t ever forget the sacrifice that those kids make. I mean, they give up their father or mother for every day of the rest of their lives. So Memorial Day is a very special day to me and it’s a very special day to most Americans, and I’m glad for that.

Bluey: Great. Well, I saw on social media that you and your wife were out and about in Tennessee commemorating the day, and so thanks again. We really enjoyed this time that we were able to spend with you. Thanks for the work that you’re doing. Any closing thoughts that you want to share with our Daily Signal listeners about how they can follow your work and other things that might be going on in your district?

Green: Yeah, absolutely. Of course, I’ve got all the webpages and Twitter. I’m real easy to find on that stuff. But really, what folks need to do is just stay engaged. This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And we need everybody reading and getting good sources for their information and in the fight because the future of our country’s at stake.

It’s very interesting, the comment that Christ made, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Well, if it’s a government of the people, that means the people, the people are Caesar in a way, right? So we have a role here as voters and as members of this great country to do our part for our great country. And I think, even from a faith standpoint, it’s important that we do that.

Bluey: And Congressman, let me just say that when we hear stories of parents running for school board or becoming more active in their communities, it is really encouraging. So take your words to heart and encourage our listeners to follow your advice there. Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee. Thanks for spending time with The Daily Signal.

Green: Yeah. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate you guys.

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