U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, was critical of President Donald Trump and four fellow Congressional members in the wake of a week-long debate over accusations of racist comments from the president.
A week ago, President Trump singled out four U.S. Congresswomen — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.,) Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) — saying that they should “go back” to where they came from if they didn’t like America. Tensions over the comments escalated midweek when Trump did little to stop a political rally of supporters who chanted, “Send her back” when he singled out Omar, a Somalia native who has become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Hill thinks the debate has gotten too personal and expressed his desire for more civil discussion of policy differences.
“I’m tired of the social media outrage on both sides. Things that the president says and that other elected officials are saying, including these four new members of Congress, who are ‘justice Democrats or socialists,’ however they describe themselves. They’re out there saying provocative outrageous things too,” Hill said. “I think we need to tone it down, focus on policy.”
“I thought the president shouldn’t have said, you know, ‘go back.’ I thought that was inappropriate. It seemed to me ill-informed, since three of the four are Native Americans. So I don’t think it’s the way to conduct affairs. I think he should push back against their policies, some of the things they’ve said. Donald Trump’s a fighter. I appreciate the fight. But I think we can do it without the inappropriate name calling aspect of it,” Hill added.
Hill also discussed the growing deficit and national debt. The national debt has topped $22 trillion, up more than 50% from 2010. He was also asked about GOP-led tax cuts, which he supported, that the Congressional Budget Office say have pushed the annual deficit up to $1 trillion this year.
“My take is the debt and deficit are too high. That’s why I called for a vote last year in the last Congress on a Balanced Budget Amendment. I didn’t get enough fellow members of the House to support me on that. It didn’t pass, number one,” he said.
“Number two, the spending cap deal, that President Trump agreed to with Mitch McConnell and the House leadership, Speaker Pelosi, I disagreed with. I thought it was too much over this two-year period. I think it’s a major contributor to the current year deficit that will approach a trillion dollars as you suggest. And finally, in the four and a half years I’ve served in Congress, I’ve been deeply disappointed that we never tackle reforms in any of our mandatory spending programs in the out years or in the short run to let them be managed in a better way, serve the American people but not contribute to these big structural deficits.”
When asked if either party — Republicans or Democrats — have the political will to reduce government spending, Hill said both parties are to blame as well as executive leadership from the White House.
“This problem is being evaded. Under the Obama Administration, as you say, he had a task force to try to tackle this. He didn’t take any of their suggestions, really didn’t, he did meet with them, but he didn’t follow up on it. President Trump has said that he doesn’t consider this a priority. I disagree with both of those positions,” Hill said. “I think we should be collectively on a bipartisan basis, coming up with a structural plan to reduce that structural deficit. And three quarters of the budget, as you know, are these mandatory spending programs that need long-term reforms for the benefit of the American people. We only vote on 25% of federal spending, roughly 1.2 to 1.3 trillion dollars a year, which is what all the fighting is about.”
Hill also weighed in on where the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) stands and a hearing he led this week to better understand Facebook’s cryptocurrency efforts. Watch his full interview below.