Sen. Cotton talks foreign policy, D.C. statehood, Supreme Court expansion and his political future

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,116 views 

Still coy on running for President in 2024, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., offered a wide range of opinions in an interview Sunday (April 25) on foreign and domestic policy issues and the 2022 and 2024 election cycle.

Cotton, the state’s junior senator, was re-elected to a six-year term in November 2020. He was active on the campaign trail for fellow Republicans in 2020 and expects to travel broadly to support GOP candidates in 2022. He’s still not willing to discuss speculation that he may be a Presidential candidate in 2024.

“I don’t want to speculate about elections that are three years off in the future. Because right now, our focus should be stopping the Biden agenda in Congress. And then in the medium term, trying to win back the Congress in 2022,” he said in a Talk Business & Politics interview. “One reason I’m going to Iowa, [Sen.] Chuck Grassley is running for re-election, and because Iowa’s House races really at the center of the political universe. Three of them were extremely competitive last year. One of them won by just six votes.”

Cotton said he has not and may not engage in Arkansas’ GOP gubernatorial primary in 2022. Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge are the two Republican contenders for the nomination. Sanders is perceived as the current frontrunner based on private polls and fundraising prowess.

“It’s not my plan at the moment to weigh in on any of the open seats we’re going to have, not only here in Arkansas, but around the country,” Cotton said. “I’ve endorsed some of my other fellow senators who are incumbents. But at this stage of the midterms, I’m not yet getting into primary races, especially here in Arkansas where I have so many friends running for so many different offices.”

D.C. STATEHOOD, SUPREME COURT EXPANSION
Cotton believes Washington, D.C. statehood, which House Democrats have approved, is too partisan of an idea. He advocated a change in the U.S. Constitution for those wanting to see that move.

“Washington is not a state, it’s a city. And it’s not just any city, it’s a federal city. And it was designed by our founders to be the federal city so it would be independent of any influence of the state government,” he said. “If you did want to give representation in Congress to the residents of Washington D.C., there is a path to do that. It’s passing a constitutional amendment.”

On expanding the U.S. Supreme Court beyond its current makeup of nine justices, Cotton said a larger court would “destroy” the institution, even though the court has had more justices previously.

“The reason packing the Supreme Court would destroy the Supreme Court, is it would make it clear that the Supreme Court is nothing more than another partisan policymaking institute,” he said.

When noted the Supreme Court already has a partisan reputation, Cotton said he was still opposed to court expansion.

“They [citizens] shouldn’t feel that way and the Supreme Court shouldn’t act that way. Now, I certainly criticize particular Supreme Court decisions and sometimes the justices who write that decision. That’s different from saying, I dislike those decisions so much. We should add the number of justices of my constitutional viewpoint so I get the kinds of rulings that I want,” he said.

FOREIGN POLICY
Cotton shared comments and positions on several high-profile foreign policy developments.

On troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Cotton is supportive but cautious – “I do remain concerned, about the collapse of the Afghan government after our departure and the Taliban returning to power and allowing terrorist organizations to use it as a safe haven,” he said. “Thanks to the intelligence networks we have developed in Afghanistan, thanks to advances in intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance and long-range strike technology since then, it is possible that we might continue to conduct targeted operations against high-value terrorist targets there.”

On Russia, he said current sanctions are “toothless” and wants a more aggressive U.S. policy – “I wouldn’t have extended the new START Treaty. I would have given at most one year to negotiate a better treaty. That advances U.S. interests. I would immediately stop the construction of that underwater pipeline, which is a great victory for Russia and a terrible loss for our allies in Eastern Europe. And I would make it clear that if he [Putin] engages in military aggression across international boundaries, against Ukraine, that we won’t post half measures of sanctions, we will go the full measure. We’ll start targeting his assets and assets of his oligarchs that they have hidden in all the dark corners of the global financial system.”

On U.S.-China interdependence – “We cannot be dependent on China anymore for critical goods… China does not indicate any reluctance to advance its national interest, if you listened to the speeches of Xi Jinping. We’re still going to have some economic ties between our countries, as I say, it’s a ‘targeted decoupling.’ It’s not trying to cut off all economic ties to China, but any place where China has a point of leverage against the United States or can influence the behavior of the United States can cause us to sacrifice some of our core security interests because of economic considerations. We need to find a way to sever those ties. And China, frankly, is doing the same thing as well.”

You can watch Sen. Cotton’s full interview in the video below.

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