Rep. French Hill tackles broadband vote, COVID relief fraud, party politics

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,846 views 

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, shared his views on a variety of subjects ranging from his vote on infrastructure and broadband funding to COVID relief fraud to Russia and party politics.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Capitol View, Hill said he does not regret voting against President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, even though it recently brought more than $1 billion to Arkansas for broadband investment.

“The bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Biden worked on with 11 Senators and Nancy Pelosi in the House contained a lot of good ideas, but it’s money that we thought was, I thought personally was too much for too many projects around the country. Only about 10% of it even went to roads and bridges and core infrastructure. So I voted against it, and I think it’s a contributor to the 40-year high inflation,” Hill said.

“With that said, Arkansas has done very well in trying to roll out a broadband strategy. We’ve had about $800 million of federal money already come to Arkansas for broadband. And Brendan Carr, the FCC Commissioner, in September of 2021 here in the Farm Bureau Broadband Summit… said it’s not an amount of money, it’s about deploying it carefully,” Hill added. “I support broadband deployment. I’ve voted for broadband money to come to the state of Arkansas. And the fact that I voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t say that I’m against broadband expansion here.”

Two weeks ago, an inspector general report from the U.S. Small Business Administration suggested there could have been as much as $200 billion in fraudulent loans made during COVID-19 relief efforts through the PPP and EIDL programs. Hill said he believes there was significant fraud, but the dollar amount doesn’t matter – any fraud is too much for him.

“This is a bipartisan concern. I think there was fraud. I hope the states, which have most of this money left now – we clawed back $28 billion of federal money from Covid in the debt ceiling bill that we talked about last time we were together. But there are billions of dollars still in the States that are being implemented under Joe Biden’s rules, not Donald Trump’s rules. And we need to make sure they’ve got the accountability and inspector general approach here,” he said.

Six months into the speakership of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Hill commented on reports of contentious debates within the GOP caucus. He said talks from some Republican lawmakers of impeaching the President or cabinet members need to go through the proper Congressional process.

The way I would describe it is I support those committees doing their job to investigate [U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas’ issues with the border. I’m on the House Intelligence Committee now. I’ve read the Durham report. I’ve had Durham testify before our committee and before the Judiciary Committee. And, and I invite all Americans to look at that public report. What happened under the FBI at the end of Obama and during the Trump administration is appalling at the top, which it takes nothing away from the loyal men and women who are our federal officers and special agents in charge in our cities, but it deserves investigation,” Hill said.

After a string of indictments have been brought against former President Donald Trump, polling shows the frontrunner for the GOP nomination for President in 2024 is stronger in the Republican party. Hill was asked to explain why Trump remains so popular.

“I would say, as I’ve said to you before, I wish both political parties would turn to new nominees and have a vigorous debate about the future of the country and nominate someone who’s younger, more vigorous and speaks to the future of the United States,” Hill said. “Finally, my comment about the future of the party is I’m so upset with the fiscal condition of our country. I want to see a Republican president elected in 2024 that can serve two terms. So who can we nominate that can win and who could serve two terms would be an ideal situation, from my point of view, on behalf of the future of our country.”

Rep. Hill also discussed new filing fees being considered by the Arkansas GOP, Russia, the Flatside Wilderness Area, and more. Watch his full interview in the video below.