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La. Senator Cassidy speaks on impeachment trial, minimum wage proposal

RAW VIDEO: Sen. Cassidy Reporters' Conference Call
RAW VIDEO: Sen. Cassidy Reporters' Conference Call
Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 4:51 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Senate opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial Tuesday, Feb. 9. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La) says he will approach this impeachment trial the same way he approached Trump’s first impeachment trial as a juror. He says he will not announce how he will vote just yet.

“Just as I said in the first impeachment trial, my responsibility is to listen to the evidence before announcing my vote,” Cassidy said. “There are three questions: is it constitutional to impeach someone who is out of office? Second, even if it is constitutional, is it the appropriate thing to do, is it better for our country? The House had five hours of debate, the President did not have counsel there, then they sent it over. Is this precedent a wise thing to set and act upon? It may or may not be but I say that because there is a second consideration: it is helpful? Thirdly, if you assume you come to the conclusion that the above two are yes, is the president guilty of the articles of impeachment? That’s what I will be weighing as I go forward.”

After the House Managers presented their opening argument in the impeachment trial, Sen. Cassidy said he thought they gave strong arguments, but wants to hear from the defense.

Six Republican Senators, including Cassidy, voted with Democrats to affirm the constitutionality of conducting an impeachment trial of a former president. This comes after he previously voted no when this question was put to the Senate two weeks ago.

Sen. Cassidy released the following statement after his yes vote on the constitutional jurisdiction to impeach a president no longer in office:

“We heard arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of having a Senate trial of a president who has since left office. A sufficient amount of evidence of constitutionality exists for the Senate to proceed with the trial. This vote is not a prejudgment on the final vote to convict,” said Cassidy. “If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation, I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House Managers and former President Trump’s lawyers. The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not.”

Sen. Cassidy also touched on COVID-19 relief. Last Friday, President Joe Biden laid out his case for moving fast and without Republicans, if necessary, to pass $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief. Ten Republicans, including Cassidy, met with President Biden earlier this month to discuss their $618 billion COVID relief proposal.

“So far, I am not sure they have adequately justified the amount they are asking for,” Cassidy said. “It’s not just me as a conservative Republican. I will point out that former Democratic Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, in a Washington Post editorial last week, suggested that it might be too much, could cause inflation and impact financial stability. For example, the inflation that could be so high that it would impact lower and middle income families wiping away their savings. I say this because the Gross Domestic Product forecast for 2021 continues to improve. Estimates ranging from 4% to 5% going up because it was predicted 3.8% last week. So if you overheat it even more I think that’s the concern that you may end up with hyperinflation that would really affect middle and lower-income working families. By the way I’m willing to negotiate and we have had 5 bipartisan COVID relief packages when Trump was President and we had a Republican Senate. They’ve all passed by wide bipartisan majorities. So I do think if the Biden administration chooses to negotiate in good faith then we can come to a compromise which is good for our country.”

Initially, President Biden included gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The minimum wage increase faces an uphill climb, and even Biden has conceded it likely won’t survive.

“The Congressional Budget Office estimates that would result in 1.4 million Americans being unemployed,” Cassidy said. “When I speak to these small employers, a restaurant for example, barely hanging on with COVID, if they had to start raising the ages of their staff they would just close their doors. So instead of having a job with a higher minimum wage some would not have job whatsoever. That’s not really what we are shooting for. We are shooting for full employment where the best stimulus check is a paycheck. We also know statistically when people are working they do better in other parts of their life. So putting in a policy that leaves 1.4 million people unemployed and millions of businesses potentially out of business I think is bad policy.

“Related to that, the President recently cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline,” Cassidy said. “This executive order by President Biden singlehandedly eliminated 11,000 jobs. My concern is these good paying jobs are still going to be somewhere in the world. They just won’t be in the United States and the more we shift energy jobs overseas, where there are less stringent environmental standards, global greenhouse gas emissions actually increase.”

According to Snopes, “In October 2020, TC Energy, the firm behind the pipeline, projected that it would hire 11,000 people to work on the pipeline in the coming year. Additionally, two union leaders said 1,000 members would immediately lose their jobs and another 10,000 future positions will no longer exist, totaling 11,000, as a result of Biden’s order. However, there was no evidence to definitely prove if, or to what extent, 11,000 positions would have been filled without Biden’s order, considering multiple hurdles for pipeline proponents. The exact number of jobs eliminated, or employment opportunities that were planned for but won’t be created because of Biden’s decision, remained unknown.”

Sen. Cassidy says he has spoken with Acting Secretary of Energy David G. Huizenga, Acting Secretary of Labor Al Stewart and Acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega on his disapproval of the Biden administration’s canceling of the Keystone XL Pipeline and his moratorium on gas and oil leases on federal lands and waters.

He says when it comes to clean energy, he advocates for creating jobs on the gulf coast.

“For example, we should take the natural gas produced on the Outer Continental Shelf, take the hydrogen atoms out of the methane, make hydrogen molecules for clean burning hydrogen cell fuels and then sequester the carbon beneath the ground. It is an almost zero carbon impact, but at the same time begins to push boats and 18-wheelers by hydrogen cells. We are ideally situated for that in Louisiana. I’m making a big push for that.”

Sen. Cassidy says he spoke to Governor John Bel Edwards a week ago and they are working on creating a common strategy to work with the Biden administration

Sen. Cassidy also spoke on the Super Bowl, where Louisiana football players played for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs ended up beating the Chiefs 31-9.

“(LSU) Tigers on both sides,” Cassidy said. “Players from other Louisiana teams on both sides. I call it the Louisiana Super Bowl Championship and inevitably, because we have Louisiana folks on both sides, Louisiana was going to win.”

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