Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), who announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that if Pennsylvania elects him to the Senate, he will fight for President Donald Trump’s agenda, putting “America First” and “Pennsylvania workers first.”
In Congressman Barletta’s announcement video, he said that Americans “deserve a leader who actually listens to them and fights for them in Washington.”
Rep. Barletta was one of the first congressmen to endorse Donald Trump in the primaries, cheering Trump for his strong stance on illegal immigration. As mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, Barletta cracked down on illegal immigration and businesses that hired illegal immigrants and instituted penalties for landlords that house illegals. In the House, Barletta fought for increased controls on illegal immigration, sponsored legislation to defund sanctuary cities, and voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. If elected to the Senate, Barletta contends that he could further the president’s agenda to stop illegal immigration, fund the southern border wall, and halt unfair Chinese trade practices.
Barletta represents the pro-Trump wing of the Republican party, and his election to the Senate could lead to the rise of similarly-minded Republicans who want to push President Trump’s nationalist-populist agenda.
Rep. Barletta told Breitbart News that Congress was “one vote away” from repealing and replacing Obamacare and that if “I was in the Senate a few weeks ago, Obamacare would be gone today.”
The Pennsylvania Republican contends that the same failure to repeal Obamacare could happen to other contentious issues such as tax reform, funding the southern border wall, and immigration and that he felt the call to serve to help make America and Pennsylvania great again.
Congressman Barletta explained to Breitbart News why he decided to run for the U.S. Senate:
After months of consideration and talking to my family, my wife, and my girls, friends, I realized that I sit in what many consider is a safe seat for me. I could have probably held onto my House seat for some time but at the end of the day, that’s not why I went to Washington first and foremost. I believe in term limits. I believe that ten to 12 years in the House is enough, I believe that 12 years in the Senate is enough, and after that I believe that people lose touch with the American people. Looking at whether to stay in my House seat or risk that to win a seat in the Senate when one vote in the Senate could be the total difference between our country suffering under President Obama’s policies or giving the American people what they voted for and that’s to with under President Donald Trump’s agenda.
I could be the difference, just that one vote. Just a couple of weeks ago it was just one vote from Obamacare getting replaced and how many more of those will under country be under with securing our borders, stopping illegal immigration, the next supreme court pick, I couldn’t sit back, my conscience wouldn’t let me sit back and put myself first. I would rather take the chance and put our country first, knowing that I was that I was one of the few people that had a realistic chance of beating Bob Casey.
I was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump, because I believe in the policies that Donald Trump campaigned on and he wasn’t afraid to stand up for the American people and the American worker. That’s what I’ve done since I was mayor of Hazelton. I was the first mayor of America to stand up and do something about illegal immigration. I’ve gone through many of the same things that he did when he first announced his run for president.
My strategy is simple: It’s not about me, I’m going to put the Pennsylvania workers first and Pennsylvania families first.
Barletta told Breitbart News about his experience as one of the first mayors in America to seriously crack down on illegal immigration in his town of Hazelton, Pennsylvania. He said that the illegal immigration problem does not merely affect town and cities near the border, but all also affects small towns all across America. His efforts to crack down on illegal immigration subsequent reforms across America. Barletta explained:
Hazelton is not a place where you would expect to have an immigration problem; we are 2,000 miles from the border. I watched as our cities population grew by 50 percent, but our tax revenue stayed the same. It became impossible to provide services to the people who lived here because of the underground workforce that stayed in the city. I had to deal with illegal immigration firsthand; it affected our hospitals, our schools, our public service, the quality of life changed.
I also watched Washington do nothing about illegal immigration. They talked about doing something, however, they created the problem by not securing our borders and failing to ensure that people did not come into the country illegally. Mayors like myself had to deal with it. I went to Washington in December of 2005 to go for help because we had a serious illegal immigration problem in Hazelton. We didn’t have the wherewithal to deal with it. I met with DOJ, they met with me and they spent a whole day where they brought experts to talk about the problem. At the end of the day they gave me a nice coffee mug, a pin, and a pat on the back and then they sent me home. I still have that coffee mug in my office in Washington as a reminder of how broken Washington is.
Very shortly after that, it was May 10th, 2006, a 29-year-old city man, a father of three little children, was murdered by an illegal immigrant. His name was Derek Kichline. He was working on his pickup truck and he had some words with the head of the Latin Kings, Pedro Cabrera, he was arrested seven times in New York, which was a sanctuary city. He came to Hazelton, and he shot and killed Kichline, we spent half of our yearly budget and over time and police time catching Cabrera. I sat with Mr. and Mrs. Kichline while they asked me why this man was still in the country and our son is gone and father of our grandchildren is gone. I had it; enough was enough.
No one else was going to do anything else. I created the first local ordinance in America on illegal immigration, was sued by the ACLU, and fought it all the way to the Supreme Court. Although we had a liberal court in the 3rd circuit, the stand that I took in Hazelton, led to other cities and states in America to also stand up. The state of Arizona also used the business portion of my ordinance and they won. Fremont, Nebraska used my entire ordinance as well. So the Hazelton law really opened the door for others and I took that stand to Washington because politicians in Washington were afraid to stand up. They were more concerned about getting elected.
The first law I introduced in Washington was a law that punished sanctuary cities. I was a mayor that was sued, ridiculed, called names, and misrepresented by the media for wanting to stand up to the people and now we have mayors across the country that are thumbing their nose at the federal government and getting away with it. Not surprisingly I had very little support in Washington for my bill. Donald Trump is not afraid to stand up for that and that is what originally attracted me to him.
Congressman Barletta then continued, explaining that the solution to sanctuary cities is to defund any sanctuary city that refuses to cooperate with federal law enforcement and enforce current immigration law. In fact, Barletta revealed that the first law he introduced in Congress was a bill that would defund sanctuary cities. Barletta said:
They should not get one federal penny if they are not going to enforce the laws, the only way you are going to stop them is to defund them and pass laws that have teeth. They have made a mockery, these sanctuary cities, of our laws and put people in those cities at risk. They become a magnet for people in the country illegally. They are safe havens, for drug dealers, terrorists, or anyone else that is in the country to do no good. They’re safer in a sanctuary city, and they’re putting the American people at risk. That’s what drove me to Washington was that no one was doing anything about this. I can’t sit back and worry about my own safety and my job when the next vote could be securing our borders.
Barletta explained that in the September funding bills Congress should include provisions that fund the southern border wall. Barletta said, “I co-sponsored a bill that would fund the wall by putting a fee on every remittance out of the country to South American countries. President Donald Trump campaigned on this and the American people voted for this. I believe that we have a responsibility to put the American people first. We need to make sure we come up with the funding to secure the border.”
The Pennsylvania Republican then revealed to Breitbart News that he supports the Raise Act, the first serious piece of legislation to reform America’s immigration system since the 1960s. The Raise Act, sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Purdue (R-GA), would create a new merit-and-skills-based immigration system that would benefit the American worker.
Barletta explained to Breitbart News how the Raise Act would benefit the American and Pennsylvanian worker:
If you want to raise the wages of the American people you can’t flood the market with people who are willing to work for lower wages, it’s all supply and demand. When there are more workers than jobs, obviously people are going to have to work for less. Our immigration system should strengthen America. America was built on immigrants. Our immigration policies were always set to make our country stronger, so it makes sense to use our immigration policies to for our needs to not only make it better for our country but also better for the immigrants that come here. How fair is it that to allow people that come into our country legally, wait through a very long and costly process and then come to America and then pull the carpet from under them when you allow millions of illegal immigrants to come into the country and compete for their jobs? This also forces the American worker to work for less. We should use our immigration policies to conform to what our needs are at the time, we need to give people the chance to get a job. When we can control the amount of people that come into our country legally, and direct them to the jobs that are needed, it’s going to help everyone.
Congressman Barletta then explained to Breitbart News that Congress’ failure to repeal and replace Obamacare results from the congressional leadership’s diversion from regular order. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell infamously kept both the House’s American Health Care Act and the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act covered in a veil of secrecy, revealed only weeks before each bill was voted on.
Barletta said, “If we went through regular order in the House, many of these issues would have been worked out. To be able to debate them in committees and put together a hybrid of ideas or just walking through what the replacement would like makes a lot of sense to me. Otherwise, we’re going to continue to debate whose idea was better while the American people are stuck with something they can’t afford.”
Barletta then told Breitbart News that Obama’s environmental regulations were “designed to put coal out of business.”
Barletta contends that China, Russia, and other countries continue to abuse the relative free trade that America has with those countries. He also said that he has worked on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to crack down on Chinese and Russian dumping of steel and coal into the American economy, arguing that these policies hurt American industry. Barletta told Breitbart News:
Pennsylvania is right in the heart of coal country. 1830. Anthracite coal is very valuable to manufacturing. Anthracite is used for the manufacturing of steel, and the Obama administration had done everything it can to be the coal industry out of business. What we’ve seen is China is filling that void by dumping steel and Russian dumping coal. Trump’s plan to ease regulations, making sure we’re protecting the environment, while not killing the killing off the coal country is very important here in Pennsylvania.
Anthracite coal, these are these rare earth elements for cell phones, and advanced defense weapons, these metals we cannot find them in the United States. We buy almost all of them from China, China supplies 85 percent of them to the world. We are finding them in our own anthracite coal, which would allow us to not be dependent on coal.
In fact, I was involved in the TPA because of the Chinese steel. We have many steel manufacturers in my district and they cannot compete because of China’s dumping of steel and I was able to include language that would help American steel manufacturing against countries like China. It’s a big problem, it’s not only steel. We’re watching countries such as Russia in dumping coal, and another example, we have a ribbon manufacturer that said they cannot compete because Russia is dumping ribbon into our markets. Trump wants to protect American businesses and workers and creating an even playing field.
Barletta, if elected to the Senate, would also take a strong stance in favor of American workers and American industry against China, Russia, and other foreign countries that attempt to rig international trade against U.S. interests. The Pennsylvania Republican represents a new breed of Republican that will fight for America First domestic policies of repealing Obamacare, fair trade for the United States, and immigration reform that favors American workers.
Barletta contends that his opponent, Bob Casey, remains a powerful and entrenched force in Pennsylvania who continues to obstruct the president’s agenda. Barletta said, “It won’t be easy to beat Bob Casey, he’s a famous name. He’s very powerful in the state of Pennsylvania and he’s openly resisting everything the president wants to do.”
Barletta concluded, “Here in Pennsylvania Democrats, Republicans, and independents all voted for Donald Trump because they were rejecting the Obama policies that hurt their jobs here. I want to support the American worker, the Pennsylvania worker, and take this country in the direction that President Trump campaigned on. Bob Casey is going to resist and reject and obstruct everything President trump plans to do. I believe it’s wrong to go against the American people and the American worker and this one vote, this one seat, could be the entire difference to putting the country in a different direction that the American people voted for.”