TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Bill Nelson has been Florida’s senior Senator since 2001 and before that, he served in the US House for 12 years.
News Channel 8’s Paul Mueller went one-on-one with Senator Nelson this week, on the heels of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.
We asked Nelson about his thoughts on the President’s first 100 days.
“I think they’ve been kind of rocky and as a matter of fact, I think the President is trying to get his feet,” Nelson said. “I think as he comes along, he starts feeling a little more comfortable. Now, I love to get together in a bi-partisan way, and one of the few bills to pass is the NASA bill. The President was so pleased with that, he had us down to the White House for the actual signing ceremony but that has been the exception more than the rule. There’s been more partisanship. You take the health care, trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act, even within one party they can’t get agreement to do it. What we ought to do, in a bi-partisan way, fix the things in the Affordable Care Act which needs fixing and 24 million people will continue to have health insurance that they never had it before and it indeed, one oil the fixes, would you believe it, is in one of the appropriation bills which will be passed next week. So, little steps in the right direction and I think we’ll see more and more cooperation.”
Nelson then talked to us about Obama Care and how it was dead, then went on life support after getting a little more support. We asked the Senator if making some changes with the Affordable Care Act could allow it to survive.
“It was repeal, repeal, repeal and then replace but when it came time to replace, they couldn’t agree among themselves to replace it and that’s why there’s a fix to the existing healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, that’s in this appropriations bill that will be voted on next week that I think will considerably start to shore it up and correct some of the things that need to be correcting and that will be done in a bi-partisan way.”
The conversation then quickly turned to North Korea, its leader Kim Jong-un and its recent testing of missiles.
“Well, it’s hard to predict this fellow because he seems to be irrational, separate from actually being crazy. I think he, from time to time, is irrational. I don’t think he’s crazy but he sees what attention he’s getting by having nuclear weapons. He’s not about to give them up. Now what worries us is he’s developing an ICBM rocket will go all the way to the U.S. It will take him 2 or 3 years to miniature one of his nukes and then to integrate that onto the rocket. When that happens, the entire continental U.S. is threatened and that is the inevitable march that he will be on unless one of two things happen. One, that China steps in and uses its leverage because it provides them food and fuel or we go to war.”
We then asked if the US was possibly relying too much on China and their influence on North Korea.
“I think we ought to use diplomacy wherever we can if we can solve the problem,” Senator Nelson said. “I can just tell you that this Senator’s feeling is that the end of the day, China is not going to get him to back down from nuclear weapons.”
Finally, we talked about a bill Senator Nelson had filed earlier this week that essentially blocks President Trump’s executive order that opens up additional areas to offshore areas. Nelson reminded us of the 2010 BP oil spill.
“That bill that I filed is bipartisan and it’s bipartisan in the Senate and in the House, as well. A lot of the Florida delegation supports the bill, particularly those members on the West Coast of the United States,” he said. “What happened is that it shut down the tourist season for one entire tourist season year and as a result, the beaches, the tourists, economy, all the way south to Marco Island, they lost a year of our guests coming to Florida. That’s a huge part of our economy. That’s a 60 million dollar a year economy, just our tourism economy in our state. The President has signed an order that he’s going to open up the Atlantic to oil drilling. So we’re going to have to have this fight. At the end of the day, I think we’ll keep it off of the Gulf Coast because of all of the military activity out here because you can’t have oil rigs. It’s the largest testing and training area in the world in the Gulf off of Florida. But we’ve got a similar situation off of Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. I think at the end of the day, there always is a fight. They always try to continue to expand oil drilling off of the Coast of Florida.”
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