KGOU

Congressman Steve Russell On Medicare 'Doc Fix', Iran And Hunting Saddam Hussein

Apr 6, 2015

Steve Russell’s new career is a lot different than his previous one. 

U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) says the United States shouldn't "accommodate" Iran in ongoing nuclear talks.
Credit Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The first term Congressman from Oklahoma’s fifth district is settling into his new job after spending 21 years in the Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He served all over the globe, including in Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. His unit played a key role in the search for Saddam Hussein. Russell wrote a book about it, We Got Him! A Memoir of The Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein.

KGOU’s Jacob McCleland spoke to Russell, a Republican, following a town hall meeting at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond on April 2, 2015.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On The Bipartisan Medicare “Doc Fix” Bill  (which will pay doctors based off of performance, extends a two-year children’s health insurance program and put more money to community health centers, but increases deficit by $140 billion)

These are things that we’ve added every year. We’ve just not fully disclosed it. What we felt in the Republican conference, and many Democrats agreed, let’s quit lying to the American public. Let’s put this on the table. Let’s look at the dollar amount that it costs. Let’s give our physicians some predictability. Allow them to get reimbursed. Allow the patients to have some type of assurance that are relying on these Medicare, Medicaid, these types of thing for their healthcare, which millions of American do. Let’s provide a little assurance.

“It forces us to look at the $140 billion and not spend it elsewhere. Some people see it as adding to. I look at it as, oh, this is money that has to be budgeted now and now we’re not going to waste it or spend it elsewhere, and we’re going to add a little predictability for our docs.

On the Iran Nuclear Framework

The Iranian-backed militias and export of terror has now been responsible for destabilizing four capitals in the Middle East. This is not good behavior. Let’s take it on a more personal level. These are the people that were responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans. In terms of terrorism, there’s been no group out there that has been more damaging to the United States in term of terror than these groups…

Take just Iraq for an example. The lowest estimate out there is that a thousand soldiers minimum lost their lives to these explosively formed projectiles, or EFPs, or commonly called roadside bombs. But these were of a specific design, very advanced, and they were smuggled across the border by Iran with explicit instructions that if we’re going to provide these projectiles to you, you can only use them against American soldiers. And over a thousand of my fellow warriors died in Iraq. Well I’m sorry. As a former warrior, and a retired warrior - I guess you never quit being a warrior - I take offense to that. I take absolute offense that we want to sit down and say to Iran, look, we know we have sanctions on you. We know you have horrible behavior. But let’s accommodate you.

On Saying Farewell To His Unit That Helped Capture Saddam Hussein

The last time I had my soldiers assembled as a task force before we all broke up … I called them together and I said, whatever becomes of this war, whatever becomes of any of the things, the events that unfold in the future, I said no one will ever be able to take away from what you men have achieved. It’s really hard to describe the things that you felt both during the time, the time of his capture, the bitterness and the anguish of the fallout after, and having come home with the honor and the thanks of a grateful nation. Our unit was awarded the Valour Unit Award for its role in the hunt and capture.

-----

KGOU relies on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners to further its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. To contribute to our efforts, make your donation online, or contact our Membership department.