Government Collaboration ‘Unparalleled,’ New Senator Says of Coronavirus Fight

Sen. Kelly Loeffler is the first woman from Georgia ever to vote in the U.S. Senate. Loeffler, who took the oath of office Jan. 6, wasappointedto fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of fellow Republican Johnny Isakson. She joins The Daily Signal Podcast to talk about transitioning from the private sector, what she is most passionate about, and her perspective on how President Donald Trump has confronted the coronavirus.

Rachel del Guidice:I’m joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. Sen. Loeffler, thank you so much for being with us today.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler:It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Del Guidice: Well, thank you so much for being with us. You were recently appointed to the Senate to fill the vacancy that Sen. [Johnny] Isakson left. What has it been like to go from the private sector into the public sector?

Loeffler:That’s right. I joined two months ago. This weekend was my two-month anniversary. It’s really been a whirlwind, but in a positive way. I’ve been able to jump in and use my experience in getting results to already start working on positive legislation for Georgia, and also, contribute to some of the conservative work that I wanted to get done up here and it’s just been two months.

Del Guidice: Can you tell me a little bit about your work in the private sector and how that has influenced you as a senator?

Loeffler:In December, I was still working in the private sector leading a small startup, fintech company after about a 28-year career. I stepped out of the private sector to public service. The benefit of having that track record, if you will, of private sector experiences, I’ve been a job-seeker and I’ve been a job-creator. So not only have I signed the back of a paycheck, but I’ve signed the front of a paycheck. I know what it means to make a budget, to deliver on commitments, to meet the expectations of stakeholders, shareholders, and others such as employees to make sure that you’re delivering for them. I think I bring a lot of outsider perspective to Washington and I think that’s helpful … particularly in matters of economic, national security, and other stabilizing factors that give us a strong economic environment.

Del Gudice: You came into the Senate on the heels of the impeachment trial. Can you tell us what that was like?

Loeffler:Impeachment started about within a week of me being sworn in and it was truly a moment in history. I felt it was my duty as a judge and juror in impeachment to take very careful notes, to listen, but also to advance through that process quickly so we could get back to the work of the American people. I thought that this process was important to have it play out. It was also important that we reached an acquittal, in my view, because it did not meet the standard of impeachment and there was no evidence. So we moved on quickly and got back to working for the American people.

Del Guidice: Well, on that subject, you’re a co-sponsor of the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act. Can you tell us about this legislation and why it’s important?

Loeffler:So, look, I came out of the private sector. I am very accustomed to having to meet an annual budget. And what happens in the private sector is typically you set a budget and you’re asked to not meet it but outperform it. So I think it’s commonsense legislation that says we in government need to be accountable for the costs that we’re asking taxpayers to cover and we need to also be accountable for the results. This is one of my priorities, … to make sure that we are focused on delivering those results in a cost-effective manner for taxpayers and that we get our budget under control and start to address the deficit, because this comes on the back of future generations.

Del Guidice: Something else you’ve mentioned you’re passionate about is health care. Can you talk a little bit about that? And if there’s one thing in the health care legislation [that you’re] excited about or want to talk about, what would that be?

Loeffler: There’s many things I’m excited about in health care because there’s a lot of potential for improvement. As I go around our state and talk to folks across the country, it doesn’t matter what industry they’re in—whether they’re a small business, a large business, farming, a family—health care is at the top of the list of issues that they care about and that they think needs to improve. One of the recent bills that I’m sponsoring is to bring more access, more innovation to health care in rural communities. So where you have this move toward urbanization, you’re losing care providers in rural communities. So I want to make sure that those communities are supported. I also think we just need to continue to look at [how] Obamacare has driven costs way too high. It’s not working. I think preexisting condition coverage is critical, but the costs skyrocketing has impacted too many working families. I’m hearing of farmers having to send their wives to go get a job so that their employer-provided health insurance can serve the needs of the family because they can no longer afford insurance in the private market. And that’s a really tough situation.

Del Guidice: You’ve also done some work on immigration reform. Looking at that area of policy, is there something there, a particular policy or something else, that you’re working on that you want to talk about?

Loeffler:I recently co-sponsored a bill to stop green-lighting driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. This is important because we should not be providing federal funding to state and local governments that don’t adhere to federal immigration law. I think money talks and when you follow the law, then you can receive the funding. But we have to fix the crisis at the border. We have to address our immigration, enforce the law there, and then we can start talking about other factors around how to address this immigration issue.

Del Guidice: Thank you for sharing that. Something else your team has highlighted … that you’ve talked about is school safety. Looking at that issue, what are you hearing from Georgians and also what are you wanting to work on to address that topic of policy?

Loeffler:Certainly, I think school safety is critical. I grew up in public schools. I can’t imagine having to have some of the concerns that we have today. So I’ve been very supportive of law enforcement, making sure that … not just law enforcement but our public education system will have the resources they need. I think we’re at a starting point. We haven’t solved for it, but I think that there’s more to come.

Del Guidice: Something else that you’ve talked about a lot is you’re very pro-life. That’s something that you’re very convicted about, which is a beautiful thing. What kind of legislation are you looking at working on in this arena when it comes to the life issue?

Loeffler: I recently introduced an informed consent, so “Woman’s Right to Know” legislation with [Sen.] Marsha Blackburn. The idea is just to make sure that an abortion procedure is covered by the same informed consent that goes along with other medical procedures as a commonsense piece of legislation that also helps patients know that there are other options, lets them know the health risks. That’s in addition to four or five other pieces of pro-life legislation, including the 20-week Pain-Capable [Unborn Child Protection Act] introduced by [Sen.] Lindsey Graham as well as the Born-Alive [Abortion Survivors Protection Act]. Unfortunately, neither of those passed, but I was proud to support them.

Del Guidice: You mentioned how neither of those passed, and … I think it was only three Democrat senators that voted for both of those pieces of legislation. Did you have any reflections walking away from that vote on some pieces of legislation that a lot of people say shouldn’t be controversial?

Loeffler:Yeah, I mean, certainly. Again, it’s commonsense to say that if a baby is born after a botched abortion and the baby is born alive, every effort should be made to keep that infant alive. It’s just unimaginable that an infant could be delivered and then not cared for. So, to me, it’s not an abortion issue as much as it’s a life issue. This is life that is before us and we’re snuffing that life out. And I don’t understand the enthusiasm. I can’t wrap my head around it.

Del Guidice: You’re one of the leading conservative women in the Senate and I’m curious about your thoughts, if you’d like to see more conservative women in politics? And how do you think that could be encouraged?

Loeffler: It’s a great question and I think as I’ve gone through my career, I mean, I’ve broken glass ceilings in business, in sports, and now working in the Senate. I’m the first woman from Georgia to vote in the Senate ever, to cast a vote. … I said this when I was appointed, not every strong, successful woman is a liberal and you don’t have to be shrill to be strong. I think having a range of styles for women and letting them know that they have to have a voice [is important]. You may not know everything about public policy and you do not need to because as a citizen of the United States, you know all you need to do to get involved. So I hope me being involved will encourage other women to step forward, serve their communities, their states, our country in different ways. I’m just honored to be here. I think increasingly this needs to not be as much of a gender issue as just saying, “Look, no matter what, we have people from all walks of life that are working for our country to support it.” And that’s what I think I bring as a political outsider. I’m bringing a perspective not just as a woman, but as a businesswoman. I began my life on a family farm. I’ve lived the American dream, and I want to just bring that to others across our country.

Del Guidice: Thank you so much for sharing that. We did cover a lot of ground, and as we wrap up, I just wanted to ask if there’s anything else in particular that you want to talk about, something you’re passionate [about] that you’re working on right now that is in the forefront of your mind that you want to leave listeners with?

Loeffler: Well, since it’s a timely topic, I’ll just mention my work with my colleagues and the administration on coronavirus. I want to, first of all, commend President [Donald] Trump and this administration for their tireless work. I’ve seen it firsthand. I traveled to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] last week with the president and my colleague, Sen. David Perdue. The work the CDC does, NIH [the National Institutes of Health], [the Department of] Health and Human Services—we can be very proud as a country that while this virus did not start here, we are clearly going to be the country that solves for it, whether it’s diagnostics, treatment, [or] vaccines. This is something that’s really unprecedented in terms of our lifetimes, but the level of sophistication in our medical community, the collaboration at the highest levels of government from state and local up to the president is unparalleled. So I think we will get through this and the economy is starting from a strong base. We just have to pull together to make sure that we minimize the health and economic impacts in the best way that we can.

Del Guidice: Well, Sen. Loeffler, thank you so much for joining us today on The Daily Signal Podcast.

Loeffler: Thanks. It was great to be here.