Wicker: It’s OK to investigate Russia

Published 9:54 am Friday, December 16, 2016

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, said while he thinks “we owe it to the American people to investigate” any possible Russian interference in the recent presidential election, “I think the American people knew what they were doing” when they cast their ballots.

Wicker was in Vicksburg Thursday and reported to members of The Rotary Club of Vicksburg recent events in Congress and commented on what he expects to happen come January and the inauguration of a new president.

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He said the “lame duck” session of the Senate ended early and he’s spending some time on a four-day swing through Mississippi, talking to constituents.

“I feel like a mosquito on the wall of a nudist colony. I hardly know where to begin,” Wickers quipped.

He said cable news has left Americans with the impression that Republicans and Democrats in Congress haven’t accomplished anything this term, but that’s not the case. Wicker named a number of bipartisan accomplishments, including the 21st Century Cures Act, a $6.3 billion measure signed by President Obama Dec. 13.

That bill includes a number of initiatives for medical research, including Vice President Joe Biden’s “moonshot” to find a cure for cancer, as well as Wicker’s EUREKA Plan, which creates prize-based competitions to encourage research to find a cure or tools to use in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Wicker said his mother died of dementia, and he suspects she had Alzheimer’s, though she and her family never had a clear diagnosis.

“Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in the history of our country,” he said.

Wicker said what happened in the presidential election — Republicans winning the majority in the House, the Senate and the presidency — was something unusual.

“That has only occurred one other time in my adult lifetime, and that lasted for only about six months,” he said.

Wicker said he has been told by advisers to president-elect Donald Trump that on inauguration day, Trump will make his way to the Oval Office and begin signing “orders reversing lots of executive orders Barack Obama signed during the last eight years.”

He said he expects Congress to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — in January.

“We will replace it with something better,” Wicker said. “There will be no mandates at the employer level and no mandates at the patient level.”

He warned it took five years to enact the Affordable Care Act, and it would take time to “get it right.”

He said he hopes Republican voters appreciate what Republicans in the Senate did to not allow President Barack Obama to appoint a replacement to the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February.

“Mitch McConnell got us together and said he was not going to allow a hearing on a nominee to the Supreme Court. There’s only one man on the face of the earth who could call that hearing and that’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We held firm,” Wicker said.

“I think more than anything else, this election was about the Supreme Court,” Wicker said.

Asked whether he had concerns with president-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, Wicker said, “The more I hear about him, the more I’m inclined to vote for him.

“Just because you are friendly with someone doesn’t mean you are friends,” he said. “If you are a head coach, and you know the other team’s head coach well, I would think that could work to your advantage.”