Sen. Mark Kelly Talks Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, Immigration And Investigating The Capitol Riot

By Steve Goldstein
Published: Friday, June 4, 2021 - 11:02am
Updated: Friday, June 4, 2021 - 11:44am

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Mark Kelly
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Mark Kelly in KJZZ's studio in 2019.

The U.S. Senate is considering a number of options related to infrastructure spending as the Biden administration attempts to get Republican cooperation.

That follows on the heels of only a handful of Republican senators supporting the concept of a Jan. 6 commission to investigate the attempted insurrection at the Capitol.

Arizona's junior U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly has been involved in discussions on both of those fronts and on other issues as well.

The Show spoke with him earlier and began the conversation by asking for his infrastructure priorities.

Interview Highlights

What can policymakers do about our state of cybersecurity? Do you think we're ready, but we're just not devoting enough attention to it?

First of all, we need to have an educated cyber workforce — that's that's critical, that does take some time. And we can't allow other nations to continue to do this. There has to be accountability. ... So this is something that needs to be coordinated with the White House, the Department of Defense. But the educated cyber workforce is key. In parts of our country, there are thousands of jobs that are open in cybersecurity. So it's it's going to be up to the federal government, you know, addressing this with legislation and continue to build the infrastructure to be able to counter these cyber threats.

There have been concerns about an increased number of migrants and the Biden administration and people from other countries maybe trying to take advantage of that or new policies or whatnot. What do you think that looks like in an ideal world, or what are some of the top things for you?

Just recently, Sen. [Rob] Portman (R-Ohio) and I introduced legislation called the Border Response Resilience Act that is an attempt to take politics out of this process. And it requires that the Department of Homeland Security develops a response plan that prioritizes safety for border communities, but also a humane process for migrants. ... What this bill will do is it will provide the resources and the partnerships that are needed to respond when we see these big increases in migration at the border. And DHS will have to have a plan, but they'll also have the resources to handle these surges that often come; they're somewhat, you know, cyclic. We also have a root cause problem. I don't think we're going to solve this problem without addressing issues in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. It's a complex problem.

Senator, there were a handful of Republican senators who supported this idea of a Jan. 6 commission to look at that very scary day, the day of the so-called insurrection. And yet there were not enough to make it a go. What should be done to ensure that people understand what happened and maybe prevent it from happening again?

A comprehensive investigation. When I was at NASA, when we had the Space Shuttle Columbia accident — and this is true for the United States military as well — when you have a mishap, something goes seriously wrong, you have a very thorough investigation. You put together the experts and and you do interviews and you gather information and evidence and then you make some decisions on how to prevent that, what happened from happening again. And we need to do that. We still need to do it. There are several ways to do this. The bipartisan approach in the House and the Senate, even though it did, as you said, had bipartisan support, didn't have the necessary votes in the Senate. So we'll look at other options.

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