Ky. Rep. John Yarmuth talks U.S. Supreme Court, presidential pol - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. Rep. John Yarmuth talks U.S. Supreme Court, presidential politics and Cuba

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The U. S. Supreme Court and presidential politics are at the top of the mind for Kentucky's Third District Congressman John Yarmuth. 

He sat down Monday for a one-on-one interview with Sterling Riggs on WDRB in the Morning.  

The Louisville Democrat says he doesn't think Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has a "realistic shot" at being president. Yarmuth says, "I have endorsed Hillary Clinton. I think she would be the best president of anybody running and certainly a better president than Bernie Sanders." 

Yarmuth believes many independents and Republicans have given Sanders his boost in the Democratic race, but he thinks Clinton will be a clear front-runner once voters in states like New York can vote. 

As a member of Congress, Yarmuth is among the super delegates that will be at the Democratic convention. Many people are unclear about the role of super delegates. Yarmuth explains that, "there are members who are not bound by a primary or caucus vote. We're pretty much free agents." He says the process gives people "who have the party's best interest at heart to kind of control the hot temperatures of the electorate." 

He adds that Bernie Sanders and his supporters don't care for the super delegate process because they have very few commitments from super delegates. 

The debate over who will replace the late U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia continues in Washington, D. C. Kentucky's U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell is a vocal opponent of even holding a hearing for President Obama's pick, Merrick Garland. 

Yarmuth believes Garland has a very good chance of becoming a Supreme Court Justice. "I think clearly, if Hillary Clinton is elected president, they'll move quickly to confirm him. They won't want to risk a more liberal nomination from the next president."  

However, Yarmuth adds that he thinks it's highly unlikely that there will be a confirmation before the November election. "I think Mitch (McConnell) is on the record from years past as saying any nominee to the Supreme Court deserves a hearing and an up or down vote. But he's changed his tune now that the partisan scales have flipped."

Terrorism is a key issue for many Americans, after the attacks in Brussels. Congressman Yarmuth says he believes there has been an enormous amount of progress made in combating ISIS. "Just last week, forces made in roads in places in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has metastasized, and now they're in Yemen and in Libya and some other places where we haven't had as much success." But Yarmuth says he thinks the strategy President Obama is using is working.  

Yarmuth says he hears the American people say they do not want troops on the ground in the Middle East. But he says, "there's no good answer to ISIS, absolutely no good answer."  

The U.S. is working to re-establish relations with Cuba, and President Obama traveled to the country in March.  And Yarmuth says now is definitely the time. "Fifty years of trying one policy that has been a horrible failure doesn't mean we should continue it." 

Yarmuth says he visited Cuba in 2011. "The only people suffering from our policy in Cuba are those in the United States that are disconnected from their families and American businesses and tourists who could be very successful in Cuba."  He adds, "I think it's time to do everything we can to reverse the policy and (lifting) the embargo, I think, would be an important step." 

Yarmuth is a spectator for Kentucky's state budget debate, but he is watching to see how the stalemate is resolved.  

Governor Matt Bevin is pushing for cuts to public funding of colleges and universities to shore up the state's pension system. 

When asked what needs to be done to reach a budget deal, Yarmuth says it's obvious that no one wants to see a significant tuition hike that would put an additional burden on students. "So we're just talking about numbers. This is where it's easy to compromise."  

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