GOP 2024 presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told Iowa Republicans Friday that there should be "competency tests" for public officials after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 81, apparently froze during a press conference earlier this week.
"We've got to have mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75," Haley said during the Lincoln Day Dinner in Des Moines Friday. "That's why we have to have term limits, once and for all."
McConnell awkwardly paused mid-sentence during a news conference and was escorted from the podium back to his office for several minutes before returning and completing the session with reporters.
Haley said the incident with McConnell on Wednesday proves that people making important decisions have to be able to function at a basic cognitive level.
"They are making decisions on our national security. They are making decisions on our national policy. These aren't tough tests," she said of competency tests, which she said are needed for Republicans as well as Democrats.
Haley went on to say Washington is not working, especially with the trillions of dollars spent during the past few years.
"You go back and look at that $2.2 trillion COVID stimulus bill that they passed with no accountability," she said. "It expanded welfare that has now left with 90 million Americans on Medicaid, 42 million Americans on food stamps. Did Republicans try to make it right? Nope."
She said that they "doubled down" by opening up "earmarks" for spending in Congress, pushing through 7,000 of them.
"Earmarks" are defined by the Brookings Institution as "small grants to programs and projects in congressional districts" that were subject to a 10-year moratorium which Congress ended in 2021.
Haley listed several examples of funding projects, including hotels and horse racing in different states. Meanwhile, she said, 1 in 6 Americans is struggling to pay bills, and 60% of Americans hold credit card debt.
"Social Security will go bankrupt in 10 years," she said. "Medicare in eight."
She also pointed out the failures of the education system and the crisis at the southern border.
"Five-and-a-half million illegal immigrants have crossed that border," she said. "Enough fentanyl has crossed the border to kill every single American last year."
Haley said fixing the problems starts with getting back more than $500 million in unspent COVID-19 funding and stopping borrowing more money.
"Republicans and Democrats have a spending addiction in D.C.," she said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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