tv Newsmakers 116th Congress - Chairs Mc Govern Takano CSPAN January 6, 2019 10:00am-10:33am EST
-- >> next, newsmakers with jim mcgovern of choose this and mark takano california. elizabeth, senator warren of massachusetts, who has announced she is considering a run for the presidency in 2020, talks to democrats in iowa. >> on "newsmakers" this week, we continue to talk to committee chairs of the 116th congress. for this week's "newsmakers," we sat down with jim mcgovern of massachusetts, and mark takano of california. congressman mcgovern is a democrat of massachusetts who chairs the rules committee. that committee has jurisdiction over how and when legislation comes to the floor. >> massachusetts democrat jim mcgovern will serve as the house rules committee chairman in the 116th congress. what exactly does the rules committee do? >> the rules committee is like the traffic cop of congress. every major piece of legislation comes through the rules committee before it goes to the floor. we decide how the bill will be considered, when it goes to the floor, whether it could be amended or not.
sometimes we are the arbiter of jurisdictional disputes between various committees on a piece of legislation. it is a very influential committee, and it is more than about process. it really is about policy. you need good process to get good policy. >> how do you exert that influence? >> well, the way i want to exert it is to have the rules committee become a more accommodating place where good ideas are made in order, where people can debate them on the floor, where the whole process is not rigged. i have been in the minority now for a while and one of my critiques of the republicans was that they rigged the process. they had the closed congress in the history of our country, where good ideas from democrats and even some good ideas they disagree with from republicans were routinely blocked. that has to stop. we need to make it a more deliberative body. >> is this a busy time of year for the rules committee? >> it is a busy time because the first order of business is to pass a rules package, how we're going to conduct ourselves for
the rest of the year, so we have been up, and our staff in particular have been up and running and trying to prepare the rules package, so it has been busy, but it is busy all the time. again, nothing happens on the floor without coming to the rules committee. >>the rules package was the second vote after the speaker vote. >> how long did it take to put that together? >> well, we didn't have a lot of time. you know, we had to win the election first. so you know, since after one of the things nancy pelosi november. asked me to do is try something different with the rules package. you know over the years the rules package was put together in secret behind closed doors. most members didn't know what they were voting on. this was the case with democrat s and republicans. she said i want to do it differently. i want an open and transparent process. so we did that. i solicited ideas from members of the democratic caucus. i talked to the chairs. i talked to the various caucus leaders individual members.
, i even talked to republicans. you know, give me some ideas. we got a gazillion ideas, you know? all of them well-intentioned. some of them better than others but we put together a , package, i think, you know, is forward thinking and progressive. >> what republican ideas made it into the final rules package? >> well, we had this, you know, the idea of trying to give preference to bipartisan amendments. we, they suggested that we try to rein in, you know, attempts to try to oust the speaker because that is what the freedom caucus tried to do to republicans. that was, believe it or not, a bipartisan, mostly republican idea. we have this consensus calendar, where if bills get a certain number of cosponsors, they go on a consensus calendar and can be brought to the floor, you know, for a debate and a vote. some of those ideas. the idea of a -- we put together a truly bipartisan committee on modernization of the house, which we voted on today, which
passed with overwhelming support basically to get democrats and , republicans to continue the discussion about how we can make this place run better, and then come up with suggestions we'll vote on at the end of the year. >> how do you think this place can run better? >> i think it could run better if we are more respectful of one another's points of view. you know, one of my frustrations in the past has been that, you know, good ideas, you know, have always been blocked by the rules committee, and, and i think, you know, we have to stop rigging the process. we have to allow for members to be heard on the house floor, and, and i want the rules committee to be more accommodating. i want bills to have more debate. i want the committees of jurisdiction to actually do their hearings. we a ton of bills that came before the rules committee where the committees of jurisdiction never held a hearing, never did a mark up. we had tax bills that the ways and means committee never considered. that is ridiculous.
committees ought to be expected to do their work. members fight going committees because they want to work on these issues. we put out rules and said no rules unless there have been markups. >> should the rules committee have less influence? committee the rules is necessary and important if it is run properly. it is a place that helps structured debate in a way that we can move things forward. if power is abused in the rules committee, as it has been in the past, it could become a place where democracy goes to die. through thegetting most closed congress in history. i do not that be my legacy. i want people to say we have a fair process here. where ideas, even ideas i disagree with, have an opportunity to be baited on the house floor.
the rules committee works closely with the speaker's office in particular. our job is to make sure we do not become the senate, where it is chaos. we want to make sure we have an orderly process to move things forward and move our agenda forward. we work closely with the speaker. legislation and floor time to centralize in today's congress? >> there has to be some entity that organizes this. what speaker pelosi has done is giving -- given the rules committee more space to be able to work things out. this rules package is a case in point. we put this package together without the leadership from the top telling us what to do. the bottom is from up. we heard from people who have been here from years -- for years, and also from freshmen who are just getting here.
many freshman ideas got into this rules package. this is a new day and the rules committee is well poised to make this place function better. committee, this leadership team trying to address concerns raised by the me too movement in the last congress? legislation at the end of the last congress to address some of these issues. membersaking it so that cannot force staff to find -- sign nondisclosure agreements and not be able to talk about wrongdoing. arere saying that if you guilty of something and paying somebody a settlement, you have to pay it out of your own pocket, not out of a slush fund. package, we make it
clear that there is no tolerance for discrimination of any kind, not just against women, but also a provision in regard to the lgbt community. helpingkage is actually congress represent our values. we created a diversity office because the ultimate goal is to make sure the people who work up here look like the rest of the country. >> come back to that rules package. there was concerned by members in your party that the position requiring legislation that would increase the deficit to be offset would be a hurdle to passing progressive priorities. how did you address that concern? product of the rules package. that was a law that was passed. it is been in lawson's the 1990's. -- in law since the 1990's. the only way you can repeal a law is to get it passed.
we want to reserve the ability to be able to find offsets, which are pieces of legislation. if i want to increase money for nutrition programs, maybe i will close -- pay for it by closing a corporate tax loophole. pastwas silent on that and a bill to increase nutrition, they could pay more by cutting school lunches. we want to make sure we are not robbing. i understand concerns about pay go. some of the issues around pay go, i am frustrated with. investments in certain programs that i think and be probe -- proven to generate revenue should not have to be offset. we ought to have that discussion. wrongles package was the place for people to vent their frustration. it is the law. >> nutrition programs is an
issue you talk a lot about on the house floor. . i cannot stand the fact that we live in the richest country in the history of the world and 40 million of our fellow citizens are hungry. i am ashamed of that. i think every member of the house and senate and the white house should be ashamed of that. hunger is a political condition. we have the money, resources, everything to end it, but we do not have the political will. it bothers me that sometimes in this chamber, especially over the last couple of years, trivial issues get debated but not important ones. we do not talk about hunger. in the past, it is been brought up to get cut. it is a passion of mine. i am seen too many people who are hungry in my district. if you see a child who is hungry, it breaks her heart.
one of my missions is to focus on ending hunger. i give a speech every week on the house floor under the #and hunger and i will continue to do this. toill try to do what we can end hunger in this country. bill has to be available 72 hours before -- is that for congress or the public? >> for both. the public should be able to know what we are doing up there. embers of congress and the staff ought to know what we're doing. republicans claimed they had a three day. to readee day period those, but it would be abbreviated. we are saying three days is three days. it should not be controversial that what we are doing is made available so people can read it. >> do think most members of congress read bills before they vote on them? >> probably not. i think they ought to have that option.
some of their staff certainly do. they should. >> why don't they? >> sometimes they have been unavailable. if you get a bill that is this thick and you are told we are ,oing to vote on it immediately it is humanly impossible to read the bill. we need to put in place a process where there is no excuse not to know what is in the bill. too often, bills have come before the committee without a proper period of time to read them. billnd out what is in the after they have passed it, and that is not the way it should be. >> if leadership finds themselves in a time crunch, is there a way --? >> emergencies can happen. there is a way around that. hopefully the way around that would be with bipartisan consent, where the chair and the ranking member would agree. those should be the exceptions
to the rule, not the rule. what has happened in congress over the last few years is that -- what has carried the day is a close process where nobody knows what is happening, where committees and jurisdiction do not even do hearings. things are rushed through it we find out after that they are filled with mistakes and the policy sticks. that process leads to a lot of -- this house rules committee, you will have nine members from the majority party, and for members from the minority party. why do you have more than twice their number? >> that has been the ratio put overcome a rules chair in the 1960's who was trying to frustrate moving forward on any civil rights legislation. they expanded the committee to put more people on there so they could override the chair at the time. committee has to make sure
, and if it is working well, it handles itself in a fair way. if it is not working well, and it hasn't been, it becomes a place that can be frustrating. >> what is your relationship like with ranking member tom cole? >> i think ranking member tom cole is an extraordinary individual. i'm nothing but the highest respect for him. i've known him for many years and i think he cares deeply about this institution. ofand i disagree on a lot issues, but we both love this institution and we both believe we should run this place like professionals. we believe we should restore integrity. i think we agree a lot on how we move forward. i am happy he is the ranking member. >> in the early 90's, you were a staffer for a previous chairman.
it's congress less dysfunctional than it was then? >> it is more dysfunctional. i take a lot lessons from him. he was -- when he was chair, this place was more accommodating, more respectful to all points of view. better congress function -- functioned better. i look to him as a potential model of how this committee should be run. shares -- became chair of the rules committee. you can settle scores of people you don't like, and he said no. power to some people is the ability to say no. power to me is the ability to say yes. because rules committee joe mobley put me on the rules committee. congress -- colleagues in congress for a few years. -- was diagnosed with
leukemia that cannot be treated, he had three months to live and he called me and said you're going on the committee. andut me on this committee he said learn the rules. learn the names of all the members. get to know everybody. someday, you may be chairman. he said do not do anything stupid. stay where you are. i have in thinking about him a lot. over these last few days. his portrait hangs over the rules committee. he looks at me approving me, and on some days disapprovingly, but he was a great teacher and i hope he is proud of me. >> jim mcgovern, thanks for your time. >> thanks. >> next up, representative mark takano, who chairs the veterans affairs committee. one of the key issues is veterans health care. we talked to the congressman about his priorities and agenda for the committee. >> mark takano now serves as
chairman of the house veteran affairs committee. what -- to conneaut, chairman to conneaut -- takano -- >> i am still constituting the committee. i want to get my priorities. before i do, there is something i need to get off my chest that has been on my mind. it is the unfinished business of the previous congress, business that should have been finished. i'm talking about the blue water navy bill that would have addressed 50,000 vietnam war era veterans who were exposed to agent orange. this bill passed the house of representatives. it passed unanimously. it was heartbreaking to see three so-called fiscal hawks in the senate killed the bill
through procedural moves in the senate and the days of the last congress. we are talking about 50,000 whonam war era veterans have been suffering chronic conditions associated with agent orange. why this is on my mind is i hypocrisy ofer the holding up a bill to the senate for $2.5 billion after the senators voted for $1.9 trillion tax cut that benefited the very wealthiest corporations and wealthiest individuals in our country, and now we are engaged in trump's friend politics over a $5 billion wall. what can we be doing with $5 billion instead of a political stunt? 50,000d be addressing blue water navy veterans who
have been waiting too long. we are talking $2.5 billion. -- the president failed to assert leadership in the waning days of this last congress. he was preoccupied with wall politics and not addressing another promise he made in his campaign, which was to our nation-positive veterans. -- our nation's veterans. mz took morer. aggressive stances, but all three had a role in killing this legislation. they were the subject of a bipartisan press conference that got attention -- not enough attention because of all of these theatrics going on with the wall politics. this is what makes me angry is that this is a political stunt hawks wall that fiscal
ought to be denouncing instead of enabling. attention has been taken off of veterans, who served our country in uniform, who were exposed to agent orange because of the use of that in the vietnam war. , it was 90,000 veterans. 40,000 have died. urgency tolot of getting this legislation done. >> is a being reintroduced? are you more optimistic? --i am only optimistic if we there is a consistent leadership from the white house. presidential leadership would it weretered if properly directed and focused on these three senators. we passed this bill unanimously
in the house. can you think of much -- you know how polarized this house is. to have that happen is an expression of the kind of work we do in the veterans affairs committee. to have it stopped in the senate billionispute over $2.5 , which is a tiny portion of the sed, and this pas $5 billion wall, which most true fiscal hawks believe is useless. believe what was passed was the v.a. mission act. >> the mission act contains a number of provisions. the most important part was consolidating private-sector care relationships the v.a. has. the v.a. has always had some element contracted out to private sector providers, but it .s called the -- program
that will be a big part of oversight and accountability under my leadership at the committee. the veteran service organizations are very concerned about implementation which would skew too much of what the va spends on health care toward the private sector. that our make sure internal capacity at the va to serve our veterans is, is maintained and paid attention to. what does the term privatization of the v.a. mean? how do you privatize a $200 billion department question mark -- department? well, what you do is, instead of filling positions up with the v.a. that are vacant there are
positions that have been vacant for too long. you allow those positions to remain vacant. instead of building up the capacity of the v.a.. of cost control, as a matter of efficiency, most of the veteran service organizations, like the american legion, the veterans of foreign wars, the overwhelming majority of the legitimate ones are very concerned about the deterioration of the internal capacity of the v.a. to deliver health care by their own doctors. v.a. getle who use the high quality care there. what we do not want to see is costseering and increased
bleed away the capacity of the v.a. to serve those veterans. >> what is the best use of the private sector to serve veterans? >> the best use of the private sector is to fill -- fulfill services, to deliver services that the v.a. does not have the capacity to do. although we have seen an increased number of women veterans, the v -- v.a. has not ob/gyn services internally. typically if there is a birth of of a child, or services that women need, those services have been referred to the private sector. certain specialties the v.a. does not have adequate staff, and so those are referred out. so we do not want to see the v.a., thework the important research and
specialized research they do for people with severe injuries, the kind of things the v.a. excels at. precious risk because resources are being diverted to the private sector. video on twitter about some of your priorities for the committee in the coming congress. one of the replies to that was a veteran named kate mccray, she responded as saying, as a veteran, i suffer from chronic migraines and am under neurological care for them. but if i get a severe attack instead of going to a local er to get treated i have to drive an hour away to the nearest va clinic. can you try to change this so when i do get a tax, i can go to local er's and still get covered? >> that is a good example of how the choice -- how v.a. choice could be used to the benefit of more and more veterans.
intended thee choice program to be utilized by veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a v.a. medical center, or who have been waiting for more than 30 days. unfortunately, in many parts of our country, especially rural areas, there is a shortage of doctors in the private sector as well. so while being able to referred these patients out to an emergency room close to her -- it will not always fall apart. that is an appropriate use of v.a. choice. >> what is your view of the used of medical marijuana in the v.a. system? >> i believe the v.a. should be able to do research. currently, it is not able to do research into cannabis and how it can serve as alternative to opioids, and i fully support legislation that would free up the va to be able to do that
research, and we should base our medical treatments on science and political -- clinical research and under current law. va is not permitted to do that that is wrong. the veterans who report they manage their pain with cannabis rather than taking opioids, we should be listening to them and we should be trying to validate or not validate -- find out if research validates their experience. >> what is another priority you have not had a chance to talk about yet? .> v.a. 23 that is a report i want to see of the committee investigating what is the v.a. going to look .ike in 10 to 12 years how can the v.a. be positioned to best serve increasing numbers of women veterans and increasing number of minority veterans.
women do not utilize their benefits at the same rate as male counterparts. we need of education benefits. that removes -- we need utilization of education benefits that moves the barriers to a diverse population being able to use them. i want to talk about the g.i. bill. there are issues with for-profit colleges and the for-profit college industry being predatory with veterans, and veterans are finding themselves spending down their g.i. bill benefits through heavy marketing and deceptive getting degrees that they cannot use or credits they cannot transfer. i will be addressing the student veterans of america this weekend. this is a huge issue. the american taxpayer deserves more.
they deserve to see their resources being used well. it is a very generous benefit and i hate seeing our veterans preyed upon. it is too early to tell. i just had a conversation with him. onhas only been a few months the job. time will tell. what is your relationship like with the ranking member? >> it has always been cordial. i worked well with him in the past, and we have always had a bipartisan, cordial environment at veterans affairs committee. i expect that to continue. >> did you serve in the military? >> i did not, but i do have a district that is in a county that has the eighth largest population by county in the country. i have had great uncles who served in the 42nd infantry
battalion during world war ii, even as their relatives were in internment camps. there is a legacy there of knowing that i would not be here as a congressman if it were not for my great uncles who stepped up and served and demonstrated the loyalty of japanese americans during world war ii. my own brother was here for the swearing in. he is former army, and a retired police detective from raleigh. do consider myself to have strong connections to military service members. fewers new congress has veterans than the previous congress. what has that decline meant for the institution? >> i would prefer to talk about numbers of young veterans who are joining the congress and while the total number of
veterans at this moment is declining relative to the numbers of veterans we have seen serve in congress and world war ii and the post-civil war era -- it is true that the absolute numbers are not equal to those numbers. i believe this congress will be invigorated by the voices of women veterans like mikey cheryl -- the new member from pennsylvania. >> are any new members serving on your committee? of them is seeking to serve on the committee. i already have veteran members. max rose from long island wants
to serve on the committee. account member this name from pennsylvania. -- i cannot member this name from pennsylvania. he won a special election. is they areell you bringing a young, fresh perspective from afghanistan era veterans. that is going to be so important to setting our agenda for this congress. >> mark takano. >> conor lamb. sorry, conor. >> thank you for your time this morning. >> senior members of the trump campaign, don jr., pal matter for -- paul manafort meeting with the russian embassy who they were told was bringing them dirt, produced by a secret operation of the russian government to harm hillary.
they said yes, we will meet with you. we will take your information and pursue mobley they would use it if they found it useful -- presumably they would use it if they found it useful. they conspired with russia through the campaign. trump and his lieutenants, again and again, denied russians were doing anything. corn will be our guest on in-depth, our live call-in program today at noon eastern. ,is most recent -- recent book russian roulette, is co-authored. his other books include blonde ghost and showdown. watch in-depth live today from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on c-span two's book tv.
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