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tv   Congressional Career of Rep. Nita Lowey D-NY  CSPAN  December 25, 2020 3:22pm-3:57pm EST

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president trump vetoed the defense program policy bill. two issues included failure to repeal section 230 which protects social media companies, confederateval of names from military institutions. a vote to override that veto is expected in both chambers getting in the house on monday. see the senate live on c-span 2. are watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government. c-span was created by america's cable television companies in 1979 and today is brought to you by these television companies that bring c-span to viewers as a public service. >> representative nita lowey is retiring from congress after 32 years in the house.
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she is the first woman to do so. this is 30 minutes. peter: after a career that has spanned 32 years, including two presidential impeachments, 9/11, and the covid-19 pandemic, nita lowey is retiring after being elected from her district in new york 16 times. nita loweyr being elected from her district in new york 16 times. representative lowey, why are you leaving now? rep. lowey: i think after 32 frankly, i have a career i am very proud of, i have done a great deal, i think it is time. it has been such an honor and a privilege to serve my community and my country and the united states congress -- in the united states congress, and i will always be grateful to the people who entrusted me to represent them, westchester, coins, the
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bronx,-- queens, the etc. they all come all these people who elected me, who made it possible for me to chair the house appropriations committee, the greatest honor of my professional life, and i do hope that that historic achievement, when they look at my portrait under appropriation wall, will inspire all the women and girls to get involved in the community. host: do you remember when you first got interested in politics? rep. lowey: well, shall i tell you, this is like true confessions interview. i was president in my class in the sixth grade, president of my class at the bronx high school i wasence, and while president doing those things, i
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was a mother of three, i have been married to stephen lowey for 60 years almost, and frankly, i was brought up by my mother to believe that if you see a problem, you have a responsibility to do something about it, to try and solve it. there are many people who see , they might be good people, but i was brought up to believe if you see a problem, you have to at least try to do something about it. host: tell us about your mother. rep. lowey: my mother was a very, very devoted mother. she didn't go to college, she went to business school, but she was active in everything in our community. i look back, she was president
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of the synagogue, president of health, president of the children's, she was an activist. i think that is where i got that from. host: and she and your father were both first-generation, correct? rep. lowey: correct. host: where were they from? rep. lowey: no, i'm sorry, they were both born here. their parents were first-generation. host: what did your father do for a living? rep. lowey: my father was a certified public accountant, and my mother was active in many non-profit organizations. but during the time that i was she was helping make life better for the very organization she was involved with, children, adults, and many others. host: where the democrats
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growing up -- were they democrats growing up? rep. lowey: oh, of course. i've been a democrat. my mother was very active in the community in so many different organizations, trying to make life better for children, adults. my father worked hard as a cpa. he was not active in the community. he left that to my mother. host: you have said that your jewish upbringing was important to your political career, to your values. how so? rep. lowey: well, as a jewish toan, growing up, went synagogues, went to hebrew school -- and we believed that we had a responsibility to make this a better world.
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whether it was by being active in the community, or others, i always knew i had a responsibility when i sigh problem, to do something about it. i went to mount holyoke college. organize friday night services at mount holyoke college. when you organize it, then you have to go every friday night. and the jewish population was very small. that did go to friday night services that i organized. host: was it rare for a jewish woman to go to mount holyoke at that time? rep. lowey: i think maybe there were 10 of us, something like that. very small part of the population. host: and you served as
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president of the student body there, as well. rep. lowey: no, i was president at scienceent body -- i was involved at mount holyoke. host: was there a singular event that sparked you to say, hey, i think i'm going to run for congress against a pretty popular republican? i do think well, that the fact that several friends came to me and said, we need better representation. in it -- and it is time for you to run for office. the president of the pta was active in the community, but a f. and ahe name of sam
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couple of others said, i think it is time for you to run. my husband and i thought about it. partner inys been my these positions. i think we were going on a vacation for a week, and we came back and said, i'm going to run. host: what was that first campaign like? rep. lowey: first of all, my husband was very active. [laughter] i remember knocking on doors in mount vernon. to close theut door on me, because they did not know who i was. my husband would say, you really should get to know nita lowey. she will be a great congresswoman. he was very active in the campaign. he took time off. and i was everywhere, at train stations, bus stops, knocking on doors, talking to various leaders of all groups.
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it was a very, very busy time. host: does the outgoingness required of a politician come naturally to you? rep. lowey: oh, absolutely. i've had a great life. i've never been bored. i've been blessed with a wonderful husband. i have three great children. eight grandchildren. i have seven -- have been blessed. -- i have been blessed. and just because i am retiring does not mean that i am slowing down. there are many issues that need -- that need attention. i probably will continue to be involved. comfortable with this decision. i have done a great deal to be chair of the appropriations committee, it was such an honor, and frankly, one of the great privileges has been interacting with my colleagues.
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pelosi andnancy others and i came into the congress around the same time, give or take a few years. we became good friends on the worked together and we fought on issues together. and i know that i am leaving in the congress real fighters and many women and many good men who will continue my efforts. host: speaker pelosi and congresswoman delora are two of your close friends in the congress. who will serve you close to after all these years -- who else are you close to after all these years? rep. lowey: let me just say, you are going to get me into difficulty. i have many that i have worked with -- many dear friends that i have worked with. we will continue that relationship, i know. host: what about on the republican side? rep. lowey: sure, kay granger
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and i have worked together on appropriations. cole has been a good friend. i have worked with so many republicans in my committee work and as chair of the committee. and i know we will stay in touch and continue to work together. host: how has the congress changed, in your view, over the last 32 years? rep. lowey: well, first of all, i personally as a woman never felt that i was held back. the inequities, the men and so evident as i reflect on my time in washington. in fact, it was just assumed that men were men. husband would attend
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, and there spouses was lipstick in the welcoming back for him. there wasn't even a ladies room in the house until i think 2011. when i came to congress in 1989 there were only 31 women in the legislative branch. today there are 127. and i must say, i am so with thisso impressed freshman class of women. they bring new perspectives, new voices. they come from so many different backgrounds. they are an extraordinary group of women. peter: how important is seniority when it comes to being a member of congress? i'm just thinking,
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when i began, seniority was very important. those whow, there are value seniority if they want to run something in the committee, they do so. and in fact, when i became chair of the appropriations committee, i challenged seniority as well. canmembers who work hard, get things done, regardless of their seniority. one personthere was before me who decided not to run. another person. i challenged seniority when i ran for chair. aner: nita lowey, as appropriations member over the year, the appropriations committee has changed a little bit too over the years, but was
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it tough to get on the appropriations committee to begin with? , it wasey: i must admit not for me. said icame to me and think you should be on appropriations. i was recommended for appropriations and i got on. peter: when earmarks went away, was that a blow to how you legislate? rep. lowey: yeah. and i want to say i was in a onition where i was welcomed appropriations and ways and means. difficulty for me was which one to choose. but it was not that hard, vastse i have such a number of issues that i'm interested in, and
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appropriations really gives you the opportunity to help the most people, to work on a huge range of issues. wasthat is why, for me, it very easy to determine that i wanted to be on appropriations rather than ways and means. althoughmeans issues, obviously as chair of appropriations i work with all the committees. peter: so, earmarks. rep. lowey: yes? peter: when they went away, did that change how you legislate? rep. lowey: um, let me think about that. did it change the way i legislated? uh, hmm. think even when we did not have the earmarks, members were able to determine where they put
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their efforts, decide on their priorities, and fund a whole range of issues without specifically earmarking them. but many people felt that earmarks made it easier to pass bills. i agree with that. but that was the deal with many members. peter: so, nita lowey, over the years, has the congress become more polarized? we see less votes where there is partisan crossover, and more artisan votes. -- more partisan votes. rep. lowey: unfortunately, yes. remember,ely -- now, i am a democrat, and democrats are individuals with their own
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minds. and i have to work hard to get all democrats to vote and support issues that are critical to me on appropriations. the republican side, i do think they follow the leader. follow trump. make sure that they are taking a vote in accordance with his wishes. i think if you look at president trump's actions with mitch side,ell on the senate they certainly don't have an appetite to cooperate and compromise. but on our side of the aisle, we do work together, and i have been able to get a lot of
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republican support for the issues i care about. peter: nita lowey, when -- rep. lowey: i want to say one other thing about it. i think bipartisanship is essential on appropriations. now, everyone has their own values, their own minds, their own issues. but as chair of appropriations, i work hard to reach out to democrats, to republicans, and to try and get bipartisan support for these key issues. yorker, didas a new you know president trump prior to him coming to the white house? rep. lowey: not really. events,met him at large but i did not have any personal relationship with him. at all. you haveer the years, been written about as a potential senate candidate from
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new york. why did you never run for that? rep. lowey: that is such a good question. i remember when people were encouraging me to run for the senate, i traveled around the state. i met more county chairs, activists. i also remember calling my husband on the phone. i think i was in syracuse, or some other place upstate. love what i do in the house. i love funding the issues that i care about." on, it time i was working think it was pandemic preparedness. i really loved being in the house. i love being the chair. and i certainly loved being chair of appropriations.
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and if i left to join the senate, i probably would not become the first female chair of the appropriations committee. peter: you have mentioned your husband, stephen lowey, many times. what does he do for a living? rep. lowey: my husband is a retired attorney. he has been retired, i think three years, four years, five years. i forget. [laughter] but he is very wise, and keeps up with all the news. and most of our discussion at the dinner table is about government, politics, democrats, republicans. me, been a great advisor to and a good friend, in addition to being a lovely husband. peter: do you two ever disagree on an issue? you would never believe anything i ever told you if i say no.
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[laughter] right? this interview would be wasteful if i said no. of course we do. but most of the time we do agree, and i usually can convince him, or he can convince me. own pointely have our of view, but we've been living together a long time. we have been married almost 60 years, i cannot even believe it. "new york times" every day. most of our tv is watching all the news programs. so we may have some differences on issues, but for the most part we see most issues the same way. peter: what is one of the biggest frustrations about being only one of 435 members of congress? i must tell you, i
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don't get frustrated. i don't get frustrated easily. and as chair of the appropriations committee, i work with all of my colleagues, and i don't get frustrated. this is a difficult time. i would rather be working with president biden rather than president trump. but it's a very diverse body. of course there are differences of opinion, even among democrats . and certainly between democrats and republicans. as chair of the committee, i have to understand the needs of each of my members, and we have to find common ground. and i usually do. peter: what are some of the issues that you have amplified over your career in congress?
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rep. lowey: hmm. oh, my goodness gracious. well, let me say, one of the inst memorable moments congress was going down to the world trade center and working afterover and rebuild september 11. and then again after hurricane sandy. huh. well, one of the most memorable moments will never forget, is marching over to the senate with some of my colleagues, and thatfying and insisting
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anita hill be allowed to testify in clarence thomas's nomination hearing. later, ihese years still try and fight for what is right. give me that question again. peter: what are some of the issues you have amplified? you have been very vocal about being pro-choice, you have mentioned a couple now as well. rep. lowey: oh, eyeah. well, i brought bert and ernie to the labor committee room. we made a big deal about pbs, .nd i was fighting to keep pbs i'm trying to think of what i did not say before. i probably talked about all the issues in the hudson valley,
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protecting the long island sound, cleaning it up, protecting and cleaning up the hudson river. i don't remember if i mentioned it before, the driving standard was a big a compliment. food allergy labeling. oh, this was very important. [indiscernible] oh my god. peter: who is that? rep. lowey: that is the dog. my son came to visit. what should i do to him? i have to close the door. maybe let the dog come up to see me. i don't have a dog anymore. but in any event, i am repeating myself. food allergy labeling, did i say that? peter: yes, ma'am. but one of the issues you have known for is being pro-choice. why is that important for you? rep. lowey: because, well, let me just say these other issues,
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because i am known for them as well, and then i will go back to choice. food allergy labeling. that saves lives. that is critical. i have been so honest with that. federalquity and medical research. the u.s. strategy for basic education, especially for girls around the world. office, in the foreign bill, my name is included in that. i was thrilled to go up into the mountains and meet with the women and fund health and a whole range of education issues for them. title x, international family planning. you want me to keep going? peter: no, you have given us several issues. but do go back to choice.
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why have you been so vocal? rep. lowey: because it is the right thing to do. very simple. it's the right thing to do. women should have control over their own lives, their own bodies. i have felt from the start, this is a decision that women have to make for themselves. a coupleta lowey, just of more questions. two presidential impeachments that you have been a part of as a member of congress, do they feel the same, do they feel different? rep. lowey: uh. huh. to think about that.
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peter: ok. rep. lowey: um. peter: tell you what, we can move on from there. say, iwey: i just must do think that the breach of trust under president trump was far more egregious. concernedery, very about the impact of this president, and even the time remaining, on the people of this country, men and women. i am very worried about it. peter: what is your advice to representative elect monday or representative-elect jones who is replacing you in the 17th district? rep. lowey: i met him for lunch, we had a lovely meeting. but he has to make decisions about the issues that he is
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passionate about. i wanted to be sure that there is a smooth transition, and i was there, and i will be there, and my staff is there to give him all the advice he needs. met with him and i took him to lunch, i just said, "this is the most extraordinary job you can never have. take advantage of the opportunity. think about who you are. think about the community. think about what you want to accomplish. and i know you will make the right decisions." itis a tough job because consumes you, but it's an extraordinary opportunity to help people. and even after 32 years, i love every minute and i have enjoyed working with my colleagues, i
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have enjoyed work as chairman, i have enjoyed an opportunity to get things done. and i have always said, "when an see a problem, you have obligation to do something about it." and i did that as pga president, and i have been doing it as a member of congress, and i can even do it more effectively as the chair. an opportunity to make a difference in people's lives, and that is what this job is all about. peter: and finally, representative lowey, when we did an exit interview with representative eliot engel, he said when we asked him who his friends were, he mentioned your name, nita lowey. is this a passing of the old guard? both of you were born before world war ii. two much younger members are
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coming into replace you both. rep. lowey: well, let me just say i have been honored to serve with my friend eliot engel these years. we have a great working relationship. and we are very lucky. we have similar priorities on the house foreign affairs committee. our districtseen change over the years. i have represented some of the people that he has represented. with eliotly district will continue to be served with distinction, and i know mine will as well. peter: representative nita lowey , chair of the appropriations committee in the house. thank you for joining us after 32 years in the house of representatives. rep. lowey:
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>> at 8:00 p.m. tonight on these division int on america with the heads of the naacp, the anti-defamation league, and the league for united latin american citizens. tv7:00 p.m. on c-span 2, the marks the 20th anniversary of in-depth with highlights from some of the authors who have appeared on the program. on c-span 3 at 8:00 p.m., american history tv looks at new york city's lower east side tenement museum and how immigrant families in the 19th and 20th centuries cope with poverty and crowded conditions. >> taking a look at the u.s. capitol on this christmas, a busy weekend congress leading up to today. the house and senate approved federal spending and covid relief measures.
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president trump is threatening to veto the spending bill for larger stimulus checks. the legislation calls for $600 while the president wants 2000 dollars. house democrats attempted to pass a bill increasing the size of the stimulus, only to be blocked by republicans. they plan to try again on monday. president trump vetoed the policy. failing to repeal 230 and the removal of confederate names for military installations. a vote to override that veto is expected in both chambers beginning in the house on monday. watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span 2. >> you are watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government. c-span was created by america's cable television companies in 1979. today, we are brought to you by these television companies who provide c-span to viewers as a
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public service. >> in her annual christmas message this year, britain's queen elizabeth acknowledged the work of the community and frontline health care workers during the covid-19 pandemic. the tradition of the royal christmas message dates back to 1932, with a radio address by george v. queen elizabeth made the first televised address in 1957. ♪


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