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tv   Washington Journal Robert Costa Discusses Congressional Reaction to...  CSPAN  January 3, 2017 12:51pm-1:07pm EST

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whether democrats can mobilize any opposition to any of those nominees like jeff sessions or rex tillerson to be secretary of state. >> well, tom curry, we appreciate you spending part of your busy morning on this new congress day with us here on the washington journal, walking through some of the new names and faces that all of us are going to see as part of the 115th congress. thank you. >> thank you. >> and now more from this morning's "washington journal" with a preview of the senate confirmation hearings for donald tru trump's cabinet nominees, set to begin next week. >> joining us here from canon house rotunda to talk more about that is robert costa, national political reporter with "the washington post." robert, who is up first next week? >> we're going to see a lot of different trump appointees come down and it is going to be a contentious fight. democrats want to make a real showdown on someone like congressman tom price of georgia, as they look ahead to
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the 2018 elections, they say, hey, price may have a fine biography, maybe a fine person for the job in terms of his resume, but we really need to make a stand on president obama's legacy. and also paying close attention to exxonmobil executive rex tillerson. again, with his biography, he's a voice -- former boy scout, eagle scout, he's seen as someone with sterling character, but people on both sides of the aisle, but his friendly relationship during his business time at exxonmobil with president vladimir putin of russia will make him a target and they'll say what can we draw out from tillerson to put trump under the gun when it comes to trump and the hacking issue. >> tom price up for health and human services secretary. >> democrats believe that they can delve deeply into tillerson's experiences with putin. and they want to really paint him, my sources tell me, as
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someone who san ally of putin and tries to raise a red flag on human rights issues, and really also on global order. is it really the right thing for the united states to have a closer relationship with russia. i haven't heard details about exactly what the democrats have on tillerson, but he's someone they're doing a deep dive on because he's a top target. >> any concern from republicans about some of these nominees? >> there was initially a lot of concern about tillerson. he didn't have relationships on capitol hill. there was a concern he would make the russia issue flare up. but because tillerson has been endorsed by people like bob gauge, former defense secretary, condoleezza rice, former secretary of state, they have spoken highly of him in conversations with the trump transition, there is a sense that tillerson has the gravitas, the stature to survive the hearings. >> what about senate democrats? which ones are likely to be open to these nominees from president-elect trump? >> well, we have seen senator heitkamp in conversations with the trump transition team about
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a potential cabinet slot. looks like she's not going to be the agriculture secretary. but if you're a 2018 democrat, you're up for re-election in a couple of years, you may be more open to trump and his appointees and working with him on an issue like infrastructure, senator schumer said so much as that. but the problem for the democrats right now, talking to many of them, is they're under intense pressure from their own party. their base, the left, to not work with trump, because he's seen as so politically toxic that even if you do want to work with him on certain nominees or go with him, when it comes to his nominees, you'll see a flittering of bipartisan support, but something like the supreme court, which is going to be coming down in a few weeks or months, that will be very much down party lines. >> and is that the timeline that you're hearing about a supreme court nominee and why hasn't mr. trump, do you know, put a name forward or said that this will be maybe a short list of nominees? >> part of the reason is he
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feels he's already put forward a short list of sorts with these initial lists and crafted and held with the heritage foundation, the conservative think tank and the federalist society, a conservative legal group, so there has been a list of very conservative justices from around the country, from different courts, that trump has floated. we expect that the washington post to hear a nominee for in ey february to get the process started. i know senate majority leader mitch mcconnell, who devoted much of his legislative experience to the courts, is very interested in getting that moving. >> do you expect that on january 20th, when president-elect donald trump is sworn in that his cabinet will mostly be in place or not? >> no. they're still going to have many hearings to go. you look at someone like senator sessions, who is up for attorney general, democrats also want to make sure they draw out sessions and even though -- even if there is a scheduled initial hearing or two, there may be more
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pressure from democrats to have more hearings before they come to a vote. but mcconnell, he wants to move these things through, knows trump has a certain pace, wants to work at, a fast pace, and if he doesn't get there, there will be a lot of frustration at the white house. >> you mentioned objection to tom price, the current member of the house, who was a budget committee chairman, the pick for hhs secretary, do usually members of congress have an easier time through the nominations -- through the nomination process? >> they do. i still think based on my reporting that price does actually have a very good shot at getting confirmed. same with senator sessions. if you're part of the club, here at the capitol, and know the players, and have a certain profile, a reputation, that's more than enough unless there is some kind of major scandal to get you through. but they also know that price has a real depth when it comes to health care policy and they want to make sure that even if
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he's going to be confirmed, they get him on the record, in these hearings, talking about exactly what he's going to do to not only repeal the affordable care act, but to replace it. i heard price wants to have a certain system of tax credits to come in and people can use to purchase health care, and we heard a lot of different republican plans on c-span and elsewhere over the years about what republicans are thinking, but they want to make sure price is kind of put on the stand, not a trial, not a legal proceeding, they want to make sure they can in a sense prosecute his politics on health care. >> we heard the same from a viewer earlier this morning saying she wants democrats to really ask some tough questions of scott pruett. oklahoma attorney general who has been picked to take over as the epa. what are you hearing about his nomination? >> scott pruett in washington today, he's going to be meeting with senator inhofe of oklahoma, and inhofe, as we know, is one of the most hard-line critics of climate change, and environmental regulations, and so you have in pruett someone who comes from the conservative side of the aisle, and who has the ties to -- the real climate
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change skeptics. and to the oil and gas industry, comes from oklahoma, himself, pruett is someone who has been welcomed by the trump people and the trump voters because he's seen as someone who will tear apart regulations. but in the same way that price is being kind of zeroed in on by democrats because he'll go after a signature obama law, pruett is also seen as someone who is going to damage and almost cripple the regulations president obama has put forward on the environment, and democrats want to make sure they mack make a fuss about that before it all goes away. >> trade, he ran heavily on that issue. and doing something about nafta and potentially ripping up this transpacific partnership deal that is pending. today, we hear that the trump administration would like to have robert lighthighser as trade representative. what do you know? >> he'll be part of a broader
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trade team. i'm told that the key person is trump. he wants to personally negotiate trade deals, working closely with wilbur ross, his nominee for commerce secretary, and then lighthousers apart of the trade negotiating team and gary koen as an economic adviser at the white house. trade will be a peculiar issue for the trump white house because so often presidents delegate trade. they have their ustr focus on it. but trump made it such an onus of his campaign that we're going to see him i think intimately involved in crafting the trade deals. as much as the ustr has been an important post, it remaim remai but there are so many people above you who have say. >> what is up first for the agenda for the senate? it will be dictated by what the house does. >> i think the senate is going to work closely with the house. i know the house has a huge stack of bills that they're going to send over very quickly.
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and there is also an acknowledgement that president-elect trump wants to sign a lot of things. he wants to be seen as a man of action. but the senate knows that things can only move so quickly, so i think while regulations and different judicial posts will be filled quickly, tax reform, replacing the affordable care act, these things take time and one meeting i'm paying attention to is wednesday, tomorrow, vice president pence elect will be visiting the capitol to meet with republicans. i think he'll talk about expectations. as much as republicans want to move quickly, major legislation takes time, it takes hearings, it takes a lot of different input, and you want to try to get some bipartisan support. and that just can't happen in early february. >> and while that's happening, the president, the current president, president obama is going to be meeting with house democrats, senate democrats, to talk about republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the affordable care act. >> this is an important moment for president obama. he needs to buck up his own troops. they lost the majority in
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congress. a lot of democrats are tempted by something like infrastructure, not just senator schumer, but other democrats from the rust belt, the midwest, they say our highways are crumbling. maybe trump will offer us some dollars, maybe we can work with him. and president obama will see what kind of message does he have, will he encourage them to work with trump on some fronts and not be obstructionists. there is such a need in the democratic party also for preservation of what president obama has done. and i think you'll see many democrats spurred on by this obama conversation and speech to be in protect mode. >> well, let's hear what our viewers have to say about this. we have been asking all of you, your priorities for this 115th congress. tim in wilson, north carolina, independent. good morning. you're on the air with robert costa of "the washington post." >> caller: good morning. please give me a little time like you did the other callers.
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but this is very important. and it really scares me. our democracy is being lost. a lot of people's votes are not being counted. that's what kept bernie from the primary for the democrats. and they almost didn't get trump in because of all of these laws. i don't understand why we don't have a simple system where everyone's vote counts, one person, one vote. it only has been two times in the past where a person got the majority of the vote and still lost the election. one of those times was george bush. and those two times was the worst presidents we had. and now we have donald trump in the same way. we got russia who is probably elected him through that same system. if we didn't have that system, russia wouldn't have been able to do what they did. >> tim, let me -- let us pick up on that point. robert costa. >> thanks for the call and
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comment. i think -- a few days ago i had a conversation on the phone with reverend jesse jackson, and he brought up this point about voter disenfranchisement. he thinks that enough republicans in different states were suppressing the vote in his words and what he meant was so many republican legislatures across the country had different voting laws enacted in last decade to make sure voting irregularities did not happen. but people like reverend jackson, other democrats, they say, this is really suppressing the vote and they saw it up close in their view in the 2016 race. they're urging democrats in the coming months to make sure they fight not only here in congress, but in the state legislatures. >> and will this issue continue on in the 115th congress over the electoral college versus the popular vote? >> look at president-elect tweets in the most recent days. he's still litigating the election. he won the election. but he's talking about how he won it, and how well he won it. but an appetite for this popular vote reform, to have some kind
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of removal of the electoral college, i don't see that happening. republicans on capitol hill are quite content that they have won the white house. they have both chambers. and this idea they're going to push for a popular vote, i think that's a high hope for some people in this current climate in washington. >> and republican control for the first time since 2007, controlling the legislative and the executive branch. carl in travers city, michigan, democrat. >> caller: good morning, greta. good morning, robert. >> good morning. >> caller: greta, happy new year. my best to you and all the folks at c-span for all they do. we really appreciate it out here. i wanted to tell you i really like your little interviews that you do with the incoming newly elected folks. but i wondered if i might offer some suggestions for questions, just four quick ones? >> all right, carl, make it quick. >> caller: i would like you to ask them, who do you owe, how much did it cost to get you
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elected, where did the money come from, and what issues do you expect to have to respond to donors on. thank you. >> let's pick that up, robert costa, for the new members of congress, how they got here. >> well, so many of them come from states and districts where they have some industry that is the king industry. and if it is in the midwest, it could be corn. if it is in the west, it could be oil. and so you always see this with members of congress. they're not maybe necessarily fighting just for those industries, but they see those industries as crucial to what they're doing in congress and so that's always been part of the way congress has functioned, especially in the post war period. you look at congress as a place of different interests as well as different districts. i think one thing to pay attention to, i think the caller brings up relevant points, in the last few days, last night, actually, house republicans voted to get rid of this independent or to curb the power of this independent
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congressional ethics office, that works in coordination with the ethics committee. the reason is the office of congressional ethics was set up so that the ethics committee, run by members of congress, didn't have full say over congressional ethics regulations and oversight. and it was nice -- and the view of the congress, for last few years, it has been nice to have that separate body to come up with its own conclusions. but that process has been very -- >> patrick leahy, where is that patrick leahy? >> all right. sticking with him, huh? >> you're a good man. >> happy new year. >> right there. we're going to re-enact the oath, okay?

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