tv Newsmakers CSPAN October 23, 2011 10:00am-10:30am EDT
>> this week on news makers, we are joined by senator tom harkin. two reporters to help us. if i could just begin with a first question. you've unveiled a new education bill. it would reform the no child left behind requirement that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. what does your bill require instead? >> the most important thing about the bill is it to read -- and gets rid of no child left behind. it has not worked and it has been a terrible burden on schools. it replaces it with a focus on the lowest performing schools. in the past, the federal government tried to do everything. cover all the schools. we do not have the resources to do that and it did not work very well.
we have made the federal footprint smaller, but more powerful. we will focus on the bottom five%, below is performing schools. and the bottom 5% of the highest achievement gap schools in the country. that is where going to focus our federal intervention. then we said to the states, okay, we will partner with you. you know how the other 95%. here is some accountability standards that need to be mad for title -- met for title 1 money. here are some of the things that you have to meet, but you decide how to do it. you decide how do it. it is more of a partnership, i think, with the federal government and the state government. i believe it is going to be a
much better approach than we have had in the past. >> you have then saying quite frequently, this is a bipartisan bill, not everyone is going to be pleased with everything in it. this week, 21 organizations came out against it, arguing that it does not have teeth. how difficult is that going to be moving forward these education groups have really been at the forefront? >> like any compromise, not everyone likes everything that is a net. if i could be the dictator, i would have written a different bill myself. but i think once the groups look at the bell and considered the alternative, of staying with ayp or relying upon the administration's waiver program -- a lot of what the administration wants to do is in
our bill. the problem with the waivers is that will not hit every state. maybe we figured 8 to 20 states will be able to take advantage of the waivers. our bill covers the nation. we do have good accountability and therefore the states. yes, i realize we did not get the performance targets. that is a compromise we had to make. we did not give performance targets, but we have other ways with dealing -- wooden shoring -- we had in shoring of that school's advanced and meet certain goals. by allowing them to use money that we put into a tidal one entitled to. -- title 2.
they can use those monies for those purposes. we have carved out and allow that. all of the groups would like to have something different. each would like to have something different. when they look at it as a whole and consider the alternative, they both recognize this is a good compromise. i have been in this business for a long time. i know that individual groups will continue to push for every little thing that they want. that is the lobbying pressure that you get on any large bill like this. at the end, they will be happy with what we have. >> senator, what kind of time frame are you looking at? if you were going to legislate, you have to move as quickly as you can. where do you go from here? and you think this bill can pass the senate and the house and can be signed into law this
congress? >> first of all, there are a lot of naysayers that said we could not get it out of committee. it took a lot longer than i had hoped. that is the legislative process. that is the process of reaching a compromise. we do have a good bipartisan -- we got it on a 15 to 7 votes out of committee. i am hoping we can get it to the senate floor. with may be some structure that will allow amendments, relic -- relevant amendments to the bill. with some time limits. we're working on that right now. i have been working with senator alexander. we have gone to our respective leaders and talked about this, about having some structure. it is a good bipartisan bill.
>> any idea when it will hit the floor? >> i do not know. i do not run that. i am talking to harry reid and others about this. i am hoping we can have this on the floor before thanksgiving, but i know that a lot of other things are happening. the super committee is happening, the appropriations bills. i am hopeful sometime before christmas, we will have this on the floor. the sooner the better. there is a dynamic at work here. schools want to get out from underneath ayp. that affects republicans and democrats both. there should be a high comfort level, i think, for republicans, especially. this is a bipartisan bill and it has been hammered out for tough negotiations with the people that really no education.
-- that really know education. i think that gives a comfort level. hopefully, my involvement has given some comfort to democrats, too. >> the mark but still got off to a rough start wed senator ran paul. given the partisan atmosphere in congress right now, do you expect republicans to try similar strategies? >> there is always one or two that want to do something. in the end, we were to adopt. senator paul objected and it cost us one day. we worked out with him and we made a reasonable compromise.
we debated the them, we voted on them. he agreed to let us report the bill out, which we did last night. we will have a one-day hearing on the bill before it goes to the floor. he wanted that, not a bad idea. quite frankly, i think it might be a good idea. >> another vote on the president's jobs proposal. a scaled-back version. it did not get any republican votes. what is the next step for this bill? what will happen now? is there any chance to get any republican votes? >> we need a jobs bill to get through. that is the single most important thing we could do right now.
my bill is important, but the single most important thing is to get a jobs bill through. they would not expect the overall jobs bill, so we tried to piece it out. a little bit here, a little bit there. hopefully, they will agree to vote on one of those. all we can do is bring it up. if the republicans want to filibuster, and we do not have the 60 votes, we only have 53 democrats. republicans do not want a jobs bill, we will not have one. that is the fact of it. >> and event? -- and then? >> that is a sad thing. 25 million people are out of work.
you would think people would realize and recognize that if we can pass a jobs bill and start putting people back to work, this will get the wheels going again. these people would start to have an income, it will put private sector businesses to work. if you are building new schools, the federal government does not build it. some private construction company does. they hire people and they start paying people. that will save us tons of money and a lot of pain and anguish for people in this country. the republicans, they have dug in their heels and will not allow us to even vote on it. >> if you do not get a jobs bill, how do you avoid getting blamed for not passing anything on jobs? >> democrats are not in charge. the house is run by republicans.
in the senate, we have 53 democrats. the system that was set up says we need 60 votes to do anything. >> how do you explain that to the american people? >> what more can you do to the american people than to tell the truth? the truth is we have 53 democrats. the system is set up so you need 60 and we cannot change the system because of the rolls. if republicans will not let us bring it up, there is nothing we can do about it other than keep trying. the american people are smarter than a lot of people think. you know, i think the american people are beginning to understand that you have a total block by the republicans in a senate to to even bring up a jobs bill. they can amend it, they can offer amendments, but they will not even let us do that. the american people are catching
on to that. >> cutoffs electoral map fort senate democrats. -- a tough electoral map for senate democrats. >> the american people are sick and tired of this do nothing congress. we're doing nothing because the republicans in the senate to block us at every turn. from trying to bring up something. that is why i am so hopeful on my education bill. at least i have a compromise. that is for the future of our country. that is for the future of our kids. what is important now is the jobs bill. >> going back to your bill, the house make up is different than the senate make up. have the top two speaker banner
-- having talked to john boehner at all? >> i have not spoken personally to john boehner. but i have spoken to congressman klein. and congressman mel laird -- miller. we have met with them. we have talked about a path for words and how we move this ahead. quite frankly, i think there is goodwill on all sides to get this bill moved through. hopefully, one good thing about the speaker is that he was on our committee, the education committee for years. he knows this issue very well. >> will the rally the house for the bill? >> my hope is that to he will look at our bill and if we can
bring it up and the senate and succeed in the senate, i think that will instruct a lot of house members. >> having talked to senator alexander about getting his leadership to cooperate? one of the reasons why you stopped being in leadership was because he wanted to work on a bipartisan basis. an education bill was the top of this list. >> senator alexander came up with a very good idea on how we would handle this on the floor. i do not know if i am at liberty to talk about right now. i thought it was quite ingenious. i know he has spoken to the leadership and not have spoken to the leadership. hopefully, there is a path
forward. >> is there a way to get around procedural hurdles? >> yes. >> anymore? >> i am just hopeful that it works. [laughter] we are working together. the republicans on our committee and democrats are trying to work together and get this done. but there have been a lot of media reports about the super committee. the super committee cannot even agree on a baseline. are you confident that the super committee will come out with something substantive? >> i guess i can say it again. no, i do not think so. i think we will look at moving ahead on the sequestered routes beginning next year. >> automatic cuts. >> yes.
we get to shape them in the senate and house. we can maneuver those around. quite frankly, that might be the better path to take them with the super committee could possibly come up with. i do not have any fear of moving ahead without the super committee involvement. in fact, in some ways, i think we might be better off if we did not have something from the super committee. and moved ahead through the normal legislative process. >> does that mean committee chairman get more of a say over how to shape those cuts? >> absolutely. when you have more of a say so as the committee chairman, you are buying into it, and you have some ownership. if it is just 12 people making the decision, nobody else has ownership. if you go through the process
and committee chairs and committee members did some involvement, you have some ownership. it has a much better chance of succeeding. >> condi -- on the class act, are you disappointed with the decision? >> we have talked about it a lot with kathleen sibelius and the past. i am sad about it because i think it was a good attempt to meet a dire national need that is only going to get worse. long-term care. people are living longer, we know that family structures -- long-term care has -- is going to become even more needed. we need some way of funding yet.
-- funding it. the problem it had to be financially sound for 75 years. i always thought that was too long. i thought if we had it for even 30, 40 years, we would be fine. and then adjust it as he went along. 75 years, i think -- we still have to solve the problem. we had a problem and we have to solve it. we cannot sweep it under the rug and the lager. the need for long-term care -- the only long-term care program we have in america is medicaid. cal didn't medicaid? you have to sell all of your assets -- how do you get medicaid? you cannot have in common, some people who are just moderately -- they did not qualify for
long-term care. it is something that we're going to have to pay attention to and salt in the next few years. >> you have been a friend to organized labor in your career. the think that president obama has been as labor friendly as -- do you think that president obama has been as labor friendly as he campaigned on? >> that is a big disappointment for me. we needed some reform in our labor laws. i worked a very hard on that issue for the better part of a year. >> did the white house push hard enough? priorityhite house's was getting a health care bill through. the priority was getting a health care reform bill through. it should not have taken a year.
but it did. that crowd out everything else. i had teed up for a labor bill to make it easier and level the playing field for organized labor in terms of organizing. i felt i had the support for it. i felt that i have the votes for it. i could not get it up because health care was always there. we voted on health care on christmas eve. remember that? i was told, ok, when you come back, january, february, we will get your labor built up. then they had the election. that changed the dynamics and that was the end of that. >> talking about the national labor relations committee, how
do you see that progressing in the future now that membership has dropped back down to three members? >> this is another way that republicans are trying to keep us from doing anything. the national labor relations board does a good job. i mean, they work hard. if we do not have the members on the boards, they cannot even act. that is not fair. that is not a way to run things. we need to have members of the national labor relations board, but they have refused to let us bring them up. >> you were elected to the house in 1974. your term expires in 2014. that is a long time to be in washington. will you run again?
>> i am thinking about it. thank god i am healthy. i like being in the senate. i like legislating. i like the give-and-take of debt. getting this education bill through for me was wonderful. it is moving the ball forward. and i like it. i've always loved legislating. ever since i got the ada throat. i love doing things like that. -- ada through. >> if 2012 comes and goes and you have lost more seats in the senate and republicans take over, how much would that way on your decision? >> this is all speculation.
i do not think we will lose the senate. i think the democrats will continue to keep the senate. quite frankly, with some of the dynamics i see out there, i think democrats could take -- could retake the house of representatives. i think people who voted the bums out in the last election are now saying, well, we did not want this. there will be much more of an even approach. in that case, i think democrats can do very well in the house of representatives. i did not answer your question. i thought that was a nice diversion. >> what do you see on the house side that others might not be aware of? >> the polling data. looking at some of the districts where we have done well in the past. you look at some of the polling
data and people are not happy with what is going on. in many cases, they are not happy about their individual member of congress. especially those that have been adamant in not doing anything and stopping everything. i think there is a lot of opportunities there for democrats to take back those seats. >> tom harkin, thank you. we appreciate your time. >> thank you for having me. >> we are back with our to reporters. loren, the senator said that to the education bill could get to the senate floor. there might be a bipartisan path forward. the first time we have heard him say that. he mentioned that senator alexander has found a -- an interesting way to move the bill forward. he would not elaborate, that was.
buddy said they have been -- he said they think they might be able to do this. this will happen to happen after november 8. they have agreed to have an additional hearing november 8 to get rand paul on board. i guess it'll have to save. he did not give many details. >> there needs to be a way to put it on the senate floor, bob. both sides can offer amendments, but they have to be relevant amendments. does this sound familiar to you? >> i think is going to be challenging. clearly, they have some type of deal. it is very fascinating. this is something that is moving on capitol hill. no indication -- he said that he has not spoken to speaker john
boehner. it is fascinating that there is a bipartisan legislation moving. >> on the house side, are house republicans looking for something braque -- bipartisan that they can do? anything? >> they say they are. but what they're actually going to do -- they could feel the pressure from dissident. -- from the senate. >> as term -- the tricky thing here is that the house has now a larger group of tea party conservatives. they had a difficult time rallying some of his freshman members. we will have to wait and see. >> how did the two bills differ?
>> would this senate has done is created a very broad, 868-page bill, that tries to tackle everything that was broken in all -- in no child left behind. the house has tried ap's new strategy. so far, -- a piecemeal strategy. they are taking a smaller approach, trying to fix the most burdensome problems. it is a very different process. >> may be greeted republicans are in a tough spot. if they clear this up through the senate, it could be used as political ammunition. i would imagine that john boehner and mitch mcconnell are having a couple of conversations. >> i would say so. and then there is the jobs legislation. democratic leaders decided to
break up president obama's jobs built into smaller portions. it did not pass. >> a smaller portion. democrats have been very frustrated. not being able to crack that gop unity. senator harkin indicated that he is not very hopeful and made the bold prediction that the democrats will retain the senate. >> on december committee, he said it would be better -- on the super committee, he said it would be better if the super committee does not reach some sort of deal. then he gets a crack at these automatic spending cuts. >> what happens next if the super committee does not have any final recommendations, you get different answers from a different people.
it could be a bit of a mass of the super committee does not come up with anything. >> thank you for being part of "newsmakers." [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> you can see newsmakers again with tom harkin at 6:00 eastern here on c-span. next, the contenders on key figures to have run for president and lost. today, the life of wendell willkie. after that, tim geithner testifies before a senate small business committee hearing on the u.s. economy. >> from indiana, the life of