tv Newsmakers CSPAN April 12, 2015 10:00am-11:01am EDT
sunday. "newsmakers" is next. have a great week ahead. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> next, "newsmakers" with dr. robert wall, president of the american medical association. then we show you profiles of some of the newest members of the house of representatives beginning with representative steve russell of oklahoma and ruben gallego. >> dr. robert watt our guest on newsmakers. he is the resident of the american medical association joining us from chicago. me introduce the reporters asking questions. gnome leavy hovers -- covers health care policy for the los angeles times.
nice to see you. melissa attias is making her first visit to newsmakers. dr. wall, we can -- we start our program about the expected consideration of what is called a doc fix. i know your organization does not prefer that term but i am sure many c-span viewers have heard that in washington parlance. tell us what this issue is. dr. wah: we are talking about sustainable growth rate which has been in place for a long time. it was originally passed in 1997. it was thought to be an effort to control the costs of the medicare program. it resulted in about 17 patches over the last 10 or 12 years. each one of those paid for the one year period, not the
committed interest, like a credit card, on past things. by kicking the can down the road each year, congress accumulated interest. now april 15, if the senate does not act, there will be a 21% cut in physician payments, which is the acute related interest of all these years of kicking the can down the road. i want to talk about the term doc fix. as a physician, i am biased against that, primarily because it is not doctors that need to be fixed, it is medicare that needs to be fixed. we are searching for a fix in medicare that will stabilize the program for the future. the term doc fix has been picked up by journalists. whenever i get a chance i try to correct it. it is really medicare that needs to be fixed. host: one of the implications of the payment program is not adjusted is that fewer doctors
may take medicare patients? dr. wah: yes. if doctors are faced with a 20 1% cut in their payments from the medicare program, it will be more challenging for them to continue to see medicare patients. if that happens, patients will have a hard time finding doctors that can take care of them. they may have to drive further or call more doctors offices and it will just ea more challenging environment for patients to find the care they need. host: gnome leavy. noam: i think it is fair to say that be put -- the presumption is that the summit -- the senate will act. i know you say it is by april 15. the smart money is a will be later than that. can you talk further about what is in the package? what are some of the changes envisioned in the way medicare pays physicians? it is fair to say they are substantial. dr. wah: right.
before i go i want to point out that this program we are talking about in eliminating the sgr not only impacts medicare patients but i have served 23 years little under in the u.s. navy. the tri-care program that covers the service people and their family members is also impacted by the sgr. by law, the tri-care program has to follow the same rules as the health care -- medicare program. we are not only talking about medicare, we are also talking tri-care and military. to your specific question, yes. though the headline is about the sgr illumination in this bill, there is more than just the elimination in the sgr. it is in place a number of programs and policies that will offer us as physicians and the entire medicare program to take
better care of the medicare and tricare patients who are our responsibility. it harmonizes some of the many programs in the centers for medicare and medicaid, such as -- such that we often have to report the same information multiple times slightly differently now. by harmonizing programs, you will d keep -- decreased the initiative burden on coming reports. your port one and medicare can use information multiple times. it we authorize the chip program for children. though we are talking medicare and tricare patients primarily this bill will provide additional years of coverage for children under the chip program. that is another major component of the legislation. it also does a number of things i think will alleviate the uncertainty and therefore provide stability in the medicare program.
with the current system of patches at the last minute every year there is a high degree of uncertainty in physician offices where they do not know what their revenue will look like from medicare. it looks like it will be 21% down now, or it may be the same or a small increase. that does not allow a physician's office to plan or innovate or make the kind of changes they would like to improve the care of their patients. >> you mentioned that there have been 17 short-term patches for this. last year, everyone was optimistic that there may be a permanent exit when the committees came together and agreed on the policy parameters to it again got kicked over. when did you realize this year that it could happen? dr. wah: you bring up a good point. last year, both houses of congress, the three committees of jurisdiction, both sides of the aisle came together in a
very collegial way and hammered out a policy that would lead to the elimination of the sgr improvement to the stability of the medicare program. that is a major step in any legislative process. getting the policy hammered out with a key step in progressing forward. unfortunately, they did not pass it last year. we felt encouraged by the fact they made all that progress of coming together on the policy aspects. the window opened again this year for them to complete the journey, which is where they are now. we are pleased to see the house passed hr2 with more that 300 votes, which is suspect -- which is a spectacular achievement. 392 votes for this ale. it shows the overwhelming degree
of support and providing stability in medicare for our patients eliminating sgr, and improving care in the future. when i was talking about payment reform in the white house president obama also stated he was in favor of the legislation. he is awaiting the bill to come to his desk. he will sign it. we are very encouraged about these signs. the passage in the house, the president announcing he is waiting or the legislation. -- for the legislation. noam: i know you and many of the leaders of the house had hoped the senate would actually act 10 days ago, before they left for their easter break. as you know, there was difficulty in getting a not senators to upgrade -- to upgrade to bring the bill quickly. one of the objections was that of this ease of legislation is not technically paid for. it adds to the deficit.
a number of conservative republicans and groups had said at a time when washington ought to be focused on the debt, we should not be doing anything that adds to the deficit. i know there are efforts to overcome that in the senate next week. that remains a concern for quite a number of lawmakers. what do say to those who say that this is not there, to simply load up more debt to pay doctors differently? dr. wah: i think there is a lot to the projections out there on how much this will impact the deficit or the debt. i see a lot of positive things that will save money over time. as we keep patients healthier and provide better care and they have better outcomes in their health and a more cost efficient and cost-effective way, the overall system saves money. this legislation was crafted over hard work by the -- by
diligent people, to say that they want to increase cost efficiency and the care of patients that we will see in the long term. the current process with these 17 patches, we have spent $170 billion to perpetuate a problem everyone agrees we need to eliminate. that is not money eight best spent either, to spend money on those 17 patches. if you want to do the fiscally correct thing, we have to stop perpetuating a problem that all of us agree we do not want. we have to do it in a way that is probably going to be a compromise on all sides. we have to hammer out a policy and piece of legislation that everyone can live with and support. melissa: there are expected to be democrats to push for amendments in the senate.
for example, if they want another four years for the children's health insurance program versus the two years included in the bill now if any of these amendments are adopted and there is a possibly devote, how concerned are you that it could unravel? dr. wah: we are big believers in momentum. things moving forward is always a good thing. we recognize the senate has of the prerogative and will exercise that to look at the legislation and proposed amendment as necessary. our main focus is we get this legislation are crossed the finish line before the april 15 deadline, when this huge cut will happen to physician practices and impact the care of our medicare patients out there. we recognize there are a lot of processes in washington that have to be gone through, but we do not want to lose sight of the big goal, to pass this
legislation by april 15. noam: i would like to talk about a particular part of this legislation that deals with how patients are cared for and how doctors do their job and what it means for patients. you alluded to this earlier. there has long been a concern of what our current system of paying physicians for every piece of work they do. a fee for service. a lot of people think it is inefficient and creates the wrong incentives for physicians to do more and not think about the outcomes, but to think about what sorts of things they are doing for patients. can you talk a little about what is in this legislation to address those concerns and whether or not the things in there are adequate to take medicare's system of paying doctors to the next level? to a place where the program is really catalyzing --
categorizing the changes that people think ought to be made in the health care system to better care for patients. dr. wah: i think of things we are talking about here are things that have been demonstrated to potentially work in improving health outcomes of our patients and decreasing the expense of our patients. all this talk of payment form to me is unbalanced. i want to talk delivery reform. how do i deliver care to my patients that has the highest outcome of their health in the most cost efficient way. talking about payment seems out of order by recognize the two are intertwined and have to be discussed together. some of the things we have seen our patient centered homes. more care coordination. will refocus more on the patient rather than the deceased part of the patient. see the patient as a whole.
there has been a lot of -- the legislation talks about supporting things like accountable care organizations. patient centered homes. more care coordination. these payment policies that will support those kind of innovations will lead to better outcomes at a lower caste -- lower cost to the overall system. those are the things in there now that we think will be positive for our patients and the longevity and stability of the medicare program. melissa: i would like to give it to another big health care issue that is one to be on the radar. the supreme court is expected to rule on a challenge, the subsidies under the health care law that are given to people in states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges. how do you think congress should be preparing for this and what
kind of concerns you have, representing the position community? dr. wah: congress needs to focus on getting this pass on april 15, first and foremost. the ama was out front and vocal about the need or more insurance for our patients. we knew and as doctors we see it. patients to do not have insurance coverage live sicker and die younger. we are in favor of more of our patients having insurance coverage. this summer with the supreme court decision, we want to make sure in whatever way possible, our patients have better coverage because with that they will have healthier lives and it will be less expensive to take care of them, because they will not come in at the last minute when they are very sick. they will be able to take care of themselves earlier and seek care earlier in the process. we have been upfront about that way before the discussion was as
widespread as it was in washington. we have already been talking about the need for our patients to have insurance through a public relations, talking about the voice of the uninsured. we tried to give a voice to those people who did not have insurance. noam: the ama did back the aca, though i know it was a controversial decision among your number share. as the politics of the implementation of the law has progressed, we have seen a divergent experiences among the states. some have expanded medicaid to provide the kind of coverage we were talking about. some have not. what is your feeling about the role that organized medicine can play in those states where there has not been advocated expansion
and where, potentially, you may have states electing not to do whatever is necessary to continue insurance subsidies provided by the aca, depending on what the supreme court does. what is your feeling about medical society in texas or louisiana or states that have strongly oppose the affordable care act, what is your feeling on organized medicine in those places? dr. wah: we, as physicians, we want to take the best possible care of our patients. we will advocate for policies that we believe lead to the best care and health for our patients. that may vary in different regions and segments, but at the top line what we are all interested in doing is finding a way to take the best possible care of our patients. how we advocate it is centered on that principle. how to keep patients healthy and a cost efficient way. noam: what does that mean from a
practical standpoint and some of the states i mentioned? dr. wah: it means that are going to be geographic variations on how people approach, depending on the nature of that geography. we are 18 -- one of the strengths of the country is we have a big spectrum of plurality. we do not all do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. it is a major strength we will always cherish. the way we approach the issue may be different but the goal is the same, to get the best possible care for our patients. but there will be different ways to approach which we have to recognize and support. i think any physician would say is to advocate on their behalf to make sure they are keeping them as healthy as possible and getting them as healthy as possible in the most cost efficient manner. i do not have a single answer
for that. i do not think there is a single way for that to happen. there are many different options and avenues to take that process too. as long as we remember our collective goal, there is a lot of power in the unity of effort. unity of effort can be powerful as my time in the military taught me. i think we will all be well served with unity of effort. melissa: beyond the medicaid expansion, there is a provision that expired at the end of last year that gave primary care doctors and medicaid additional money to get them up to the medicare rates. how doctors and -- i want to know how doctors and patients have been airing since that money owed -- since that money has gone away? dr. wah: i think that was a thing that was successful. we continue to see benefits from that expansion in the medicaid
system to come up to medicare levels. we are seeking to have that increase maintained and going forward. we did see more patients getting coverage and access to care they need. that was a benefit and we want to continue to see that happen. we recognize more legislation would have to come road to accomplish that. in terms of the impact of that not happening after the first year, it is too early to tell. but we did see a positive impact from that happening the last couple of years. noam: to follow-up, do you get any sense that there is any more openness to providing the funding that would be necessary to continue the augmented payments to physicians caring for medicaid patients? dr. wah: it is not a completely closed matter, at this point. i do not know there is one thing i can point to buy think it is
an ongoing discussion. we want to figure out a way that the system leads to the best possible health of our patients in a way that society can support it. melissa: another issue i believe you guys weighed in on is education for medical students after they graduated medical school. i know there was a call for feedback on how to shrink that program. how do you guys want that to go, and with the sgr built it is expected to be one of the only health care bills moving through congress, if you expect any opportunities to move through on that front? dr. wah: we are concerned about the fact we have rising graduate numbers out of medical schools but the place they go after they graduate is residency programs. those slots have stayed stable over the last several years.
we have more people graduating going into an area with the same number of slots that have not risen. we are worried that people will graduate and not have a place to train afterwards. we are exported as we are supportive of expanding gme -- we are supportive of expanding gme, to find a way to expand the number of gme spots. there is a societal benefit. 90% of aids patients get taken care of in a graduate medical care program. $8.4 billion of charitable care gets delivered in gme programs. society benefits from these and it is important to maintain the health of these and expand them because they are such a good benefit. host: four minutes left. noam: let me return to the sgr. i think c-span viewers may appreciate the politics of the
sgr as a vehicle for advancing other health care priorities. there is some concern in washington that now that this is off the table, or may be off the table soon, i know it is good for you and your members, but it removes something that has allow congress under a fairly regular basis to revisit health care issues that may need attention. as you report, past april 15 or whatever when the senate may actually act what you see coming up as real legislative priorities for the ama in dealing with all the other health care challenges the country faces? dr. wah: this is a great opportunity for us to be free of this ongoing discussion about the sgr only. it has taken the oxygen out of the room, as they say. as we come to this distraction that we have not been able to
focus on other opportunities where we have improved care. using precision medicine, making it more person specific care and a more cost effective way, we have heard about that. we have unlimited opportunities once of the sgr problem is passed to discuss this in a meaningful way and find a way to improve the care of our patients. that is what i am interested and excited about. we do not want to continue talking about kicking the can down the road with the sgr and having this version -- burden hanging over physician offices. i am looking forward to the day where he can talk about how to improve the care of citizens. i'm excited about that. host: one quick look at your biography suggests you have been very interested in technology through your career. as you look at the rapid advance of technology, including not
only high-tech and internet days but also a genome studies and the implications for health care, are we moving towards cost control or will we move to a situation with the has -- haves and have-nots? dr. wah: a lot of questions later. i believe technology will deliver better information to make better decisions and health care. patients and doctors governments, hospitals pharmaceutical companies, they will all make better decisions. the technology is bringing that information to the right time at the right place. that will be a benefit to all of us. i am excited about that. how that sorts out in terms of distribution, i think of it information flow to the woman get more equitable for all patients to benefit and i'm excited about that.
we are asking patients to contact congressman about the importance of passing this by april 15. fixmedicarenow.org, patients can learn more about this bill and gives them a link on how to directly contact their congressperson by phone or e-mail. host: without advocacy, we say thank you. dr. robert wall our guest on "newsmakers" this week. -- dr. robert wah, our guest on "newsmakers" this week. is this an easy move for the senate? melissa: i think there is a lot of pressure on the senate, digitally with such a large bipartisan vote in the house. why there are definitely politics on both sides of the aisle. as noam said, there is a push to get this --
some democrats are also concerned about restriction -- abortion restrictions applied to community funding in the bill. some are trying to repeal the tax on medicare therapy services. people want amendments but it is not clear whether they will have the opportunity to offer them and vote for them. host: what is the price tag? noam: about $200 billion plus right? host: where will they cut to reach this? noam: i think there are issues involving the aca. melissa: the price tag is about $141 billion of additional deficit spending. we have not seen any specific proposals on how to cover the costs from conservatives. one technique the inconsiderate is to take out the exception in
the bill which would require congress to offset additional costs before the end of the year or there would be a budget sequester. host: so they pass it now but say we really need to fix it. if we do not fix it by day certain, we will revisit. noam: there are the votes, and the senate, to pass this. the question is whether it passes by april 15 next wednesday, reducing the amount of chaos that will ensue once medicare starts putting in cuts that dr. wah talked about, or whether the processes more drawn out because the senate has to go through the procedural hurdles the senate has, which could kick the final vote into the following week. i think it is fair to say that majority leader mcconnell anticipates this will pass. there are enough votes on both sides to do it.
unless they can get everyone to agree to a shorter timeframe with or without amendments, it may go past april 15. host: this is one of the people really wonder how it all works. if they know the ultimate outcome but they are willing to let the deadline slide and the whole machinery of medicare has to change itself, which will cost money, i am sure, why can they not get it done in time since they are adding more cost to the deficit? melissa: in this case, the package was negotiated in the house by speaker boehner and nancy pelosi. i think senators want the opportunity to make their point to have the votes, because they were largely in the backseat to negotiations. noam: this is parenthetically an unfamiliar place to find themselves. senators, if nothing else, want to express themselves. [laughter] host: and we have the majority leader getting his feet were in the role. noam: it is important for him to honor the request of the various
members. melissa and i both had a conversation with the senator from oregon yesterday, the ranking democrat on the finance committee, who has been vocal in calling for this package to include a longer reauthorization package for four years for chip. there was a question that those desires could be a hurdle. that senator is specifically set i want to vote on extending this to four years by an happy to vote for this package. summarizes where many of the senators are. they want to vote on changes. i think it is unlikely those will pass, but everyone wants to express themselves. host: let me ask you about the supreme court review of the affordable care law. you asked whether or not congress is preparing for an overturning of this provision
which provide subsidies to people now getting health insurance. is there any movement in capitol hill to address this in case it is overturned? melissa: there was some pop-ed -- op-ed when this was discussed. it has been pretty quiet since then. my understanding is that conversations are ongoing, but i am not sure if you will see anything before the court ruling and what their ideas would be. noam: there is a proposal, a broader proposal, a full-blown alternative if you will, to the affordable care act. those discussions are ongoing. chairman ryan of the house ways and means committee is talking about some things. it increasingly looks like what republicans may do is merely trying to extend the subsidies even if the court invalidates them, with the presumption that
would give them more time to come up with an alternative. to tie it back to the sgr, we know how patches work. they tend to perpetuate. i think that is a sign we may not actually see the chaos of that some have predicted. host: thank you for your questions area i appreciate your time. >> next, we show you profiles of some of the newest members of the house of representatives beginning with congressman steve russell of oklahoma, followed by arizona representative ruben gallego, commerce and -- con gressman will hurd of texas and congress men norma torres of california. on q&a, andrew ferguson on his writing career, the gop
candidates, and what voters are looking or -- for. >> they want someone who looks like he has it up for them. i am amazed the degree to which primary voters on both sides are motivated by resentment. the sense of being put upon. those people really do not understand us. here is a guys who does understand us and he will stick it to them. that happens on both sides. hillary clinton will give her own version of that. i do not think that was actually true 30 years ago. resubmit has always been part of politics, obviously. but they did greet -- but the degree to which they are the exclusionary factor. that is sunday 8:00 on c-span's q&a. we introduce you to some of the
new is members of congress. we begin with the republican congressman that her president of steve russell of oklahoma. he became an advocate for veterans after a long our maker and later served in the oklahoma state senate. he is also an author and motivational speaker and owns his own rifle manufacturing company. this interview from the capitol hill offices almost 25 minutes. host: congressman steve russell from oklahoma's fifth congressional district is a freshman representative. a few months into the job, is it what you expected? rep. russell: i think the legislative pieces are. i had served a term in the state senate in oklahoma so i got to see how the sausage is made and whether you are playing junior varsity or prose, the rules and stadiums are about the same, just one is bigger. in terms of the dynamics, i think the surprising thing has
been a lot of the division and gridlock we often get accused of. it's surprising that it is not fomented by us. it is outside groups that seem to profit from that division and dust it up to raise money. host: how do you fix it? rep. russell: i think you fix it by -- the american public has such a low opinion of congress. yet, most people like their particular congressman or congresswoman. i think just trusting us a little bit, that the things that we are trying to communicate back, if they're in contradiction to the "i love america" or "i hate america" pack, whichever it might be -- maybe take the information we have and realize there is some truth behind it. host: walk us through your routine. oklahoma is not the easiest place to get to from washington, d.c.
how often are you in washington? what is your daily routine here in d.c. and when you go back to your district? rep. russell: oklahoma city is in the middle of the country and it does takes time to get here. i will typically be here -- not every weekend do i go home. some weekends, there are things to do. if there is a particular large bill that is going to be in markup in committee, 700 pages long, that takes time to read. so i try to do due diligence. that is what i was elected to do. other times, i was a national speaker for eight years with the premier speakers bureau and traveled all over the country and i still do some of that. although, the rules have changed. on what that is. but i still get around. i was in missouri this past
or in and out from here. host: let's talk about you. why did you decide to run for congress and when did you first think of public office? rep. russell: politics has been a surprising path. i retired from the united states army, in the infantry, in 2006. i had been deployed three out of five years, so it was pretty hard on my family. my oldest daughter at the time school, so i wanted to settle all of our kids the last chance that we had so i took it. i did a lot of veterans advocacy work, traveled around the country trying to take my personal story to convince people to back our troops while they are fighting rather than bickering about it. let them get it done. in the course of that, that gathered the attention of politico's and others and party officials.
before i knew it, i was approached to run for state senate in oklahoma and ran in 2008. did a term there. left in 2012 under my own volition. did my business, i have a rifle manufacturing business and i wanted to pursue that and then my book and my speaking. so, coming to congress really was not even on the horizon. it was a result of when senator dr. tom coburn decided to retire early. james lankford successfully ran for his seat, but in doing so it vacated oklahoma's fifth district. i looked at it. i could see a path to get there, and i thought i don't want to look back on my life thinking that maybe i could've helped my country and did not try. so i thought win or lose, i will try. the people of oklahoma sent me here. so it has been a real honor.
host: you come from a long military tradition -- the army in particular. talk a little bit about that and also why you decided to begin your career in the military. rep. russell: my ancestors go all the way back to the revolution serving in uniform. my sixth and seventh great-grandfathers were captured in 1780 by the british and were imprisoned in detroit until the treaty of paris. they were eventually released. nearly every major war since that time, on one side of the family or the other. i always wanted to be a soldier. most of my family were not career soldiers, but they did serve. my brother served eight years in the navy. my dad served in 1953. it was something that in our family, it was always an interest, a topic of discussion with relatives. anyone that knew me as a child
would not be surprised that i became a soldier. host: where did you grow up? how many in your family? and where did you go to college? rep. russell: i grew up in del city, oklahoma. as far as we can ascertain, i'm the only federally elected congressman to ever come from del city. it's a small suburb of oklahoma city. i have an older sister and then an older brother. he is in the middle of the three of us. i had a four-year army scholarship, rotc scholarship, got good marks in high school, and that allowed me to go to college. i went to university and got a degree in public speaking in debate. i never thought i would use it for a living. i just thought if they will give you a degree for talking, sign me up. i was trying to get a commission in the united states army. and it was something i enjoyed. so, it turned out to be a good decision on many levels.
i met my wife there. we have been married 30 years this year. embarked on a military career. host: what is the key to being a successful public speaker and what is your approach? rep. russell: i think a lot of times the most effective speakers are those that can relay with stories. we see that through so many examples. christ, sermon on the mount or in parables, he would tell stories and it would connect to people. you would also see many in history, the great orators, they don't do it on the fly. abraham lincoln, gettysburg address -- prepared remarks. winston churchill, might have looked like it wasn't, but he had prepared remarks. martin luther king, prepared remarks.
oft times, if you go to the podium meandering, it comes across as, well, meandering. i think the diligence behind it to study and then to make it appear natural and connect with stories, people can relate to that. host: how influential were your parents in your life growing up and as you pursued your career? rep. russell: very influential. i nearly died several times from birth. i almost died at that time. i had the opposite blood type of my mother. the rh factor was different. she had had a couple of miscarriages prior to me, and i nearly died at birth. so she has always told me that i was her little fighter. that does something to a child. that you are not going to quit you are going to persevere and stay with something until you get it done.
i survived a bout of appendicitis. my appendix actually ruptured. it was about six or seven hours before i had any medical attention to deal with that. i did not know what it was. i felt better after it ruptured. peritonitis set in, i was in intensive care for weeks, two major surgeries. my folks at that time thought they were going to lose me. host: you didn't know it had ruptured? rep. russell: no, i didn't. i had a stomach ache, things hurt, and suddenly it felt better. the pressure was relieved. then i went outside and played. it was on a saturday. by that night, i was doubled over blind in pain. i remember asking my mother during that time, i asked her 'am i going to die?' she was honest with me and she says we don't know. she said we are praying and we believe that you will make it. and i appreciated that. it made me want to fight that much harder.
on the heels of that, actually prior to that -- oklahoma, no stranger to tornadoes -- i was in a devastating tornado at my grandparents, and it killed a neighborhood girl next door to them and just leveled the entire area. we crawled out from under mattresses in a small tin building, because the alternative was to be in trailers -- not a good idea. i have always felt that we are pretty much immortal until god is done with us, and then at that point, it is time. so i've not really given it a whole lot of thought. i approached it that way in combat. i think that those childhood experiences conveyed that if there is some plan that i am meant to fulfill and i am diligent, then perhaps it can be done. if not, then all of my efforts are not going to matter. i certainly had that kind of
faith when i was in combat. host: so you are not afraid of death? rep. russell: no, i'm really not. the act of it is not too thrilling, but as far as what would happen afterwards, i'm really not. i know christ is my lord and savior, and i take that faith very seriously, as most of our framers and founders of this great country have. it should be no surprise to millions of americans who hold similar faith. i take great comfort in that that were something to happen, i believe that i will be eternally secure, because he promised if i would believe in him, that i would have eternal life. host: with any experiences in your life, has your faith been tested? rep. russell: it absolutely has. in battle, i think your faith plays a tremendous role. i've had to do some terrible things.
processing that has been a long journey. as an infantryman, you are not dealing with some electronics or on some computer or working with some machine, you are on the front lines. you are carrying a rifle bayonet, grenades, ammo, water -- the basic implements. and with those organizations they are the ones that are designed to go find the enemy, not just react to them. but to go find them. in my excursions, we certainly found a lot of different enemies. i have had to watch friends get hit. i've lost some of my soldiers. very, very tough to deal with. i have had to take human life and fight my way out of ambushes. those experiences are -- they stay with you your entire life. but, they are not insurmountable.
i try to relay to people that if you were in a horrible car wreck or if you were in some devastating storm or in something traumatic, it would impact and shape your life, but it does not mean you don't function. it means you take those experiences and they shape you for your future experiences. that is the way my faith has helped me process my battle experiences. host: one of those enemies saddam hussein, the book behind you, now in paperback, "we got him," what happened? rep. russell: i had the privilege to command task force 100 to two -- 122 infantry in tikrit, iraq. it was 1000 soldiers. we were there in 2003-2004. we got involved largely due to geography. it was not something that, where we thought that specifically we would go find saddam. we were an infantry battalion task force that was occupying
his hometown. it became readily apparent very quickly that saddam was probably being harbored there. we got incredible information, incredible intelligence, and we began to work that. we worked that with a number of other teams. two special operation forces teams over a six-month period. we worked very, very closely with. and developed from the ground up a lot of our own intelligence. my commander, colonel jim hickey, who works on the senate staff now, he was a marvelous warrior. general ray ordierno, who is the chief of staff of the army was , our commander in the fourth infantry division. those were my two immediate commanders. they gave me great latitude. i'm very grateful for their bravery and trust. we worked together as a team. my unit was not the only one involved, but was one of about half a dozen. it was very humbling to participate in that time. to lead the raids.
we nearly captured saddam in the summer of 2003. we did not get him, but we got personal effects, papers, $10 million in cash, $2 million in jewelry. it turns out, he was captured six months after that raid across the river. you could see the two places from one another. you could see his home, where i had soldiers using it as an outpost -- all three could see each other. so it was really interesting and i count it a great privilege to have participated in that. i give great credit to all the units involved. my book, it has been noted for its vivid detail and a lot of the experiences we went through. and that was very important to me coming home, was to tell our
portion of it. it was to make sure it did get told so it did not get somehow erased from history. host: during all of this, you and your wife raising five children, three adopted from hungary. explain how that came about. rep. russell: well, we had two children at the time, and we wanted more. she was concerned about some flareups of some childhood arthritis. with each pregnancy, there was a chance that could recur so we began to look at adoption. we were stationed in europe at the time. i went to a men's conference in germany. there was an army doctor, and he had adopted two boys from hungary. worked in an orphanage there. one thing led to another, and we began to explore how he did that process. then we used a facilitator, a marvelous lady who lives in san
diego, she and her husband with their two very small children -- the oldest was 18 months -- in the hungarian revolt of 1956 they fled. they made it over the mountains into austria. vice president nixon on a goodwill tour at the refugee camp picked five families to become instant u.s. citizens and they were one of the families. a miracle story. she worked for the department of defense for years after that. when she retired, she began to work to place orphan children in hungary with soldiers, because she has such love for the military, having worked around it. one thing led to another and we adopted a set of orphan siblings. they were five, six, and eight in the year 2000. host: where are they all now? rep. russell: they are all in the oklahoma city metro area. my oldest daughter, she's graduated from college, runs a business. my oldest son works for hitachi. they are all doing pretty good.
trying to find their way. i got them all to 18 without incident or crime. so i'm thankful for that. now, it's on them to make a good life of their own. i'm very proud of them. host: what about your life here in washington as a member of congress? what do you want to achieve? what's your objective? rep. russell: i think the main thing is that we need to get back to the basics of life liberty, and property. the government has a federal role. abraham lincoln put it really well when he said those things that we can do ourselves, the government ought not to interfere. those things collectively that we cannot accomplish, the government may have a role. i think we ought to keep it in that perspective. it is tempting for the government to want to take over every aspect of our lives, but that is not something we need to do. the american people are resilient. they largely want to be left alone. they want to have fruit of their
labor. they're willing to pay some taxes for roads and schools and the things we all collectively need, law enforcement. but, they don't want a government that tells them what to eat, what to drink, how to be clothed, how much they can do this, that, or the other. the american innovative spirit has always defied that, and it still does today. i hope to bring that reminder, as we go back and look at our framing documents right here in this town -- magnificent to see them -- they remind us we can pursue that happiness, that we do have life, liberty, and property. and the government has to protect those things and also promote good policy to protect those things. not take away and encroach upon it. host: can you carry on with those principles and yet also compromise with democrats? rep. russell: sure, i think the
framing of the constitution was a giant compromise. you had the states that wanted autonomy. you had the need for a road, communication, and defense system that they could not really provide. so, they were willing to ditch the articles of confederation for the constitution. they labored over it. john jay, james madison, alexander hamilton, many others -- they debated, studied, and looked at past democracies and wondered why they failed and determined we needed a republic. a representative republic with checks and balances so that one side could not usurp the other and then even divide it further among the branches. so when we hear complaints about you can't get anything done in washington, it was designed that way. it was literally designed so that there would be competing interests. i think when you come to
overlapping circles of need, that is where you can find the compromise. that is where you can find the things that most americans can get behind and you can do. already seeing it, already beginning to do some of it. my dad was a democrat, my mom a republican. i grew up in a house divided. i think it is important to listen to both sides. no person is the font of all knowledge. i learn something from everybody i talk to. i think it is important that we keep that perspective. at a minimum, we will be more solidified in defending our beliefs that they were correct but an alternative, we may gain new information that persuades us to a better view. you cannot do that if you don't build relationships and don't reach across and talk to one another. that is a problem. we have to work on that more. host: two final questions. first, any thought on how long
you intend to serve? have you thought about that? rep. russell: i have not thought about that. i just find it amazing i am here. i'm very humbled and honored. i think as long as the people of oklahoma feel that i can represent them well, i'm enjoying the work. i would not say i like the work, that is a strong work -- word but enjoying it, but i do enjoy it. i feel equipped for it, i have life experiences as a businessman, as a soldier, as an author, a speaker. i bring a lot to the table. i have worked with teams my entire life, building them leading them. solving tremendous problems. and so, i feel equipped to be here, and i hope to be useful to the country for as long as that is practical. host: which is my final question. not on the policy side, but on the personal side -- what is the biggest challenge of being a member of congress? rep. russell: your time is completely consumed by handlers and others.
i think having time for my faith, for my family -- i'm fortunate that cindy anaya, -- c indy and i, with our kids being grown, we travel back and forth together. the government does not pay for us to keep an apartment here or her travel to come up, but there is a cost if you don't. we are rather fond of each other after all of these years. so we have determined we want to do that. she has been a great support to me. and i think that building those types of margins in your life so that you can take a step back with a fresh look. and then, as a warrior, i have tried to keep fit my entire life. it allows me to have a clear head and good energy. so trying to find the time for that has been a challenge, but it is doable. host: congressman steve russell of oklahoma, thank you for your time. rep. russell: thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, >> c-span's profile interviews with congressional freshman continues with arizona democrat ruben gallego, the sun of immigrants, he earned a scholarship to harvard but dropped out to join the marines and fight in iraq. he talks about his experiences his family, and his new life in congressman. this is a little over 20 minutes. host: congressman ruben caller: from arizona's seventh congressional district. a couple months as a freshman representative. what is it like? rep. gallego: it is fascinating. every day brings a new challenge. every day i get to do something very interesting, and every day i miss home. but i am glad i am here -- i feel like i am doing good work for my district. i hope to be here for a long time. host: how did somebody born in chicago end up in arizona? rep. gallego: i followed a woman
out there who is now my wife. essentially what happened was i was in new mexico with my wife because i was working in the 2004 elections. while there, i got activated and sent to iraq. when i returned, my wife had established herself very well in arizona with a good job and a house. i had just left the military. leaving the marines, once you are done, you are done so i did not have a job or a place to live so arizona was a good option at that point. host: let's take a step back. your family is originally from mexico and central america. rep. gallego: and columbia. host: came to the u.s. when? rep. gallego: my mom came to the 1970's. my dad also came in the late 1970's. host: why chicago? rep. gallego: chicago was a good place for immigrants at that point. it still is. a lot of industrial base. good paying jobs, cheap housing. that was a good draw.
people forget, chicago is the second and third largest latino population in the country. host: raised by a single mom -- so your dad left when? rep. gallego: around the age of 11. host: any memories of him? rep. gallego: many, and that is what made it more painful. i really looked up to him. he was a construction work for. i went to construction sites with him. i worked on the farm. i looked up to him as a father figure. he was a father figure, but when everything went south, he also went. i don't the heat reacted well to it. his company and eventually shut down, which caused a lot of problems. that is why it hurt so much for someone who i looked up to two abandoned us and to abandon who i thought he was. host: can i ask what happened to echo rep. gallego: a lot of things happen. he had a