tv Newsmakers CSPAN October 4, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT
pink, coordinated in her accessories and wardrobe, she was said to be one of the nation's best dressed. lady'ssenhower on "first : influence and image." examining the public and private lives of the women who served as first lady from martha washington to michelle obama. "newsmakers"span, is next with democratic congressman eliot engel from new york. and then the washington ideas forum with 2012 presidential candidate mitt romney. mauro on:00, tony "q&a." "newsmakers"st on
is eliot engel of new york. engel, thank you for being with us this week. el: thank you, it is my pleasure. host: let me introduce the two questioners. deb, you are up first. deb: we are interested to know what your initial take was on syriatest developments of and the russian airstrikes. rep. engel: it is very serious and it is another instance in my opinion of putin being blustery and irrational and irresponsible, but we should have expected it. it is erotic that as soon as the
iran talks with russia in the was on our side, he went in doing this and who knows what else he is doing. he has been reckless and the that as-- it is ironic soon as the iran talks with hesia, he was on our side, went on doing this and who knows what else he is doing. he has been reckless in crimea and the ukraine. isis is obviously the worst element in that part of the world. initially, it is pretty clear that he is not going after isis. he is going after the vetted free syria army or the people fighting assad. it is well-known that russia has been an ally of assad, they have a base into syria.
he has been propped up by russian airstrikes. it is clear that the russian objection is to keep assad in power, not necessarily to destroy isis. abouter: you talk vladimir putin as being blustery and reckless, is her a role he could play by bringing assad to the table or publicly facilitating some sort of future in syria? could they be anything but a negative force? rep. engel: if they wanted to, they could be surely. isis is the common thread that all of the countries feeln needs to be destroyed. we are now participating in bombings in syria to destroy isis. , ifarab countries are
russia wants to enjoy in that effort they could be an ally, but let's look how this all started in syria. from syria as part of the arab spring and assad accounted with a brutal crackdown. this was three to four years ago, at that point the syrian army was asking us for assistance. the administration made the decision, the wrong decision in my opinion, not to help them for fear we would get bogged down. we could have helped them and made a real positive change, but we didn't. so they withered on the vine and isis moved into the vacuum and decided to murder with barrel bombs, killing one quarter million of his own people. russia has clearly chosen to protect assad, we have taken the position that both isis and assad has to go and there is no
room for assad, once the syria warfare stops. russia has taken a different tone. now it is going to be tough because, we are banging heads with them. if putin were to suddenly do what he says he is doing and fight isis, there could be cooperation. deb: what kind of a political revolution do you seek to have in their? what do you envision? rep. engel: it will be very hard. it is harder with russia in the fray. been that wecy has would sit down and ultimately assad syria. but if russia is there to prop him up, as iran has done, it will be very interesting.
it is worth stating again that iran has propped up assad by sending an its proxy terrorist organization, hezbollah, to fight on the side. assad is clearly losing in the north among other difficulties, so no russia has entered to prop up assad and keep them in the area. as long as we have actors in the area, whose main objective is to keep him in power, it will be hard. the role for the u.s.? your republican colleagues have a lot of criticism about what the white house is doing. is the obama administration taking the right course or it is this just an issue beyond our control? the right: i think course was not taken four years ago when we could have helped the free syrian army.
i believe that if we had helped them then, the forces of democracy in syria would have prevailed. cannot prove it because we did not do it, therefore it did not happen, but it is really a major problem now. we don't want u.s. ground troops on the ground. we don't want that kind of involvement, so we are treading water because we don't know what to do. into the field makes it that much harder. i think it is time to get tough with mr. putin. i think we have been too lenient with him in terms of ukraine, too lenient in terms of the other mischief he is making, now he is doing it in syria. but the united states doesn't want to do it alone. our options are really not good in syria now with the russians in their. re. perhaps russia will be there for a while, and they will get
bogged down, and they will find as we found in iraq, that it is not so easy once you enter the fray in the middle east. you sometimes get bogged down in the way things turn out are not the way you expected. we learned that lesson and i expect russia will learn, too. host: this leads us right to the refugee crisis in europe. i'm wondering if you have concerns over the european union overall with the individual country's responses to the refugee crisis. unionngel: the european has done a lot of things by consensus which is how they operate, and you had four countries opposed to the immigration welcoming of the syrians. they were overruled, p and it portend and it does u.lit in the e.
you see these refugees fleeing for their lives, fleeing their homeland, who need compassion and a place to go. everybody wants to give them compassion, but you have laws. you cannot just open the borders and let everybody go in. it is a delicate balancing. civil --see how a situation in syria spirals out of control and has effects all over the world. we are taking in these people that you cannot turn away, on the other hand you have to try to defuse it so it does not keep coming. it will be never ending and we cannot empty syria out of people and have everybody who lives there go to other countries. ,t is problematic for the e.u. the refugees are suffering, the .u also has financial trouble . is pretty much
at a crossroads, and the way they act will serve as a successful or unsuccessful future in terms of the european union. host: -- deb: do you think that the president has struck the right balance? rep. engel: i think he is trying. i think he is striking the right balance, it is hard to know. we have upped it, as well we should. but you cannot open the floodgates and let everybody come into the country and watch them come in. that is a recipe for chaos. we have a mix of our compassion with the main thing trying to end the turmoil in syria. if we did, people could stay and rebuild in syria. again, assad is such a brutal murderer, it is difficult to see any kind of future for syria as
long as he is involved. that is why i think our policy is right, to be against isis and the problem is it is a difficult policy to carry out, since the democratic rebels are not as great as they once were. deb: i have one more on syria. russiayou think that brought airplanes with air to air capacity when isis does not have an air force? rep. engel: i think that is clear that russia's real motive is not to go after isis, it is to prop up assad. in everything that is happening, that is clear. assad has always been a client of the soviet union. he was at his father was before him. he always had close ties with onlya, it is russia's military base in that region of the world and i think that they
want to prop him up because they know that whoever comes after him will not have the same cozy relationship with russia that assad has. it is clear that putin is a liar. not into syria to defeat isis, he is there to keep assad in power. julian: you were obviously a critic of the nuclear agreement with iran, how concerned are you that the agreement emboldened or powered iran to play a larger role? there has been speculation that the white house is more welcome role in resolving the crisis in syria, and secondarily on the nuclear deal, in theress' role deal done since he failed to pass legislation to blunt it? rep. engel: i am opposed to working with iran on anything in
that part of the region. i don't trust the iranian government, they are the leader of sponsors of terrorism of any country in the world. i was critical of the negotiation, of the agreement, because it is going to put $150 billion of cash into iran's lap, at a time when iran had no money. the economy was terrible, the currency was worthless, they had no money and could not help their people. they still found money to support international terrorism. they were still the leading state sponsor of international terrorism. if they did that when they had no money, imagine what they can do now when the sanctions are lifted and they had all this money. problem,hat iran, is a not the solution. i think there are all kinds of conspiracies between iran and russia sitting there at the
negotiating table and now we kind of see it with putin in syria, and all the collaboration between those two countries. i know that the president sincerely believes that this will keep iran from having a nuclear weapon. i hope he is right and i am wrong, but the money is what bothered me the most and the fact that after 15 years, iran is a nuclear threshold state and has the weapons, and the ability to and rich -- enrich high-grade weapons, uranium. the way i see it it didn't present them from getting a nuclear weapon. i think releasing all the sanctions money was not enough. i don't really trust anything that the iranian government does
but four days after they signed the agreement the ayatollah was yelling death to america. you just signed an agreement with unite states and four days later you are yelling death to america. it does not make me feel very comfortable with their sincerity and all. we have 10 minutes left. rep. engel: regarding congressional oversight, what i think we to do is we have to that the agreement passed it is the law. so we have to make sure that iran complies with every aspect of it and i think that is important. we need to make sure that our friends in the region whether israel and jordan or the sunni gulf states get what they need to counter possible threats from iran. i think there is a lot of work for congress to do on a collaborative basis to make sure that this agreement is in play.
and is the law that we make sure that iran live up to its side of the bargain and that our friends are taken care of. so i will be developing legislation with both democrats and republican to make sure that that happens. it is important that we have congressional oversight. can we change the subject to the latest on the leadership in the house? seat willdo you for change when there is a new leader in the house? the math and the vote counts will be the same, so what could be different? rep. engel: i think the american people are tired of the fighting in washington. and we big problems,
need to get together. what happened in the vote a few days ago about going forward with the small bill to keep the government open, 151 republicans voted to shut the government down. that is irresponsible. people don't want us to go to the brink of shutting down, we look like fools and incompetents. people want us to meet in the middle, compromise. everybody gets something. you cannot have stark positions on one side or another, if you're talking about a budget or keeping the government open, you need to encompass all kinds of thoughts. you cannot have a fight over planned parenthood and use that to shut down the government, or attempt to shut down the government. that in the month that speaker boehner has before he leaves, that he will continue to sit down with leader pelosi
and the two of them can hammer out cover my's is. -- compromises. we saw the bill to keep the government open. no, 90ublicans voted voted yes. he did have a coalition gathering to keep the government open. that is what the american people want to see. it means that maybe i cannot get everything i want, or the next person cannot, but if i can get percent of what i would like, and the other side as well, then the government stays open and we move on and we stop getting bogged down on ideological reasons that have no place and whether or not the government should be shut down or not. i hope that good people on both
sides, and there are good people but the american people will want us to come to some compromise. i hope in the next month that boehner and pelosi can come to a compromise and recommend them and we can have a bipartisan majority just like we had a few days ago when we voted to keep the government open, despite the fact that 151 republicans voted to shut it. deb: there -- julian: there has been some speculation about reauthorizing the export import bank, potentially raising the debt limit. do you think those are realistic things that can be done by the end of the month? rep. engel: i do and i hope they can be done. i think those are the types of things that should be done and they are the types of things that american people want us to do. the export import bank should be a no-brainer, i don't understand
why people are opposed to it? traditionally it was the republicans who pushed the export import bank. they claim to be the party of business, and this is something that benefits our companies. i don't think it is right that they are pulling support for it, and it is ironic that the democrats are pushing for the export import bank. the irony of ironies. that is something that should not be partisan. american economy's american companies and the american economy. it should be a no-brainer. are the issues that hopefully they will talk about and come to a compromise on. deb: i want to ask you, the health -- house majority leader kevin mccarthy said he didn't mean to say that the benghazi committee has a political agenda. do you think he will be able to backpedal from what he said which is that since the committee was created, that
hillary clinton's poll numbers have dropped? rep. engel: well, of course the benghazi committee is political. this was a committee aimed at hillary clinton. they should rename it the hillary clinton attack committee. it seeks to get her, and in -- now they are talking about the e-mails and whatever they can use. that is what they do. the benghazi committee should be shut down, it never should have been there to begin with. from a party that says that they are fiscally responsible and fiscally conservative and , they should not waste taxpayer money on frivolous, political things when it comes to trying to get at hillary clinton whome they m they perceive to be nominee.ratic
what happened in benghazi was a tragedy, and we should not exploit a tragedy to use it to get at somebody politically, it is just wrong. we should shut it down and say the taxpayer's money. it is political nonsense. should not democrats just walk away and refuse to be a part of it? rep. engel: when they formed a committee, that was an option. was that thetions democrats would not participate at all. the other side, which prevailed was that, if we did not participate you would just have republicans point of view and you would not have the democratic point of view. i think that is an option at some point that may have to be revisited or looked at. there is more money spent on the
benghazi committee than was spent on watergate, or any of the other investigatory committees. it is absolutely ludicrous. host: final questions from both of you for the congressman? deb: i want to try one more time on a leadership question. what do you think will change in the house once it gets a new leader, regardless of who the leader is? rep. engel: it is hard to say. bein mccarthy seems to me to ideologically in tune with boehner, he is not an ultr a-right winger. it may be a short period of time before those who found themselves dissatisfied with john boehner to find themselves dissatisfied with kevin mccarthy. this boilst a lot of down to personalities, sometimes
you feel more comfortable with someone who may have the same ideological position as his or her predecessor, but maybe the tone is different. maybe the chemistry is better. buts kind of hard to say, it is the same 40 people or so in the tea party wing of the republican party that will be dissatisfied with mccarthy the way that they were with boehner. the same thing is likely to happen again, we will have to see. there are lots of things that go on, there are personalities and friendships behind-the-scenes. when you are say, a leader, so much of what you do is not only ideological, but personal. you develop relationships and see what happens. i will be voting for speaker pelosi, and we will see what the other party does. julian: not that your endorsement might mean much for
republicans, but there will be a big leadership race. does it matter to you who the speaker is? particularly, who the majority leader is whether it is steve police or congressman price? rep. engel: i don't get involved in the other party's leadership. i am known as a member who reaches out to the other side of the aisle. i have a lot of friends on the other side of the aisle. lots of friends on my side of the aisle, and i think that the american people want us to get to know each other better. want us not to demonize the other. i may have differences of opinion ideologically with the republicans. it does not mean they are my enemy. they are there to serve the american people just like i am. they are elected from their districts just like i am. we have to get to know each other a little better. when i first came to congress 27 years ago, i think people socialized more. i think we need to get back to that.
just because somebody disagrees with me ideologically does not mean they are a bad person or enemy. we have to start respecting each other. we cannot play these games where we bring the government to the brink of shut down. that is really irresponsible and that is why i think the american people have a low attitude toward members of congress because they think all we do is go and argue and posture. us, we met in the neededwhen my every a superstorm sandy aid -- when my area needed superstorm sandy aid. health to thee hurt at ground zero. we to refund that and that has now expired. people need to do the kinds of
things that congress is known to do. we need infrastructure and a transportation bill and a highway bill. we need to do these kinds of things and then the american people will see that we are putting differences aside. it doesn't mean we won't have differences, but congress needs to stop looking like it is dysfunctional. that is white, i think -- that is why, i think as a democrat that my party has a lot to offer, but we both have to sit down and work for the american people and stop trying to shut down the government as the republicans tried to do or getting all these other issues involved. when he to work for the people who sent us to congress, and we need to get to know each other better and stop lurching from crisis to crisis and do some things that are long term and will put the government on solid footing. we have had a sequester for a long time. i voted against the sequester.
i think the american people empower us to make decisions, not kick the can down the road. we need to get rid of the sequester and get back with our business. host: congress and eliot engel joining us on "newsmakers," thank you for your time this week. rep. engel: my pleasure. host: let's return to both of you for a bit of a wrap up. i want to start with where you did which is on the events in syria. critics of the administration on capitol hill suggest that the administration has no coherent policy. now with the entry of russia into the mix, how are those critics responding and where do they think the added say should go? k that: i think they thin this is the consequence of long-running lack of attention from the administration, and from not doing enough. people like john mccain think
that the administration has been asleep at the wheel for wheel -- years, despite calling years ago for assad to step down. he is still there. they see this as another sign of long-running weakness by the white house. deb: i think the critics are happy to see that there is even more stimulus to make some changes, because i think they have been frustrated by a lack of action on the administration's part. i'm not sure the administration has the answer to this very complex problem, but i think the interaction of russian airstrikes has upset the apple cart. i think that dianne feinstein said that she thought the could ,e a positive side to this entering of russia in. she feels that russia has to be
a part of the solution, so everything has kind of come to a think the u.s. is considering what to do about what to do about the airstrikes against the rebels and whether or not we will protect them. i think they are considering safe sounds, and we might be considering new policies. host: you heard eliot engel call the russian leader a liar. i wonder how prevailing his view is on capitol hill, and how warm the members of congress would be to working with russia on a solution there. deb: that is something that you would hear the republicans say for sure. it didn't really surprise me to hear it from him, but it was quite blunt. julian: i think putin has few friends on capitol hill. host: quickly on