tv Representative Mac Thornberry Remarks at the National Press Club CSPAN January 17, 2016 12:52pm-1:54pm EST
mr. cook: ok. here we go. i'm dave cook, "christian science monitor." thanks for coming after i know what was a long night for many of you covering president obama's state of the union address. in the 50 years, that the monitor has been hosting these gatherings, we have welcomed white house chiefs of staff up to rahm emanuel. we are especially pleased to have our first breakfast -- it is true. it's true. it's true. so we are especially pleased to have our first breakfast of 2016 with president obama's fifth and reportedly favored chief of staff, denis mcdonough. thanks so much for making time in your busy schedule to do this. he's a minnesota native who grew up surrounded by seven brothers and three sisters.
he graduated from st. john's university, as did brother eisley, with an honors degree in history and spanish and experience playing on two conference winning football teams. he earned a master's degree from georgetown school of foreign service, which should endear him to fellow hoya conner of the national journal. our guest was working on the hill as a foreign policy advisor to senate democratic leader tom daschle and senator barack obama. he went on to serve as senior foreign-policy advisor in mr. obama's 2008 campaign. at the white house, his legendarily long days have been spent serving as deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, chief of staff for the national security staff, deputy national security advisor, and since february, 2013, white house chief of staff. he and his wife are the parents of three children, and thus endeth the bio graphical portion program.
now to the riveting mechanical details. as always we are on the record , here. please, no live blogging or tweeting. in short, no filing of any kind while the breakfast is under way to give us time to listen to what our guest says. there is no embargo when the session ends at 9:00 a.m. sharp. to help you curb that relentless selfie urge, we'll email several pictures of the breakfast to all reporters here as soon as the session ends. as regular attendees know, if you would like to ask a question, please do the traditional thing and send me a subtle nonthreatening signal and i'll call on one and all in the time available. we'll start off offering our guest the opportunity to make some opening comments. then move to questions around the table. thanks again for doing this. mr. mcdonough: thank you all very much. david, thank you in particular. i associate my opening remarks with what i thought was an excellent speech last night. and i'll go straight to your questions. mr. cook: i'm going to do one or two myself and go to tony, john,
evan, george, katelyn, craig, john, colleen. you can tell there is some interest in what you have to say. julie, davis, angelina, greg, sara, and kevin. let me start with you on the navy service people being released this morning. what, if anything, in your view, does the capture and subsequent release of the 10 personnel by iran tell us about relations with iran and how the u.s. should deal with iran going forward? does it tell us anything? mr. mcdonough: obviously, we are very pleased to see that our 10 sailors are now back with us. where they should have always been. we are -- you have seen statements from both secretaries kerry and carter, and you have seen, obviously, some statements
from the -- our regent of command in the region, central command. the navy component thereof. i'm hesitant to draw big lessons from this, yet, david, because we want to get the facts of the case. navy has said that they are going to dig into that over the course of the next several days. and so we'll continue to follow that closely. i do think, as secretary carter said in his statement, secretary kerry's aggressive and early engagement in this and the open channel that he had and he has with his foreign minister counterpart was important. and as somebody who's been working on this basket of policy questions now for several years, i do think that the open lines
of communication, which are relatively new, are extraordinarily important. particularly when we have so many interests in such a crowded area in the persian gulf. the bottom line is it is too early to draw big conclusions about this because the facts are still as yet unknown. all the facts are as yet unknown. but one thing that i can say with confidence is that this channel between secretary kerry and their foreign minister was very important in resolving this in a timely fashion. just say -- sorry, one other thing here. which is particularly when you're working in such tight
quarters, and the persian gulf is tight quarters and relatively shallow body of water, the tradition that the united states navy has of providing for sailors in distress has been pretty evident over the course of the last decade, but also in the last several years, when we've provided support for iranian sailors in distress. so i'm very proud of that tradition, of the u.s. navy. i think there's been several instances of this over the course of the last several years, as i have indicated. and i think it's in that spirit that i'm happy to see that. in this case, at least, this was resolved relatively quickly. mr. cook: my predecessor in hosting these would often throw
out a ceremonial softball and i violated a rule by asking a news question first. so here is the ceremonial softball. i would be interested in knowing what lessons you have learned during your white house experience that you would pass along to the next person to serve as chief of staff. you were quoted in glenn's comprehensive profile recently as saying "process protects you." and you were also observed as saying that life's chief of staff is like being treated like a baby treats a diaper. what do you expect to pass on to a future chief of staff? your experience being both below the steve of staff and now as chief of staff? mr. mcdonough: the best advice i got was from secretary baker who said that as long as you focus on the "of staff" and less on the "chief," you'll be just fine. if you rack up the successful chiefs of staff over the course of time, i think that those
much as watching my former colleague, national security advisor tom donlan. he had two, i think, very good things. one is process is your friend. and two is, let the government work for you. we have a huge government with a loft very capable people it's working 24/7 both because of the dedication of the government personnel, but also because we have people around the world and you have to make that clockwork four. for example, this iranian incident is a good example of that where we had people literally working this around the clock even though when it happened it was pretty late in the day in the gulf and got quickly into night in the gulf. still we use the time advantage here on our end to work that out. i will say that as originally as a white house staffer i was candidly -- i don't know if i was as, shall we say, straightforwardly committed to the processes that were in place. i think that ultimately did not serve the president very well. and so both because of how i saw tom donlan run a very good process, and also having
witnessed it what can happen when somebody like myself, when i first got in the white house, who sometimes went outside of process and kind of confusion that that wrought, i continue to believe the most important thing a good chief can do is assure the president that the process on which that president relies is straightforward and transparent and honest and presents him or her with very clear choices fairly presented. mr. cook: thank you. russ. reporter: follow up on your answer, can you talk about the president's instructions to you or directions to you about transition? transition government and preparations that the white house is making now and how that will be organized, and what your ambition is for that? mr. mcdonough: in candor right now we are just doing a lot of
paper development in the white house. what we are doing is getting a lot of paper and process in place to begin transition efforts. and then we'll begin transition planning in earnest early spring. right now it's just preparation. i don't have anything particular to report on it other than i would anticipate it being rolling out pretty aggressively by early spring. reporter: are you in charge? mr. mcdonough: we have not -- the president hasn't put a finger on exactly who will be in charge. we'll present him with a couple options. reporter: the white house was in the silicon valley last week to see how to crackdown on online extremism.
there were ideas overfloating that meeting. does the white house have more meetings planned within tech executives? what's the next step in this? mr. mcdonough: also rolled out on friday when we went on the trip were two institutions. one is the global engagement center over at the state department. the other is countering violent extremism task force. so the next step that those institutions the task force has been up and running now for several weeks and the global engagement center will roll out with initial efforts consistent with their charter. those are institutions that are up and running that will draw on
the relationships we have developed in the silicon valley and around the country, frankly. but they have charters and efforts that they need to take and run with. we at the white house will have relatively role in making sure those efforts. option two is making sure that we are drawing on the best that silicon valley has to offer in this regard. and one thing we can do from the white house is serve as a bridge particularly as we are aggressively recruiting, and this is something that the president has been very clear with me about since october, 2013. you might remember it quite clearly, that we get much more aggressive about recruiting tech talent into the government. we feel pretty good about it.
the numbers that we have are pretty solid and get 500 engineers in the government, you know, to provide that kind of cutting edge technical expertise across the board. not simply on combating the next extremism. during the course of several months. that's basket two is maintain a very aggressive effort on
recruitment. basket three is we will continue to draw on lessons from silicon valley, both as it relates to what leads people to radicalize online, what are the markers of that. what are the indications of that and how do we counter it. what's the message we can offer. others can offer to make sure that there's not just this gloomy pathway from isil, but more realistic alternatives. there are also other questions that we will continue to debate inside the government and silicon valley, where the technology is going. reporter: encryption that c.e.o. wanted you to put out a strong statement, are you guys going to do that? mr. mcdonough: what we have said on this, director comey has said and others have said, we are not seeking legislative changes at this time. so we'll continue to work this issue.
i want to be careful, i'm not characterizing deliberately what happened in the room because i thought it was a very fruitful discussion, but mr. cook and apple have been vigorous in their public position on this and we'll continue to work this issue along with a full range of our colleagues who are out there in silicon valley and others. mr. cook: john bennett. reporter: before the speech was halfway over, speaker ryan's office put out a statement that said quote, lofty platitudes and rhetoric. it failed to lay out the path forward for the country. i wanted your response and what does the speaker say about his working relationship with the president? mr. mcdonough: i think the speech responds -- i don't need to respond to the statement.
the speech was fully responsive to the statement. i don't want to engage a specific tweet from his office. he seemed to be quite engaged in the speech last night and after having heard the whole speech there is enough in there for us to work on. the president had a couple of references to the speaker. i think those are positive. my own view, which i think is not inconsistent with what the president has said in his speech or what the president believes on which i'll elaborate a bit is that last year, i think, was an important opportunity for us to get the muscle memory in the institution in washington starting with things like the permanent doc fix, with t.p.a., with i.m.f. reform, something that has lingered since 2010. ex-im re-authorization, cyber something which had lingered since the president called for it in the state of the union in 2013.
on top of the tax extenders and the budget. i think that kind of reestablishment of muscle memory is important for a lot of different reasons. i think the speaker is to be commended for part of that. i think leader pelosi is pivotal to that. senators reid and mcconnell also contributed to that. and i think if you go to the speech and really what the president talked a lot about last night was over the course of this republic, the institutions of this government, this democracy are the best protections against the
individual citizens getting the short end of the stick, and so the muscle memory that came back last year is, i think, both reassuring but also a great opportunity to try to make sure that the kind of hard-earned cynicism of the american public, which i think the president also acknowledged last night, can be -- we can regain some trust back from the american citizens.
so that's what we'll focus on, less on the back and forth and making sure these institutions work. reporter: the democratic message right now is america is already great, donald trump. [inaudible] pretty high of certain economic indicators. why is so many people think this country is on the wrong path right now? mr. mcdonough: the president talked about that last night so i associate myself with his i think very candid assessment of that. the economy is changing. people who are working are
having a hard time keeping pace with that change. he also said that the institutions as i just indicated in response to the previous question are not living up to their traditional role. and so i think there's a lot of reasons -- on top of that, the depth of the recession from 2007 and 2008 and the impact that had on people across the board, housing values to retirement and education savings. and people have a right to be and understandably are uneasy. so i guess from the president's point of view that means three things. one, he is going to redouble his
efforts to try to buy back some greater trust in these institutions and in our leadership and our role in the world. two is that we have very concrete ideas to try to do that and you'll hear more about that over the next several days including starting today on the road. and three, we want to make sure that we don't fall victim to the same kind of short-termism that the president talked about in the economy section of the speech. we have to make sure we keep our eyes on the long-term prize and make sure we are investing in the policy choices. not to respond to a specific poll but respond to the national interests that we need to address over the long haul to make sure that we maintain the strength of the union that the president laid out last night. reporter: a big goal of the
president in the next term of his presidency is criminal justice reform. mr. cook: no announcement on his next term. reporter: criminal justice reform requires working with conservatives, conservative groups, republicans, the election year has kicked off. how much time do you have to actually get something done on this issue before the election kicks off and how is that process going in terms of working with these conservative groups that are out there trying to tear the president down in other ways but support you in criminal justice? mr. mcdonough: the president said we don't have to agree on everything but get to work on some things that we can and should work on. that's point one.
point two, we don't spend a lot of time keeping score of who is being nice to us, or who is being mean to us, but focused on how we are going to get stuff done. i will call your attention to the fact that the president very early in the speech talked about his hope that we can work together on the opioids and heroin epidemic in this country. that can and should feed the criminal justice reform effort. and by the way that's kind of happening all across the country in every corner of the country. i was just home and this huge issue in minnesota and suburban twin cities. this is true in every corner of the country. point three how much time we got, we don't have much. and i think part of the argument we will be making and the president referred to last night and i think in each of the
efforts we have gone through is the president is trying to make personal that we not overwhelm don't have a lot of time to get this done, but as it relates to time, there is some fundamental injustice we should correct in terms of the time that any of these individuals is now serving, which is in cases across the board, republicans and democrats, conservatives and progressives, be agree is too much. and we ought to correct that. and so you're right. it's going to be hard. it requires cooperation with some of the most conservative members and it requires working through the committees, the
judiciary committees or more recently have become the most partisan committees. but nevertheless, the president has had a series of meetings with democrats and republicans together as well as individual meetings with members on both sides that have been among the most substantive that he's had on any issue. so there's a lot of fruitful common ground to be plowed here and i think we can make use of the time we do have. the underlying current of your question is there is not much time. we're pushing up if i understand or remember correctly the time line for congress this year.
i think they are anticipating being in session until the middle of july and in effect, being done. that feeds our sense of urgency to get this done. reporter: did you hear governor haley's speech last night but echoed what the president said of rejecting the politics of fear, a lot of what donald trump has talked about. and the official republican response would be in effect a rebuke of the party's presidential front runner, do you see it that way and do you think something like that could be a pivotal moment. mr. mcdonough: i read her response and i read a lot of the coverage today. i was in a meeting yesterday that i have a lot of admiration for the governor. i think some of the things she has done over the course of the last year are remarkable. i thought that the reaction and
her leadership role in the follow-up on the charleston shootings and her very brave and admirable role on the flag were powerful. and so on one level i wasn't surprised to see the -- some of the themes in the speech given that. i don't consider myself particularly qualified to comment on what's going to move and be consequential in the republican primary or the presidential campaign generally. i have trepidation of going -- i thought it was -- i have been impressed by the governor's work, a lot of stuff that she's proposed and worked for that that we disagree with and things
that we wish she would do and haven't done, like medicaid exchanges the top of the list, i think there's a huge chance for south carolinians to get basic protections. so by no means do i -- am i trying to endorse everything that she is doing. but a lot of it including parts of the speech last night were admirable. reporter: the end of last year, beginning of this year, we have seen rhetoric of syrian refugees and members to put greater scrutiny on refugees. how does the administration plan to address that issue? mr. mcdonough: we continue to think that and pursue policies that maintain united states
leadership role on refugees generally and in syria and central america in particular. we -- i'm quite proud of the work of this government over the course of the last several years to fulfill the quota established each year of 70,000 to 75,000 each year. but over the course of the last three years, we filled those quotas for the first time in a long time. really for the first time since 9/11. and it's our intention to continue to grow that topline quota. and we believe that the budget agreement gives us the resources to continue to grow that number.
so we'll continue to work that. that's point one. that is a priority for us and will continue to be the budget that we got at the end of last year to give us the resources to continue to do that. point two is that my hunch is it will continue to be controversial for the reasons that the president pointed out in his speech last night but we'll continue to defend the idea of the united states as refuge, but also the idea that refugees in the united states add immeasurably to the national interests and it is going to be something we have to get out and defend. but we are prepared to do that. and the examples are many.
-- and the example are manifold. and i can tell you that my own personal experience as a young kid in minnesota when my family sponsored a vietnamese refugee family, my wife and me sponsoring refugee families here in d.c. over the course of the last couple decades. partially motivates my own view of this. but united states -- the impact of refugees on the national interests is undeniable and we will defend that. it will be tough to beat and see how it goes. we won't shy from it. reporter: just a follow-up on a question. in the last gallup poll, the way things are going, 79% but in the 60, 70's or 80's for 10 years. when you look at that as a decade-long condition, do you read those numbers primarily about economic anxiety and insecurity or about political frustration with divided government or with the political
leadership in this country? mr. mcdonough: fair question, i think. i start with a confession, i see these polls and get together with you guys, to be honest, when i read those, what do i think when i read those? i don't because i don't read them. based on my interactions with both our people who do read them and with my interaction just coming back from the holidays and spending time with my own family, quite extended and is quite large. i think it's a reasonable sample size. i think it's both.
i think -- i think that -- what's interesting is we are seeing some bounce back in productivity in the course of the last year or so. but there is a strange lull in productivity. and the global economy right now that productivity, jason and sandy, productivity globally is down, which is weird, because the big input in the economy right now is something that we all think adds productivity namely technology. productivity is down, but that also is part of a stagnation of wages that far predates the last 10 years. so wage stagnation has got to be part of it, but that's not new in the last 10 years, that's like a 30-year trend.
but the combination of people feeling like they are working as hard as they can, the vehicles by which they determine how their kids are going to get to the next level from what they got or from what we got is also super expensive. the education inflation numbers are outpacing health care inflation numbers and something that we believe as an administration that the universities and higher education have to account for. that's why we went through the whole exercise we went through last year on college score cards. i think it's both.
it has to do with the historic trend on wage stagnation. as people feel their wages are stagnating, other things that are indicators of success are not stagnating. inflation is out of control and ultimately they feel that policy makers aren't responding to either of those questions. and so that's a generational thing that we have to make sure we are responding to. reporter: recently i interviewed a cardinal who had been at the monitor's breakfast and while he applauded the statement of the persecution of christians in the middle east that was issued before christmas, he did express a hope that the president would follow the example of pope francis and other world leaders and call it genocide. this is something that the cardinal felt strongly about, that other secular as well as church leaders feel strong about. will the administration call
what is happening to christians in the middle east genocide? mr. mcdonough: thanks. i read the transcript of his eminence's appearance here. it must have been an interesting conversation. and when you think about the question about refugees or this question of talking about stagnation or opportunity, i think his eminence and the holy father have been catalysts in our public debate. so i think -- we owe them a debt of gratitude for their work on that.
on this question -- i got this question also from cardinal dolan, and as i understand it -- i guess i understand it is not on the record. i put an as terrific there to make sure maybe i don't understand it, but as i understand it the holocaust museum is going through a policy review as to whether it should characterize what's happening in the middle east as genocide toward christians but also otherwise. this is not administration policy this is holocaust museum policy. i think -- i'm not aware of us making a determination in any case about determining whether there is genocide in the middle east. i could take that question on and see if we can check it to see if we are undertaking a review of that. but at the time when i talked to cardinal dolan last year, we were not.
i want to be careful here because i don't want to make sure we are not expressly calling it genocide. we have not taken on this question of characterizing the ongoing violence as genocide. reporter: i wanted to ask you we have not taken on this question of characterizing the ongoing violence as genocide. reporter: i wanted to ask you about the politics brings out the best in us and not the worst and regretted that politics is so divisive and what lessons he has learned about that or what he might do differently to bring out the best in politics. and including language that clearly was a direct response to donald trump and ted cruz in the speech and if you are trying to bring out the best in politics, why why wade into the republican primary?
mr. mcdonough: on the question -- i think the president believed it was important that there be an alternative to rebut the prevailing wisdom in some of the public debate right now. and that is fully consistent with the tone of his speech and the content of the speech and also what he said. i thought his characterization of the founders and the vigor with which they debated forcefully issues that in many ways both strongly held but also opposed was a good example.
tom daschle who i worked for for a long time said it was the music democracy. but without the music, it just doesn't work. what i would say back, i don't see him offering a different narrative or a different argument as being inconsistent with the politics that rises above kind of the -- otherwise unproductive nature of some of this -- unproductive conduct so far. in terms of what specifically he'll do, in basket four of the
speech, i don't want to frontline on that, and i think you'll see a lot -- it's one of those things i think you'll want to kind of have reported after the fact rather than lead up to conduct thereof. but i guess i want to underscore what he said, which is this can't be -- this is not just a question of who controls the next congress and the next president. it can't be the work of just the president or anybody else. he really put a call out to american citizens to engage. and i think you will see him engaging with american citizens directly. on the full range of policy questions including the ones we just talked about, but also directly engaging with them in small groups in living rooms and towns across the country and those are going to be in red and blue states.
and so ultimately as he said, we need hard work in this democracy and we want to make sure that the american people that are driving that change. mr. cook: we've got about 10 minutes left and 11 questions. i'm not going to be able to get to everybody. nice to have some substantive answers. all in life is not a tweet. but there may be some frustration. mr. mcdonough: you share a lot of wisdom. reporter: the rancor and -- [indiscernible]
reporter: since you have been around the white house and congress all these years and talked with the president about how this has all unfolded. what is responsible for that? apart from the question you just took on, what can we do going forward. when he looks at the situation and look at how this has played out over the past seven years, who's responsible? mr. mcdonough: so, you know, i think he talked a little bit about that last night. i think -- what strikes me is republicans and democrats say this to me -- i assume they say it to you guys, too, off the record, republicans and democrats are struck by the noise signal ratio or the politics to substance ratio of
their job, and obviously, they wished the ratio was much more substantive than they find it when they get here. and you know -- probably the reason you are asking the questions are the reasons i don't want to answer it. but as i think there are a lot of us to blame. i think it's the structure of our campaigns, the structure of our districts, kind of what's happening in terms of news media, that is to say you can select the news media the same way you select your neighborhood, your church, so it ends up being -- you can end up
in an echo chamber unless you aggressively work to get out of that, to seek different chambers of information and friendships and ideas, you end up -- and i think that that ultimately is the thing that we rely on you all and your jobs are so important. i think we also as individuals here district of columbia look, i'm struck by the fact that republicans and democrats on the hill, they don't spend a lot of time together, period. so that's one thing i have tried to do and will continue to do here over the course of the next year if the president keeps me
on the job and see if we get anywhere. i'm filibustering the answer because i don't know precisely and we'll keep track of different things. reporter: can you give us information of how much political capital the president plans to use this year. mr. mcdonough: the president has been doing a lot of reading on this and also had a bunch of conversations with susan and gale as well as others. you know at the world bank and other places. he came back -- i forget, i
think it was over the summer having read some on malaria and he said, you know how close we are to really breaking through on malaria and beating malaria? and i confessed that i didn't. so susan and gail and ben did a lot of work on this over the course of the fall. i think this is something that along with pepfar, something that president bush and ambassador -- secretary rice and mike, those guys should feel really good about. they got us up the impact curve on h.i.v., on malaria and t.b.
that maybe if we give it a little extra push here, maybe we can close this out. we're going to push on this and the president did put it in there deliberately. i'm glad you noticed. reporter: what about unilateralism - mr. mcdonough: on ebola that liberia comes clean again which will then be each of the three countries at the epicenter of the ebola epidemic having come out of the depth of that epidemic.
the capability inside usaid, n.i.h., c.d.c. and u.s. military is a gem for the united states government and for the united states people. this is a capability that from the response -- the haiti earthquake to ongoing efforts in sudan to treat infectious disease to h.i.v. to malaria. these guys are unbelievably good and we should be proud of their work. i think the bush administration should be proud of their work. reporter: no executive orders or executive actions announced last night. mr. mcdonough: i think the speech itself was an executive action.
reporter: previous years have been year of action, if congress won't act, i will. am i wrong, we are starting to see a somewhat more constrained view of utility of executive action as he gets later in his presidency. with the gun action, it was coloring within the lines. not going as far as rewriting engaging the business rule, offering guidance. is there an understanding that anything done by executive action can be undone by executive action. is there an evolution of the president's utility of executive power? mr. mcdonough: we'll do executive actions throughout the course of the year, i'm confident of that.
there is -- go back to the first question, process is your friend, but process dictates what you can do and we want to make sure we get the executive actions that we undertake are not left hanging out there subject to congress undoing them and so we're very mindful of time frames by which we have to meet our targets. so process is your friend but process has a lot of requirements. i think maybe what you're seeing is our efforts to make sure that the steps we take are one that is we can lock down and not leave hanging subjected to undoing through congressional review act or otherwise. that's point one. point two is that we have no -- you know, we could try to
administer appetite suppressants inside the white house and the administration, but the president said to us the other day, i'm going to ask myself -- i'm going to demand of you guys and ask myself one question. what i'm going to demand of you is that everything we do is infused with the sense of possibility that has both undergirded this administration but also this country for time and memorial. and two, he said i'm going to be asking myself why not. and so i think that's the spirit with which we'll approach the last year. and three is, frankly that's part of the way we approached last year and as i said at the beginning, we feel good about last year.
we want to start feeling good about this year so we are going to lean pretty hard into it. mr. cook: appreciate you spending with us. mr. mcdonough: i appreciate it guys. thanks for having me. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] also on wednesday, mac thornberry of texas criticize president obama state of the union address during a speech on defense and national security issues. chairman thornberry tells the national press club in washington, the world is more dangerous than in 2009, and u.s.. already is eroding. eroding.superiority is r this is an hour. >> welcome to the national press club.
my name is john hughes. i'm an editor for bloomberg first word, that's bloomberg news's breaking news desk here in washington, d.c. and i am the 108th president of the national press club. our speaker today is representative mac thornberry. he's the chairman of the house armed services committee. before i tell you more about him, i want to introduce this distinguished head table we have with us today. these head table members include guests of our speaker, and they also include national press club members. i ask each person to stand when their name is announced. and starting from the audience's right, carl leubsdorf, washington columnist for the dallas morning news; tom vanden brook, pentagon correspondent for usa today, ellen mitchell, reporter for inside the army; marc schanz, director of
publications for the mitchell institute for aerospace studies; jacqueline klimas, reporter for the washington examiner; captain miles miller, who is our speaker's defense fellow; kasia klimasinska, a bloomberg news reporter who is the incoming chair of the national press club speakers committee. skipping over our speaker for a moment, pat host, a reporter for defense daily, and the speakers committee member who organized today's lunch. thank you, pat. kevin wensing, u.s. navy captain retired, a member of the national press club speakers committee, and director of the navy league of the united states, jen judson, a reporter for defense news, and co-chair of the national press club young members committee, josh martin,
chief of staff for our speaker, and bob simmons, house armed services committee staff director. [applause] i also want to welcome our live audience here in the elegant national press club ballroom. i want to welcome our viewers on c-span and listeners on public radio. you can also follow today's action on twitter. use the hashtag npclive. that's hashtag npclive. our speaker today is a texas republican who was first elected to the united states house of representatives in 1994. that was the year that voters ended democrats' 40 year run in the majority. prior to his election, representative thornberry was deputy secretary of state for legislative affairs in the
reagan administration, and he also has previously worked as a congressional chief of staff. in congress, he has been a member of the intelligence, budget, resources and homeland security committees. and in 2011 and 2012, he chaired the taskforce on cyber security. thornberry's most prominent role, however, is as chairman of the house armed services committee. in beginning his second year in that job now, he plans to continue an effort he's already started to change the defense acquisitions process. his goal, which is shared by his senate counterpart, john mccain, is to make weapons buying less wasteful and more agile and innovative. a 2015 gao report says it's not unusual for delivery time and
cost to be underestimated by 20 to 50 percent. critics of the system say the competitive market forces of supply, demand and price are missing when there's a single buyer, and that single buyer being the pentagon. and there aren't many incentives to deliver programs on time. some changes were included in the defense authorization legislation that was signed into law last year. but thornberry has said that that piece of legislation was just a first step. what are the next steps? let's hear that from our speaker. ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm national press club welcome to house armed services committee chairman, mac thornberry.
chairman thornberry: well, thank you all for being here. i certainly appreciate this opportunity to think out loud with you a little bit about the threats that the country faces, and about what congress, and more particularly, the house armed services committee, intends to do about them in the coming year. last month, at the library of congress, the new speaker, paul ryan, outlined his vision for rebuilding a confident america. and that included an america that is respected and leads in the world. he specifically talked about making sure we have a military for the 21st century. as i have emphasized since i became chairman a year ago, the constitution puts that responsibility on congress's shoulders. too many of us tend to assume that it's the executive branch's
job to figure out what we need to defend the country. and then they send the bill to congress and expect us to salute and write the check. but that's not what article 1, section 8 says. it says it's congress's duty to raise and support, provide and maintain, make rules for the government in regulation of the military forces of the united states. and the men and women on our committee, on both sides of the aisle, take that responsibility very seriously. as a matter of fact, as many of you all know, most of the issues we grapple with, we do so on a bipartisan basis. now, that doesn't mean that everybody agrees with every judgment call, but by and large, people try to find the right answer for the country. now, some of the calls we have made in the last few years that disagreed with the administration proposals, things such as retaining an aircraft