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tv   Newsmakers Rep John Yarmuth Budget Cmte Chair  CSPAN  November 18, 2019 3:09pm-3:48pm EST

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university about the u.s. legal system. live coverage begins at 4:30 all rn and you can follow of our coverage jonathan at c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. congressman, let me begin with the results yesterday in new orleans and louisiana in which john bel edwards, the democrat, winning with --t: joining us from loifl, louisville, kentucky on c-span's newsmakers program, democratic congressman john yarmuth, chair of the house budget committee. thank you for being with us.
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rep. yarmuth: good to be with you. >> joining us in the questioning is cristina marcos, who covers capitol hill. and the correspondent covering capitol hill for the wall street journal. let me begin with the results yesterday in new orleans. in which john bel edwards, the democrat, winning with 51% of the vote. this is a state that donald trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016. he campaigned there in three separate occasions. it follows the election in your home state where andy beshear defeated the republican incumbent in kentucky. what does this tell you7 rep. yarmuth: well, it tells me that president trump's endorsement does not mean a holland. i think there were probably extraneous factors in both cases. i know in louisiana a lot of former convicts had their voting rights restored recently. that could have played a role. in kentucky, we had a very unpopular governor, matt bevin, who has tried to undermine the affordable care act here, which would have taken health insurance away from 95,000 people. he attacked teachers. he was quite a controversial figure. but basically, president trump came the day before the election to kentucky. it did not do any good for matt bevin, and it looks like the same in louisiana. it is a good sign for states like ours, in which demographics are beginning to play a
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different role. an exit poll taken here after the election had andy beshear winning 62% to 34% among voters under 40. and with women, he had a substantial margin. so i think we are seeing here and probably in louisiana as well the national trend where women, people of color, and younger people are beginning to determine who wins or loses. >> a quick follow-up in terms of your home state. senator mitch mcconnell seeking another term, being challenged by democrat amy mcgrath. based on what you saw in the governor's race, where does that put your party in challenging the senate republican leader? rep. yarmuth: well, mitch is also very unpopular. i think one poll has him at 18% approval rating in my district. here in louisville, i know he is very unpopular. i was thinking that donald trump
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might save him, because trump won the state by about 30 points. but now the last public poll had 54%/43%, approval-disapproval, down from netapp approval rating down to 11. that might show that trump won't be that big of a factor. but still, he will be on the ballot and i think that will work to mcconnell's benefit. if he is on the ballot there is some challenges -- if he is on the ballot. there is some chance he won't be. if he's not on the ballot, amy mcgrath or whoever the nominee is, we have a primary, will be a very strong competitor to him. >> why would the president not be on the ballot? rep. yarmuth: i think that he might look at a humiliating defeat staring him in the face next spring and say, i want to go out on my terms. i have made america as great as i can, and go play golf.
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with him it is all about ego. if he is looking at a staggering defeat, which i think is possible, he may decide not to run. there are some people i will not name, but a pretty substantial political analysts who think there's a 50/50 chance he won't be on the ballot and one of them from louisiana, as a matter of fact. if that's a good enough hint. [laughter] but i think, it is still likely he will be on it, but i think there's some chance he won't be. but in any event, we are going to have a strong candidate. whoever runs as our nominee will have all the money he or she needs to match mitch's money and i think that will be a critical factor as well. >> let me turn to cristina marcos. of thehill.com. cristina: thanks for being with us, congressman. i want to turn to impeachment. democrats have a jampacked schedule of hearings this week with several witnesses. so far, polling has remained relatively stable in recent
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weeks. do democrats need to convince more americans? with these hearings, to make the case for impeachment? is there any way for democrats to do so? rep. yarmuth: well, i think these hearings could. i think ambassador sondland, his testimony, if he testifies as to the conversations he had with the president, might make a little bit of a difference. i think where you will really see the potential for a change in public attitude is when the judiciary committee actually debates the articles of impeachment. because i think what you will see there is not just a phone call where there was, what i call bribery or extortion against the president of ukraine. but you will see many cases of obstruction of justice, many cases of obstruction of congress. and i think the american people will get a much starker picture of the enormous offenses against
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the constitution that this president has committed. andy: a follow-up, this is andy with the wall street journal. follow-up on the point about the articles of impeachment. one of the things that has been discussed after mark sandy was on the hill testifying, the question of whether the hold on the security assistance over the summer to ukraine violated the impoundment control act. i know this is something that as the chairman of the budget committee you have looked at and requested information from omb about how the money was held up. do you think that impoundment or how the funds were handled and the legal liabilities should be part of the articles the house considers? rep. yarmuth: i don't know. i think that would be getting into the weeds a little bit too much to move public opinion. we are working on legislation to
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put greater restrictions on the ability of omb to withhold spending. so we are concerned about that. chairman mike enzi of the senate budget committee is working on it as well. the congress is focused on that issue. this is the preeminent power of 1.icle the power to appropriate funds for the government. that is exclusively the power of the congress. and we need to protect that prerogative. but i think as an article of impeachment, that might be a tough sell for the american people. not to say that it might not be worth considering, but one of the things our leadership has rightly concluded is that we cannot have 15 articles of impeachment and hope to make a compelling case to the american people. >> let me follow up on andy's point.
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during the timeframe of july to arly to mid september, did you know that $391 million in aid to ukraine was being held up? rep. yarmuth: no. i had no idea. i do not think anyone knew until the whistleblower letter came out. i certainly was not aware. we did request information from omb. we got some, but not all. and when the intelligence committee subpoenaed omb, they made a determination they could not comply with our request any further. so we have information about that. of course, it is now public knowledge that the process was taken out of the hands of the career civil service people in the omb and turned over to political appointees to take the funds away, withhold the funds from ukraine. we also know that the pentagon
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had signed off, saying that the funds should have been disbursed, that ukraine complied with the terms that they thought important. so, we had that kind of information. but again, i think there are far more serious offenses that our caucus would want to concentrate on. >> one follow-up. your colleague republican jim jordan of ohio insists the whistleblower needs to testify. senator lindsey graham says he would not proceed with a senate trial until that person testifies. but whoever this person is has admitted that it is secondhand information that he received regarding the phone call. this week, we will hear from people who will have firsthand information. colonel vindland, ambassador sondland. based on that, do you feel it is important to hear from the first whistleblower? mr. yarmuth: no.
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is they're trying to do impugn his information or motives and thereby in some way undermine the value of what he alerted the inspector general to. but in fact, everything he mentioned in the initial nine-page complaint has been verified by the people who actually provided the information. host: why do they keep pushing this? mr. yarmuth: well, i think they want to come in and say, well, you are a democrat or you are a "never trumper" and you had political motivation. again, that is just distracting from the substance of what the information he provided, which has all been corroborated by witnesses who were closer to it than he was. so there is no value in having unless re the congress it's to let the republicans try and estion his motivation somehow distract
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people from the substance of the complaint. >> let me turn to cristina marcos. cristina: congressman, to follow-up on other possible articles of impeachment. you have long been a supporter of impeaching this president. do you think the potential obstruction of justice allegations laid out in special counsel mueller's report should also be part of potential articles of impeachment that the house considers? or should it be limited to the ukraine affair? rep. yarmuth: no, i do think we ought to look at some of those. in the mueller report, there were 10 cases of obstruction of justice in which mr. mueller concluded they met all three conditions for a legitimate charge of obstruction of justice. but, because of justice department policy, he could not bring criminal charges against the president. he said very clearly in the report, the president obstructed justice on 10 different occasions. i think at least several of them ought to be part of any articles of impeachment.
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ost: andy of "t"the wall street journal."" andy: congressman, i wanted to ask you about the continuing resolution the house is going to take up this week. it seems like that will last through december 20. do you think that is a realistic timeline to complete all work necessary to fund the government after december 20? do you think that negotiations are going well enough for that to be an end date? rep. yarmuth: i think that negotiations are going well enough that we can fund the vast majority of the government through regular order. i think it will be tough for us to come to an agreement on the homeland security budget because of border wall funding. us from doesn't prevent approving the appropriations bills -- the other 11 bills, which congress is supposed to do. so, i can see a scenario in which we pass those 11 appropriations bills and do a continuing resolution for homeland security alone. i think that would be great progress.
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it would be a nice christmas present, to be able to get that out of the way. cristina: with the budget deal over the summer, treasury secretary mnuchin has been emerging as a key player in these latest negotiations over spending. is he essentially the only member of the administration that democrats can deal with on these budget issues? mr. yarmuth: well, i think you'd ow -- ordinarily say mick mulvaney would be one as well. but i think mick has other distractions. i think right now that is probably the case, that secretary mnuchin is the only one. i have not heard of any other administration officials who has been part of the negotiations. ndy: you mentioned mick mulvaney. i'm wondering, have you been in touch with him at all lately? i know he is someone you're close with and you have gone to campaign with him and other members of congress. have you kept in touch with him lately? rep. yarmuth: no.
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i really haven't been in touch with him since shortly after the camp david visit, back in february or march i believe. haven't talked to him since then. host: let me go back to the issue. mr. yarmuth: i would talk to him. host: why is it so hard for democrats and republicans to pass a budget on time? as a follow-up, what's the likelihood that down the road we could see a two-year budget blueprint? rep. yarmuth: to your first question, we passed all of our appropriations bills except for homeland security and the administrative congressional budget by the end of june. we did our work, and very expeditiously. i cannot explain why the senate has not done its work. but that seems to be typical, under senator mcconnell's leadership. there is no reason that we can't do it, that the senate can't do it. they do not seem to be doing anything else, except approving unqualified judges to the
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federal bench. but we can do our job. as to the second point, i think there is a real possibility that we might do a two-year budgeting cycle. last year, we had a bipartisan committee, house and senate, to consider reforms of the budget appropriations process. that was one of the items that seems to have a significant amount of bipartisan and bicameral support. i think it makes sense. even though it is only one more year, it does have the effect of forcing us to think a little bit longer-term, and that is always good. it would bring more certainty to the departments so they can operate more efficiently and not have to worry about longer-term contracts being written and signed and research grants being cut off.
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i think it would be great for the agencies if we did that. and it would allow is in the congress to do more budgetary oversight, which we have not done nearly enough of. host: cristina marcos. cristina: another follow-up on a potential spending deal. you suggested there could be a temporary patch for the department of homeland security while the rest of the government is funded in another vehicle. i am wondering -- is there any chance that democrats would vote for a spending bill that does not limit trump's ability to transfer funds like he did earlier this year in moving military construction funds to the border wall? also, is there any way that democrats could vote for a spending deal that even allows a dollar for border wall funding? rep. yarmuth: well, i am not going to negotiate for the entire democratic caucus. but i think the last spending bill, there was $1 billion for fence maintenance.
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$1.5 billion, i think. it depends on how you define expenditures for a border wall. but the question of spending $5 billion or $6 billion for a border wall is a nonstarter. that has no chance of passing the house. andy: congressman, on the transfer authority point, is this something, one thing that republicans have been saying is that democratic efforts to restrict the president's transfer authority violate the agreement reached over the summer for no poison pills in the budget negotiations. is that something, is that a legitimate criticism, that trying to limit the president's transfer authority violates that no poison pill agreement from over the summer? rep. yarmuth: i don't think that that type of provision would violate the promise of no poison pills. but somebody else's logical,
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sound provision is somebody else's poison pill. if republicans feel it's a poison pill, they'll claim it violates the agreement. it just depends on whether they would risk shutting down the government or dealing with c.r.'s next year is worth the price of holding to that principle. i think, part of, the number one prerogative of the house under the constitution, the congress under the constitution is to decide what spending is done. there are processes for moving funding. and if the administration were to follow them, probably everyone will be ok with it, but that's not with this administration does. they are assuming they have the ultimate authority over where money is spent. clearly, the constitution says otherwise. did you want to follow up?
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andy: no. let me turn back to politics, ask you about the senate republican leader in your home state. first of all, who do you want to see as the democratic nominee? rep. yarmuth: i want to see whoever wins the primary. i think whoever wins the democratic primary will have proven himself or herself to be the superior campaigner, and the candidate with the most appeal. we have to have, in order to win a race in kentucky, we have to have every democratic vote that is possible. we can't have any candidate who jeopardizes, threatens the loss of democratic voters. there are not enough persuadable voters in the state. i don't think there's much opportunity to convert a lot of republicans. we have already converted a lot of suburbanites in louisville and lexington. we won, andy beshear won the election in louisville by 100,000 votes. actually 99,999.
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that is an unprecedented margin, because we motivated and turned out every single democratic voter we can. so i think in the democratic primary, we have to have, the winner will be the one who proves themselves to be the best campaigner and best candidate for the democrats. that is priority number one. >> to that point, if the democrats nominate somebody like elizabeth warren or senator bernie sanders proposing medicare for all or for all who want it, can that candidate win in your state? rep. yarmuth: it's unlikely. but interestingly enough, in 2016, bernie sanders did extremely well in kentucky in the democratic primary. he had almost 50% of the delegates. it was like 52% to 48% of the delegates. so he did well here. but i think in a general election in kentucky where
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voters have trended republican in national elections, that would probably be a difficult spot. i don't think he would, that this would be bernie sanders's best state. i'll say that. >> that would be the message of senator mitch mcconnell, that if there is a nominee or elected president, he is the one candidate who would stop a medicare for all proposal from moving in the senate. rep. yarmuth: interestingly enough, i am not sure how medicare for all would play here. the affordable care act is enormously popular now. more than 400,000 kentuckians have coverage under expanded medicaid. hundreds of thousands have protection against discrimination for pre-existing conditions. so depending on how medicare for all is actually constructed, if you construct it in a way that
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some people have talked about where you prohibit private insurance, in my district humana is based in my district. and humana's entire business -- 80% of the business is administering government health insurance programs. to say humana cannot be in the business in any way might be a problem here. but if you talk about a combination of expanded medicare, medicare as a public option, i think that could be very marketable in kentucky. and elizabeth warren has kind of backed off now on her plan. she's kind of advocating a hybrid plan. and something like that might be popular here. cristina: just to follow up on that. on the others of the coin, over the summer amy mcgrath, running in the democratic primary to unseat senator mcconnell, says she would have voted to confirm brett kavanaugh to the supreme court.
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at the time, you suggested that maybe wasn't the best move on her part, for her to initially say that. you suggested that maybe other democrats should enter the primary. to ensure they have the strongest candidate. do you think she has learned from that episode? do you think there should be more democrats to run in that primary? rep. yarmuth: i think she learned from that episode. when she ran for congress, ran for the house in 2018, she said she would not have voted for brett kavanaugh. i talked to her about it. she said she basically just choked and was very sorry that happened. but that probably cost her some democratic support. whether she can recapture some of those people is a good question. she is going to have to make an
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effort to do it. but she has raised over $10 million. she has an incredible national brand. she did well in lexington. she only lost the race in central kentucky by three percentage points. she has proven she can be a force. now, she is running against somebody with untold resources and 99% name recognition in kentucky, which she doesn't have yet. i think her name recognition is basically restricted to louisville and lexington. she is going to have to work on that if she is in the primary. and the nomination. but going back to your question, i did advocate, hoping people would get in, because she is our nominee, she is likely to be our nominee. she needs to face a primary where she refines her campaigning skills. because you are dealing with mitch mcconnell. and i have known him for 50 years. mitch mcconnell is tough. he is savvy. he will have tons of resources.
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so you have to be as sharp as possible. i think a primary would be helpful to her. >> with all due respect, if you said she choked on the brett kavanaugh vote, is she ready for a statewide election? rep. yarmuth: well, we will see. i don't know that yet. she says she choked. she told me. [laughter] she was in an interview with the editorial board at the courier-journal here and was not expecting the question, according to her, wasn't expecting the question and blank. i think that calls into question how sharp she will be, for mitch mcconnell. but she's a very smart person. she is totally dedicated to public service. and she has a great resume. she inspires a lot of people. so, she has a lot going for her, and hopefully will be sharper than when she started the campaign and take on mitch.
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>> we will let you get a drink of water. questions from andy of "the wall street journal." andy: what is your understanding of where things are on the 302b subcommittee allocations, and what will reaching that initial agreement say for future negotiations during the rest of the year? rep. yarmuth: well, i think we have actually over the last couple years, we have come to a much better bipartisan, bicameral place in terms of negotiations. we negotiated the budget, the hike in the budget caps very well, came to a good agreement there, the spending bills for the end of 2017-2018 to end the shutdown. we came to a deal that i think both sides felt was fair and acceptable. so, i think we, what's happened is, nobody wants a shutdown
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anymore, mitch mcconnell least of all. i think he knows he'll be blamed for a shutdown if one were to happen. he knows also it is now a different partisan alignment, with democrats' priorities different than the republican house's were. mitch is a pragmatist. this is one area where he has been in recent years and is being now very constructive. so i think it bodes well for the future, if we can get this deal done before december 20. >> what is your relationship like with senator mcconnell? rep. yarmuth: so, i was a republican until 1985. i ran for a county commissioner spot on a ticket with mitch mcconnell in 1981. i thought his coat tails were
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going to be longer than they won and i didn't. we obviously, we were political allies at one time. so, we have a history that is very cordial, and i think i would say right now that we have a cordial relationship, very civil. we end up on the plane together a lot, going back and forth, and we talk. on the other hand, i'm the only federal democrat in kentucky. whenever mitch does something, i am the one who is asked to comment, so i'm in his face a lot in the media, and that has chilled the relationship some. but mitch is a professional. he knows what i say in public, what he says in public, you shouldn't take it personally, so i think we are fine. [laughter] we are fine. he doesn't call me much. i don't call him much.
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[laughter] cristina: assuming talks go well this week and congress passes a stopgap measure, funding through december 20, that is likely going to be at least right now, based on the timeline, when democrats might be voting to impeach president trump. how confident are you that congress and president trump can walk and chew gum at the same time? rep. yarmuth: well, not 100% confident. the way i answer every question about what i think will happen, regardless of the subject, i preface it by saying, in a rational world this should happen, or this would happen. in a rational world, we should be able to keep the government open. in a rational world, the president should say, it's not good for my re-election efforts
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if i shut the government down it will be hetely who does it because i think we'll pass congress, a bill, pass a spending bill. excuse me. so, it's all up to the president, and i'm sure it will make it tough. this president doesn't seem like he can focus on different things at the same time, and will be clearly focused on the impeachment process, i'm sure. but hopefully secretary mnuchin, anybody else involved in the process, will advise him, and he will listen. if congress can come to agreement, he shouldn't stand in the way. host: a minute or two left, get another f water, and question in andy of -- of andy of "the wall street journal." eventual r the impeachment proceedings wrap up,
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what would the legislative environment look like? are you confident that both sides can get back to the table after the house passes articles of impeachment and the senate completes a trial? what will things look like on capitol hill at that point? rep. yarmuth: given that we have passed more than 300 bills sitting on mitch mcconnell's desk awaiting action, including some very important bills with bipartisan support, i don't see the combination of an impeachment process and an election year being conducive to getting anything done. so, i think, i certainly don't think they will be an improvement over the situation we are in right now or have been in all year. i suspect it will be somewhat worse. so i wouldn't, beyond keeping the government open, i don't see much hope for any significant year.ation to pass next host: one final political question. you have not endorsed anyone on the democratic side in the 2020 presidential race. will you? rep. yarmuth: i doubt it.
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i know too many of them, friends of mine. several of my friends have withdrawn, which is good. but i have known joe biden, i was a staffer in the early 1970's when he came to the senate as a 30-year-old. i have known him a long time. wonderful person. elizabeth warren is a friend of mine. i have great respect for michael bennet. we served on the select committee together last year and developed a relationship. obviously, i know tulsi gabbard and several other candidates. personally, i don't think i would feel comfortable doing it, just because i have so many friends. if i saw a situation in which i thought that my endorsement would make a difference, then i might change my mind. but i suspect, the kentucky primary is late, at the end of may, and i suspect that the nomination process will be, a
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lot of people will have been eliminated by that time, although kentucky may end up actually being somewhat strategically important, if it is, if the primaries don't identify one nominee. so the circumstances could change. i might change my mind. i did endorse president obama in 2008 and, well, he didn't have a primary in 2012, in 2008. i did not, i endorsed hillary clinton in 2016, but by that time, again, kentucky's votes didn't make much difference. we will see. i don't endorse at all in local primaries in kentucky. i have taken a vow on that. but presidential is different, and i know a lot of my constituents, my democratic constituents, expect me to or hope that i do, so we will see how it goes. not yet by any stretch. >> john yarmuth, chair of the house budget committee,
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representative from louisville. thank you for being with us. rep. yarmuth: thanks for having me. >> what did you hear today from the congressman? andy: i think what we heard today is that funding the government is likely the only legislative action we will see on capitol hill until a democrat or a new administration were to take over, or if there were some sort of change in power in the senate or something were to change electorally in - on capitol hill and washington. barring that, we're looking at very little legislative progress here in washington in the near and medium future. >> two days of public testimony, three days this week. beginning tuesday morning. we will hear for the first time from those on the call, including colonel vindman. on the july 25 call between the and the ukrainian president, what are you looking for? >> last week, the republicans hammered the
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point that the witnesses who testified to date have only heard things secondhand, whereas this week we will finally get to start hearing people on the call, as well as gordon sondland, ambassador to the european union, who had direct contact with president trump. that will quickly undermine this republican talking point about witnesses. so, it will be on democrats to really show that there was, that president trump was directly involved in this effort to pressure the ukrainian government for these investigations, and eventually that the aide to ukraine was on the line as well. >> we will follow your work at thehill.com. andy, his work on wsj.com. both of you, thanks for the with us on c-span's "newsmakers" program. have a great day. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> the u.s. house is back at 4:15 eastern to start
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legislative work for the week. federal spending legislation to extend current funding. that measure will need to be approved by both the house and senate and then sent to for his trump signature to avoid a possible shutdown. follow live house coverage here c-span and watch the senate on c-span2. later this afternoon on c-span3, supreme court justice elena kagan will talk to students at george mason university about u.s. legal system. live coverage begins at 4:30 eastern and you can follow all online at rage c-span.org or listen with the app.c-span radio >> this week, the house chairigence committee and adam schiff continue public impeachment inquiry hearings morning at esday 9:00 eastern on c-span3. watch live testimony from williams, aide to vice president mike pence. and director for european securityt the national council, lieutenant colonel alexander vindman.
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2:30, ambassador volker, white l security council house aide tim morrison. on wednesday at 9:00 a.m. testimony continues with u.s. ambassador to the union gordon sondland. nd then deputy assistant secretary of defense laura cooper and david hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs. and on thursday at 9:00 p.m. eastern, the committee will hear hill, ony from fiona former national security council senior director for europe and russia. first two public hearings in their entirety on our website c-span.org/impeachment. there, you'll also find transcripts of witness testimony and procedures for the hearings. points of interest feature that identifies key moments during the hearing star in the a timeline. this week watch live coverage of the house impeachment inquiry on c-span3, c-span.org, or listen live wherever you are
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with the free c-span radio app. >> tonight on "the communicators", marc randolph, netflix and author f the book, "that will never work," sheers his experiences -- shares his experiences. keys andt.o. hit a few we were live. and it didn't take long. we got that first ding. cheered and began opening bottles of champagne and then two or three minutes later, ding, ding. three more orders. we were so excited. orders.got two more and in all the excitement we kind of lost track of things noticed, it's been a while since the bells rung. is there a plugged, problem? it turned out in the first 15 minutes of being online, we'd all of our servers. >> marc randolph tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on

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