tv Republican Leadership News Conference CSPAN January 18, 2015 11:40am-11:56am EST
of the union address tuesday night before a joint section of congress. we have live coverage getting at 8:00 eastern. will also open our phone lines. we will take your reaction on facebook and twitter. after their speech, we will bring you the republican response live being delivered by freshman lawmaker joni ernst from iowa. at the joint retreat by house and senator -- house and senate republicans, -- this was a briefing that majority leader mitch mcconnell and the present of john boehner held. it is about 15 minutes. >> good afternoon. republicans continue to make the american people's priorities jobs and economy, our priorities. we have had a great opportunity this year to make progress for
families and small businesses, and we look forward to continuing to make progress. we have already gotten off to a great start by passing a number of common sense jobs bills to help grow our economy. the president's focus is on the past, on the old politics of pitting one set of americans against the other. on the ways of top-down washington solutions. what has that produced? record debt and a shaky economy. the country is ready to move on. we need to start growing american economy, not washington's. our challenge, our opportunity is to pass common-sense solutions that will help expand opportunities for middle-class families and businesses. solutions that address the true
drivers of our debt and begin to balance the budget. solutions that repeal obamacare and replace it with patient-centered reforms that will help constituents have better access to high-quality health care in america. our job is to push for conservative reforms, show the american people we can make progress, and show the people our vision for the future that will help improve their lives. that is exactly what we plan to do, and i am particularly happy that the light went out. [laughter] very happy today to have the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell,
my friend, with us here. >> thank you. we are pleased to be here today. the announcement i want to make is senator joni ernst will be delivering the response to the state of the union for our side this year. she is a perfect choice. americans voted for change, and
the senator ernst will explain what the new congress plans to do. and what it is already doing to return focus to the concerns of the middle class and away from demands the political class. joni ernst has dedicated her life to iowa in the country, serving in the military, the iowa national guard, for more than 20 years, and has deployed overseas. she is focused
on growing an economy and expanding the middle class. >> thank you. thank you so much. thank you, speaker, and leader also. i am truly humbled and honored to have this opportunity to deliver the republican address. and it is a long way from red oak to washington, d.c. and growing up on a southwest
iowa farm years ago, i never never would have imagined that i would have this opportunity. so thank you. like so many of my colleagues, our folks back home sent us to washington, d.c., with a clear mission, and that mission is to get to work. that mission is to craft and implement good policies, good solutions which will enable us to get america on a better path. and we are anxious to do that. we are very anxious to get to work and implement these good policies. so i look forward to that very much, because we want to ensure that the america we are building leaves a stronger economy and more opportunity for our children and our grandchildren.
so again, i want to thank you very much, and i look forward to sharing more about our collective agenda this next tuesday evening. thank you, all, so much. >> we will take a couple of questions. >> you started the year saying , both of
you, saying that tax reform was something you could work with the president to use that to boost the economy. it is nice to talk about it, but what is the process, and what kind of timeline are you looking at? >> there are things we need to find out if we agree on if we go -- before we go forward. divided government is a perfect time to do tax reform. it was done in 1986 with tip o'neill and ronald reagan. they had an understanding that it was to be revenue neutral to the government. another words -- in other words it was about making america more competitive and growing the economy, not making the government larger.
the president, at least at this point, has said he is willing to do corporate tax reform only revenue neutral. the problem with that is you leave out most of american business, which pays taxes. llc's. if we can agree why we are doing this, then i think it would be the perfect time to tackle it, and those discussions are underway between the speaker and the president and myself to see if we can come to a common agreement about why we're doing this. if we can do that, it is worth pursuing. >> senator mcconnell on immigration reform, what does your senate intend to do with it, and are the 60 votes there? if not, do you have another plan? we are going to try to pass it. that will be our first choice. and if we are unable to do it,
we will see what happens.
if we are not we will let you , know what comes next. >> -- >> whoa, whoa. everybody knows what the rules are. >> speaker boehner, the threat on your life -- how are you feeling about that number one, and in light of the foiled attack on the capitol how do you feel about your personal security, member security, and the security of the building itself? >> we live in a dangerous country and we get reminded of the dangers that are out there. we saw what happened in paris a week ago. my personal situation, i will not get into it, but it is one thing to get a threat from far away. it is another when it is three doors away from where you live. obviously, this young man has some health issues, mental health issues, that need to be addressed, and i hope you get -- he gets the help he needs.
but i want to thank the fbi and capitol police and west chester police to resolve this issue. with regard to the threat to the capitol, coming not far from where i live, the first thing that strikes me is we would have never known about this had it not been for the fisa program and our ability to collect information on people who pose an imminent threat. i'm going to say this one more time, because we will hear this for months and months as we attempt to reauthorize the fisa program. our government does not spy on americans unless they are americans who are doing things that frankly tip off our law enforcement officials to an imminent threat. it was our law enforcement officials and those programs that helped us stop this person before he committed a heinous
crime in our nation's capital. >> do you know something we do not, because he was on social media talking about this? is there more to this that we do not know? >> we will let us story roll out there, but it is far more than just that. >> back in 2011, in new york you told billionaire peterson that you do not think that americans should help subsidize wealthy persons such as yourself. i was wondering if that idea that, looking at the medicare premium structure, it came up in discussion in the reconciliation process. >> the reconciliation and budget process is underway. as you are well aware, senator mcconnell and i were in on long conversations with the president about addressing our long-term spending problems which are centered around the entitlement programs. clearly, when it comes to strengthening medicare, it was one of the issues that was discussed.
but i think -- i will speak for myself -- the president was never serious about doing the kind of reforms that would put america's fiscal health in proper shape. i like to be hopeful, i am a hopeful person, i was born glass half-full but i have my doubts , about the president will be seriously given to this. >> can i just add -- >> is there a candidate reconciliation in mind? >> can i just add , the only way to do entitlement eligibility changes is on a bipartisan basis. in terms of the senate, we do not intend to be offering unilateral one-party-only entitlement eligibility changes. we all know the entitlement programs are in serious trouble, some sooner than others, but it is a perfect candidate for
agreement when you have divided government. but once again, like on tax reform, the only one of us of the 330 million of us can sign it into law and needs to be part of the discussion. >> will you point to one specific positive thing that has come out of your day and a half here in hershey? >> i think the most positive thing is you have a group of new republican members in the senate, a group of new republican members in the house, and we have had an opportunity to get to know each other. we want house and senate republicans working together with our democrat colleagues to advance good solutions, and is hard to do that when you do not have a good feel for who these people are. it has been the best part so far. >> thank you. this is really for both of you but senator mcconnell, early today you and the speaker were addressing members, reminding them to be realistic --
about what to do in the senate. have the two of you figured out how to approach issues like of dhs funding bills where there is disagreement between the chambers, and also a difference of what can actually happen? how are you going to do that -- >> the house will work its will. the senate will work its will. then we will get in conference and we will find some way to resolve the differences. that is what we call regular order. that is the legislative process. there are 535 of us on capitol hill, and to try to get all of us to agree is not an easy job. the founders never envisioned it to be easy, and it is certainly isn't. each of the chambers has to do what they are capable of doing and then we resolve the differences. >> the president is try to be
too much of the position that has passed in the keystone what , do you think could be the first piece of legislation you pass that the president will sign, and do you believe that climate change is real? >> well, on the areas of potential agreement, cyber security, trade promotion authority are two things that i think we are likely to end up in the same place. the president does not set the agenda in the senate, but we are anxious to make progress for the american people in areas we can find agreement. we earlier discussed the potential for tax reform. there is a potential for infrastructure, and i think a high likelihood we will get there on trade promotion and cyber security. >> and climate change? >> clearly we have had changes in our climate. i will let the scientists debate the sources in their opinion of that change.
but i think the real question is that every proposal we see out of the administration with regard to climate change means killing american jobs. the american people are still asking the question, where are the jobs? the jobs and the economy are still the number one issue in the country, and i do not understand why every proposal that comes of the administration is just going to kill thousands and thousands of more american jobs. >> do you feel like the president after your meeting, is he more of a willing participant? you have said he has not been in the past. does he show signs to you that things have changed? >> we had a nice conversation, very polite, clear, but i do not know if we learned a whole lot. >> you do not think his demeanor -- you talked about the stalled negotiations over a big deal --
is it your estimation that things have not really changed? >> i think it is too early to tell. i am the guy who was born see the glass as half full, and i believe hope springs eternal. the american people want us to find a way to address their concerns. that was the big message out of the election. you hear it from our members on both sides of the capitol. i hope the president heard the same message. thanks. >> can ask you about -- >> no. >> did you enjoy the chocolate? have you had any? >> that was one of a couple of briefings that republican leaders held during their retreat. national public radio writes