tv Newsmakers Rep. Grijalva CSPAN November 26, 2017 5:58pm-6:32pm EST
a man of force. turns out without that force he had amazing capacity to manipulate people. and manipulate them into doing the things he wanted them to do while they thought it was their idea. >> tonight at 8:00 on human day on c-span. -- q and a on c-span. >> with a busy week ahead for congress we will have live coverage of two significant hearings. the senate banking committee considers jerome powell to be the next year the federal reserve. that is live tuesday at 10:00 eastern on c-span. wednesday, the focus is on alex azare. the senate health committee will consider his nomination at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span3. live coverage of the hearings tuesday and wednesday on c-span and c-span3, online at c-span.org, or listen live with
the free c-span radio app. >> our guest is democratic congressman raul grijalva who joins us from his district from tucson, arizona for the , thanksgiving holiday. mr. grijalva is the senior most democrat on the national committee, the 76-member progressive caucus in the house of representatives, and senator bernie sanders is a member as well. thank you for being our guest this week. lots to talk about with you. >> thank you so much. >> congressional reporter and collin wilhelm who covers congress for politico. billy, you are a first. billy: congressman, how are you? >> very good. billy a lot of news the last : couple days. most recently the revelations about the allegations against
the top democrat on judiciary john conyers. ,should he resign because of the sexual harassment claims? or should he step down from the top role for your party on the key committee? >> it is agonizing times right now but i think a very important shattering of some norms nationwide and particularly in congress. . the expectation and not treatment of women employees by leadership in the offices, members of congress, i think deserves the air and it is getting. and more importantly, any sexual harassment -- just the use of power to inflict demands and
unseamly requests on women are wrong and i really think on this issue that as agonizing as it might be for all of us, the ranking member needs to step down at the minimum as our leader pelosi asked for the ethics investigation and then the chips will fall from there. but at the minimum, i would agree that is a necessary step. you know, dealing with employee issues is difficult. settlements occur in congress all the time. i can't think of any member -- a few members have not gone through that. but the borders and broaches the issue of sexual harassment and used as a means to try to keep that issue from being that, it was serial in the sense that many of them are, then yeah, that's a serious issue that
inevitably could lead to more punitive issues. we all have gone through that. it's very painful with employees and people that you work with to have to dispatch them or separate yourself from employees. many times it's just a question of not being able to accommodate each other, the work environment, the sense that we need to be going in a different direction. and settlements many times are made for the benefit of both. but when the settlement is made as a means to try not to deal with an issue as deep and as ugly as we've seen in the recent past, then yeah, that becomes very serious. billy: a quick follow-up, you made the distinction between settlements that are work-related other than sexual harassment, are you saying -- and were you surprised reports of how much money, taxpayer money was going to settlements tied to sexual harassment claims ?
and should that be public at least, those settlements, and its taxpayer money? rep. grijalva: i think, yeah, if the issue broaches with what we're seeing now, you know, a settlement payment was issued specifically on the issue of sexual harassment, the exploitation issue as a means to quiet that, then, you know, the request by many in this process of ours, i think that kind of information needs to at some point be public and noted. other claims that occur and other settlements that occur to the benefit of both the employee and obviously to the employer so that they can go on, those individuals can go on and continue to work in an environment that perhaps is more conducive to their capacities, that might be a different
matter. but in this issue, when it is pointedly to try to keep the information from getting out, then at some point i think those settlements need to be talked about. >> before we move on from this topic, i want to go back to your comments suggesting this might be a seat change from capitol hill. in recent years, even as long as 30 years ago, there have been sexual harassment cases on capitol hill involving members and staff. , bothtes, bob packwood resign from congress as result. and here we are 25, 30 years later still talking about the same culture. why do you think it will change now? rep. grijalva: i think we're past the tipping point, whether on the boardroom or the plant floor or whether it is in a shop, in a business, or in the halls of congress and government, any government
level, the relationship of power and the attempt to exploit that power sexually and to demean, degrade, demand on a sexual connotation from employee, i think that sea change is not only needed, it's happening and it's happened because you have reached the tipping point. it was not just weinstein. i think that the fact that the courage of many women are showing across this nation to be able to deal directly with those issues that are very -- that many times are felt -- people are compeled to keep it to themselves i think is a mark we've reached a tipping point beyond which there is no coming back, nor should there be any coming back.
>> congressman, you mentioned earlier transparency of use of taxpayer funds. taxes are definitely on the minds of members and staff on capitol hill right now since republicans are pushing tax cuts and tax reform. do you think that their expectation this is going to be something they can leverage to political success in the midterm elections is a correct assumption on their part or do you think this will end up maybe hurting them in the midterms? rep. grijalva: well, i said the other day to a group that was asking me about that, i said if the senate passes the tax bill with whatever changes they make and i don't think significantly better, the legislation that came out of the house, if they pass it, the republicans pass it on a partisan vote or with minimal democratic support, if it passes and goes to the
president for a signature, after conference, they lose. if it doesn't pass, they lose. it's going into 2018. as more and more scrutiny happens -- what happened in the house there was a rush hush job on this that only surfaced during the ways and means hearing as to what was the content of this. the negotiations were never bilateral in terms of democrats being involved. but the fact remains that as more scrutiny goes into the bill, as people begin to see that the promises around the relief for the middle class, this is a small business panacea of support and as they see the threats that this debt -- the increase in the deficit of the debt will cause for medicare, medicaid, social security, education and other vital
programs that the american people support, i think you're going to see that scrutiny produces more and more opposition and that is why i'm of the firm belief you're to the point that if they pass it, they lose and if they don't pass it, they lose. colin: do you think the speed with which republicans have moved forward on this has basically sidestepped some of that scrutiny and opposition? rep. grijalva: oh, absolutely. i think the speed in the house, the secrecy of it all and the drip, drip, drip of information just to get reactions from the public as to possible content within that legislation, that kept everybody off balance, but now you have the template which is the house bill and the scrutiny on that, and independent analysis and groups that are advocating for some level of fairness in our tax code see that this is indeed a
tremendous boom for the wealthy of the wealthy of this country and for corporate america and that all the promises made is to how this is going to provide financial and tax relief to the middle class and working families in this country and to the small business folks across this country, family-owned businesses in particular, that's not the reality of this. this incentivizes this trickle down theory and something that historically we've seen over and over more than once and doesn't produce the jobs. it doesn't produce the wage increases. it doesn't facilitate, in fact makes the competition worse for small businesses down the road. so as now that is being scrutinized, that template, and the corresponding work in the senate which will be hopefully longer and more deliberate, i think that the opposition now
has a focal point and the american people now have information that is reliable in the sense that now you have one piece of legislation at least out of the house. billy: congressman, this is billy again. as a top dem on national resources, you're involved with the puerto rico negotiations. the island has asked for $94 billion. who is negotiating with the white house and congress on the puerto rico request? and are you fearing that there's a bit of puerto rico fatigue, not discounting of the humanitarian infrastructure problems, but just that there's so many problems? rep. grijalva: yeah, and i think the law that was passed, the bipartisanship piece of legislation that was to provide the financial oversight and the control in terms of restructuring the debt in puerto
rico, re-stabilizing the financial situation in puerto rico passed 14 months ago and then the hurricane hit and that devastation caused even more complications to what was already an issue that congress attempted to deal with with promesa. i think the negotiations are basically down to -- i like to divide it into two. the immediate humanitarian relief that needs to occur and can't be slowed down and that package which was -- which didn't carry what was needed for puerto rico in the supplementalists indicated by the white house. i think that has to be priority number one. the long-term recovery issue, i think that that is also forces a opportunity despite the problems.
i don't think, and this is where the debate is centering around, that giving more legislative power to the oversight board, the control board of promesa to effectively have a parallel government in puerto rico is the way to go. with promesa and title 3 and 2 is already the oversight authority that oversight board needs in terms of financial issue the. -- financial issues. transparency and accountability. no doubt the government of puerto rico needs to have that transparency. the white fish and potential scandal didn't do anything to reassure anybody in terms of their ability to provide that transparency and to provide that accountability. but for us at this point to vote to create a parallel government in puerto rico is not the solution. there are immediate things congress can do to relieve that, everything from debt forgiveness
to looking at that $90 billion as an important initial assessment done by puerto rico in terms of what their needs will be for the long term but right now it's humanitarian, it's decapping medicaid and medicare so that puerto rico has parity with the rest of the united states, and i might add the virgin islands as well. and the response would be at parity equity levels as we did with texas and florida. the united states citizens, 3.4 -- 3.4 plus have left million, 143,000 plus have left and gone primarily to florida and left the devastation in puerto rico because they saw no other solution and that will continue and the predictions are half a million by 2018. and this departure of people of puerto rico complicates that economic issue. i think the oversight board has
a responsibility in the rebuilding, but can't be a parallel government that takes away from that civil society in puerto rico the ability to govern themselves at some level. susan: 10 minutes left. colin: congressman, how likely do you think it is that congress will fulfill the full aid request from puerto rico, especially even without the additional oversight powers that have been requested by the board? and do you think the white fish contracts and the lack of transparency may have hurt their cause on capitol hill? rep. grijalva: now for that parallel government scenario, because really the inference, how can we trust you? the fact remains you have in civil society in puerto rico
mayors, organizations that we need to connect with, they're stakeholders as well. i think the $94 billion requested for puerto rico is in my personal assessment a realistic figure. it is the application of that, how we prepare for the future in terms of sustainability. how do we lower energy costs? how do we make the governance there more transparent and accountable? those are still issues that have to be dealt with. but to hold hostage relief and recovery support because of an inference that you can't trust this government or that somehow there's a different criteria of puerto rico than any other place that is comprised of the united states citizens, i think is a huge mistake. congress has the power, the act provides the power, and we should utilize that before we
start exploring waving environmental laws, waving labor protections, etc., and not open this up as a shop where privatization begins, all the utilities, education, some of the instances we saw in louisiana that became experiments in terms of providing relief but in the long run didn't do that. so we have lessons to learn from other recoveries, but we also have an opportunity here to do something right that will require resources and to your question right now i wish i could be more optimistic to where my colleagues in the majority are going in the house in terms of the long term support of puerto rico. i don't see them at that figure and i don't see the white house at that figure. but i really thought that what the governor and government there provided us as a blueprint
for what was needed was essentially correct. colin: if i could follow up on your remark about congress addressing the debt through legislation potentially , additional legislation, do you think that's a direct route congress should go or your colleagues, representative velazquez and senator warren have called for the board to request that the judge overseeing the debt proceedings basically wipe out puerto rico's debt to creditors? do you think that's the most valuable solution or do you think that congress needs to maybe revisit this issue through legislation? rep. grijalva: that's one solution but debt relief and debt forgiveness has to be part and parcel of that recovery. and to say that we're going to structure everything you do from now on in order to satisfy some hedge funds and risk lives and
the economy of puerto rico for that, i think the judge has the power. as the judge has the power, has already struck down the request by promesa to put an overseer over all the utilities and the recovery in puerto rico, struck that down and said promesa doesn't have that power and the power lays with the government of puerto rico and that was a good decision. i think that request is legal. i think legislatively, debt relief and forgiveness, parity with medicaid and medicare, and additional appropriations around community block grants, housing, making those kinds of initiatives legislatively and through appropriations certainly is a function of congress to do as we put a package together. susan: we have five minutes left. other questions? billy: congressman, one of your other hats is co-chair of the progressive caucus. i want to make sure to get this
question in. do you think bernie sanders should consider running for president again? i know it's early but would you want him to run for president again? rep. grijalva: i love bernie. if you decided to run for president, i think he'd be formidable again, and billy, i'm trying to dodge around your question but if the man decides that then, you know, he has had my support in the past and at this point in time i don't see any reason to change that. billy: let me follow it up with a totally different question. how is the new interior secretary treating you and are you guys getting along? you called for investigations into the harassment allegations which seem to be going nowhere within the department. rep. grijalva: and also we asked interior to look into white fish and we've had 26 requests for information that have not been
responded to that have been responded to by the obama administration both to the republican majority and democratic minority at one point. those requests weren't responded to. i'm really concerned about somewhat of a cavalier attitude towards our public lands to be honest with you, that it's a multi-use concept we've always applied historically to our public lands, conservation, protection of habitat and has always been a part of that and now we seem to be going through a one dimensional use in terms of how much can we get out of it in terms of extraction, be it oil, gas or mining. and i worry about what the president is going to say on december 7 for the recommendation from the secretary and other potential changes to the monuments across this nation.
and i worry about him almost taking from a $25 fee to a $75 access ourble to public parts, our significant icons in order to pay for maintenance and upkeep of facilities in those areas. all those things concern me. and what concerns me most is almost a militaristic look at how we run our public lands and the functions under interior. i think that this is a -- we're talking about a shared asset in the united states that should be available and useful and to everyone -- and affordable to everyone. i worry we're looking at the jurisdiction of our land/sea protections that we have as a nation. i worry that they've become a commodity to see how much we can make off of them as opposed to
what we can make of them and historically try to preserve those legacies. i worry a lot about that. susan: three minutes left, another question? colin: congressman, you're also very engaged in immigration. do you think that the passage of the dream act should be a condition for democrats support and of your government funding appropriations? rep. grijalva: yeah, come the 8th, i think that's going to be an important crucible. i happen to think that if the dream act was put on the floor as is, as it was submitted, it would pass. and while i understand but don't appreciate the situation that speaker ryan is in terms of his own caucus would rebel against him, the fact is it would pass. and so given that and given that it's probably the most divisive right now and critical domestic issues we're facing on many
levels, that being a part of what we do in terms of continuing the c.r., whether it's for two weeks or two months or two years, i think that needs to be part and parcel. if it's not, then i'm one of those democrats that feels that without it, i can't support the rest of it. susan: even if it means a government shutdown? rep. grijalva: i know. then it becomes whose fault is it? that's a great question. we're not in the majority. they're in the majority, both in the house and -- in the house. they drive the budget. they drive the c.r. and they know one way to get full bipartisanship passage is to include daca as part of that and the dream act as part of that. it's their call. and i think if any fingers are going to be pointed, they appropriately should be pointed at the people in charge. susan: we have one minute. either of you have a question
for the congressman? billy: i do. at the end of the day, when you get to the next congressional session, you have a prediction whether nancy pelosi will still be elected the top democrat in the house? rep. grijalva: prediction? billy: yes. rep. grijalva: i think if we're the majority, there's an opportunity for her to return to speaker, i think she'll have significant support among democrats in that caucus. the autopsy we've been doing as democrats, i think it's time to stop that. 2018 is coming around the corner and we need to focus on the fact as virginia showed and other places have shown, we need to focus on the fact the american people care about issues, push them and if we are fortunate enough to get a majority from the voters of the united states in 2018, then that decision will come. but i think if she decided to
return to her speakership, she would have significant support. susan: congressman thanks for , joining us from sunny tucson this holiday weekend. see you back in washington, d.c. rep. grijalva: happy thanksgiving to you folks. billy: happy thanksgiving, congressman. susan: gentlemen the congress , comes back on tuesday. how much of these sexual harassment scandals with senators and congressmen getting in the way of them accomplishing their legislative agenda? colin? colin: i defer to billy on this. i think he's got a better sense of how that could affect that. billy: i think it will be all encompassing for the first couple days. it will be what they're talking about in their press releases and what the responses are and by then we'll know about other members. we heard the congressman say i think surprisingly, we've all done settlements, i think he said, to some degree. he wasn't talking about sexual harassment necessarily, but there's a prevailing sense this is far more widespread than we know now and congressman spears
has said she knows at least of two other current sitting members who have engaged in this activity. so i think this along with the fact we have as a backdrop the moore alabama race, they will put their noses to the grind on tax reform, but this will be the bubble hanging over everybody's head next week. susan: the payments he's referring to has come from an office probably a lot of people don't know about, the congressional office compliance. -- office of compliance. how transparent are members going to push for this process to be going forward and maybe you can explain briefly how it works versus an ethics investigation? billy: we would argue this process protects the alleged victim. that it doesn't put him or her out there, their names and so this is for them. it also protects the lawmaker from what they say being targeted by disgruntled employees. in reality, though, it involves
this process of signing papers saying i will not press this further and accept a settlement. it involves taxpayer and that's dollars the upshot. it's not always through this system you mentioned, we've learned, i believe, that congressman conyers used some of his office funds to pay for one settlement. those too are taxpayer dollars. they can't get around that. there's a big push to change the system. while the top democrat, nancy pelosi has said the system -- conyers' charges should be investigated, she's also kind of hinted she's going to look at the system, too. and so is paul ryan, the speaker. so something is coming up the pipe. susan: as we talked about the congressman, this is cyclical. congress in washington goes through this every x number of years because the current system was in response to complaints about the ethics process in the
past. billy: let's face it, the u.s. house unlike the u.s. senate doesn't have pages anymore and that was the reason for that, that was the mark foley scandal and that led to his downfall and certainly perhaps even the loss of the house majority for the republicans back in i don't remember what year in the 1980's, maybe it's the 1990's. it's got big ramifications. susan: let's move on to that budget deadline in early december. what do you see happening especially with regard to the immigration, the dreamers and the line in the sand or crucible as mr. grijalva called it? colin: it's really hard to say. the president's made remarks indicating there's a potential deal to be had earlier this year with democrats. he seems to have backed off of that a little bit. republicans certainly are hesitant to bring up -- introduce a imglation issue -- -- introduce a immigration issue into their overall spending. and focus on tax reform. their preference would be just get the government funded for at
least a few months and then kick that can down the road while they can address tax reform they feel is something they can run on in 2018. susan: speaking of running on in 2018, how important is the alabama outcome going to be to both parties' hopes going forward following on the tails of virginia and new jersey? billy: we were told that democrats will wrap him around every republican candidates' neck. susan: if he wins. billy: if he wins. even if he wins there obviously is some doubt he would be around very long as republicans are suggesting. they may try to push him through ethics investigations and removal. but certainly that is being voice is a real fear, that anything this guy, who does not particularly like the leaders of party, would be attached to them when they run. susan: following up on that the , congressman said time for autopsy the democrats should be
behind them. but in fact we've got serious criticisms of the party's structure during the last campaign by the interim chair. she is still out on her book donna brazil, i'm talking about. i am wondering how the party is responding to this and whether there be changes in the democratic party. guest: i think they are still grappling with how best to message for themselves. realize they cannot just be against president trump, guest republicans, they need a positive message to put forward as well. we've seen attempts by them to do that that may or may not have stuck yet. i thought it was interesting grijalvaesentative brought up that they would be able to run against tax reform and make that middle-class base in 2018 because they feel like republicans will hand them ammunition with what they do on the subject.
susan: thank you very much for being our guest reporters. please come back. >> thanks for having us. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies, and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> california physician dr. anthony iton recently gave a talk where he says your zip code is more important then your genetic code in determining how long you will live due to racial and economic discrimination. this is about an hour and 20 minutes. introduce dr. anthony iton. dr. iton,