tv Newsmakers Rep Bob Goodlatte CSPAN February 20, 2018 2:10pm-2:43pm EST
has basically deadlocked on all of this in the last couple of years. announcer: more of jennifer trevore's interview with potter on the relationship between super pac's and political candidates. tonight at 8:30 eastern. c-span2 street series, landmark cases, tart -- starts monday with a look at the significance of supreme court decision mcculloch v maryland. explore in this case are sarah peterson, associate law professor at the university of virginia, and mark gillan that, law professor at the university of arkansas, and author of mcculloch v maryland, securing a nation. watch landmark cases live on monday on c-span. c-span.org or listen with this clash with a free c-span app. case,ckground on each order a copy of the book. it is available for $8.95 at c-span.org/landmark cases.
resource,itional there is a link on our website to the national constitution center's interactive constitution. >> newsmakers is pleased to welcome representative bought -- . goodlatte. the area around harrisburg and virginia. , her 24 years in congress is announced he will not be running again let -- next year. he is a full plate between now and the end of the term. we will talk about the issues. thank you for being with us. >> it is great to be with you and your viewers. >> let me introduce the reporters. scott long covers congress for the hill and alan gomez covers congress for usa today. i think we are starting with you, scott. >> thank you for being with us, today. unfortunately, we saw another tragedy with the school shooting in parkland, florida. betsy devos, the education
secretary, we just learned, has made comments that congress needs to hold hearings looking into these types of issues dealing with school shootings. your leadership committee, you have not chosen to go that route into gun violence. do you think that mrs. devos' recommendation is a good one? rep. goodlatte: we will consider that. we do think that communities need to make sure that they're doing everything to keep their schools secure. when i visit schools around my congressional district, i know that a lot of measures are taken today that were not taken 20 years ago when i first started visiting schools as a member of congress. you could go up to the door and walk right in. now they are always locked and someone is always arranged to meet me at the door and sighing the end. those precautions need to be taken.
there are also circumstances that lead to incidents like this one. we need to learn more about it each time that we have a major tragedy like this. i have staff on my committee that communicate with law enforcement, at the fbi and local levels, and gather information so that we can look at what might be done. i think that most of the things that need to be done relate to the laws that are already in existence. obviously, we need to do more. all of these mass shootings involve mental illness. we need to do more to make sure that people are getting treatment, and that people in these situations are not getting access to guns, or that when they act out they are promptly reported so that people can get assistance to them rather than getting to a circumstance like we have seen. i've always been a strong advocate for enforcing the hundreds of federal and thousands of state and local gun
laws that are on the books. there has been an uptick in this administration, and i commend the justice department for making this a high priority. i think that more can be done to make sure that when people have straw purchasers and lie on instant check forms to purchase firearms that they are not entitled under the law to have if they have a mental health commitment or a criminal conviction, that more can be done. if you go into a gun store and fill out the instant check form and lie on the form, which is a felony, the odds are still less than one in 500, more than one in 500, that you will be prosecuted for that crime even though they found you out because on the instant check it
revealed you lied on the form. unless we let people know that there are consequences to the laws we will have more abuse of the laws. they are designed to keep people who should not have firearms from getting them. the first step has to be to enforce the laws. reporter: staying on the issue of gun violence in looking at it from a different perspective, there have been a lot of questions over the last 24 hours over the fact that the federal government is forbidden from studying the issue of gun violence. he can't regret that decision arguing that we should be studying this. what would you say to americans about the fact that we are forbidden from even having that examination? rep. goodlatte: as it relates to mental health, that should be done.
i have not spoken to jay dickey about that. i do not think it is inappropriate if the original author of that says to take a look at it to see if there's a way to do that which promotes the core purpose of the centers for disease control, to prevent disease not address issues that are related and happen because someone has a disease like mental illness. scott: the shooter in parkland, florida was reportedly able to purchase the ar-15 weapon when he was 18 years old. he was able to purchase and ar-15 at 18, but unable to purchase a case of beer. do you see any problem with that? rep. goodlatte: in virginia i think you only have to be 18 to purchase, but be that as it may
i think that that decision is one that individual states can make. i do agree there should be a minimum age. it would not be inappropriate for states to examine with the minimum age is based on their experience with people using firearms. on the other hand, there is a long tradition of families working with their children to educate them about firearm safety and hunting traditions, and other traditions using firearms legitimately and for personal safety that should be promoted. education about firearms is a critical element to that. alan: the issue of approaching this as a mental health issue, i want to make sure i am understanding. the gun violence has been deemed a public health epidemic. this is leading to many thousands of u.s. deaths.
are you saying that we should not study that from the perspective of gun violence and gun ownership? rep. goodlatte: i'm saying that the centers for disease control has a mission for preventing disease. there are many things in our society that we would like to have done differently, and it may or may not be appropriate for the centers of disease control. one aspect of gun violence is the misuse of guns by people with mental illness. that seems to be something that could be discussed. when you look at mass shootings, a very high percentage involved that. there are many other issues related to gun use that do not involve mental illness. therefore, the issue of having studies done for political purposes as opposed to studies done for trying to find a way to
cure people of mental illnesses that lead to misusing firearms are 2 things to be examined in a different light. alan: switching to something that is very much in the news today, immigration. the president endorsed a proposal from senator grassley that contains what they refer to as the 4 pillars of what an immigration bill should look like including legal protections for dreamers, money for the border wall and border security, a limit to family-based immigration, and the end of the diversity visa. he did offer support for a bill that you co-authored that includes those, but also includes other enforcement measures. expanding e-verified, a
crackdown on sanctuary cities, and other measures like that. my question is, what happens if the senate, through everything going on, comes out with the grassley bill? is that something you can support, and you think that is something the broader house can embrace, because it is not as tough as yours? rep. goodlatte: i support the member that we worked for months with a lot of members of the house to produce that securing america's future act, which includes provisions that you generally described. there is a lot more detail to it, obviously. that is a way to a way to address the need to take care of daca recipients. the president created a dynamic that pushed this to the front border. i think that is a very good thing. he ended a program that i think was unconstitutional, and immediately turned to congress and said "you should fix this." we took that seriously.
we have created legislation to address that. at the same time, he and the speaker of the house have been very clear that we should take the steps necessary to make sure that this problem does not persist in the future. that is where the other 3 pillars of the proposal come in. we have added e-verify because it works extremely well, and because when you use it the sector of the economy that is the most radically affected his agriculture, where 80% or more of workers are not lawfully here. we need to have a workable guestworker program. the current program does not work, though there has been an uptick since the obama administration of people using it. still, the vast majority don't use it and it is very costly.
my concern is that we have a program that works for the farmers, the workers, and keeps agriculture in the united states, a very important a part of the economy and affected by competition from many countries around the world. virtually, everything we produce in the united states to put on the dinner tables of americans can be produced here and in dozens of other countries around the world. we have to have that program. more needs to be done in immigration. this is not a comprehensive immigration reform bill. there are at least a dozen or more immigrant visa programs, all of which have various calls for reform. you have about 70 items that the department of homeland security wanted to see acted upon. fewer than half of those are in
the securing america's future act. then you have many more people that are unlawfully in the united states that are not addressed in daca. there is plenty more work to be done after this is a good down payment on making sure that we address this pressing problem for young people that are brought here, in many instances by their parents at a young age and consider this their home, as well as addressing it from the standpoint of making sure that in the future of and other people do not flout our laws. respect for the rule of law is one of my highest priorities. i was an immigration lawyer before i came to congress, i helped people immigrate to the united states from more than 70 countries, so i'm very much pro-immigration. however, we are a nation of laws and we have to have respect for
the rule of law. i think we're losing that when we go through one or more administrations. i'm pleased that this administration is taking that more seriously. as they do, that calls for congress to act. not just on these issues before us, but on more. during my remaining time in congress, i intend to focus on immigration reform issues. host: we have about 10 minutes left. let me jump in to follow-up. what are the chances that your bill gets a vote on that house floor? i remember you told me that the whip count was very good. i heard other accounts that it was far short from what needed to pass on the house floor. rep. goodlatte: i am on the whip team. what happens is that you get a count back that tells you they lean yes and others that are undecided, others leaning no, and others who are outright no.
when you take that count and you go to the various individuals or groups of individuals and you say, what is it going to take to change this? a lot of the information, and we do not talk about the details of the whip count, but given the complexities of immigration law, a lot of the undecided folks are people that are trying to understand better how it will work. they get information from a constituent or somebody in washington and say i'm not so sure about that. those things need to be clarified. there will be a lot of that activity over the next few weeks while we explain it. as a part of that, we will probably learn things about our own legislation that can be tweaked to improve the bill.
that is the process we are going through now. it is not at all different from the usual process that we go through when major bills are brought through the whip process. it is important information gathering, as you can imagine with something as complicated as tax law and also having emotions attached to it. it is an education process, making sure people understand how it works and what may not work for some people so that some changes can be made. when you make changes, you have to check with the people already supporting the bill to make sure that when you make the change you will not lose their support. we get that. we are working with a diverse array of people and organizations to make that happen. i feel good about it. alan: adding to the complexity of everything you listed, house speaker paul ryan has set
up interesting parameters for resolving this. on the one hand, he said he would not put anything on the floor without white house approval -- rep. goodlatte: we do have white house approval. the white house put out a statement, and we stay in almost daily contact with not only the president, but his key advisers, about what works and does not work. alan: he said he needs the majority in the house to get something on there. a bill like senator grassley's, which also has the president's support, has been rejected by the freedom caucus. in the house, there is more support for yours, but that would lose a lot of the democratic support. how does the speaker navigate what is turning into such a tight window to get something through? rep. goodlatte: his instructions to me is get the bill done.
we are working very hard to accomplish that. whipnd the leader, and the are all in to get that done. we are going to work very hard. we expect the senate to do the same thing. at some point, this week or later, we expect the senate to produce a bill. we hope it is a good bill. this is an issue that once the house and the senate has passed an issue it will be ripe to work out issues. it is very clear that at the end of the day, not everyone will get everything they want. it is very important we address this issue. we have to do it both from the standpoint of making sure we address the daca issue and our issues related to making sure that our immigration system works from the enforcement issue and from the standpoint of moving in the right direction. that we start working towards a
merit-based immigration system in this bill, and that is equally important as part of the process. scott: the freedom caucus chairman said how speaker ryan handles this issue will be a defining moment for the speaker and that there will be dire consequences if he handles it poorly. a lot of people took that as a threat against the speaker. do you believe his job is at risk? rep. goodlatte: no, i don't. i believe strongly that he wants to accomplish objectives that are very similar to the objectives of the majority of the republican conference in the house. i'm working also with mark meadows and other folks, and my goal is to keep it like that. we also have other groups, the tuesday group and the main street group, we are working with them as well.
and the largest caucus of republican members in the house. we are working with all of them on getting this bill finished and passed through the house. host: five minutes. alan: one more question, you have been abundantly clear how important it is to improve border security to ensure that we don't have future waves of illegal immigration in the future. you are clearly on record on that point. in this current debate, do you consider it is necessary for dreamers to have some legal protection? rep. goodlatte: yes. i have taken that position from the outset when the president ended the program, which i felt was illegal. he said you have to address
this, i said, absolutely we have to address this. i view this as an opportunity for the dreamers and the country, the american people, to address an issue that has been on the back burner with the problem getting worse due to neglect and lack of clear guidance on enforcement will stop when you build respect for the rule of law, and when you reward those people that come to the united states as immigrants illegally, and make sure you reduce the opportunity for people to do so, you are improving the situation. that is not to say we don't need dreamers and other people, we just want to see it done legally. we are by far the most generous country on earth with illegal immigration. we have one point one million green cards issued. there is no other nation on earth that is remotely close.
we have 25 to 30 million people a year that visit the united states for a host of reasons. for education, business, travel, and 70 other categories that we recognize for non-immigrants entering the united states. we want them to come here, be safe when they are here, and be sure that the people that come here are going to be safe when they do. i support the efforts to make sure that the borders are more secure and the visa processing system is more effective. scott: one of your colleagues, trey gowdy, has opened an investigation into the white house, handling the rob porter situation. looking at his employment at the white house, as well as the security clearance issues surrounding his employment, does your committee, because it has jurisdiction over the fbi and
law enforcement agencies, have any plans to look at those issues or hold hearings? rep. goodlatte: we are being briefed on the issue. i'm pleased that trey gowdy is conducting an investigation. sometimes we work together with him, as we have on other investigations going on right now related to the fbi and the department of justice's handling of the matters related to one of the candidates for president last year. there is a special counsel handling the other. we work with the committee to handle those goals. we want to make sure the security clearance issue is working properly. we do not want people within appropriate records working in the white house. we want to make sure no one in a high profile position for the president of the united states can be blackmailed, or anything like that.
the matter does need to be looked into and we will work with chairman gowdy and his committee and take appropriate action in our committee if that becomes necessary. host: one minute left. one more question. scott: obviously, you are retiring after a long service in the united states congress. what are your plans for the future in the next couple of years? might we see you come back to town on k street? you are not that far away from washington. rep. goodlatte: when i ran for congress 26 years ago, i said that i would stay for 12 years. now i'm going on 26. that and the fact that i talked to my wife on the telephone four nights a week, monday through thursday, for all of those years means that we are ready to make a change. i have always wanted to do something else, but i don't know what it is. the ending of my chairmanship
this year provides a good jumping off point. i've said to people for the last few months, i'm not ruling anything out over in. i will think about it. what i have found since i announced in november is that that time has been very precious, given that everyone said there is a lot of things that we want you to do in congress before then. we have been extremely busy. i plan to consult with a number of my former colleagues on both sides of the aisle, for whom i have respect, about the things that they are doing and ideas that they have. i am open to a lot of different possibilities and have not settled on anything, nor do i plan to for a while. i plan to finish this year and work on issues like immigration, government surveillance, copyright law, and a host of other things you are about to tell me we don't have time to talk about. host: that's right. i am. i will invite you to come back because we only got through 2
issues, and that list is long and important. please come and join us during the rest of your tenure. thank you. "newsmakers" is back after this conversation with the chairman of the judiciary committee. gentlemen, we spent a lot of time on guns and gun ownership after the florida school shooting and immigration. i will do those in reverse order. the senate is working its way through something on immigration, and the house has its bill and other considerations in play. he said the speaker said get it done, but that has been a challenge for congress. where do you see immigration going? alan: right now, the senate, who knows what will come out of there? we expected something to get out of the senate and run into a roadblock in the house. the fact that it is still -- that we are seeing such a struggle to get out of the house probably bodes really for the future of this.
i thought it was interesting what he was saying, if and when this is moved over to the house, the president has endorsed 2 bills. one from senator grassley, and one from representative goodlatte. he obviously favors his bill, as any congressman would do, but he did not answer how he could resolve that with democrats. his bill will probably get almost no democratic support. even though he sounded eager to get this done, i did not hear anything that will lead me to believe there is a solution. host: do the two sides remain really polarized? the d's and the r's? certainly. on most bills, let's take goodlatte for example, zero democrats are cosponsoring. that is why 218 is important. it will take almost all of the republicans to get behind the bill for it to pass the house floor. right now, even the republicans are divided.
from what we understand, that support for that bill is nowhere near 218. there are a number of problems with lawmakers who represent agricultural regions who have issues about whether enough guestworkers can work some of those agricultural lands. right now, republicans are divided on the issue of immigration. i think there are a few that wish that the status quo prevails and nothing happens on immigration and the so-called daca children are left in the lurch. that will be a real fear for democrats and immigration activists. host: moving on to the issue of guns, schools, and public safety, the chairman seemed as though he kept pushing mental illness as a root cause and state and local official
responsibility. is that generally the republican stance, and do you see that with softening with the number of school shootings we have seen already in 2018? alan: it is interesting. in the last 24 hours, secretary devos called for meetings in congress. secretary mnuchin did not oppose them. we heard from representative goodlatte that it is not inappropriate, as he put it, for the government to spend more time looking at it. that is different from what we are used to. usually it is, we need time to get away from it, let's not politicize it. to hear voices saying that they are not opposed to hearings or studies coming from the government, to me, seems like a step we haven't seen before.
of course, he focusing more on the mental health side, not the gun ownership side. it is a step, not a big one, but a step. scott: what took me by surprise was he suggested that states could look at the age limitation. in this case, in parkland, florida, he was 18 years old. the case in many states around the country. he cannot even buy a case of beer. as i pointed out. that is something states will look at, especially in the wake of parkland. i will note, in the wake of the las vegas tragedy, there was a lot of bipartisan talk about legislation to curb the so-called bump stock, and nothing in these last few months has moved on bump stocks. there's been no legislation. there's been no action by the a.t.f., and it's sort of like
once it was -- once that issue was out of the newspaper headlines, everyone sort of moved on until the next tragedy came along. alan: just to follow up on that, it's states' right now, florida is not the place where you're going to get much gun restrictions. it's controlled by republicans in the congress and governor rick scott. what we've been seeing out of the current legislative session down there are efforts to make it easier to purchase firearms, rather than making it harder. so the idea that that state is one that's going to respond to this by suddenly making it harder to purchase guns is, i think, a little far-fetched. host: we have 30 seconds. one question about the white house and rob porter's resignation and f.b.i. background checks, where do you see the rob porter story going with regard to oversight? scott: well, it's interesting that trey gowdy, the oversight chairman, surprised a lot of people this week by announcing that he would -- he was conducting hearings into rob porter and the white house's handling of his employment, especially related to whether,
you know, the concerns about his security clearance were, you know, raised to the highest levels. apparently there was some discussion from the white house chief of staff and others high up in the administration. and so, you know, goodlatte said he supported trey gowdy. host: the speaker also endorsed his rights to it, yeah. scott: the speaker supports this investigation as well. i think you can say it's the first sort of real oversight we're seeing of the trump administration separated from the russia investigation, which is now very convoluted. you know, it will be very interesting to watch this as it unfolds. i would note, of course, that trey gowdy is retiring, so he doesn't have to worry about any sort of political backlash from the president of the united states. that may be one reason why he feels free to pursue this course of action. host: as is mr. goodlatte. we'll see how this plays out. thanks, gentlemen, for your questions and for being on "newsmakers" this week.