tv Newsmakers Rep Adam Smith CSPAN June 29, 2018 10:00pm-10:33pm EDT
florida international university frank ora discusses the political stability of central america. how it affects immigration to the u.s.. and u.s. news and world reports we'll be here to talk about the future of the construction industry and how it is responding to a shortage. join the discussion. coming up on c-span, newsmakers is next. then on the communicators, a look at how china gets access to u.s. technology. robertsf justice john document the role of the court. >> newsmakers this week is pleased to have congressman adam smith of washington.
it is home to the air force base and he is the ranking democrat on the armed services committee. were talking to him when the house is talking about big decisions. let me introduce the two reporters asking questions. andcovers capital hill connor o'brien senior defense reporter for politico. president trump and russian leader putin will be meeting on july 16, not to very far in the future in helsinki, finland. what are your hopes and concerns about these two leaders sitting at the table together? rep. smith: it would be a better world if the united states and russia got a long. if we could find a way to work together. in fact, overall, the world would benefit from all the great
powers, russia, the eu, china, and the united states focusing on what we can do to meet the challenges that face the globe. climate change, terrorism, so i don't have a problem having a dialogue with russia. has rated clear in the last decade that he has no intention of being part of the world order and he wants to bring down democracy and bring down the west. president trump is cozying up to conjunction and to some extent president she in china. xi in china. are we moving away from the notion that the united states believes in economic and political read him and toward a strawman approach to governance? ally inwe need a europe.
presidency seems to be moving away from that. is meeting with putin and having a conversation. that is fine. but the larger trend of where he is taking foreign policy is what is troubling to me. you mentioned european allies, the nato summit is coming up. could you give us a little bit of perspective on how you see relations with nato allies at the present woman -- present moment. what your expectations are for the summit, and does the administration deserve credit for pressuring allies to increase defense spending? rep. smith: administrations have been measuring allies for quite some time with mixed results. that is always going to be part of it here and so, the concern is that the president has basically said that he wants to move away nato and away from our
european alliances. he has a lot of people around mattises notably victory want to enforce those. there is always that tug-of-war. the first speech he gave where he refused to reassert article five. it was in his speech he chose not to say it. a week later, he mumbled it. so, i don't think that the way the president is going about this is ultimately going to strengthen the alliance. hem really worried that doesn't even want the alliance to continue. i think that is what we will be interested in in the nato summit. iviously, at the g7 he said don't want to have anything to do with you folks. the tariffs followed, the war of words with canada, of all places. the one country we have a trade surplus. is the president invested in
maintaining the alliance and improving it? toyou want to put pressure improve the alliance, that is fine. there have been a number of signals in the nearly two years he has been in the white house, that he does not value the alliance at all. that is what is going to be really interesting to see. how the nato summit plays out on that, within that framework. >> congressman, if i could bring you back to capitol hill. congress -- the bill does and hasmittee for 57 straight years, as you look at your bill versus the and it bill and how they continue to grow the military, the size, and shape of force and reform the pentagon. how easily bored not easily do you think these negotiations how easily or not
easily do think these negotiations will go? rep. smith: i think actually we are pretty close. we have a budget agreement earlier this year that gave us the top line numbers, so we are not writing over that. -- not fighting over that. there are issues over where exactly we spend the money and a number of issues not in the defense jurisdiction. we will have to negotiate our way through this and the endangered species act is in their. democratic priorities are to have an efficient and effective and gone. acquisition, procurement reform are things we are going to focus on we would love to push back on the president's lgbt ban, have a more inclusive military. we will keep pushing for that. unfortunately, the republicans control the house, senate, and president see.
-- presidency. have a priority to have a strong defense. we believe in taking care of the men and women who serve in the military. so that they are in a position to defend us. that will always be a top priority. >> you have highlighted the congressional budget office is -- office's practice of exploding the deficit into the coming decades and said that it would pressure the defense legit. thein congress will enforce skull discipline and what parts of the defense ajit do you think -- defense budget you think can be cut? rep. smith: there is no short answer to that question. it is important to give the more detailed answer.
we have an unsustainable fiscal policy in this country right now. most people don't understand that. they are trapped in the partisan act and forth -- act and forth and the latest presidential tweet. the fiscal policy can best be summed up by 134 all republican members of the house road for three different ills over the space of a couple months. they voted for a $3 trillion tax cut, and an increase in spending, and a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. if you're wondering, that makes no sense whatsoever. you can make your choice. decide we want tax cuts and spending increases and a balanced budget is not that important. but to do all three? that reflects for the country is at. we have promised so much that the country expects a balanced budget with no tax increases and no spending cuts.
we continue to drive to work that the. -- drive toward that cliff. how can it not affect the defense budget? or 18% of the entire budget. if we don't get our fiscal house in order, long-term it will be difficult to sustain running for a lot of things and defense is one of those. a sensible approach would be -- we will not balance the budget in the short term or even the long-term. i don't know that we need to. but we need to have a plan to keep the deficit under control and continue to fund priorities without but i think the economy. -- without advertising the economy. a lot of people focus on sequestration. it is not helpful, but even if we got rid of the budget control act that contains sequestration, the money would not just to suddenly appear.
we would still have fiscal challenges that we have. right now, it does not seem like too many people are willing to face them. >> there have been some -- there is a school of thought out there that says that the president's will policy on tariffs raise the prices of steel and aluminum domestic the. you see that as potentially adding to the cost of defense articles domestically? do you think the tanks, ships, and armored vehicles are all going to cost more because of the tariffs levied on our allies? rep. smith: absolutely. i don't think it is speculation. if you put those tariffs on there, it will drive up the price. that is the great conundrum in trade policy. depending on what items you are talking about here the truth is, in the united states of america, there are more making things with steel and aluminum than
there are in making steel and aluminum. so if you raise the price of steel and aluminum by reducing the competition, then you are going to raise the price for a whole lot of different products. we saw it with harley davidson. expenditures, price went up, so they are moving out of the country. needder to buy with they to buy at more affordable rates. absolutely it will do -- it will drive up defense costs. >> jim mattis just came back from a trip to asia. there are some reports suggesting he has fallen out of aber with president trump. he is not in the inner sanctum and his advice is increasingly -- is being taken less. he is someone who you have held up and other democrats have held up as a real -- a defense professional in this administration.
whereas, democrats have criticized other folks like mike .lynn early on i am just curious, what do you make of him possibly only out of favor? what are the implications? rep. smith: not good. this is a battle that has gone on in the trump administration since it was first created. is donald trump the america first, push all of our allies away president he said he was going to be? you have people like secretary mattis, h.r. mcmaster when he was there, secretary tillerson who have pushed back and said no, we need to work with the rest of the world. a lot of those people are being pushed out. you have seen it reflect in some of the policies that the president has advanced. in terms of getting closer to putin, to china, and in closer
to conducted -- two kim jong-un. so, clearly it appears that x rate mattis is not having as -- that secretary mattis is not having the influence he used to have, particularly when it comes to the tariffs. i know secretary mattis is concerned about getting involved in a trade war. how it will undermine alliances at a crucial time and you the president is engaging in it. there have been a lot of articles about how the president hill's increasingly empowered to do what he wants to do. so, it seems to be moving in that direction and that has troubling implications for the foreign policy. >> when secretary mattis comes to the hill and gives you assurances, does it make you less likely to take his word, knowing the president could undercut him? rep. smith: i think secretary mattis's influence is definitely
waning. putting it in the simplest terms, when it president trump was elected, i don't know that he had a fairly formed idea of a foreign policy. but advisers like steve bannon and his base were all about the end of globalists. the notion that we needed to work with the rest of the world. it would be america first and we will battle everybody. secretary at us and others tried to push back. mattis and others tried to push back. clearly now, the anti-globalists are ascendant within the white house. where does that leave secretary mattis? he is not in that camp. he still wants to build these alliances. i think he still has a good relationship with the president. i don't think there is any personal split as there has been with master and tillerson and the others.
but the policy is a drifting away to where secretary mattis would see us go. >> there was a development overnight that the defense department has been asked to house as many as 12,000 immigrant amylase or -- immigrant families on three different basis. what is the appropriate level of congressional oversight and press access for these facilities? speaking of defense secretary mattis, how is it being received at the pentagon that they are being asked to pitch in? rep. smith: the overarching point is that we should not be incarcerating women and children and parents as they come across the border. there is a better way to do this. dan to lock them up.
using military bases is particularly troubling. first of all, we should not be incarcerating them. second of all, we want our military bases to be preparing to defend the country. this undermines their ability for readiness. when president obama speculated about doing this in 2014, the republicans were outraged that he would use the military. it would undermine the core mission of the military. so, i think it is troubling in that respect. there has not been much transparency about the conditions and the facilities in which these people are being held. that would be a concern, not just on military bases but in other temporary encampments put in place. member onid, ranking that aate arms committee letter to the department of defense asking them to give us full information on what is
being proposed in terms of using military bases to house those seeking asylum. we need transparency on it to see what the conditions of the facilities are and the precise plans. >> to follow up, what is your level of confidence will receive the information you are asking for? as the pentagon been responsive? rep. smith: the pentagon has been responsive. they told us, as you mentioned, i got an emailed this morning from my staff saying a are looking at four or five different military bases to house 20,000 migrants. they have been keeping us informed in that regard and we will try to make sure that continues. >> sir, if i can pull this back the broader view of political landscape and where your party is at. obviously, it has in a big newsweek. one of the digger items -- one of the bigger items for your
party is that your caucus chairman lost a primary to a younger, more progressive challenger. i am kind of curious, what is your take on that and what it says about the dynamic in your party and what do you think that it says about the state of leadership in your caucus? what is your read on that and the willingness of your members to let nancy pelosi continue to serve as leader or speaker? rep. smith: look. this is frustrating for me, because it is really simple. it is think that happens throughout politics. all politics is local. you have to take care of your district. you have to be in your district. if you look at what happened in that race, that is what happens. it was not left or right. that the opponent ran was arguing about the fact his family tooved
virginia, and that is where they live since he was elected in 1998. she ran a powerful ad saying his children don't go to the same schools that we do. she even got down to he doesn't drink the water we drink or breathe the air we breathe. it was a little unfair. he spends an anonymous amount of time in his district. but his family does not live there. he was traveling for leadership things trying to get people to elected. there is nothing complicated about what happened there. his district changed and he was not as connected to the district as he needed to be to keep getting elected. right in. a left/ it was are you actively involved in the district or not? his opponent did a very powerful job of making that case. that is it. it can happen to anybody. if you are an incumbent member of congress, it is a complicated job. thee responsibilities and
and if you are in leadership you have even more response abilities. and at the end of the day, and i have had this burned into my inin since i was elected 1996. nothing matters more to me professionally than the 700,000 people i represent. i don't get to do the job if they don't take i am taking care of them. onave 3.4 million dollars the american airlines. i stay focused on that. my kids go to the district. i know i see and talk to you guys about armed services issues, right on the front of my mind is always what is going on at the airport? i have an east african community in my district that has issues with remittances back to somalia and how to make food stamps work at somali grocery stores. a grand to build a road
to support the rail system coming through. that is what is at the top of my mind. how are the schools? how are the communities? i go to the gym back there in the grocery store back there and i see people in the community that i represent to stay connected. really, that is what happens. it is difficult to come joe is a good member of congress, but it and youplicated job have to take care of a lot of things. number one, you have to stay 100% to the people you represent. >> were that we have to and just a couple minutes early so that you can go to the floor". thank you for being our guest on "newsmakers" this week. so, gentlemen let's get the picture of what has been going on with defense policy and defense ending between the pentagon and congress. what are some of the notable
aspects of the debate this year that you have been watching? smithhink congressman eight a fairly good point that some of the biggest issues were over how much to spend on the alitary and that there was legit deal struck in february and as a result, everybody knows the top line that we will spend. $716 billion. that said, there are issues between the parties and the chambers that are going to have to be resolved in this conference process and the appropriations process that funds the policy they are making. there are questions of how to reform the pentagon. they want to reform the dod bureaucracy while senator mccain on the senate arms service has other plans. they have ideas on how many more
troops there should be in the military. the senate comes in lower than the house. shipsny and what kind of to put on contract. those are standard things that come in every year that they had out. -- -- out. the congressman mentioned the board that controls foreign investment and foreign takeovers in the united states. event --f that is to to guard against access to sensitive technology by 10 -- by countries like china. point of be a big contention with the trump administration. >> i think that is a pretty conference of list of some of the more consequential issues. the funny thing is, sometimes
the inconsequential issues are tangential to defense that come up the works. gum up the works. for couple appears we watched as protection or the stage grass have caught disagreement and delayed the resolution of the conference. andthere are energy ranching interests that would like to see the -- see that there be no protections for sage grass. it has been linked to military issues. it is a question mark. john mccain has typically taught against the inclusion in the -- talked against
the inclusion in the bill. imhoffg up to him is jim who has a different philosophy on environmental issues. so i think that is a big question mark for us. the reference this in your question about the joe crowley race, they have it within their betweentug of war moderates and progressive spirit when it comes to defense spending, the people they have chosen to lead on the two panels , i believe senator reed is a veteran. --m smith is seen as a disco as a fiscal -- a moderate. he is concerned about spending. how does that frame the division over defense spending when i have two people who are advocates for stronger military and pentagon? >> the congressman took the time
to say, in addition to all these issues, democrats believe in a strong defense. i think it will be very interesting if we take the majority in the house or perhaps the house and senate if it is a very they could wave in the midterm, how do they manage defense and they will want to push back on some of the issues on the fringe. democrats have come out against the new class of low yield or tactical nuclear weapons. i think there will be a genuine debate about what is the proper level for defense spending. is congressman smith hard.d to, 716 is real it will be very hard to maintain when you have deficits of over
$1 trillion. a lot of things will happening. i have a hard time believing democrats and the administration will line up on some of these big issues. -- issue >> one issue we heard about in the past is the congressman is skeptical about nuclear spending. that we are spending more than we need to when it is vastly superior to our adversaries. we have seen from this administration an emphasis on defense as an economic driver. that defense industry provides jobs. the congressman went on at length about the district lawmakers.
how do you restrain the appetites when they have a impact on jobs at home. that is a big question mark in my mind as well. >> there has been a skirmish over submarine funding. so, there is a tug of war between home districts as you are are suggesting and bringing home the bacon. that has been as long as we have had a militaries pending debate in this city. is it any different now? well, i think there are members that would tell you perhaps it has gotten a little , but it hasal gotten harder as we have seen to secure things by virtue of the fact that there are not things like appropriation bills not passing on times.
that is an interesting debate that we watched less night was robert wittman from virginia whose state hilts aircraft carriers and joe courtney from eastern connecticut whose district will -- district builds subs. they are on armed services. so, it was interesting to see the armed services guys fighting the appropriators who said no, we were the ones making hard choices here and people from different parts of the country opposing the amendment because they built the destroyers. one of the offsets is the destroyer. so, that is always interesting to watch and it is area you lawmakers who don't some sort of tangential benefit from defense legislation. >> i just want to add that
republicans have used to great effect an argument that there is theydiness crisis and that have talked about ship collisions, aircraft mishaps, which reporting has shown to be an actual problem. if you can argue and draw a link between those mishaps, and injuries and in defense spending, it has made for pretty compelling arguments. we will see republicans continue to pressure the democrats. >> we talked about immigration. will the president get funding for his wall in the defense bill? i asked patrick leahy, who is signalingppropriator,
the democrats will definitely be pushing back. said mexico was going to pay for it. if we, as appropriators, fund the wall, then we say he is lying. and we don't want to say that. i think the democrats are going to push back. that is a good question. will they be willing to make a deal ahead of elections when immigration is such a hot button issue right now? i don't know. >> thank you very much. this is still unfolding. thank you for being on newsmakers this week. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> watch american history tv this week and on c-span 3, including saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war, the constitution, and secession. .pm, lectures in history,
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