tv Newsmakers Senate committee chairs in 2019 CSPAN December 24, 2018 3:25pm-4:00pm EST
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> today is day three of a partial government shutdown. the and senate returned tuesday, and negotiations continue on a spending bill to reopen the federal government. as debate continues, you can watch live coverage of the house on c-span and the senate on c-span2. when the new congress takes office in january, it will have the youngest, most diverse freshman class in recent history. congress, newnew leaders. watch at live on c-span starting january 3. host: this week on "newsmakers" we will talk to senators on two
key committees in 2019 -- senator james inhofe who chairs the armed services committee and senator chuck grassley of iowa who will take over the finance committee in the new year. senator grassley chairs the judiciary committee for the past four years. he'll move over to finance, where the committee has jurisdiction over taxes, tariffs, social security, medicare, and medicaid. two previous chairs of the committee, daniel wester and henry clay. it was formed in 1815. senator chuck grassley, you have been the chair for the 115th congress and for the 116th you will be chairing the finance committee. why did you decide to make the switch? sen. grassley: it's crazy rules of the republican caucus that you can only be chairman of a committee for six years. i've chaired the finance committee four years so i got two years left. to chair that. now, if i could predict in 2122, we'd still be in the majority, then i could have finished my
six years with judiciary and gone over there. but now just suppose republicans are in the minority in 21-22? then i wouldn't be able to continue being ranking member of judiciary under those rules and i've already used up my six years being ranking member of finance. so it was a way of preserving leadership as ranking member or chairman under the crazy rules of the republican caucus. >> you have served on the finance committee for 34-some years of your career here in washington, first elected in 1980. why is it that you want to, as you say, use this time, these two years as chair of the finance committee? sen. grassley: probably for economic reasons and issues dealing with healthcare, particularly rural healthcare. iowa is a rural state. so let me say some of the things that i expect to come up along those areas.
there is one i ought to mention that maybe we won't get to since we're going to have a democratic caucus -- democrat house -- but i put number one if i can make the last year's tax bills that would expire on the individual side in 2025, if i can make that permanent, that would be my number one goal. but that may not be feasible thinking in terms of that. so then other economic things that are pretty close would be the issues of the trade agreements that the president is negotiating already, u.s., mexico, canada, starting negotiations with japan and europe and hopefully get agreements with china. right at the top of my list as far as i know, the way at least the united states, mexico, canadian agreements, if the president continues to negotiate
good agreements like that, then i think for the benefit of agriculture and manufacturing my state of iowa but it benefits all 50 states, i would want to continue our free-trade and fair-trade policies we'll have under those new agreements. then in the area of rural healthcare, i won't get into a lot of details, but there's a lot of things that you have to do, because iowa is a low-reimbursement state and it would be just kind of natural since we have, let's say, $6,000 per medicare person compared to florida with 9,000 and we're number five or six in quality and they are very low in quality in florida it would make sense to take money from florida so we have a lot of things that are on the books that sunset time to time that enhance the delivery of healthcare in rural america. and this is all rural states. not just iowa. and i'd like to enhance that and
then for everybody in the country whether rural or urban we've got outrageous prescription drug prices and i've been working on this. some of this is in the area of judiciary, but it also comes under medicare and medicaid, so we have jurisdiction over medicare and medicaid. i would hope to save the taxpayers money the same way i'd want to save consumers money by getting cheaper drugs on the market. generics as an example. host: let's focus on trade. we saw the president sign with the mexican and canadian leaders the g20 this trade deal, the new version of nafta. what is the time frame for the finance committee to take that up? will there be hearings on it? how will it work? what will be your approach as chair?
sen. grassley: first of all, it comes up under a process on the floor of the senate that has limited debate so we don't have to have 60 votes to get it passed like you do a lot of things. 51 votes will get the job done. i'm not sure i can give you the exact hours out there in the law that can be debated, but it is a limited amount of time. then there is a certain calendar for the committee to operate under on it and get it out of committee. we will be holding hearings on it, of course. beyond that, since it's fast-tracked is the term we use, and it'll go to the floor regardless of what we do in committee, i think our hearings and to bring out a small group of people and greater in depth the things that people might consider wrong about it are strengthening. for me, it seems to me that unions have gained a great deal from a higher percentage of the
car from 62 to 75 being domestic-produced parts and then for higher wages, compared to the $3 in mexico at least, i think it's 50% has to be made by people making at least $16 an hour. i would hope that manufacturing would see that and the union see that as very beneficial and then in the area of agriculture particularly with canada, where they've been very restrictive on our dairy products and wheat going into canada, that's very much liberalized. host: do you think it passes the congress, this trade agreement? sen. grassley: i think there is no doubt it passes the senate. now let's look at the house of representatives. we have heard some democrats, and i can't quantify it, but some democrats that said, well it's not strong enough on environment, not strong enough on labor. but surely the economic benefits
are strong enough. going back 20 years, we never worried about the environment and labor, but we've been negotiating those things with other countries and having good strong environmental and labor things are good things to do, but i would think you wouldn't hang this up particularly under the threat the president can pull us out of the nafta agreement. no democrat would want to go back to the pre-nafta environment with high tariffs and lack of free trade because we have developed both a mexican economy and the united states economy a great deal as a result of nafta. i'm not saying that all of nafta is fair. that's why the president renegotiated it. host: according to news reports you also have said you'd like to limit the president's authority to impose tariffs. as the finance chairman. how so? sen. grassley: that would be under the 1963 kennedy tariff bill. and let me back up for your audience. i don't need to do this for you, but you know that one of the 18 powers of congress is to make
all policy in interstate and foreign commerce. so everything dealing with trade is within the power of congress and not the president. but since there are things that happen maybe faster than congress can act, congress delegates some authority to the president. but in regard to national security, they've delegated too much authority. my judgment. now, they obviously didn't think that in 1963, but my judgment is that the president has too much discretion to declare national security as an excuse for imposing tariffs. so senator portman and my colleague senator ernst have good pieces of legislation in on that. i'm not saying i'm endorsing that specific piece of legislation, but i do endorse their goals. i hope to make that a high priority. host: have you spoken to the white house about this? sen. grassley: no, i have not, but i don't have to.
it's prospective. it doesn't punish the president for what he has done or take away any authority for what he has done under 232, but for the future there would be basically just other judgments than just the president's made. there would be input from the secretary of defense, as an example. host: have you spoken with your potential counterpart on the house side, and how do you think the house would react to what you're proposing? sen. grassley: i think they would be very favorable to it. maybe for different reasons than i am. i'm not anti-trump. i disagree with trump sometimes. but probably the democratic-controlled house deals with -- or disagrees with the president most of the time. but since they feel it's been misused, generally i think that. i haven't talked to them. by the way, i will be meeting with the chairman of the ways and means committee soon after the new congress starts. i don't know mr. neal very well, but i'll get acquainted and see
where we can cooperate and where we can't. but there will be a lot of differences, but that's just the way our process of government works. host: where due think there will be common ground? sen. grassley: on prescription drug prices. well, now, here is something i don't know about the house. is that in the jurisdiction of the ways and means committee like it is in the jurisdiction of our committee through medicare and medicaid or does that deal with the energy and health -- commerce and energy committee? and i'm not sure that i can know the rules of the house that well. host: more to work out on that. sen. grassley: yes. host: back to trade, how do you view the negotiations right now between the white house and china? sen. grassley: well, before i answer that question, can i say, overall, if you'd asked me questions about trade going back the first six months of this president, i would say that i just wonder whether he knows what he's doing. but now after we've had success with u.s., mexico, canada, we've had success with south korea.
we are negotiating with japan. we're negotiating with europe. we're hopefully going to have successful negotiation with china. and he's made a good agreement at least in these two instances where we have it. i have a lot of confidence he knows what he's doing. where maybe 18 months ago i couldn't have told you that. and i've expressed that to the president in our meetings in the white house. not only me, but a lot of other republicans. we say you have to be careful we don't have a trade war. then he'd say something like this, that at the time didn't sound very reasonable but now it sounds a little more reasonable. what do you mean? he'd say, what do you mean, a trade war? we've had a trade war and we've lost it. so he looks at trade this way. for 70 years we've tried to help the rest of the world coming out of world war ii. we were very rich. then the rest of the world was impoverished.
and now we see the trade has done more to raise people out of poverty worldwide than anything else you could do, and so he's come to the conclusion that i think a lot of americans agree with him, you want free trade, he'd say to the rest of the world. well, we have free trade. you can get almost anything into our country you want to. give us the same basis you do. so when you asked me the question you asked me, i think it was about china, then you got to think that as background. now, we have 90 days for the chinese to show that they're going to negotiate in good faith. if those 90 days go ok, i think we're going to have the stalling of the imposition of the tariffs for a longer period of time and maybe reach an agreement. now, if this is like happened with china in the george h.w. bush administration, we were played for a sucker.
i think this president knows that china has a hundred-year view of them leading the world. they're very strategic. we're not that strategic. we go from two years to two years every election. i think that he's aware of that and he's going to be very cognizant of it. just a little bit like if you were to ask me about the negotiation with north korea. he said, you know, that when he meets with kim, he thinks that it's a good-faith effort, and if it isn't, he's said maybe i'll have to admit i made a mistake or misinterpreted him. and i think he feels the same way with china. he thinks he has a good relationship with president xi, but he may be misjudging the guy. host: chairman, in our final minute or so here, how do you approach being the chair of a
committee? as we said, you chaired as judiciary. you've been in this leadership role before. what is your approach and who sets the agenda? is it you or your leader, majority leader mitch mcconnell? sen. grassley: i would say in my four years being chairman of the judiciary committee, i have had no problem with mcconnell, the leader setting it. now, i think that he played a very major role in the tax bill of a year ago. i wasn't chairman. and so things that are of interest to all members of the caucus and particularly if the president is interested in it, i think you could expect some input from the leader. short of that, it'll be entirely up to me to make the agenda, and if i want to disagree with mcconnell, which i seldom
disagree with, then of course i can still do what i want to do as chairman of the committee. now, you got to be careful about that because if you put something out of committee and the leader doesn't bring it up, you know, you you haven't accomplished a whole lot. so i think i see myself as a person that's a facilitator. whether it's republican leader or democrats on my committee, like i have a very good working relationship with feinstein on judiciary. i have a very good working relationship with durbin now, as you see on criminal justice reform, that you have to learn to work across lines, across party lines, and you never get anything done in the senate if it's not bipartisan when you have 60 votes except for reconciliation. and republicans are never going to have 60 votes in the united states senate. remember, the democrats have only had 60 votes in the 42 years i've been in congress. so even democrats, when they're in the majority, have to have some bipartisanship. so the senate is an institution
that brings people together. unlike the house of representatives, whether you're a democrat majority or a republican majority, you can ignore the minority as long as you stick together. but you can't do that in the united states senate. host: chairman chuck grassley, thank you. sen. grassley: thank you. host: next up, senator james inhofe, who chairs the armed services committee. there has been a committee overseeing the military since 1816. in addition to those duties, the committee also has control over the petroleum reserves and some security aspects of nuclear energy. previous chairs of the committee, andrew jackson and jefferson davis. >> senator james inhofe, republican of oklahoma, will begin his first full term as senate armed services committee chairman in the 116th congress. you spent most of 2018 as acting chairman and then chairman following the death of senator john mccain. so what is the difference about the job now that you're going to be starting it on day one of a new congress? sen. inhofe: well, when john
mccain was having problems, had to go back to arizona, we still had voices from another director there. we never knew whether it was going to be from staff or actually john mccain, and he was failing at that time. so after he died, became the chairman, that was different because we put together our people. before that, we didn't have our people. john bonso, who is in here right now, he's staff director and he is the one who built his own staff. so it's different. we can put together our program the way we want it and there can't be any question as to is this what somebody else wants. acting director is not a lot of fun. but now we know -- we know what's wrong with the military. between the staff that he has and the fact that, you know, i spent eight years on the house armed services committee and then 20 years on the senate armed services committee, so i know what we've done in the
past. i know what we have gone through in our military under the eight years of obama. and let me start off by saying, john, i don't criticize obama. obama is a very sincere in heart liberal. he doesn't have a high priority on military. so he readjusted his priorities so that we just had a real serious problem. we fell way behind our peer competitors, and that is russia and china. host: what are your priorities as you enter this new congress? sen. inhofe: i have six of them. you want me to run over all of them? host: go ahead. sen. inhofe: ok. well, the first one, there is this document right here. this is the best one in the years that i've been there. this is the document that is implementing what the president is trying to do and what he says his priorities are. this actually does it. what is good about this is it was put together by democrats
and republicans, all experts who made this thing up. when they put it together, they swore that they would tell the truth for a change. just what our condition is. and just give you an example because this comes right from this manual here. such quotes as the commission. this commission says unequivocally the national defense system is not adequately resourced. america is very near the point of strategic insolvency. america's military superiority has eroded to a dangerous degree. america's combat edge -- you know, all these things we knew. the reason we knew them is that we have had people all during his administration talking about how bad the -- our military is now behind. host: when was that document put together? sen. inhofe: it was put together, reported two weeks ago
in our committee, and it was put together a year -- probably a year and a half before that. but the law -- they talk about how good this report is because it actually is unvarnished and just tells the truth. democrats and republicans agreed on that. individuals who don't have a high priority on military, they don't like the idea that it's there, they don't like the attention given because they'd rather have their priorities go somewhere else. so to answer your question, on what our priorities are, the number one -- this would be the blueprint. this is what we'll do to make all these things happen. and the second thing is in our first category, what we're going to be doing with the ndaa, national defense authorization act. now, i have to say that i was proud to be the acting director when we put this one through last year. we put it through the authorization bill for defense in a record time. the fastest in 40 years that
we've done it. why is that important? it's important because you have to do the authorization before you do the appropriation. and we want our kids over there in harm's way to know that we are getting it done and fully informed as to we understand what the threat is out there. the second thing is the readiness. through a readiness crisis during the obama years, our brigade combat teams, for example, only 30% of them could be deployed because of poor maintenance. same thing with the army aviation brigades, same thing, f-18's for example. that's what the marines fly. only 65% of those could not be deployed because of maintenance problems. the third thing is modernization. you know, you've heard a lot of people -- liberals, people who don't have a high priority for defense, talking about the triad system. that's our nuclear modernization
system, which has not been modernized really since 1980. all the times we've been doing nothing, this started prior to the obama administration so i can't hang all of this on him. but the triad system is defending america through submarines, bombers, and i.c.b.m.'s. and all of the time we were not doing anything, the chinese and the russians were passing us up in many of these areas. in fact, they actually have passed us up. host: when you talk about modernization, are there some weapons systems we're working on right now that you don't think we need? sen. inhofe: no. i think we do. it's such a moving target. you have hypersonics for example. a defense system that instead of measuring artillery by how many rounds a minute, it is 100ths of a second. it is a modern system. it is one that putin was saying
he is now ahead of the united states. he lies, so i don't believe him, but nonetheless, it shows their visit, -- that they are busy both russia and china. , i don't want to imply that is the only threat out there. i think the president is right when he put together his national security system and he said we also have the rogue nations out there. we have, you know, iran. we have north korea who are developing the capability of reaching the united states of america with a weapon. so that's serious, too. but in terms of peer competition, those are either as good or better than we are in some of their systems, people say how could they -- how could some other country be better than us? it's because people, and i know this is true, ever since world war ii, we've built ourselves up where we have the best of everything. and that started slipping. and now we don't and it is very important that people understand
that because you have to develop a budget. if you're going to give a priority to military, which we're going to try to do, which i'll explain is part of our priorities here, then we have to get busy and people have to understand we don't have the best of everything. host: what does that budget look like in fiscal 2020? we've heard a lot of numbers, the president in early december calling the $716 billion number last year a crazy number, but then we're also hearing $750 billion is the number agreed to. sen. inhofe: you know, there's two things about our president as far as this subject is concerned. number one, he wants to rebuild our military. he knows what has happened. he wants to do it. but i want you to listen very carefully, because nobody believes this, so i have it well documented. if you would take what obama did in the two years that i compare are 2010 and 2015, in 2010 the total budget was $794 billion.
in 2015 that had dropped down to $586 billion. that's a drop of 24% over a five-year period instead of the normal growth. so that's why we were really hurting and have to really rebuild this thing. so we made a commitment and we successfully did it to raise it in fiscal year 2018 to $700 billion, 2019, $760 billion, then in the first budget that came out for the year, fiscal year 2000, the president had $733 billion. then there is some talk about, well, we should knock that down to $700 billion. that's where you're getting all these numbers. to me it was all strategy. we knew we weren't going to be cutting down and destroying everything we did in the two previous fiscal years. and so now when you hear things like $750 billion, this report says, and general dunford,
chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and others, the secretary of defense, they say the same thing. what we've got to do right now is increase the budget by 3% to 5% over inflation for the next five years. well, if you take 2016 -- i'm sorry. $716 billion last year, and you go to $733 billion, that's only an increase of 2.1%, which is below inflation. so that doesn't do what all the smart people say we'll have to do. that's why you're getting all these numbers. host: you mentioned the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. what do you make of the president's pick? sen. inhofe: you know, he is a soldier -- i like him. he is an army, army.
i was army and i have a little pride there with him. i think he is really good. i think he is tough. is a pretty abrupt drive. he has some of the similarities and personality that trump does. i think they're going to get along real well and i think he'll do a great job. host: you mentioned your army service term. you served two years in the army? sen. inhofe: yeah. that was back in the days of the draft. the best thing that ever happened to me in my life was being drafted. host: do you think the chairman of the armed services committee should always have that experience? serving in the military, should it be a requirement? sen. inhofe: well, to go through basic training is where you really get introduced to it. i think that is something they should have, yeah. host: you've served under a lot of chairmen in the house and senate. what is your style as committee chairman? sen. inhofe: well, a little more hands on than a lot of people. i like to get out in the field.
i find out more, john, when i'm in afghanistan in the mess hall or out in the field from the troops than i do from all these hearings you have around washington. you know, people are normally polished up and saying the right things and all that. so i like to do that and see how people really are. what is surprising to me is these kids that are out in the field, they know. they knew during the obama years, as charming as obama is and young people loved him and all of that, military, the kids over there fighting, they knew exactly what his background was and they knew that they don't have maintenance. they knew we were losing lives because we were not properly maintaining equipment. look at the accidents we've had. maritime accidents as well as air accidents. there is not any way to exactly see how many people we lost, but they knew that because they were there watching. host: you talk about your willingness to travel. do you expect your subcommittee chairman to go overseas and see the troops?
sen. inhofe: well, most of them actually have. we've done it together. i'm talking about just in recent years. we have the greatest -- now i'll talk about -- the democrats on the committee are good. they're not as strong military because this goes -- i think we all understand this, certainly it was demonstrated clearly by obama, but the republicans that are on are all of the ones that really are nailed into these issues. and the chairmen of the subcommittees, john, these guys and gals really know their issues. when you talk to someone like mike rounds, he is into this cyber stuff, stuff i'm not really into. that is why one of the reasons we're using a lot more activity from subcommittee chairs is that they are actually specializing. you know, they all have things they like. one of the things i don't enjoy doing in all the years i've been on the house and senate armed
services committee is the personnel subcommittee. that just wears me out. yet senator tillis, that was his first choice. you know, so we have all of our people there that are subcommittee chairmen are really experts in their field. host: only about a minute left. did want to ask you about what your relationship is like with jack reed and also the incoming chair of the house armed services committee. sen. inhofe: let's start with adam smith. because he is more difficult for me because we're just two different philosophies. but you know, we have been the big four for two or three different times when we were putting together the n.d.a.a. and we've gotten along real well. we've expressed ourselves differently, but we are actually good friends. now, as far as jack reed is concerned, i can't think of anyone, any democrat serving in the united states senate, that i'd rather have as my
counterpart as the minority leader in the defense, in military. we get along real great. the guy has a great background. we agree on almost every military issue. host: jim inhofe, the republican of oklahoma, incoming armed services committee chairman. thank you for your time. sen. inhofe: thank you, john. >> on day 3 of a government
shutdown, president trump tweeted, "i am all alone (poor me) in the white house. waiting for the democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed border security. at some point the democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our country more money. crazy." house minority leader nancy pelosi and senate minority leader chuck schumer issued a statement saying, "instead of certainty in people's lives come he is continuing the trump
should than just of these right-wing radio and tv hosts. meanwhile, different people from the semi house are saying different things about what the president would accept or not accept to end his trump shut down." tonight on "the communicators," artificial intelligence and robots. >> i think we are at this point where we are creating a couple of new technologies that are of that same magnitude and will change the trajectory of the human race. artificial intelligence, by which we outsource human thoughts, and robots, by which we outsource human action. the question is when you build machines that think and act for us, what next for us? what do we do? communicators" tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. announcedtrump
yesterday that deputy defense secretary patrick shanahan will step in in january as acting different secretary, replacing current defense secretary james mattis. mr. shanahan previously worked at boeing, focusing on supply-chain programs. he has a degree in mechanical engineering from the massachusetts institute of technology, and is from aberdeen, washington. next, the peace corps director on the volunteer organization's mission and operations. she spoke at the center for strategic and international studies to draw attention to the peace corps' relevancy and the work of the volunteers serving abroad in a host country. >> good afternoon. welcome to the center for strategic and international studies, and welcome to us hosting an important dialogue