tv Senate Majority Leader Mc Connell News Conference CSPAN June 27, 2019 2:43pm-3:08pm EDT
mr. mcconnell: good afternoon, everyone. since we're going into a work period, i thought i'd just kind of recap my take on the last few weeks. bipartisan ndaa, which we think is extremely important. and obviously, you know, giving our democratic friends a vote on the udall amendment. rather bizarre situation. democratic leader found himself in. most of his conference wanted to vote on it today. but, as you know, there are intervening events last night and tonight that created the scheduling problem for them.
so, i decided i'd accommodate that. not wildly enthusiastically greeted on my side. but we'll be voting for a period of time starting at some indeterminant moment in the morning. i know you all are anxious to find out when it starts. and when it ends. and i can't tell you with specificity right now but we're trying to accommodate them. the main part on the udall amendment is none of our democratic friends would be supporting this if it were a democratic president. this clearly restricts administration's of both -- administrations of both parties who we've seen take measured responses to iranian acts of terror over the years, going back to 1979. when they captured our embassy people and kept them for over a year. so this is clearly within the bounds of measured response that have not been micromanaged by
congress in the past. the war powers act, which every president has felt is unconstitutional, is way more flexible than the udall amendment. so i expect that it will be defeated. i would love to have some democratic support but i think this is an example of the ffliction which -- trump derangement symptom. whatever he's for, they seem to be against. we've also, even though it didn't produce a lot of interest, i'm not blaming you for it, but we did pass an i.r.s. bill which i'm told is the most significant i.r.s. reform bill in a couple of decades. we've done 11 judges during this work period, circuits, court of claims. and district courts. so, we continue to function on the executive calendar because we've been so delayed over the last few years.
that pace has been doubled since we had the opportunity to move a little more quickly, after the modest rules adjustment we made a couple of months ago. on the border supplemental, maybe you know i'm not quite sure how this drama ends today, as we speak, but if we were to get an amended version of the border supplemental from the house, we would table whatever was added to it and send it back . i still hope that won't be necessary and it will be -- that we'll be able to finish that today. so with that, let me throw it open and see what you'd like to talk about. reporter: are you aware of the white house offering some administrative changes to the supplemental that wouldn't require a vote, but would deal with the humanitarian issue, how do you feel about that? mr. mcconnell: that was my understanding. i don't know exactly what that was. but i think it was an effort by
the vice president, who was put in charge of this when the president left, to be as accommodating as possible. so i do think those suggestions were made, how thorpse received, i don't know, you have to ask somebody else. reporter: would you be supportive of it as well? mr. mcconnell: i'm behind the administration on this. they've been talking for two months about this humanitarian crisis. it should not have been this hard. to do this. and i'm proud of the senate for tepping up, passing a bill 84-8, that is about as bipartisan as it gets around here, to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the border. we did not in the end continue to play these political games over this humanitarian crisis. they did. and it's their problem to resolve. and i hope they can figure a way to do that today. reporter: now that the supreme court just ruled, do you believe that the administration should continue to push to get the citizenship question in the census, even if it means
delaying the 2020 census? mr. mcconnell: i don't know. i haven't come to grips with that case. i found the brief summary of it that i read somewhat complicated. about the way forward. i did have a reaction to the so-called partisan gerrymandering issue. which i'd be happy to describe to you. reporter: sure. mr. mcconnell: the -- this is a good example of how a strict constructionist would look at an issue. the founding fathers of this country were not ambiguous about who would do redistricting. it was placed in the state legislatures. obviously that would be a political decision. and i think the 5-4 decision was correctly decided. because there is no such thing as a nonpartisan gerrymandering. you can punt it to some outside
group, you can have the court does it all. there's no such thing as a nonpartisan gerrymandering. plus, the problem is overstated. let me give you a couple of reasons -- recent examples. this is a solution in search of a problem. was an licans in 2010 election after a democratic redistricting, after the previous census. democrats controlled most of the redistricting mechanisms and drew those districts in most states leading up to the 2010 election, which we swept. we largely controlled the redistricting process prior to last year's election. after the most recent census. we had a lot of states crafting those districts to advantage us. and they swept the house. so, look, if there was ever an example of a solution in search of a problem, this is it.
but i applaud the supreme court decision because it's pretty darn clear who the founders had an eye on to do the redistricting. reporter: do you think the citizenship question shb included? mr. mcconnell: i don't have an opinion about that. it sounds reasonable to me. but i haven't studied that case. i don't even really understand what the court decided. maybe you do. reporter: not really. mr. mcconnell: yeah. so i just think it's kind of confusing. so my general rule of thumb is if i'm confused about something, i choose not to answer the question. reporter: there is some word on the house side that the house might be preparing moving to take up the senate bill. i wonder when the last time you spoke with speaker pelosi has been? do you have any understanding of what their next move would be? separate from that, if this does not get solved, this border bill does not get solved today or tomorrow, do you commit to keeping the senate here working on this until the bill is passed and sent to the president's
desk? mr. mcconnell: yes. i'm not -- i've not spoken with her. i've followed the dilemma that she has. it's one often confronted by speakers. when you have a situation where .ou're confronted with an issue where the opposition is almost totally unified and you have a majority that's divided. so you're confronted with the political question of whether to take up and pass a bill that maybe, maybe the majority of your side does not vote for and a majority of the other side does. i've watched that and you have too over the years. speakers of both parties have been confronted with that periodically. putting aside the politics of it , nobody doubts anymore that this is a humanitarian crisis. as i've said repeatedly and as you've noticed, "the new york times" headline, give trump the money. this is the kind of thing
normally we step up to the plate on and do together. the senate did that, i'm proud of what the senate did. i hope the speaker will find a way to pass the senate bill because i think it's clear -- it clearly enjoys bipartisan support. we know it will get a presidential signature and therefore make a law. reporter: will you keep the senate in session if that doesn't happen? reporter: you said you were committed to keeping the senate in session. mr. mcconnell: we're going pass it this week. reporter: separately, speaker pelosi said earlier today that some of what they're asking for, a lot of what they're asking for shin mum health and safety standard -- is minimum health and safety standards for these facilities. what would be wrong with adding that to what is already in the senate bill, to pertain to those facilities and also the facilities that are holding adults? why not add some language guaranteeing those standards, which are already in law? mr. mcconnell: [inaudible] -- it's about as bipartisan as it gets around here.
the president said, i'll sign the bill. that's what we sent the house. and i think this current episode , it should come to an end. we've been playing with it for two months. and this is the best we can do at this moment. i'm not suggesting this solves every issue. senator graham and his committee are wrestling with some statutory changes. that they think would help solve the problem. but this is an emergency. e need to do it now. reporter: on a different subject, on budget caps, senator shelby said today that there's no deal on budget caps and there won't be a deal before you go to break. he said the committee can't go ahead with marking up bills. when do you think there will be a budget deal? mr. mcconnell: i've been disappointed that we have not been able to reach an agreement. e've had a couple of meetings. the acting o.m.b. director,
pelosi, myself, schumer, mccarthy, i think this is the best of three possibilities. obviously i think everybody knows we don't want to go into a sequester, for those of us who are concerned about the defense department, $71 billion cut at the end of the year, completely unacceptable. equally unacceptable is the one-year c.r. from a defense point of view. almost as bad as the sequester. that leaves you with accepting the result of last year's election which is we have divided government and when the american people like divided government, they're saying, ok, you guys figure out how to work together, even though we know you have lots of differences. so far that has not been successful. i'm disappointed that we've not gotten there. but i haven't given up. reporter: -- [inaudible] -- yesterday during the 2020 democratic debate about how future democratic president would deal with an opening at the supreme court.
how would you handle an opening at the supreme court for a liberal justice if a democratic president were to nominate another liberal justice to take their place? mr. mcconnell: a lot of it depends upon the timing of the vacancy. obviously if you have a vacancy on the first year of a term of a esident, you're not going to fill the vacancy for a lengthy period of time. no matter what the political composition is. the nominee might or not mite not be confirmed, depending on how controversial the nominee is. but i don't think in the first year of any administration you would react in the same way you did in the middle of a presidential election. to a vacancy. particularly if consistent with the president, you'd -- precedent, you'd have to go back to 1888 the last time a senate of a different party confirmed a supreme court nominee to a vacancy created in a presidential election year.
as i've said ad nauseum to all of you, that's what joe biden said in 1992. similar situation. senate, in the hands of one party, president in the hands of another. election year. schumer and reid took it back 18 months and announced in 2007, 18 months before the bush presidency was over, the situation which the democrats controlled the senate, republicans had the white house, they would not fill the vacancy. the constitution says the president makes these appointments. but there's no mandate for the enate to give consent. whether consent is given throughout our history has largely been dependent upon the politics of the time. when did the vacancy occur? who is in control of one party, one -- the senate or the house?
and i can't imagine any scenario under which in the early part of any president's term you would not have a vote. which doesn't mean that the person would necessarily be confirmed but you certainly have a vote. reporter: [inaudible] -- for the first year. you said for the first year of a presidency would you hold a vote. past ther first year, is there a certain point you wouldn't? mr. mcconnell: it's politically unsustainable to leave a vacancy unaddressed, which doesn't necessarily mean -- i mean, richard nixon, for example, had two supreme court justices in a row voted down. so it took a while. for somebody to finally be confirmed. there were votes, they were voted down, it was in the early part of his administration. so you're asking me all types of hypotheticals. a lot of it depends upon when the vacancy occurs, what kind of nominee do you get, and the outcome you get depends many times on the nature of the nominee.
reporter: if you are majority leader and -- [inaudible] -- are there particular ones you could work with more than others? how open to working with -- mr. mcconnell: in a situation like, that i think a democratic president confronted with a republican senate would obviously be concerned about how do i get he or she confirmed. so i would guess there would be more consultation and much more back and forth discussion in a situation like that. reporter: president trump often characterized -- reporter: your name came up a lot last night at the democratic debate. mr. mcconnell: i heard that. i was watching the nats game but i heard that. reporter: in particular, you know, they were struggling to figure out how to deal with mitch mcconnell was sort of the question they were struggling with. some people talking about getting rid of the filibuster to go around you. defeating you in kentucky. other things. i'm wondering what you made of you becoming the boogieman here for the democratic presidential
candidates? mr. mcconnell: i understand that my sin is that i've been stopping left wing agenda items coming out of the house and confirming strict construction to the supreme court. that's my sin. i plead guilty. so i was thrilled to dominate the discussion last night and i think that was a legitimate discussion to have and i couldn't have been happier about it and the nats won too. . reporter: there is debate in the white house about undoing the last of the nuclear waivers from the iran deal and snapping back sanctions on iran. they are already violating the jcpoa. it's likely they'll continue reducing the breakout time for a nuclear weapon. in that case, would you support the trump administration striking nuclear sites on iran unless the president has the authorization to do that? senator mcconnell: i am not quite sure what your question is. let me just make it clear. i do think applying these economic sanctions is having an
impact. that's why they're acting out. and i think the administration is handling appropriately and in a measured way the response to the acting out. the iranians are obviously hurting as a result of the sanctions. i think that policy is a smart policy. i think it ought to continue. and i support it. i think the president made it he's ely clear that starting war with iran. it's laughable that he is. he announced he pulled back from a more robust response last week is further evidence that he's not trying to start a war here. so i think everybody ought to take a deep breath. this is not, in my view, any different from the situations other presidents of both parties have confronted since 1979 in dealing with the latest iranian outrage.
and so i support what the administration is doing so far. [indiscernible] reporter: leader mcconnell, you mentioned earlier that senator graham is working on changes to other immigration reform. if that's the case, do you believe or would you advise them to delay the i.c.e. raids that the president announced? senator mcconnell: yeah, i don't have any advice to give them about how to deal with that situation. it's a horrendous problem. i do believe that they are correct, that u.s. law creates -- exacerbates the issue. difficulty any time we change this law is we can't do it on a bipartisan basis. so somebody told me that the speaker went so far today to suggest it ought not be illegal to come into the country. really? maybe that was inartfully
expressed, but it ought to be a crime to make an illegal entrance. reporter: democrats want 2020 a referendum on donald trump. [indiscernible] how well do you think is based on his performance? senator mcconnell: i think it will be a referendum. it will be a referendum on what the house will do if they took over the government. the green new deal. medicare for all under which 180 million americans would lose their private health insurance. hey have even suggested d.c. statehood, puerto rico statehood. i think bernie sanders was correct when he said he's won the argument. he may not win the election, but i think he's won the argument. and so whether you do or don't like the president is not the only thing that will be on the ballot next year. the other thing is do you want to turn america into a socialist country? do you think we'd be better off
with something other than the free enterprise system? they want to have a big debate about that and i do too. and i look forward to it. and so i'm sure both of those issues are likely to be front and center in next year's election. reporter: leader mcconnell, senator shelby said [indiscernible] top line numbers the week you guys come back -- absent [indiscernible] the week you come back from the recess. would you support doing that? senator mcconnell: i supported getting some kind of deal that can tell us how much we can spend so we can go forward. the only thing, however, strikes me that gives us a real number to mark to is one that we know the president will sign. and so the two key players in any caps deal are the speaker and president.
if they can agree how much we're going to spend, then we're not spinning our wheels. the house, because they can do things more quickly, obviously made a decision to go on and pick out their dream number and go and mark the bills up to that. you know, what they'd like to achieve. i don't think that works for us. and i think the way forward in the absence of a caps deal, at least for senate purposes, is more complicated, but we're going to continue to talk about this and hopefully get a resolution to how much we're going to spend this year, next year, and the debt ceiling altogether so that we don't end up with these periodic, chaotic situations where we all seen us go from time to time. i am going to take one more. reporter: leader mcconnell, the ndaa, what do you see the timeline? is there anything in the house version [indiscernible] senator mcconnell: got you. i don't know. but we'll be into a conference
situation pretty quickly. and if the bill we haven't failed to pass in 58 years -- it's a bill we haven't failed pass in 58 years and it's a bill we will pass this year. thanks, everybody. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] host: senator mcconnell talking about a number of topics including the border funding supplemental bill. just before voting house members took it off the floor. the senate majority leader saying he was not sure where the border funding bill was going. again, after the senate passed version was withdrawn just before a vote, a look here at some reporting from "the washington post," nick who says -- the senate version of $4.5 billion border supplemental heading toward house approval with democratic moderates siding with the g.o.p. another one here from texas congressman henry cuellar, democrat, saying the border
emergency supplemental appropriation is a critical step to meeting the urgent needs of migrant families and children at the border. and he urging the senate and president to quickly move toward the bill. of course, needing to pass the house, of course. senator mitch mcconnell reiterating that the senate will vote to table any additions that the house tries to make to the senate-passed border supplemental and send it back. we're not sure at this point when the house will be coming back in. they do have the looming july 4th recess and they wanted to try to get this border security funding for humanitarian aid and security at the border passed before next week's recess. of course, we're going to be keeping you updated and we'll bring you back when the house gavels back in as soon as they do. until then, a look back at some of the debate from earlier just before the failure of that vote to move forward, a little bit here from the freedom caucus members on the conservative side of the house.