FNC Hannity & Colmes - Transcript
Sen. Mitch McConnell on the Immigration Debate
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Joining us tonight in our New York studio, meeting you nice nice to meet you for the first time, Senator, from Kentucky, Republican Senator, Majority Whip Mitch McConnell.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY: Hey, Alan.
COLMES: Some guys say, you know, you guys ought to not take a couple weeks off at a time when you should be settling this problem.
COLMES: What about that?
MCCONNELL: Well, what needs to happen, of course, is, the Democrats The Washington Post, by the way, got it right in their editorial Sunday, the Democrats need to let us have the normal procedure that we have on bills like this, which is to have a few amendments voted on.
MCCONNELL: They managed to do the one thing that we couldn't do, which is to unify all the Republicans behind one position.
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COLMES: You have done a good job of uniting Democrats though of late, too. But it seems to me, there was an agreement, but the Republicans wanted to add amendments. It was the Republican amendments which got in the way of what had been a brokered agreement to have this legislation.
MCCONNELL: Yes, but the way the Senate doesn't operate like the House.
When you bring up a major bill, there are a number amendments offered. We had 36 amendments last year on the budget. We had 31 amendments on bankruptcy. That's the way we operate.
They basically shut the process down, were only going to allow us to have three amendments. And even though a large number of senators wanted the Hagel-Martinez proposal, even the Republicans who supported that said, we're not going to allow this bill to leave without our colleagues getting a fair chance to amend the process.
COLMES: But you guys control the Senate. You set the agenda. You're in charge of what gets up and what doesn't come up and what the legislation is going to be. You're in charge, right?
MCCONNELL: Well, as I said, The Washington Post got it right. The Democrats were unfair in the process. And as soon as we allow our amendment members to have an amendment process that makes sense, I think we'll probably pass a comprehensive bill.
COLMES: It seems that nobody comes up with a logical way of dealing with the 12 million people here, and that that is something that has not been adequately addressed. You can't just arrest them all and send them back, can you?
MCCONNELL: I think that is probably not going to happen, no.
COLMES: What should happen?
MCCONNELL: I mean, what should happen and can be done and we have not done it yet which is to begin by securing the border.
And, once you secure the border, then I think you have a guest-worker program that actually works. We have a sort of guest-worker program now in agriculture, but it's not very functional and doesn't work right a guest-worker program that works.
And, then last, you turn to the issue of the people who are already here and what do you do to bring them in from the cold.
COLMES: What do you do about those people?
COLMES: Everybody agrees on the border. This is the hard part.
MCCONNELL: They have to, at the very least, go to a port of entry and turn themselves in, in effect, and be regularized through that process.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Senator, welcome to the program. Good to see you. I'm glad you said that, when you said control the borders. If there can be no agreement on amnesty, if there can be no agreement on a guest-worker program, why doesn't the Senate get together with the House, find some reconciliation, and control the borders now, considering it's so important, in terms of overall national security?
MCCONNELL: Well, the borders need to be controlled, period...
HANNITY: But they're not.
MCCONNELL: Whether whether well, I agree.
HANNITY: Look at the the video shows...
MCCONNELL: I'm not arguing that they are.
MCCONNELL: But they need to be.
MCCONNELL: And I don't think there's really any way you can argue otherwise. That's the starting place.
But, in conjunction with that, I, for one, am open to a guest-worker program. But I think the first step has to be serious border security.
Is the McCain-Kennedy bill, and even the amendments, or the different variations, the Hagel-Martinez provisions, aren't they really amnesty in one shape or another...
MCCONNELL: Well, you know, everybody says they're against amnesty. You can't find anybody in the Senate who says that they're for amnesty.
HANNITY: But it is amnesty.
MCCONNELL: The question is, what is amnesty? And there's a lot of difference of opinion about that.
But if you came into this country illegally, or if you overstayed your visa, and then the process is designed, and the new law is designed that you get to stay, isn't that kind of amnesty, any way you look at it?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think you can't reward illegal entry.
Look, I'm the proud husband, as you know, of a legal immigrant who came here to America at age 8, not speaking a word of English. And she's now the secretary of labor of the United States.
MCCONNELL: Look, most of us are supporters of immigration. Unless you were a Native American who was already here or an African- American who came here against your will, all the rest of us came from somewhere else.
MCCONNELL: Some kind of regular process of immigration is a process of renewal for this country.
But storming the borders from the south is not the way to build a stronger America. And we have got to secure those borders.
HANNITY: Let me ask you one political question, considering that's your background and expertise, too.
The president has been taking a political beating, a daily barrage of criticism, harsh criticism, I would argue, often unfair criticism from liberal Democrats. They seem to be very focused on the House and Senate and trying to get their power back. Is there a vulnerability in this election cycle, do you think, for Republicans? Or do you feel confident that the Democrats, with no agenda, are not going to be able to be successful?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think we what we have to do is remind the American people what the other guys are for. What...
HANNITY: What is that?
MCCONNELL: What they would do is wave the white flag in the War on Terror and raise your taxes. That's what they for.
You give the Democrats the majority in the House and Senate, and that's exactly what they will do.
HANNITY: Do you worry that, if they're given that power we keep hearing talk from Russ Feingold and others, and Harkin, and John Edwards, and some others not only are they just talking about censure. Some are talking about impeachment.
Do you worry? Do you think that would be a reality if the Democrats got control of the House and Senate?
HANNITY: Would they really push that?
MCCONNELL: These are the guys that think the president may have committed an impeachable offense by listening in to phone calls from Al Qaeda.
HANNITY: Outside the country into the country.
MCCONNELL: That's my point.
MCCONNELL: You give them the majority, and they will do two things. They will wave the white flag in the War on Terror and they will raise our taxes.
HANNITY: Good to see you, Senator.
MCCONNELL: Good to see you.
HANNITY: Thank you for being with us. Appreciate it. Thanks.
There's a liberal...
COLMES: Senator, I hope you will come back and debate that white-flag part, because no one wants to surrender the War on Terror. I think the question is, what are the best policies to fight it?
COLMES: And we...
HANNITY: Senator, you have laid it out perfectly.
HANNITY: Good job.
COLMES: We appreciate you coming on our show.
MCCONNELL: Good to see you guys.