SCHULTZ: Well, we`ve got the Congressional panel with us tonight.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama, Congressman John Larson of
Connecticut, and Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia. Great to have you
with us. I enjoyed visiting with all of you last night.
You know, I come from and I spend a lot of time in the state of
Minnesota where a bridge fell down and killed 13 people. So I -- when the
president talked about this last night, I knew exactly what he was talking
about from covering that.
The other thing is I bet I could go to Alabama, I could go to
Virginia, I could go to Connecticut, and I could probably find
infrastructure that needs to be upgraded, bridges that are probably
compromised at this point right now. And I chose this story tonight for
this panel because isn`t this something that Republicans and Democrats can
John Larson from Ways and Means, how could this be a roadblock?
REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: It shouldn`t be a roadblock at
all. And everybody agrees in their district that there is a drastic need
for us to invest in infrastructure. We know that from the president`s
address, when he was citing bridges.
Bill Shuster, who is taking the Committee on Transportation, has
talked about the importance and need for this. And I think there is a
great opportunity for Congress to come together. In my own district, it`s
not only roads and bridges, but dyke systems that we have identified since
Katrina that need to be addressed.
And as you know, Ed, and so eloquently say, this is what can put
America back to work immediately, and addresses these very important and
critical issues of infrastructure right away.
SCHULTZ: You know, we`ve got the firearms issues. We`ve got
immigration reform. I mean, these are big issues. But the big elephant in
the room right now is the economy. Terri, what could be done in Alabama?
REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), ALABAMA: Well, I think that the president was
absolutely right. You know, when you do infrastructure improvements, you
create jobs today that actually create the roads and bridges for future
economic growth and development. I know in Alabama, we could use rural
broadband. It`s a real issue. Being able to lay fiberoptics as well as to
improve our roads and bridges.
There are lots and lots of projects that I could name that would
benefit from the president`s vision from last night.
SCHULTZ: Gerry, can Speaker Boehner get his party on board with this?
SEWELL: I hope so. For the sake of the county, I hope so. I think
that the president`s original proposal in the Jobs Act about an
infrastructure bank was really a wise one, because it`s about pooling
public capital and private capital together to improve the infrastructure
SCHULTZ: Gerry Connolly, congressman, can Boehner get anybody on
board? Why not take a vote on this? Why not advocate for jobs? Why not
advocate for infrastructure? I mean, doesn`t this put the Republicans on
the wrong side of the issue again?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Yes. And I was shocked last night
that during that section of the speech, the Republicans sat on their hands.
And yet as the president pointed out, they`re the first in line for the
ribbon cutting when the infrastructure actually gets completed or built.
Every district in this country is crying out for infrastructure
investment. The key to staying competitive: education, R&D and technology
and infrastructure. And if we don`t do it, I guarantee you the Chinese
SCHULTZ: Turning to the big deadline coming up, the sequester, the
president tackled the question head-on early last night. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its
business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.
OBAMA: We can`t do it. Let`s agree right here, right now to keep the
people`s government open and pay our bills on time, and always uphold the
full faith and credit of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: But Congressman Larson, we`ve got to hold the phone.
Congress is going on vacation for a few days. We`ve got this deadline that
nobody is paying attention to. Your thoughts on that.
LARSON: This is incredible. And this hostage politics simply has to
end. And it`s moving from crisis to crisis. And then not showing up for
work, it simply just exacerbates how the public already feels about
Congress. Our leader Nancy Pelosi has proposed that we stay here and get
the job done. And that`s what we should be doing, putting America back to
work, embracing the president`s programs that he has laid out.
If you have a better idea, put it forward. But everybody, Democrat,
Republican and independent, agrees the North Star continues to be, as the
president said, to put the country back to work, invest in its
infrastructure, create the kind of jobs that are going to grow this economy
and deal with the deficit. We know that the deficit can be reduced
directly by putting the country back to work, something, Ed, that you have
underscored for the last several years.
SCHULTZ: Well, it is about jobs. You got 67 percent of the American
people agreeing with what the president is talking about on all of these
issues last night. Congressman Connolly, getting more revenue is really
where it`s at right now, unless the Democrats are going to give up the big
three. How is this going to unfold?
CONNOLLY: Well, I think the Republicans are hard over on avoiding any
kind of additional revenue enhancement. I think that`s very irresponsible,
and almost condemns us to sequestration kicking in fully. And as the
president said, every one of these so-called crises is Congress` own
making. This wasn`t something opposed in the country. It wasn`t something
that occurred externally.
It`s something we created. And as John Larson just said, if you start
the calendar from July through the end of the lame duck, we were out in
recess for 15 of those 19 weeks.
SCHULTZ: Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama, I want your reaction
to the minimum wage going to nine dollars an hour. Is that something you
can easily support? And how would it affect workers in Alabama?
SEWELL: Absolutely. I was really surprised to hear that the
president actually said the nine dollars. I was so thrilled. You know, at
the end of the day, people want a living wage. And I know that in my
district in Alabama, there has been persistent poverty. And the
opportunity to give a hand up, not a handout is what this government should
And it`s investing in our greatest resource, which is our people. Our
people are our greatest resource. So I was really pleased to hear the
president talk in terms of workforce development and training. I know that
we`re rolling out a project in my own district, Project Ready, that is
about using our office as a platform to teach job readiness in our
SCHULTZ: Are the Democrats -- I`ll ask all three of you. Are you
walking away from the comment we`re now a center-left country. Congressman
Larson, your thoughts?
LARSON: Absolutely not. This is the way that we need to govern,
progressively leaning forward, but understanding, as Roosevelt did, that
you have to zig to the right and left, but you governor from the center.
And you do that by investing in the American people, doing, as the
president said last night -- making it in America, investing in our
manufacturing base, this idea -- the policies that he laid out with
manufacturing hubs, this is what we need to do, Ed.
SCHULTZ: All right. I`m up on time right now. But I do want to get
this in. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, all of you, thanks for being here
tonight. On a personal note, Congresswoman Sewell, you brought a very
special guest to the State of the Union last night. I had the honor of
meeting this lady.
And I think our audience would be interested. Her name is Patrice
Price. What a history she has. She served as a nurse to the Tuskegee
Airmen. Mrs. Price received a Congressional Gold Medal back in 2007 for
her courage in service. She was also General George Patton`s nurse. And
really, that`s what this country is all about. I`m glad she was there. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, thanks for joining us tonight, along with John Larson and Gerry Connolly.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz does his best Joe McCarthy imitation during the
Armed Services Committee hearing. That`s next. Stay with us.