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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript: Executive Power

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Joining me around the table are four members of the House, Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee, and her Republican colleague Aaron Schock from Illinois, Beto O'Rourke, Democrat from Texas, and Donna Edwards, Democrat from Maryland.

Thank you all so much for joining us.

So, let's start with the politics of the lawsuit, since we try to specialize in politics here. And that is, you -- we have already seen Democratic letters raising funds off both the lawsuit and threats of impeachment. And we have seen Republican conservatives sort of pushing Boehner on and talking the next step, impeachment.

So how does this play as you all look toward the midterms?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I will jump in on that.

The lawsuit is about process. And the American people appreciate and want an orderly process. And, to them, the means is as important as the ends. And what they have seen is a president who has gone outside of his constitutional authority and is trying to make his own laws. And what they have repeatedly said -- and, Candy, this isn't a partisan issue. We hear about it from Democrats, from Republicans, from independents. We hear a lot about it from women. There is an expectation that the president will conduct himself in a certain manner and that he is going to follow the letter of the law.

We are a nation of laws. And I have got to tell you, a lot of constitutional scholars are on our side in this debate.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Oh, Candy, I have really got to jump in here.

I don't understand the politics, quite frankly. I mean, 74 percent of Republicans support the Affordable Care Act. And so they're suing against their own Republicans. They wanted a delay in the individual mandate, in fact, in the House passed a delay of the individual mandate, and now they're suing over the individual mandate.

Most of American people want to focus on jobs and the economy. We have had 52 straight months of job growth, positive job growth, 6.1 percent unemployment. People want to focus on jobs, extending unemployment, raising the minimum wage.

And what's on the Republicans' leaderboard? Suing the president and impeaching the president. No, I don't understand the politics.

CROWLEY: And we should say that the speaker has said, no, impeachment is not on his board. We are hearing Republicans talk about it, but not the bulk of Republicans.

I -- Congressman Schock, look, the thing is, I -- I don't know how Americans look at this, but my guess is they'd look up and think, what are they doing now? The speaker is suing the president? And I don't think they necessarily blame one or the other, but they just see a Washington that does not function, children at the border, a health care system -- I mean, how does this play?

(CROSSTALK)

REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: You know, Candy, I think -- I think this lawsuit is about a number of things, but, first and foremost, it's about the rule of law.

And the fact of the matter is, we have a president who has boasted at rally after rally that, if Congress doesn't pass the laws that he wants, he will act unilaterally and implement his own laws. I don't care what your political philosophy -- political philosophy is, and I don't care what your -- your political view of this process is.

We have a Constitution. And every two years, each of the four of us around this table take an oath. We raise our right hand, and we swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This lawsuit is more than just about holding the president within his realm of authority, which is to faithfully execute the laws that Congress passes. It's also about us fulfilling our constitutional responsibility,

our oath to protect and defend the Constitution. If we allow this president to write his own laws, to implement his own laws outside of the bounds and purview of the Congress, we will -- we will open the floodgates for future presidents, Republicans and Democrats, to do the same. And that's a dangerous precedent to set.

CROWLEY: Congressman O'Rourke, has the president made some tactical errors dealing with Congress? Because what's happened here -- outside legal errors and whether there is, you know, substantial evidence for a suit, has he made errors in dealing with Congress?

REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS: I don't know.

And, as you probably know, I'm a freshman. I have only been here for about 18 months.

CROWLEY: Well, long enough to tell, isn't it?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'ROURKE: In terms of the merits of the argument, my understanding is that this president has authored fewer executive actions than almost any other president preceding his presidency in recent history.

But, furthermore, and probably more importantly, the veterans that I represent in El Paso want to us fix the VA. Those who are unemployed in El Paso want us to work on the economy. People are asking what we're going to do about this humanitarian crisis on the Texas/Mexico border.

So that's what my constituents, what I think most people in America want us to work on. I happen to think this lawsuit is a waste of time and resource and focus, when we have some very serious issues confronting this country.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Let me quick -- I'm going to get you in.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHOCK: ... ask this question of my Democratic colleagues. Do they believe that the president is faithfully executing the laws of the Congress?

EDWARDS: You want a short answer to that?

SCHOCK: Do they believe that the crisis at the border is a result of the president?

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: Absolutely, we believe the president -- the president is faithfully executing the laws.

And, if you want to talk about the crisis at the border, it has been exacerbated by the fact that Republicans refuse to address immigration reform.

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: Let's go back to this, because there are three equal branches of government. And the president is to do what -- he is to implement the laws. The Supreme Court has 12 times said, look, you are outside of your jurisdiction.

The president is trying to consolidate his power. The American people don't like it. They talk about jobs, the economy, Obamacare. What they say is, look at the uncertainty that this president and this administration is interjecting in the normal course of doing business.

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: The president -- the president wants to act. The president wants to get something done, in the absence and the failure of Republicans in Congress...

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: Well, he should...

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: ... in the manner allowed to him, and not trying to make his own laws and be an imperial president.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Before we -- I have got to take a break here, but I want to quick play a couple of sound bites. These were not an exchange, per se, between President Obama and the speaker of the House, but it is a tit-for-tat between the two of them.

I want to play it, and then go into break. And I'm going to come back and ask you what you think people hear when they hear this sort of thing.

Go ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: If we don't secure the border, nothing's going to change. And if you look at the president's request, it's all more about continuing to deal with the problem.

OBAMA: Congress just said no to fixing our broken immigration system. These guys still can't get their act together.

BOEHNER: He's been president for five-and-a-half years. When he's going to take responsibility for something?

OBAMA: You're going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job, while you don't do your job.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Can this marriage be saved? We are going to talk about that when we come back.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Also about the problem on the border.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: I got to show you this very calm actually really beautiful picture at the bottom of your screen, that is U.S. soil, that river is the Rio Grande, and what you're seeing on the other side of the river is Mexico. This is where all the action has been with those unaccompanied minors that we've been talking about. Some 52,000 of them crossing into the U.S. since October.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

So it is one of the things that we have just the panel to talk about that, but I wanted to button up first our last conversation, and that is when the American people, your constituents, the folks you hope will return all of to you office, look on their screen, they see the president going oh, yes, well sue me. And they see the speaker saying, when is he going to take responsibility?

Aren't your constituents back home going what is the matter for these people? What is the argument for not saying I'm not voting for any of them?

BLACKBURN: Well, I think, one of the things to realize is that the House has passed 300 bills that are sitting on Harry Reid's desk, 300 bills. Deal with jobs. Deal with so many of these issues and Harry Reid will not take them up.

So yes, there is a problem with inaction. And the other thing to look at is that here is the sound bites and they say, why don't you all talk to one another? And it would be very helpful for the president to come and talk with members of Congress. I don't know when he's last talked to the Democrats.

EDWARDS: Well, he has.

He doesn't (INAUDIBLE). He doesn't talk to Republicans -

EDWARDS: The jobs in the House of Representatives has (ph) actually passed laws that they know have a chance of going to the Senate being passed, and on to the president for his signature. It's true the House has done a whole bunch of stuff that they

know is never going to become law. What the --

BLACKBURN: That isn't correct.

EDWARDS: What the American people want is for us to extend unemployment benefits, to create jobs, to rebuild our infrastructure, to fix the crisis on the border. The American people want --

BLACKBURN: They're bipartisan. They're bipartisan bills.

EDWARDS: The American people want that kind of action. An immigration bill has passed the Senate. Two hundred members of the Congress -- of the House are waiting to vote on an immigration bill in the House. All we need is 18 Democrats.

Can't Speaker Boehner at least get that done so that the president can take the action that he needs?

CROWLEY: I'm not sure that Americans don't look and think, why aren't they voting on an immigration bill, as they're watching this unfold on the border.

SCHOCK: Well Candy, as Marsha was saying most of the legislation that passed the House has been done so in a bipartisan vote, much different then when I was a freshman and the Democrats controlled the entire process, which was a very hyperpartisan process.

Our rules -- our bills have gone through the House floor on open rule. We're in the appropriation process right now. We've been voting on 100 amendments, those have been Democratic and Republican amendments. So, everybody has been involved in process in the House where these bills have moved over to the Senate and died a slow death.

Your question about what our constituents are thinking they're thinking there ought to be rules of engagement. They're thinking that Congress has its responsible and role and the president has its responsibility and role. My constituents see the president who used to be their state U.S. senator saying, if you don't like what I'm doing, sue me, that's not the type of -

CROWLEY: A jargon (ph) (INAUDIBLE) -

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: I mean that's a problem --

SCHOCK: Candy, the reason that we're suing him is because he's out of bounce. He's not following the rule of law. They're facing whiplash on their health care policy because they don't know what...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHOCK: ...the rules keep (INAUDIBLE).

CROWLEY: Let me ask Congressman O'Rourke here on this for a second.

You know, when you look at the border question, for instance, and there is a lot of question about, you know, why can't you pass an immigration bill. But I think the question now is, where is that leadership? The thing that Republicans have been hitting the president on for some time now has been, wait a second, we've had the V.A., which you brought up. We've had the income tax, the tax problem over at the IRS.

There have been a number of things and the president just sort of -- the administration has looked like it wasn't on top of it. Having said that, optics (ph) are a lot in politics. Do you think it is a mistake for the president not to have gone to the border this week when he was in Texas and because it may make him look uninvolved? Fair or not?

O'ROURKE: I wish he would have come to the border. I wish he would have visited McAllen, Texas, ground zero for these refugees fleeing Central America. I wish he would have come to my district in El Paso where we've seen thousands of family members. I want him to meet them in (INAUDIBLE) the Border Patrol of ICE, Annunciation House, a Catholic charity that's helping to take care of these families and reunite them with their families and just make sure that they're OK in this vulnerable time in their lives.

And I think it would have sent an important message to the rest of the country about how seriously he takes this issue beyond the spending request that he sent to Congress last week.

CROWLEY: And Congresswoman Edwards, it does -- I want to get you in on this as well because, you know, you're a firm supporter of the president as you are I suspect. But the problem here seems to be one of perception, and you know politics is a lot about perception.

How is the president going to get together with the House that is reluctant to give him a bunch of money without some other things that go along with controlling the border? How do you get to agreement on how to deal with these children?

EDWARDS: Well, I think the president has said really the root cause of the problem that we have here is the fact that we have a patchwork quilt of immigration laws that are no longer working. There's a proposal in the Congress to get something to the president's desk to deal comprehensively with immigration and in the absence of that the president has proposed this $3.7 billion package and of that $1.8 billion goes to deal directly with these unaccompanied children in addition to other kinds of border security measures.

If the House and the Congress really showed the intent to get something done, they would take up the president's proposal, meet with the president, come to an agreement, and deal with the present crisis that we have. But the present crisis, the underlying cause of that is the fact that we refuse and that Republicans in Congress have refused to deal with immigration reform.

SCHOCK: Candy, there is there is nothing in the Senate immigration bill that would have stemmed the tide of these refugees seeking asylum in America. That's a fact. There's nothing that's being proposed by House Democrats that would have stemmed the tide of refugees seeking asylum in the United States of America.

These people were coming to the United States because their home countries are unsafe and because the president's ambiguity on whether or not he will enforce America's borders and the rule of law that we currently have on the books. The fact that last week, the entire press internationally was a-twitter about the president's secretary of homeland securities' ambiguity on whether or not the children would stay or go only exacerbates the problem with more people fleeing across the border, hoping and believing that they can stay.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHOCK: More than any new law the president needs to be clear about what his intent is enforcing our nation's laws.

O'ROURKE: Your previous guest, Senator McCain, said the problem is border security and the president is to lax (ph). Others may think that it's that we haven't passed immigration reform. I think the origin of the problem is this instability and insecurity in Honduras, in Guatemala and El Salvador. And we really won't stop this crisis until we address those core issues and we're going to have to do it in a regional way.

Asylum requests in the U.S. are up obviously -- seriously over the last few years, but they're up in Nicaragua, they're up in Mexico and Belize, in Costa Rica and other regional areas 700% over the last five years.

So, if we're truly going to fix this problem we're going to have to address it here. Why not have state department and DHS down in those countries processing potential refugees and applicants for asylum on the ground so they don't have to come through Mexico, to the border.

BLACKBURN: No. There's a step we have to do before we get to that --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKBURN: Everybody says -

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: (INAUDIBLE) exactly that, which is why it's really important for us to consider it. It includes resources for the Department of State for the Department of Justice and for Homeland Security. HHS to deal with the crisis that we have immediately with these 52,000 children --

BLACKBURN: The way to deal with it is to secure the border first and be in the shelters.

(CROSSTALK) BLACKBURN: The thing that you hear when you're talking with

individuals that are handling the effects, what has been the effect of this issue. And by the way, the 2012, June 2012 executive order of not deporting children is one of the drivers of this. But Candy, they all say to a person, just as Senator McCain said, you got to start by securing that border. Because of the human trafficking --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: I need to button this up. But what do you say to the fact that this president has deported those without papers at a much higher rate than others have before him, and that border captures are down because not as many are coming.

O'ROURKE: By what measure is the border not secured?

BLACKBURN: But Candy, talking with people that are a part of this situation, they all say you have to secure the border, and the president needs to change some of his actions.-

O'ROURKE: As secure as it's ever been.

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: The fact is that there are more Border Patrol agents that we have ever had --

BLACKBURN: I've been at the shelter and I've talked with these individuals, whether they're in public health or BCFS, who is the contractor for this. There are things the president needs to do. He needs to stop releasing criminal aliens. Do you realize in 2013 he leased 36,000 criminal aliens with 88,000 (ph) charges against them?

EDWARDS: This president has actually put more into border security enforcement than we've ever had -

(CROSSTALK)

EDWARDS: Than we've ever had in the nation's history. Since 2004, the numbers of border security agents that we've had, the amount of fencing that we've had go up, the enforcement that's gone on that border, the deportations that have happened are higher than they've ever been in this country's history. That is not the problem.

BLACKBURN: It is being overrun human trafficking.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Let me stop you here because I got to -- I got to take a break and move on to the next subject.

I want you to picture this. An all-Republican House and Senate and a Democratic White House. We'll ask our congressional members to do just that, picture that, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: We are back with our four members of congress, Maryland

Democrat Donna Edwards, Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, Republican Aaron Schock and Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke. Thank you so much all of you for hanging out with us (ph).

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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