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ROBERTS: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
After much emotional debate, the push to overhaul the nation's immigration laws secured a victory in the Senate last with the passage of a bill giving millions of immigrants the chance to eventually become U.S. citizens. But it has a long road to go before it becomes the law of the land. The battle now moves to the House where Republican members oppose the proposed pathway to citizenship.
Joining us are two members of the Gang of Eight responsible for drafting the Senate bill. John McCain of Arizona, he is in Jerusalem today. And Charles Schumer of New York.
Senators, good to talk with you this morning.
Let me start with you, Senator McCain. After years of trying, after years of going after this, after suffering the slings and arrows you did, you finally have a bill. Are you concerned that your colleagues in the House may derail all of the work that you've done?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Well, I'm concerned about the task ahead of us. I believe it's a fact that the overwhelming majority of the American people support this proposal once it's explained to them. And I believe that the coalition that we have assembled of support ranging from evangelicals, the Catholic church, business labor, farm workers, growers. It's a coalition that I frankly have not seen such widespread support. And I'm hopeful we can convince our House colleagues and I intend to address him with respect.
I believe that Speaker Boehner has a tough job ahead. I admire his leadership. But we've got a lot of work to do.
ROBERTS: Senator Schumer, Speaker Boehner says that he is not going to take up the Senate bill, that the House will write its own bill. It appears the way the House is going, rather than a comprehensive immigration bill that passed to the Senate, it's in bite-sized chunks with a path to citizenship being the last of those chunks.
Now, the president said he is not going to sign an immigration bill that doesn't include a path to citizenship. So, from the outset, are you concern canned immigration reform may be dead?
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: No, not at all. In fact, I believe that by the end of this year, the House will pass the Senate bill.
I know that's not what they think now. They'll say, oh, no, that's not what's going to happen. But I think it will. Let me explain why.
First, I understand where Speaker Boehner is coming from. I have respect for the House. And he's got a whole lot of Republican members, I'm sure the majority of the caucus saying they will vote no. They fear Republican primaries from the right if they vote yes.
But I believe, over the next several months, that dynamic will change and they will start saying they can't vote for it. They are worried about the primaries, but let it get -- let it go, let get off our backs for three reasons, four reasons actually.
First, the coalition John mentioned is a broad and deep coalition of people who usually tonight side with Democrats -- the Catholic Church, the evangelicals, the business community, the growers. And now, they are going to feel it's high tech, it's really enthusiastic. They're going to feel a desire to get this done quickly.
Second, the national Republican leadership will tell John Boehner if you don't pass a bill, then we are going to be a minority party for a generation. And he's not only the House leader, he's a party leader. Third, this has the potential for being one of the greatest civil rights movements we've ever seen. I could see a million people on the mall the in August asking for the bill. And who's going to be on oh stage? Not the usual suspects but the bishops, evangelicals and business leaders.
And, finally, and very importantly as well, we're not going to let this issue go away. The strong supporters of immigration are going to be at the town hall meetings of Republican congressmen. They're going to be visiting them in their offices. They're going to be traipsing in the halls of Congress. We have seen the power of the DREAM Act kids.
You put that all together, and you add one more fact. I don't think Speaker Boehner can pass piecemeal bills. In other words, let's take the toughest one -- enforcement. No Democrat will vote for a bill without a pass to citizenship. And about 40 Republicans are saying they're not voting for any bill because they don't want a conference.
ROBERTS: All right.
SCHUMER: So, within several months Speaker Boehner will find two choices -- no bill or let a bill pass with a majority of Democratic votes and some Chamber of Commerce-type Republicans. He'll find that the better choice. We'll pass the Senate bill by the end of this year even though most House members don't think so.
ROBERTS: There was a lot there to digest, Senator Schumer.
ROBERTS: Let's take over to Senator McCain. Do you agree, Senator McCain, that the House will eventually pass the Senate bill? Could Republicans be perpetually in the minority if they don't come forward with some sort of immigration reform?
And, thirdly, Speaker Boehner said he's not going to bring it to the floor without the majority support of his caucus. He's invoking what's known as the Hastert Rule. Would you encourage him?
And let me -- see if you'll answer this question. First of all, would you encourage him to waive the Hastert Rule in this case?
MCCAIN: I respect and admire John Boehner. We have been colleagues and friends for many years. And I respect his leadership. I really don't feel it's appropriate for me to tell him exactly how to handle this.
One thing I want to emphasize. You know, there is always friction between the House and Senate. A lot of it understandable, a lot of it just egos.
But I respect the House of Representatives. I respect their views. We have a job ahead of us in convincing them.
But this -- but it's not -- we're not going to be alone here, as Chuck and I mentioned. There is a coalition out there, the likes of which I haven't seen.
Also, the Congress, sooner of later, responds to public opinion. When you ask the American people if they support this, if these people are here illegally paid back taxes, learn English, get in line behind everybody else. Plus, a tough border security provision, plus, an E-Verify, in other words, everybody who applies for a job better have the right documentation -- then I think you've got a winning combination here.
It's not going to be easy. But, again, I really hesitate to tell Speaker Boehner exactly how he should do this. But I think Republicans realize the implications of the future of the Republican Party in America if we don't get this issue behind us.
By the way, we do share a common goal of believing that the de facto amnesty is there. That we need to bring 11 million people out of the shadows.
ROBERTS: Let me switch gears.
SCHUMER: And, John, I'd say one more thing --
ROBERTS: Go ahead.
SCHUMER: -- if I might.
In three times in the last six months, Speaker Boehner has violated the so-called Hastert Rule.
SCHUMER: In the fiscal cliff, in Sandy, and in the Violence Against Women Act.
ROBERTS: And the farm bill. And the farm bill.
SCHUMER: Well, he hasn't done that yet, because they defeated it. But he might do it on the farm bill, you're right.
So, he always starts out by saying this and he has to for his caucus. Like John McCain I have huge respect for the man. I think he really tries to do the right thing under difficult circumstances.
But I think the dynamics that John mentioned and some I have elaborated on are going to force him to abandon that Hastert Rule, because he'll have nothing or he'll have the Senate bill where some of these Republicans, the lesser of two evils, is the Senate bill.
ROBERTS: Let me switch me gears if I could because there is a lot to talk about this morning and, Senator McCain, something that's going on very close to you -- the huge protest going on in Egypt today. The instability of the largest of the Arab nation countries in terms of population, right there on the border with Israel.
Are you concerned about the level of instability that there has been in that country and continues to be? It looks like it's escalating since the overthrow of Mubarak.
MCCAIN: I'm very concerned about it. I think all of us should be. It's a very serious situation.
But I'd also like to mention that it's part of what's happening across the Middle East. But my focus now and concern is really more on Syria. It is now going from a civil war to a regional conflict. Jordan is destabilized. Lebanon is destabilized, it's becoming a proxy war between the United States and Iran, and we are sitting by and watching all this happen.
We need American leadership. We need a no-fly zone. We need to understand when Assad crossed the, quote, "Line with chemical weapons," if we do nothing after the president said it was a game changer" the Iranians certainly are not going to believe we are serious about nuclear weapons.
ROBERTS: Senator Schumer, let me ask you about that. The president announced that he is going to be providing arms to Syrian rebels. The CIA is moving weapons to Jordan. It says it will, quote, "vet" rebel groups before it arms them. A question a lot of people have is how do you adequately vet a Syrian rebel group?
SCHUMER: Well, I think that's on of the reasons the president has been cautious. Syria has a broad range of groups.
SCHUMER: Some are pro-democratic. Some are just Sunnis who have been oppressed by the Alawite minority. But some are pretty bad.
Al Nusra is an affiliate of Al Qaeda and there's worry today. I have seen people talking about the fact that Qatar is giving them shoulder-held missiles that can take out airplanes. If Al Nusra got one and sent it to al Qaeda they could knock out a commercial airline.
So, there's a lot of worry. It's a very difficult situation.
ROBERTS: Senator McCain, you were in Syria recently. As a result of the trip, there were several reports that claimed you had a photograph taken with a kidnapper called Mohamed Nour. Your spokesman says if that was the case, it was regrettable.
But Senator Rand Paul picked up on that and essentially said, if you don't know who you are having your photo taken with, how do you know who you are giving weapons to?
MCCAIN: Well, I know who I met with. In fact, I met with a group of Syrians yesterday. They are brave people. They are fighting for freedom.
I know who they are. I know General Idris and his leadership. It is air power that's given Bashar Assad this tremendous advantage.
Look, 100,000 people have been killed, 8,000 of them are children. The massacre goes on. It cries out for American leadership. We need American leadership, and that's what I get in every country and every one of these people that I talk to.
And, yes, I know the difference between Al Nusra and the legitimate people we should be supporting. The best way to that is give them a safe area to operate out of in Syria. And we can do it with cruise missiles, and we do not need any boots on the ground.
ROBERTS: Time is growing short and there is another topic I want to move to, and that is the latest in the NSA leaks investigation. Edward Snowden's continued status as a kind of a guest, if you will, of Russia, in the transit lounge at Sheremetyevo Airport.
President Obama addressed this at his press conference in Senegal the other day. Let's listen to what he said.
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally. And the reason is because, number one, I shouldn't have to. No, I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.
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ROBERTS: Senator McCain, the president seems to be playing down the significance of Edward Snowden. Is that the way you see it? And should he be picking up the phone?
MCCAIN: Well, I don't know whether the president should be picking up the phone or not. But I do know this is a direct slap in the face to the United States of America.
We should be, now, I hope finally realizing what Vladimir Putin is. He's an old colonel, KGB, apparatchik, and he dreams of the restoration of the Russian empire. He's funneling arms and assistance to Bashar Assad. They thumb their nose at us no matter the issue is. And we should deal realistically, not a return of the Cold War but realistically with Vladimir Putin.
And that means missile defense in Europe. That means expansion of the Magnitsky bill, and it almost means that recognizing that Vladimir Putin is -- well, if we keep pushing -- I think we pushed the reset down to about 1955. And so, we have to deal realistically with an autocratic ruler of Russia who continues to oppress people in Russia and behaves in a manner which is not in the cause of world peace and good relations between Russia and the United States.
ROBERTS: Senator Schumer you said pointed things about President Putin a week ago. Seven days have gone by, nothing has happened. What are you thinking now? And do you agree with Senator McCain that perhaps we need to up the pressure a bit?
SCHUMER: I do completely. I'm not sure it should be done publicly at this point, with Snowden still in Russian hands. But they should pay a price -- either diplomatic, economic, geopolitical, for doing what they did. They always are putting their finger in our eye.
And I said one other thing. We ought to be very clear with Ecuador. That if they take Snowden, they're going to pay a price.
We should cut off the foreign aid we have with them. It's about $10 million. That's not little to a small country
No more trade status -- preferred trade status. That will put them in a box, because Colombia and Peru now have free trade agreements with us.
And, finally, no business visas. There were 85,000 business visas between the U.S. and Ecuador. Cut them off.
I think we have to really firm. Putin, it's a far more complicated relationship. But I agree with John McCain, he ought he's going to pay a price here because he goes out of his way to stick a finger in the eye of America, whether it's Iran, Syria and now, this.
He's not -- he's got lots of vulnerabilities.
ROBERTS: Just to give some context here, Senator McCain. What Senator Schumer referred to is a phone call that Vice President Joe Biden made the other day to President Rafael Correa of Ecuador saying, please do not give Edward Snowden asylum in your country. The president of Ecuador basically said, well, we're not going to think about that right now because he's not in our territory and maybe we will, maybe we won't. Then he went on television, talked about the whole thing and aired a bunch of grievances against the United States.
You said the president shouldn't call President Putin or President Xi. Should the vice president have called Rafael Correa?
MCCAIN: Look, I'm not saying the president should or shouldn't, or the vice president should or shouldn't. I'm just saying we've got to deal with these countries in a realistic fashion. And that is that they're not democratic. They're not friends of ours. And they will do whatever is necessary to damage America's national interest.
And, by the way, we are hearing now Al Qaeda and other organizations are changing their strategy and their means of communication as a result of Mr. Snowden's revelations.
So, these things don't happen without some price to be paid. There should be a price to be paid.
And, by the way, I would like to throw in, back to immigration a second. I hope the eight of us showed the American people and our fellow members of Congress that we can work together. And maybe this will be a precursor for other things.
ROBERTS: Well, we will see what happens. We'll definitely be watching this very closely.
Senator McCain, Senator Schumer, thanks so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
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