Monday, December 1, 2014


 via Verne Strickland usadotcom

(Internet Post: Dec. 1, 2014)
And we're back to talk politics and the busy agenda facing the new Republican-controlled Congress.
Joining me now are two incoming senators-elect.
Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina is with me here in studio. And Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan joins us from Detroit.
First of all, congratulations to both of you on your wins. Thank you for being here.
O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Tillis, I was there in North Carolina with you. You won what was called the most expensive Senate race in the country, more than $100 million. What do you think the people of your state got for that?
TILLIS: I think what they got is a chance to see different leadership try to get things done in Washington, to get Washington functioning again, working across the aisle, getting the economy back on track, worried about our safety and security.
I think that the American people did not give Republicans a mandate. They gave us a chance. They gave us a chance to lead. And I'm glad to be a part of that.
O'DONNELL: And they didn't give you -- if they didn't give you mandate and you have got to show compromise, what issue can you work with Democrats on?
TILLIS: Well, I think there's any number of things.
In fact, senator-elect Peters, I know he's got a passion around Michigan like I have a passion around North Carolina. We have seen a lot of manufacturing jobs go overseas. We have seen our economies not quite get back on track in terms of job creation. I think there is a number of opportunities for Republicans and Democrats to work together.
O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Peters, are you also hopeful you can compromise with Republicans?
PETERS: Well, I think we have to.
I think that certainly was the clear message that we got from this last election was about people wanting to see Washington work, having people come together and find that kind of middle ground to deal with the very tough problems that we're facing as a country. So, I certainly am encouraged, with senator-elect Tillis, in talking manufacturing, something that is very, very important to the state of Michigan, as it is North Carolina.
And I'm sure that we can find ways to make sure we're getting people back to work and really creating the good-paying middle-class jobs which are just so essential. And right now we have got a middle class that feels squeezed, that is falling behind. And we have to deal with it in Washington. And the only way we're going to deal with it is if we come together and find common ground.
O'DONNELL: I know there are some issues that you say you want to find common ground.
But, unfortunately, I think the Congress is going to start probably with the confirmation battles. The president now has two open posts in his Cabinet, not only for the attorney general, but also for defense secretary. Do you think there will be a confirmation battle over President Obama's new choice for defense secretary?
TILLIS: Well, I hope that the president puts forth someone that will work for both sides. I think it's a great opportunity out of the gate for the president to identify consensus nominees that we can all get around and support. Those are very important jobs. They need to be filled.
But they need to be filled with someone who can take in to account both sides of the equation, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Peters, as it appeared this week that Defense Secretary Hagel was pretty much fired from the Defense Department, are you concerned about how the Pentagon is being led and the fight against ISIS?
PETERS: Well, certainly ISIS is a significant threat that we have to deal with. We have got to make sure that we have leadership at the Department of Defense that is focused on that, and that the White House can work with. And so I look forward in the confirmation process to find that right secretary who is going to be focused on that issue.
Also, I'm also concerned about the nuclear ambitions of Iran. It is becoming a very, very dangerous world. We have got to have a Defense Department that is focused on these new threats and understand the significance of it. And that's why I think this confirmation process is going to be so important, because we have to stand together, Congress and the president.
This country is stronger when we are all united as one, and certainly the Department of Defense has to have the ability to work with everybody in a unified fashion.
O'DONNELL: To be specific, do you think -- and let me start with you, senator-elect Tillis, first. Do you think the president needs a new use of force authorization in order to fight ISIS? TILLIS: I think it would probably be wise so that you move forward again.
The president and the Congress need to find opportunities to show some way of coming together, and I think that would be a show of good faith from the president, and I think it would give Congress more confidence that they're a part of the process.
O'DONNELL: You would support one?
O'DONNELL: And senator-elect Peters, would you support a new authorization of force against ISIS?
PETERS: I think it's essential that Congress come to the table.
We have not had a classified briefing as Congress for quite some time now. I look forward when we get back into Washington to have those kinds of briefings. Congress needs to be intimately involved in these decisions. It's certainly a constitutional requirement.
And I think it is absolutely essential that we come together to show strength in the world community. And we are stronger as a country when the president and Congress are united, and I believe that we have to be a key player in that process.
O'DONNELL: Let's talk about the issue of immigration because of the president's executive action on immigration.
Senator-elect Tillis, your party has opposed the president's actions. Will -- then do you expect Congress to act? Do you expect now a Republican-led Senate will act and that the Republican-led House will finally act on issue that can work together with the Senate?
TILLIS: Yes, I'm afraid that the president's unilateral action is going to set us back.
I believe that what we should do first and foremost is seal the border. The Republicans and Democrats have both failed on this issue for decades. And one of the reasons why is I don't think we have stabilized the problem by taking credible steps to seal the border. Then let's discuss what we do with the population who is illegally present.
I think we're going to complicate it. We could end up having a contentious debate that could be avoided.
O'DONNELL: Senator-elect Peters, you are a member of the House, and difficulty getting some agreement with the Senate on the issue of immigration.
PETERS: Well, it is a source of constant frustration to me, because we do have bipartisan agreement. I support the Senate immigration reform bill, which passed on a bipartisan basis. We have organizations like United States Chamber of Commerce that support the immigration reform bill; 17 Republicans, including folks like Mr. Rubio, Mr. McCain in states that are obviously intimately involved in the immigration issue, we have a comprehensive approach.
We have an approach that invests nearly $40 billion in border protection, where you got the parties to come together. The Congress needs to act. Instead of wringing our hands about the presidential action, Congress needs to pass a bill. We have a bill that's been on the table for a year-and-a-half in the House.
I believe that if the speaker would put it on the floor, it would actually pass. We would deal with this issue in a comprehensive way. We need to move forward. If my Republican friends want to work in a bipartisan way and find common ground, we're already almost there with the comprehensive immigration reform. All we have to do is pass it.
O'DONNELL: All right, we will all be watching.
Senator-elect Tillis, senator-elect Peters, good to have both of you here.
We will be right back.