FULL EPISODE: 2/21/21 Rep. Michael McCaul covers the Texas blackouts; Sen. Chris Van Hollen talks COVID relief

Updated: Feb. 20, 2021 at 10:13 PM EST
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, February 21, 2021. The program will also feature a discussion with Politico White House correspondent and Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels.

When asked about Texas’ power grid and infrastructure failures during this week’s weather emergency, Rep. McCaul told Van Susteren: “We pride ourselves in Texas on having our own grid. Not being tied from a cybersecurity standpoint, it’s actually very beneficial. We didn’t want to be subjected to federal regulations, but in this case, we see the downfall of that. We were not able to get power shared from other grids and so we’re going to be taking a hard look. Lessons learned.”

McCaul also said Sen. Ted Cruz made a mistake by flying to Cancun while his constituents battled freezing temperatures and power losses. “Elected officials have a duty to be in your state and be in your district where the crisis is occurring,” said McCaul. “Leaving the cold temperatures to go to a vacation spot is not very empathetic to one’s constituents.”

Rep. McCaul, who is the lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Van Susteren he believes Iran “is going to be the first biggest foreign policy challenge for the new administration,” and that the United States may ultimately have to look at a “military option” in dealing with North Korea.

On COVID relief legislation, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said: “All the information I’ve seen is that we need something of this magnitude to prevent us from falling into a sort of a deep freeze in our economy.”

When asked his position on student loan forgiveness, Van Hollen answered: “I’d like to get up to $50,000, if possible, but with an important caveat, which is directing the debt forgiveness to those students who need it the most.”

Rep. McCaul and Sen. Van Hollen highlights are below.

Rep. Michael McCaul Highlights

On Sen. Ted Cruz’s Cancun trip controversy

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

“In a time of crisis, I think elected officials have a duty to be in your state and be in your district where the crisis is occurring. You need to be there for your people. So I think it was a mistake, an honest mistake. And he said as much that it was a mistake.

Greta Van Susteren

But is it deeper than that in that, having a tin ear, not really understanding what so many of your constituents are going through?

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

I think you want a politician who’s honest and really can empathize with the constituents, who understand their situation. I think leaving the cold temperatures to go to a vacation spot is not very empathetic to one’s constituents. And I think that’s what the people of Texas deserve. And that’s what they want.

On the Texas power grid failure

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

We pride ourselves in Texas having our own grid. Not being tied from a cybersecurity standpoint, it’s actually very beneficial. We didn’t want to be subjected to federal regulations, but in this case, we see the downfall of that. We were not able to get power shared from other grids and so we’re going to be taking a hard look. Lessons learned.

On climate change

Greta Van Susteren

Do you think that this is going to change some of the views of some of your Republican colleagues in terms of making it a priority?

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

I do think you’re seeing a shift, and now that I lead the Foreign Affairs committee, we debated the Paris Accords. I was one of the first Republicans to come out to say that it’s happening, it’s real. The question is how to respond to it. I don’t think signing in accord with say China that doesn’t have to comply until 2030 because they’re a developing nation under the United Nations charter is really the right way to do this.

On COVID relief and the minimum wage increase

Greta Van Susteren

Are you in favor of what you’re hearing, the broad guidelines? Let me point specifically to the increase in the minimum wage, is that something that you could vote for?

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

I just think that hurts small businesses and it kills jobs. I think it’s great when the private sector can raise the minimum wage. I’d like to see a maximum wage. This is not the time to be punishing small businesses in America when they’re hurting the most under COVID. We passed the paycheck protection program to keep them afloat and alive. And if we put a $15 minimum wage on them, it’s going to kill small businesses. It’s going to kill jobs. It’s going to hurt the guy that’s out there that needs that job. And I do think if it’s COVID related and it can be bipartisan, I’m for it. If it’s not related to COVID, it’s hard to be for that.”

On U.S.-Iran relations

Greta Van Susteren

President Biden has said that he’s prepared to re-engage in Iran. Iran says that they’re not interested really in talking unless we lift the sanctions that President Trump reinstated after vacating President Obama’s 2015 Iran deal. So who’s going to budge first? Is it going to be Iran or the United States, or what should we do?

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

Well at a minimum, they have to come into compliance with the JCPOA, which as you stated, Iran is not willing to do. And I think that’s what the Biden administration is saying before we’ll even talk to you, you have to come into compliance. I really question whether Iran can even do that right now. If we do reengage with them, I would like to see things that were taken off the table put back on the table. And that would be particularly the intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities they have and the inspection and verification of their military sites, particularly their military installations, but inspections anytime, anywhere. Obviously, we haven’t been able to verify, and that’s why they’re very close now to getting a nuclear weapon. And I think the one thing that both parties agree on the Hill and in the administration is that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

I think that is going to be the biggest threat in the Middle East and it has been for quite some time.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

And the biggest threat to the state of Israel. We’ll be paying close attention. We do have various things we can do both militarily and in cyberspace to attack their facilities. But the question is where are they? And we don’t have enough intelligence on the ground. Obviously, we don’t have the human that we need or some of the Cigant for that matter. And so I really think this is going to be the first biggest foreign policy challenge for the new administration.

On North Korea

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)

I think you want to put maximum pressure to negotiate. You can’t negotiate out of weakness, and then, Greta, to my point, there may come a time when they get that close to it, that we’re going to have to make an ultimate decision. And that may be the military option that we’re going to have to look at.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen Highlights

On COVID relief

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

We have now four million Americans who’ve been out of work for more than six months. So all the information I’ve seen is that we need something of this magnitude to prevent us from falling into a sort of a deep freeze in our economy.

On the minimum wage

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

Myself and many others do want to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. It is a scandal, a national scandal that our current minimum wage is $7.25. Somebody can work full-time all week and still be below the federal poverty line. So the proposal is to phase this in over a number of years so that it’s fully phased in by the year 2025.

On student loan forgiveness

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

I’d like to get up to $50,000, if possible, but with an important caveat, which is directing the debt forgiveness to those students who need it the most. One of the questions is whether President Biden has the legal authority to do that in that way, to identify those students for whom this debt cannot be repaid in any easy manner and distinguishing between them and those who can.

On reopening schools

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

We are losing a lot of ground right now by having students out of school.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

I’m in favor of getting our kids back into the classroom as fast as possible. But it has to be consistent with the safety of the kids, as well as the safety of the teachers. The CDC has now provided some very important guidelines for how schools can do that. Some schools are in a better position right now to do that than others. So for example, the ventilation requirements. There’s also the factor of how much community spread is going on in the area where a school is. So my view is we should try to implement this just as fast as possible and follow those guidelines.

On immigration

Greta Van Susteren

The president has a plan about how he wants to handle it, which includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million to 20 million estimated undocumented people here in the United States. Are you in favor of that?

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

Yes. That includes, of course, the Dreamers. These are the students who were brought to the United States as young children who are working in our communities. It includes people who are here on temporary protective status because conditions in their home country are dangerous and they’ve been working here illegally. That includes other individuals. Look, Greta, we’ve got to solve this.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

I’ll point out there are also great economic benefits to America, and another benefit that’s often overlooked is the Social Security Trust Fund. The more people can legally pay into our system, the more solvent and strong it is.

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About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

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