FULL EPISODE: 5/23/202 House Minority Whip Steve Scalise & Rep. Pramila Jayapal on the Jan. 6 commission votes

Published: May. 22, 2021 at 11:35 PM EDT
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Minority Whip, for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, May 23, 2021.

Rep. Jayapal told Van Susteren she was “troubled” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. On the Biden administration’s approval of the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, Jayapal said: “Approving arms sales at this moment is absolutely the wrong thing to do in a powder keg situation.” And the congresswoman defended the cost of the Capitol Hill security bill, saying: “It’s a very small amount of money when the price that you pay is the price of democracy.”

When asked about Donald Trump’s impact on the 2022 midterm elections, Rep. Scalise said the former president “cares very much about this country” and “wants to help us get the House back.” On discord in the Republican party and the ousting of Rep. Liz Cheney from leadership, he said: “We’ve got to stop fighting amongst ourselves and focus on stopping the radical socialism.” And on the COVID economy and continued unemployment benefits, Scalise complained that “The federal government’s paying people about $30,000 a year not to work. And there’s eight million job openings. This isn’t free money that’s sitting in a piggy bank. This is money being borrowed from our children to pay people not to work.”

Interview highlights are below.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal Highlights

On the Jan. 6 commission

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

I don’t know what the Senate is going to do with the Republicans there, but I can tell you, Greta, that this is one of the most important things we can do for our democracy. As you know, I was trapped in the gallery during the insurrection. I saw up close and terrifyingly close the Confederate flags being raised. We saw all of the video of Capitol Police being beaten with lead pipes.

Why? In order to disrupt our democracy and try to have the big lie that the election was stolen, that the president was perpetrating, actually stick. And I think it was a sad day for us. I just saw how fragile our democracy was.

I just hope that Mitch McConnell, I don’t have a huge amount of confidence, but I hope that Mitch McConnell understands why this is so important for us to get accountability, so this never happens again.

On the Capitol security bill

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

The truth is we have not invested the kind of money we need to over the years to ensure that we have things like retractable fences, something that comes up and down so that we don’t put a damper on the idea that the public has access. But at the same time, in these moments, rare hopefully, moments, we do have ways to stop crowds from surging, insurrectionists from surging into the Capitol.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

But also, Greta, there’s a lot of money in there for overtime that was already happening because of January 6th. There’s money in there for counseling for all of the people who were in the building, our custodial staff, our legislative staff who were in the building, who are still dealing with the effects of what happened on that day. So, I do think that the money is important, and I think that we have to understand that it’s a very small amount of money when the price that you pay is the price of democracy.

On the Biden Administration selling weapons to Israel

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

I felt that approving arms sales at this moment is absolutely the wrong thing to do in a powder keg situation. But also, Greta, I want to say that this isn’t just about Israel. I think that the United States Congress should have far more authority over armed sales to any country in the world.

On Speaker Pelosi calling for an Olympic boycott

Greta Van Susteren

Speaker Pelosi has said that she thinks there should be a diplomatic, not athlete, but a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China. Do you agree with her or not?

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

I am troubled by that. I don’t like the anti-Chinese sentiment that is being perpetrated and I think we have to be very careful here to hold our diplomatic channels open, but also, hold countries accountable for what happens in different arenas.

On free community college

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

We also have to do what the president has laid out in the Jobs and Family plan, which is to give people the opportunity to have free higher education. I go further than he does. He says two years of free community college. I say, no, we should have either two-year or four-year colleges, public colleges and universities should be free for everyone.

On student loan debt

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

The reality is that the vast majority of people are in the position where they still hold student debt from 20 years ago. In fact, Greta, the largest segment, the largest demographic of people, fastest-growing demographic of people with student debt is actually seniors. It’s people who either still have their own debt that they can’t pay because now they’re on a fixed income or they’ve taken on the debt of their kids or their grandkids. We have more debt in this country, college debt, than we do credit card debt, which is a stunning statistic.”

Rep. Steve Scalise Highlights

On Donald Trump’s influence on the 2022 election

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

He cares very much about this country. He wants to help us get the House back. We’re very focused on what it’s going to take to win the House back. And it’s a number of things. One, it’s not just stopping bad things from happening, which we’re doing, but also putting a really strong alternative agenda.

On the GOP/Liz Cheney controversy

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

When I go around the country, and I travel a lot trying to help us advance our agenda, but also to get the House back, people are concerned about the inflation. They’re concerned about getting their kids back in schools. They’re concerned about the border crisis. They don’t care about these internal battles in Washington. And so, we’ve got to stop fighting amongst ourselves and focus on stopping the radical socialism. That’s what we’re doing right now.

On the Jan. 6 commission

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

There are many members, myself included, that also want to look at all the violence that happened during the summer, because there were a lot of things that led up to January 6th that aren’t being looked at by this commission, that we brought amendments forward to try to expand, so that you can look at the whole picture, and Pelosi rejected every one of those on a party-line vote. So let’s actually look at the whole picture. That’s what we brought forward. Those were the ideas that were rejected. Maybe that gets addressed in the Senate.

On the COVID economy, jobs, and preventing inflation

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

There’s over eight million job openings right now. Think about that. The federal government’s paying people about $30,000 a year not to work. And there’s eight million job openings. This isn’t free money that’s sitting in a piggy bank. This is money being borrowed from our children to pay people not to work, when every small business is looking for workers. It’s absolutely affecting the supply chain.

On immigration and the border

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

I’d love to see us getting agreement on a bipartisan solution long-term, but Biden could end this today just by going back to that agreement with Mexico, the remaining Mexico policy was working. You had Mexico protecting our Southern border. And by the way, Mexico is protecting their Southern border. It stopped that flow. President Trump had built the wall, Biden right now is paying those companies, paying them not to build the wall, instead of protecting our Southern border. So Biden could end this today.

On infrastructure

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

So far on infrastructure, it seems like they’re trying to go down that path to where he holds one meeting with a few Republicans to take some pictures, and then he goes and works with Democrats on a very, very partisan tax increase bill. 75% of the bill has nothing to do with roads and bridges and traditional infrastructure. So work with Republicans and Democrats like the bill that we put forward. Again, over $400 billion fully paid for, with no new taxes, with bipartisan ideas that can build roads and bridges and broadband and waterways. That’s the approach we should be taking. You could get a large vote for that by the way.”

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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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