FULL EPISODE: 6/20/21 Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Sen. Marsha Blackburn on infrastructure, AUMFs and Juneteenth

Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 10:59 PM EDT
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, June 20, 2021.

On the repeal of the Iraq war authorization, Sen. Marsha Blackburn told Van Susteren: “Just saying let’s get rid of the AUMF, let’s all sing Kumbaya, that is not the way we are going to be able to deal with either our allies or our adversaries.”

On infrastructure, Blackburn said: “What we are not going to do is support a socialistic bill that the left is trying to push forward, that Schumer and Pelosi are out here championing, that would include all sorts of things into infrastructure, whether it’s early childcare, elder care, expansion of unions, that is not something that we are for.”

And on election reform, Blackburn said: “I’m not going to do anything that takes away the authority of the state and the local counties to run these elections.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee told Van Susteren that in terms of an infrastructure bill, “my preference is to go big because I think this moment in history, coming out of the pandemic, using federal resources effectively as matching partners to state dollars and private dollars, is what this country needs.”

On the Biden/Putin summit, Jackson Lee said: “With respect to President Biden, let me just be without humor, he did not embarrass us ... the United States is back.”

And on Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday, she said we as a nation are “finally … able to speak the word ‘slaves’ and ‘slavery’ for America to hear and for America to say, ‘Tell me more.’”

Interview excerpts are below.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn Highlights

On the repeal of the 2002 Iraq War authorization (AUMF)

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

So just saying let’s get rid of the AUMF, let’s all sing Kumbaya, that is not the way we are going to be able to deal with either our allies or our adversaries. And I have to tell you that I think when you look at the President’s trip to Europe, you see how the world is looking at us and how they are pushing for socialism. The lack of willingness to hold the Chinese or the Russians or other bad actors to account.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

Everyone should want us to be safe and everyone should want us to remain the leader when it comes to great power competition. I agree that there should be more discussion when there is a decision to put troops into an area or to engage in other forms of combat. And I completely agree with that. When you look at the actions in the House, Greta, you have to say, “What were their reasons behind this?” And I’m going to have some disagreement with Congresswoman Lee and others that were pushing for this.

Greta Van Susteren

But Republicans and conservatives typically are strict constructionists of the Constitution. And the Constitution says quite clearly that Congress has the authority to declare war. It does say the President’s Commander in Chief in another part of the Constitution, but it says clearly that it’s Congress’ duties. And does it really make us less safe if Congress fully assumes that duty and we don’t have to with the authorization of forces?

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

What makes us less safe is when we do not draw that line so that our enemies know that they are our enemies. And this gets back to that policy that we had had for many, many years, and it drifted away from during the Obama presidency. And it is that partisan divides end at the water’s edge. Should we have that debate? Should Congress have that authority? Should they take that lead when it comes to making those declarations of war? You’re correct. The Constitution is clear on that. Should Congress work with the administration in how we proceed? Yes, they should be working with the administration on how we proceed, but should we just say, because we want to do away with war or end war, or we want to withdraw from a certain area, there should be a more thorough and thoughtful conversation that surrounds that.

On Iraq

Greta Van Susteren

Was that war worth it?

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

Greta, as we move forward, I think that’s going to continue to be a point of discussion.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

And of course I was not in either the House or the Senate when they had those debates, but also then how you sustain that activity and then how you choose to leave. There’s one thing I do think that is a very important part of this discussion. And we ought not to forget this, is when the U.S. goes into a country or into a region, we do not go into that area to be occupiers. We go into liberate and to help these countries to stand up and to enjoy freedom and the benefits and the bounty that a free society can bring to people.

On infrastructure

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

There are a lot of discussions around this and there are many of us that want to see something done. And I will tell you a lot of Tennesseans want to see something done on roads and bridges and railways and rivers and runways. The traditional infrastructure. And they’re quite ready to see something take place. What we are not going to do is support a socialistic bill that the left is trying to push forward, that Schumer and Pelosi are out here championing, that would include all sorts of things into infrastructure, whether it’s early childcare, elder care, expansion of unions, that is not something that we are for. We want to see the money go to roads, to bridges, to runways, to rivers and waterways. This is the kind of critical infrastructure that needs our attention right now.

Greta Van Susteren

Okay. In light of what you just said, the Democrats are probably thinking, “Okay, we’re going to do reconciliation.” Which means that we can get around the filibuster. And then if that happens, the Democrats at least have said, they’re going to go big. They’re going to put in a lot of things that they believe are good for the American people. Will that get passed via reconciliation? And would we be better off basically trying to negotiate something now with them, instead of having the much bigger bill that I think that they want to have passed?

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

And Senator Capito did a stellar job trying to work with the White House and negotiate a bill. And I give her a tremendous amount of credit for the efforts that she made. And, Greta, if anyone lays a foundation for a bipartisan bill that would deal with some regulatory relief, that would reprogram money, that would deal with traditional infrastructure, she’s the one that has really paved that way. And we’re going to see a continuation.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

The issue that they have right now is that they’re having a tough time getting to 60 votes. We’ll see if they’re going to be able to do that.

On voting rights

Greta Van Susteren

You mentioned House Bill I and the Senate Bill I, that’s the election reform bill. Just this past week, Senator Manchin has proposed a compromise. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell in essence, said, “It’s dead in the water.” But would you vote for Senator Manchin’s compromise on election reform? But would you vote for Senator Manchin’s compromise on election reform?

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

Oh, not at all. It is the constitutional duty of the States to set the time, place, and manner of elections. And what H.R.1 would do is federalize these processes. So, if people like the IRS and the DMV, then H.R.1 may be their bill, but H.R.1 would institutionalize mail out balloting. It would allow ballot harvesting. It would do away with many components of voter ID. It would not require signature ...

Greta Van Susteren

That’s H.R.1, but what about the compromise that your colleague at the center ...

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

No, not for that … I’m not going to do anything that takes away the authority of the state and the local counties to run these elections. In Tennessee, we have great elections. We can tell you on election night who wins.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

To federalize this, to disenfranchise your local communities and to disenfranchise your state and your state secretary of state who are responsible for these elections, I do not agree with that.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Highlights

On Juneteenth

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

My own emotions were that we have gathered here today to finally be able to speak the word slaves and slavery for America to hear and for America to say, “Tell me more.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

Juneteenth, the national independence day federal holiday, gave the permission slip to discuss about the heinous moment in our history, the original stain, the original sin that really has not been discussed.

On infrastructure

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

We will give the Republicans or their core group of people, I think, a little bit more time, but my preference is to go big because I think this moment in history, coming out of the pandemic, using federal resources effectively as matching partners to state dollars and private dollars, is what this country needs.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

Let’s see what comes up these couple of days into next week. And then I am very much capable and able to advocate for going big and going through the reconciliation process.”

On the Biden/Putin summit

Greta Van Susteren

This past week, we had the summit in Switzerland with President Biden and President Putin. What did either of both presidents gain?

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

Well, Putin obviously gains what he always desires, and that is status and prominence, cameras for the world to see, cameras for the Russian people who are under the brunt of his power and have been for more than two decades.

…With respect to President Biden, let me just be without humor, he did not embarrass us. I stayed embarrassed for four years as well. And this is in comparison to other Republican presidents that I have had, or other presidents, Republican and Democratic presidents, that I’ve had the privilege of working with. They carry themselves as presidents and they carry themselves as representing the United States. In the instance of President Biden, I said to someone that the United States is back. We are back.

On the repeal of the 2002 Iraq War authorization

Greta Van Susteren

Do you think this repeal of this military authorization of force is Congress reclaiming its power under the Constitution to be the ones who decide who goes to war, who uses the military force?

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

Absolutely. And I think the American people are not even aware of that power, and that’s the difficulty ….

We were in a great deal of trepidation during the last four years of what the last president would attempt to do. I know I had a great fear, and even the individual did utilize some aspects of military force without any new authority, and that was the past president. But I’m constantly in apprehension of Congress’s losing, as a co-equal branch of government, its authority on behalf of the American people to debate and discern and decide when war is declared against a foreign nation.

On the Supreme Court ACA ruling

Greta Van Susteren

This week, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, confirmed Obamacare was not going away. It was a very important ruling for Obamacare. Justice Barrett, the newest justice, voted in the 7-2 majority to keep Obamacare in place. Many people said that if she were nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court, that Obamacare would go away, and basically painted her as a political animal. Do you think that was an unfair characterization of her?

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)

Well, I certainly was not in that company. However, I certainly was and continue to be a skeptic. But I’m very grateful that the Supreme Court ruled to provide me with a sense of hope that a real Supreme Court has returned, and it is certainly a breath of fresh air. The Affordable Care Act has gone through every nuance, every attack, every wrong labeling, name-calling that the Republicans could, in the same time, having absolutely no alternative. I think the Supreme Court made the right decision.

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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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