Just 2 days after Donald Trump’s Inauguration, we’ll discuss Trump’s first weekend in office in an exclusive sit down with Reince Priebus. His first Sunday interview as White House Chief of Staff.
Sen. Rubio on Washington's failure to address border crisis; fallout from House resolution to sue the president
Written by Chris Wallace / Published August 03, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Sen. Marco Rubio. , Rep. Steve King , Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," August 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
Africa's biggest Ebola outbreak ever has health officials scrambling, as one American infected with the virus arrives in the U.S. for treatment.
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, CDC: It will take at least three to six months to get this outbreak under control, even in the best of circumstances.
WALLACE: With no cure, could the disease spread here? We'll ask Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control.
Then, House leaders delay their recess and pass a bill to address the flood of children across our borders.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Doing something is better than doing nothing.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They're not even trying to actually solve the problem. This is a message bill.
WALLACE: We'll talk with the leading voice on immigration, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
And with the House bill going nowhere, will President Obama defer millions of more deportations by executive action? Our Sunday group weighs in.
Plus, House Republicans vote to sue the president.
We'll ask two members of the House Judiciary Committee, Steve King and Hakeem Jeffries whether the president has overstepped his authority.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello, again from Fox News in Washington.
For the first time, doctors are treating a case of the deadly Ebola virus here in the U.S. An American aide worker infected in Liberia was flown to Atlanta Saturday and is now being treated at Emory University Hospital there. Another American aide worker will be flown here in the next few days. We'll talk with the head of the Centers for Disease Control in a moment.
But, first, FOX News correspondent Jonathan Serrie is outside of the hospital in Atlanta with the latest -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is the first active case of Ebola in North America. The disease has no known cure and kills up to 90 percent of those affected. But the patient arrived here at Emory Hospital under highly controlled circumstances.
SERRIE (voice-over): Dr. Kent Brantly arrived at Emory University Hospital midday Saturday wearing a protective suit but walking under his own power to this special isolation unit, one of only four in the country.
DR. BRUCE RIBNER, EMORY UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The reason we are bringing these patients back to our facility is because we feel they deserve to have the highest level of care offered for their treatment.
SERRIE: Brantly is the first of two American Ebola patients to arrive in Atlanta aboard this air ambulance chartered by the Christian international relief charity, Samaritan's Purse. He and nurse Nancy Writebol are medical missionaries working with the organization to treat Ebola patients in Liberia where the disease is rampant. The relief organization says Writebol is expected to travel Atlanta in a few days.
Many organizations including the Peace Corps are pulling their people from West Africa. Peace Corps officials say they are committed to their work in the region and hope to return soon.
This week, President Obama will host a summit of African leaders, at least two have backed out to address Ebola crisis back home. The administration says there's no need for concern in the U.S. as travelers from Africa will be screened prior to departure and on arrival.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention located next to Emory University has helped develop many of the protocols involved with transporting and treating Dr. Brantly, including the biological containment unit used onboard the plane.
SERRIE: And, Dr. Brantly got to speak with his wife who said her husband is glad to be in the U.S. Amber Brantly released a written statement to reporters, asking people to continue praying not only for her husband and also for the nurse, the people of Liberia and the people who continue to serve them in that part of the world -- Chris.
WALLACE: Jonathan Serrie, reporting from Atlanta -- Jonathan, thanks for that.
Now, let's bring in the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Thomas Frieden to talk about the outbreak and the decision to bring the Ebola virus to the U.S. for the first time.
Dr. Frieden, I think a lot of us on the outside were surprised to see Dr. Brantly walk into the hospital on his own steam. How is he doing? What's his condition? And can you say at this point whether he's going to make it?
FRIEDEN: I can't predict the future and I do hope that Dr. Brantly continues to improve. It's encouraging that he's doing so well. Ebola is scary. It's a deadly disease. And it's understandable to be scared of it.
But, you know, the bottom line with Ebola is we know how to stop it -- infection control in the hospitals and stopping at the source in Africa, which is the most important thing we can do not just to save lives but to protect ourselves as well.
WALLACE: Can you characterize Dr. Brantly's condition at this point, sir?
FRIEDEN: He appears to be improving, and that's encouraging. In fact, it's probably the case that people who are well-nourished and healthy if they get a deadly disease do better than those who maybe in more tenuous health as many of the patients who are tragically dying from Ebola in Africa have, you know, weaker health -- weaker immune systems going in.
WALLACE: Doctor, can you categorically say that the risk of bringing these two highly infectious people across the Atlantic and here to the U.S. is worth the risk both to the patients and to the public?
FRIEDEN: The decision to bring this doctor back home was a decision of the organization that sent him to Africa. He was ill there. They wanted him to come here where they felt he could get the best quality health care. And that's their decision.
What we do in public health is to make sure that the process of doing that doesn't put others at risk. We isolate the patient so that it doesn't spread during transit or when he's in the hospital.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on that because while by all accounts the risk of transmission is low, infectious disease experts say the risk is not zero, and as you know all too well at the CDC, your organization recently mishandled anthrax and the bird flu, exposing dozens of workers. I guess the point is: mistakes do happen, don't they?
FRIEDEN: We had problems in our labs. We had lapses. Fortunately, we caught them and reported them before anyone was harmed and before there was anything released out of the laboratory. But it shows how important it is to have meticulous attention to detail. Ebola is a formidable enemy. And if you make a single lapse, it's not that it's so infectious, but the results are so tragic because it can be fatal.
WALLACE: This week, dozens of African leaders are coming to Washington for a summit with U.S. officials, as well as U.S. business leaders.
From a public health standpoint, should that summit be cancelled?
FRIEDEN: Absolutely not. You know, we are dependent and we are part of the world. There are 50 million travelers from around the world that come to the U.S. each year that are essential to our economy, to our families, to our communities. We're not going to hermetically seal this country. What we can do is put in place sensible screening procedures.
But the single most important thing we can do to protect Americans is to stop the spread of disease around the world. That may sound counter-intuitive but the fact is, what we do in public health is stop problems at the source. And the source here is in Africa.
That's why we're surging and putting 50 CDC disease control specialists on the ground in these three countries to help them find, respond to and stop the spread of the disease.
WALLACE: Just summing up here, sir, you say that we can't let our irrational fears overwhelm our compassion. Obviously, you can tell from the questions I and others in the media are asking. You can tell from all the social media sites, there is a lot of fear.
Do you think that we're falling prey to some Ebola hysteria here in the U.S.?
FRIEDEN: I can understand why people are scared of Ebola. It's deadly. It's gruesome death. It's a terrible, merciless virus.
But I hope and I'm confident that our fears are not going to overwhelm our compassion. We care for our own. We bring people home if they need to come home and we will stop the outbreak in Africa, but it's not going to be quick, it's not going to be easy, and it's quite possible we'll see it get worse before it gets better there.
But we can turn it around. We know how to stop Ebola. It's tried and true mechanisms of public health: find the patients, isolate them, find their contacts, track them, and make sure infection control is done meticulously.
You do those things and this Ebola outbreak will go away, just as every previous outbreak will go away. But it's going to take time.
WALLACE: Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC, thank you so much for coming in, sir. And, of course, we'll stay on top of this story.
FRIEDEN: Thanks very much.
WALLACE: Now, let's turn to the news here in Washington.
Late Friday, House Republicans passed a bill providing $694 million to address the influx of children across our border. But President Obama and Senate Democrats made it clear the GOP measure is going nowhere.
Earlier, I spoke with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a leading Republican voice on immigration reform who is in Iowa.
Senator Rubio, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FL: Thank you. Thanks for having me back.
WALLACE: House Republicans passed two measures on Friday, one to make it easier to deport those unaccompanied minors on the border, the other to block the president from deferring any more deportations. The conservative editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal" criticized what it called "Deportation Republicans". "The GOP again gave the country the impression that its highest policy priority is to deport as many children as rapidly as possible back from wherever they came."
Is that the message that Republicans need to be sending Hispanic voters, sir?
RUBIO: Well, I don't think that's an accurate assessment of what's happened here. We have a serious situation on the border, an unsustainable situation on the border that cannot continue. The only way to address that is to address the root causes of what's happening, and the root causes are a combination of course of violence and instability and poverty in central America.
But it's also, according to the president of Honduras, ambiguities in our laws and those ambiguities began in 2008 with a very well-intentioned law to prevent human trafficking and address it, and then it continued in 2012 with the president's deferred action program. And the combination of those two things have allowed trafficking groups to go into these communities in Central America and tell people that America has some special law that's going to allow them to come here and stay, and that's serving as a lure that's driving this crisis.
WALLACE: But, Senator, after Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote to Barack Obama in 2012 by 44 points, the RNC, the Republican National Committee, issued this post-mortem, "We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only."
In fact, hasn't your party doesn't exactly the opposite these last two years, haven't you further alienated Hispanic voters?
RUBIO: Well, I continue to believe we have to reform our immigration laws. I think that's good for the country. I wouldn't say that because of politics.
But this issue is related but separate from that. This issue involves a mass migration on the border happens to be many unaccompanied minor and children.
And what we need to do is three things. Number one is we have to treat them the way Americans always treat people in the most compassionate way possible. Number two, these children eventually will have to return -- most of them anyways to their country, because otherwise, you are encouraging more people to undertake that very dangerous journey. And the third thing is you have to address these ambiguities in our law that are creating the circumstances that are allowing these trafficking groups to convince people to pay them $8,000 or $10,000 to bring them here. WALLACE: But, Senator, now, the president is talking because nothing is going to get through Congress, now the president is talking about acting on his own, taking further -- excuse me -- executive action not only to deal with the immediate crisis, but also perhaps as the White House says, consider deferring millions of more deportations of illegal immigrants now in this country.
Here's what he had to say on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: While they are out on vacation, I'm going to have to make some tough choices to meet the challenge, with or without Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: What can Republicans do if the president decides to take action on his own, not just on this immediate crisis, but to further overhaul the entire immigration system?
RUBIO: Well, a couple of things. First of all, what the president is partially threatening to do is something I've been warning about for the better part of two years and that's an executive action that basically grants the equivalent of this deferred action that he granted to people that arrived here as youngsters, granting it to a larger population of people. I think in many respects, for those of us like myself that support immigration reform, that would be one step forward but three steps back. It would further drive this narrative that this is a president not interested in enforcing our laws, which right now is the single greatest single impediment to moving forward.
As far as immigration, you know, I've been dealing with this issue for the better part of 18 months. And I know now more than ever if you're in favor of immigration reform, then we have to re-evaluate the process by which we achieve it.
And in my mind, given everything that's going on now, especially the only way we're going to make progress on this issue is to first deal with illegal immigration, secure the border, win people's confidence that in reality this problem is under control. Step two would be to modernize our legal immigration laws, geared more towards a merit based system like what Canada has as opposed to the family based system. And then, step three, after you do those two things, would be to address in a reasonable yet responsible way the fact that we have 9 million, 10 million, 11 million people living in this country illegally.
WALLACE: But, Senator, some people say that you're taking a step back. And they point out the fact that you were one of the leaders for comprehensive integration reform for pushing it through the Senate last year in which you -- yes, you dealt with border enforcement but at the same time you put in place a plan, an eventually over the course of 10 to 12 years path to citizenship. And there's no question that after that, you took a hit in the polls. And I'm going to put some up. In April of last year, before the comprehensive plan, you led possible Republican contenders for president at 19 percent. Last October, you dropped to 12 percent. And now, a poll out just the last couple of weeks, you're down to 6 percent.
Is that why you have now switched and said we have to do this in stages with enforcement first and any dealing with legality or citizenship for the immigrants way down the line and afterwards?
RUBIO: Yes. When I got involved the issue, I knew how difficult it was politically. But I ran for office to make a difference, and this is an issue that only that I believe I could be a part of making a difference in, I believe it's one the country needs to confront and solve for the good of America. I don't know what it means politically for me or anybody else, but that's not my job. I didn't get elected to maintain good poll numbers nationally. I got elected to address and solve problems.
As far as what to do about immigration, I'm not talking about changing --
WALLACE: If it's not political, why have you slipped? If I may, sir, if it's not political, why have you slipped?
RUBIO: That's not accurate, Chris
WALLACE: But you're now saying it has to be done in stages.
RUBIO: I haven't. That's not accurate.
WALLACE: Before, you wanted a comprehensive plan.
RUBIO: Well, we're not -- but I think we're talking about two separate things. Now, we're talking about two separate things. We're not talking about what to do.
I just outlined to you what to, we have to do those three things: security, reform of modernizing the legal system, and then address the people that are here. So, we're not debating what to do. We're debating how to do it.
And I'm just telling you, we will never have the votes necessary to pass one bill all of those things. It just won't happen.
So, our choices are: we can either continue to beat our head against the wall and try a process for which we'll never have the support, or we can try another way that perhaps we can make progress on. So, what I'm just talking about here is trying to figure out a different way of doing it where we can actually achieve it, but it's got to be a process that has a chance to pass.
WALLACE: Senator, you said recently that Hillary Clinton is a 20th century candidate. Some people saw that as a veiled reference to her age. How do you plead?
RUBIO: Well, I think you can be 40 years old and be a 20th century candidate. That has to do with the fact that America and our challenges have rapidly changed just in the last decade. We're going to have more global competition for investment, for innovation and for talent, but our laws and our regulations are making us less competitive.
We -- all of the better-paying jobs of the 21st century require some form of higher education. We have an outdated higher education system that's too expensive and for working people too difficult to access.
Those things have to be addressed. We are not just suffering from a cyclical downturn in our economy. We are going through the equivalent of an industrial revolution every five years. And I don't think she or her party and quite frankly even some people in my party have answers to that.
And so, our challenge for not just Republicans but for the country is to apply the time-tested principles of limited government and free enterprise to our modern challenges. She's incapable of doing that, as is most of her party wedded to outdated and broken institutions.
WALLACE: But, but --
RUBIO: And that's my argument as it relates to her, and the left in general.
WALLACE: But less than a minute left, sir. I mean, not say that they are right or wrong, but aren't your solutions, aren't the Republican solutions, whether it's less spending or lower taxes, aren't those 20th century solutions as well?
RUBIO: Well, our solutions -- my solutions are more deeper than that. I want to make America more competitive place to invest and innovate. So, I want our tax code and our regulations to be competitive in comparison to other countries. I want to reform higher education so people that have to work full time and raise a family can go back to school and get a degree that will actually help them make more money than what they're making now.
And so, you can do that and still be a limited government and free enterprise conservative and those are the kind of modern issues we now face.
So, I spent all year outlining these things and I look forward to continue to do that -- hopefully, in a Republican majority Senate.
WALLACE: Senator Rubio, thank you so much. Always a pleasure to talk with you, sir. Please come back.
RUBIO: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, now that Congress has gone on vacation without dealing with the immigration crisis, will President Obama act on his own? Our Sunday group weighs in.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: House Republicans, as we speak, are trying to pass the most extreme and unworkable versions of a bill that they already know is going nowhere.
BOEHNER: In my view, doing something is better than doing nothing. The crisis on the border is going to continue until the president acts. But he's clearly not going to act. That means Congress has to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner taking shots at each other but doing very little about the flood of unaccompanied minors across our border.
And it's time now for our Sunday group. Kimberley Strassel of Wall Street Journal, Ron Fournier from The National Journal, Michael Needham, head of Heritage Action for America, and Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams.
Well, House Republicans delayed their recess 24 hours and maybe you don't know Washington, that's a big deal delaying their recess. And ended up passing two bills that is the president I think accurately said are going nowhere.
Kim, what's the point? What did House Republicans accomplish by passing these two bills as the president called them message votes that are not going to become law?
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the irony here, Chris, is that no bill was going reach the president's desk because the Democrats can't agree on an immigration proposal going forward.
WALLACE: They didn't even pass a bill.
STRASSEL: They didn't even pass a bill either.
So, what you actually saw here, though, weirdly though, was this kind of Republican act of self-masochism, and that they had only one job this week, which was to pass a bill that would show their response to this issue down on the border and all they had to do was go put it out there. And instead, they managed to completely, all the forces, the usual force, Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions came running down. They said that rather this be a bill about the immediate issue down there, that it instead should be another fight with the president over his future immigration powers.
They exposed all the wounds in the party. The story make a result of the Republican Party melting down on the floor on Thursday and reminding the party until they can get their head around this issue, it's going to dog them at crucial times in politics.
WALLACE: We asked you for questions with the panel, and we got this on Facebook from Brenda. She writes, "This is a crisis brought on by the president and the Congress and the Senate that can't get along to solve the problems we face. Why are the American people being ignored by our -- and you can see in all caps -- our leaders?"
Ron, I understand the gridlock over the big issue of immigration reform. But we're talking here about this very specific issue of the unaccompanied children coming from Central America. Everybody agreed on the problem. People basically agree on the solutions.
Why did nothing get done? Why once again did Washington take a big swing and whiffed?
RON FOURNIER, THE NATIONAL JOURNAL: (INAUDIBLE) to hit right on the head.
Look, if you're keeping score at home, Republicans had a disastrous week last week, destructive for the party, destructive for the country.
But, you know what? Most Americans like Brenda aren't keeping score at home. All they see is a very dysfunctional system where both parties are only interested in appealing to their narrow bases, where all they care about is winning a little bit more than the other side, not fixing the real problems.
And now, we are in a position where even the president is going to come forward with these executive actions.
Even if you agree, as I do, that these 12 million people need to come out of the shadow, even if you agree with that, the idea that the president is taking this step unilaterally can't be good for the system. It's going to further polarize the red from the blue and we're going to have a president who was elected because he talked about there is no red America, there is no blue America, is now going to be the president of blue America.
WALLACE: We discussed the immigration crisis last week and I have to say as I predicted we got a lot of reaction to George Will and his idea about how to deal with these tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WILL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: My view is that we ought to say to these children: welcome to America, you're going to go to school and get a job and become Americans. We have 3,141 counties in this country. That'd be 20 per county. The idea that we can't assimilate these 8-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: Michael Needham, is that the right response to this crisis, welcome to America?
MICHAEL NEEDHAM, CEO, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: Well, look, I think George's heart was in his right place. His heart is where all of our heart is. He just got the policy wrong.
The most compassionate thing we can do as a nation is that the way for a child to come to America is legally holding the hand of a parent. Unfortunately, the president's policy is the exact opposite thing. That's why the number of unaccompanied minors has gone from 6,000 people in 2011 to 90,000 people this year, 150,000 people next year.
I'm not sure why we're all so down on what Washington did this week. The House Republicans passed two bills. Both of them had over 95 percent of Republican supporting it. That did two things. They said, let's look at the cause of the problem and that's the president's total lawlessness with regards to our immigration laws, and let's look at some solutions.
And so, I think the only people who are really attacking themselves within the Republican Party seem to be coming (ph) in this panel right now. The Republican Party did the right thing.
WALLACE: Kim, (INAUDIBLE).
STRASSEL: Look, the Republican Party, again, they have been down there for two weeks, three weeks saying the biggest crisis is to deal something with this issue down at the border. And instead, they had to go through again another act of self-emulation over immigration.
STRASSEL: And, look, they got -- their prospects are very good for this fall. But one of the key questions that is going to be asked is whether or not they can govern, and in a moment like this down there, which is exposing all the wounds and again the fact that the party can't get this is just not good for them.
NEEDHAM: The Republican Party did a good job of governing here. The president of United States laid a trap.
NEEDHAM: He laid a trap which is exactly what he did. He tried to blame other people for his problems. The reason we have a crisis on the border is not of law passed by President Bush in 2008. It's not that there's not enough money. It's that the president of the United States put up the beacon of amnesty.
FOURNIER: No, he did not.
NEEDHAM: Of course he did.
(CROSSTALK) FOURNIER: These kids are fleeing -- these kids are fleeing gangs and criminality. Their lives are in danger. That's what created the situation.
NEEDHAM: So, that didn't exist a few years ago?
FOURNIER: Not to this degree. No, sir.
Now, that does not mean that we completely open up the border. But George Will was actually right now on the policies. The kids who are here, this country has got to bring them in. But let's work together, two parties, to find a way we don't have more kids coming in.
Your party didn't work on that this week. Your party --
WALLACE: I never thought I would say this -- but, Juan, come on, speak up.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I mean, I just think it was a rough week for the Republican Party. I understand Michael's point. I mean, you want to say that the Republicans did something. And I think it speaks to the base in terms of the base being unalterably opposed to anything that might be construed as amnesty.
But, you know, there is a crisis as Ron said that is a unique crisis. This is the part as -- and just the way that you laid it out, this is apart from comprehensive immigration reform. There's a specific, immediate urgency with regard to these children and to say, oh, they should be come in holding a parent's hand -- ideally, but not when they are running away from people who are shooting at them in the most dangerous place in the world. And so, we understand refugee crises in terms of our immigration system.
So, I think at the moment the question is now going forward, what does the president do? And I was spending this week, we talked about the Republicans, you know, problems and in fighting -- Republicans who are so angry at the president said maybe the president should handle this. That's what the Republican leadership said.
So, they invited him now post-Labor Day, post-his political agenda with conservative Democrats who worry that any action he takes could affect them adversely, he's going to do something with regard to stopping deportations and appealing to the Hispanic community, and that's going to hurt Republicans even more.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on precisely that point in the time we have left, Michael, because as I discussed with Senator Rubio -- the Republican playbook, the post-mortem they wrote after 2012 and Mitt Romney lost by 44 points to Barack Obama was we got to reach out to Hispanics. Isn't the sum total, not only of this week but really of everything over the last year and a half, exactly the opposite?
NEEDHAM: Well, I don't rely on the same political consultants who have run every single Republican presidential campaign since 1992 to tell the solutions that are best for the party.
What's best for the party is to focus on the issues that people care about. How do I get affordable housing? How do I get the situation where I can educate my child? What do I do about gas prices? Those are issues that all Americans whether they'd be Hispanic or otherwise care about and the Republican Party needs to have solutions for.
FOURNIER: The fastest growing bloc in this country thinks the Republican Party hates them. This party, your party, cannot be the party of the future beyond November, if you're seen AS the party of white people.
NEEDHAM: If you think the only thing Hispanic Americans think about is amnesty, the polling --
FOURNIER: But because of the way your party --
WALLACE: Go ahead.
STRASSEL: The real problem with this week, though, is that they diverted attention from the very things that you are talking about. They actually had a bill policy wise pretty good. But because of a spectacle of not being able to pass it they focus on itself, which is what the president wants. The president is playing politics with this as well, too. Look, the president came out this week and said he would veto this Republican bill because it changed the 2008 law. This 2008 law, this was the same president, and one month ago asked Congress to change the 2008 law. He doesn't want them to pass anything because he wants the issue to be Republican division. And that's why this week was tough.
FOURNIER: The president had a chance to have immigration reform in 2010. In 2009 his party passed on it. They wanted the issue.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. We're going to see you back later in the program. We'll continue this conversation. Up next the House votes to sue President Obama for overstepping the powers of his office. Is it a political stunt or a serious effort to protect the separation of powers? We'll talk with two members of the House Judiciary Committee with very different views. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WALLACE: House Republicans voted this week to sue President Obama. They allege the president's repeated use of executive action to unilaterally change laws like Obamacare violates the power granted him by the Constitution. Joining us now two members of the House Judiciary Committee. From Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King. And from New York, Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. President Obama responded to the lawsuit this week saying that he has to act to help people because Republicans won't do anything and then he had this advice for GOP members. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time.
OBAMA: Come on. Let's get some work done together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman King, the president says that you take these show votes, message votes as he called it instead of actually voting to help people.
REP. STEVE KING, R-IA, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, you know, first of all, most of us personally like the president. It's not about mad, it's not about hate, it is about the Constitution. And the president has just simply decided that he can amend the law that has his name on his signature on it, the law says that the employer mandate shall commence and each month after December of 2013. He announced that he was just going to change it, and changed the day unilaterally, when Congress said, Mr. President, please don't do this, but we will pass legislation that actually conforms to your allegation, and he said I'll veto that legislation. So he went so far as to say I'm going to take your constitutional authority away and don't even try to mimic what I'm doing.
WALLACE: All right. The president says that he's just doing his job when he helps people. But let's take a look at what the constitution says. Article I section 1 says all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in the Congress of the United States. Article II section 3 says the president shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Congressman Jeffries, if you read the Constitution, there's no blank check there that the president can help people the way he wants to.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, D-NY, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, there's no blank check, but that's not what the president has done. This lawsuit is clearly baseless in law or in fact. Under the take care clause of article II of the Constitution as interpreted consistently by Supreme Court Justices including Chief Justice Rehnquist, the president has the clear discretion to administer, implement and enforce the law and as it relates to the Affordable Care Act that's clearly what he's done. He's not amended the law, he's not abolished the law. What he has done is delay implementation of the employer mandate in stages, consistent with what other presidents have done throughout history including most recently President George W. Bush when he delayed penalties connected to Medicare Part D, and delayed the enrollment period in 2006 and then turned around with respect to the small business work opportunity act of 2007.
WALLACE: All right, let me bring in Congressman King. Your response to that.
KING: Well, the president didn't just simply -- didn't just simply do a little touch to this from an administrative standpoint. He simply went in and changed the required implementation date that was written by Democrats, passed by Democrats and signed by our president. And he does not get to make up law out of thin air. He doesn't get to amend it. The Constitution is very clear. Take care that laws are faithfully executed. And if Hakeem really thought that this was right, then why wouldn't the president accept Congress's offer to fix this law and delay the employer mandate? I don't know any reason for that for the president to simply give the back of the hand to Congress. And he stood before Congress at the State of the Union address and he said I will take -- I will enact laws, he said I'm going to do it with my ink pen, his cell phone and ink pen, quote, "compressed into a State of the Union" address and Democrats led a standing ovation to cheer the president ...
WALLACE: All right.
KING: For taking away Article I authority in the United States Constitution.
WALLACE: All right, you know, although the lawsuit is just going to be about ObamaCare, the fact is that the president's executive actions have been about a lot more than that. Let's put them up on the screen. He deferred deportation of half a million people who came here illegally as children. He delayed the employer mandate in ObamaCare. He extended federal rights to same sex couples and has actually been a lot more than that. Congressman Jeffries, if the president wants to change the law, doesn't he just have to go to Congress according to article I because of all the legislative function resides in Congress?
JEFFRIES: Well, every president has the capacity to move forward with executive action and, in fact, this president has been less active in the use of the executive order than President George W. Bush, President Clinton and President Reagan all of whom used executive orders in much greater numbers than President Obama. He has the capacity to take limited steps to improve the lives of the American people consistent with the public policy constraints of the United States Constitution. The only institution in terms of our separation of powers lay out here that is exceeding its authority are House Republicans in moving forward with a lawsuit that clearly has no basis. Has no congressional standing to sue another branch of government. You can't simply run into the federal court system whenever you have a disagreement with the executive branch. No less than authority on conservative issues and ideology than Justice Scalia has repeatedly made that point. And so, it really is time to get back to doing the business of the American people. And stop the squabbling related to what seems to be hatred of the president of the United States coming from different quarters throughout the Congress. We've got a serious job situation that we should address.
WALLACE: Congressman King?
KING: Come on. Those are well practiced talking points. Thank you. Those are well practiced talking points, but they don't really get to the heart of this matter. The president has effectively changed the law of Obamacare. It is the clearest constitutional violation of the separation of powers. I litigate this in Iowa when I brought a case versus against Tom Vilsack several years ago when he thought he could write law from -- from the executive bench. But I take as over two the immigration law, which is a little bit not quite as clear, but it's almost as clear. The president has more memos created for classes of people.
WALLACE: Congressman King, we're getting a little bit -- Congressman King, we are getting a little bit in the weeds. Let me -- let me pick up on the immigration issue. It's a very good example. After the president deferred deportation for about a half a million, the so-called dreamers, there was a demand that he just change all of the immigration laws and last year here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But White House officials now say and they really have been saying this up, that now it looks like the president will take some major executive action over the course of the summer or right after Labor Day and may even consider deferring the deportations of millions of more illegal immigrants. Congressman King, if he does that, if he goes ahead and unilaterally decides to defer deportations of millions of immigrants, what are you going to do about it?
KING: None of us -- none of us want to do the thing that's left for us as an alternative, but if the president has decided that he simply is not going to enforce any immigration law or at least not against anybody except the felons which essentially he has done already, this is a broader group of people. I think Congress has to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of this Constitution and that includes that "I" word that we don't want to say. And I only say that now on this program, because I want to encourage the president, please don't put America into a constitutional crisis. Please don't do that. There's too much at stake in this country to be decided that you can take over the Constitution and write it at will.
WALLACE: But you're saying that if he were to do that then impeachment would be on the table?
KING: I think then we have to start, sit down and take a look at that. Where would we draw the line otherwise if that's not enough to bring that about then I don't know what would be. We've never seen anything in this country like a president that I'm going to make up all immigration law that I choose and I'm going to drive this thing regardless the resistance of Congress. That's why I pushed so hard to get the DOCA language out into this legislation that we just passed. It says, Mr. President you can't do this. It's unconstitutional, and you know it. We want to stop the funding of....
KING: Of course, DOCA. That's the message on ...
WALLACE: We have got less than a minute left and I want to bring in Congressman Jeffries. You know, back in 2008, some members of your party, Democrats filed bills to impeach George W. Bush for his conduct of the Iraq War. Is this any different than what Democrats did to President Bush?
JEFFRIES: Of course, it's completely different. House Republicans are clearly taking us on a march towards impeachment, and whether ...
WALLACE: But look, did Democrats take -- Excuse me, sir, did Democrats take the House on a march towards impeachment in 2008?
JEFFRIES: Not at all, because then Speaker Nancy Pelosi clearly said impeachment is off the table. Congress has several other ...
WALLACE: Basically that's what John Boehner said this week too, sir.
JEFFRIES: John Boehner did not say that. He didn't make an unequivocal statement. And to the extent that John Boehner has taken definitive positions before, such as -- he won't shut down the government, he moved forward and shut down the government for 16 days costing the American people $24 billion in lost economic productivity. So there's no real credibility there. We're not clear who actually is running the House of Representatives. Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas seems to have outside influence. That's why we're concerned. But, Chris, the focus really should be on doing what's right for the American people, dealing with the talking points issue important to the middle class and those who are striving to be part of the middle class.
WALLACE: We are going to have to leave it there. Obviously, a conversation to be continued.
KING: Hakeem wasn't here, but Chairman Conyers held impeachment hearings against George Bush and Dick Cheney. He held those hearings. They took place. He wasn't here -- Hakeem wasn't here to see that.
WALLACE: OK, well, that's true, because he was -- he is the first (INAUDIBLE) congressman. But Congressman Jeffries, Congressman King, thank you both so much. Thanks for joining us today and we'll, of course, stay on top of this story.
What do you think about the House plan to sue the president? Join the conversation on Facebook with other FNS viewers. And when we come back our Sunday group weighs in on the lawsuit and yes, impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: They are trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's elections. We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans. Listen, it's all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: House Speaker John Boehner says impeachment is off the table but as party moves forward with lance to sue President Obama and we're back now with the panel. Kim, has the president overstepped his powers with all of these executive actions? Has he violated, in your opinion, the Constitution?
STRASSEL: Yes, he absolutely has. And it comes down to ignoring laws. It comes down to making up laws. It also comes down to not enforcing laws that are on the books like immigration laws. And this was Republican view, that the only way forward was, in fact, the lawsuit. Because they don't want to go down the impeachment road. And so, this is the way that they can bring this -- and I would point out too that this is necessary because we're in a new era of politics in this regard. Ron and I were just talking. Bush did signing statements, which is sort of -- he did the same thing. But it's not the same. What you've always had in the past is that when the president did something and took away article I powers you saw a bipartisan pushback from Congress. An outrage that he did so. I remember back when Bush -- Bush -- FBI raided an office of a congressman and you had both the Republicans and the Democrats jointly condemn that action. So, you have -- But we don't have that now. We have Democrats in Congress who are happy to allow the president to do all this and as a result the Republicans have felt the lawsuit is the only way to get some focus on this.
WALLACE: All right, Ron, let me ask you the same direct question, where are you on this? Is the president within his rights when he takes these executive actions or has he crossed the line?
FOURNIER: I don't know. I'm going to be a little humble here and say I'm not an attorney. I do know that actually, the fact of the matter is, Republicans were fine with President Bush doing signing statements and with President Bush doing more executive orders than President Obama, and I'll leave it where I left it with the last segment. The public wants these parties working together. We were going through the same thing with impeachment that we did in 2006 and 2007, when the Democrats talked about impeaching President Bush, and Republicans cynically raised money off of that. We have the mirror image happening now, and there is no coincidence that the turnout we're having so far in the mid-term elections are record low. The public is fed up with this business. WALLACE: Michael, you heard and we played the clip just now of Speaker Boehner basically saying that impeachment is off the table. The words he used are, I have no plans, I have no future plans. Is that true or as someone who is in touch with the grassroots conservative movement around the country, is there some push for impeachment -- that's one -- and two, if as we posited, and it seems very likely the president takes some dramatic action to defer deportations for millions of more people, what happens then in terms of impeachment?
NEEDHAM: I think the speaker is largely right that the only people or the talking primarily talking about impeachment are fundraisers at the DCCC. As Ron just said, it's the same thing that the RNC did six, eight years ago, when Democrats were talking about impeaching President Bush. The trouble with a lawless president is it's very difficult to constrain him because he doesn't care about the law. You have a president right now who is totally out of control, totally--
FOURNIER: A lawless president? Is that really a phrase you want to use? He's a lawless president?
NEEDHAM: He can't get a carbon tax through the Congress, so he decides to impose it through the EPA. ObamaCare is falling apart. It's totally unworkable, so he decides to unilaterally change the law. The IRS is totally out of control, targeting conservatives, using all sorts of expletives to describe conservatives. This is a president that is totally out of control. And trying to find a mechanism to constrain him is difficult.
WALLACE: But isn't in fact one of the reasons that House Republicans are pushing this lawsuit is because they are trying to have a pressure valve against the fact that a lot of grassroots folks that I'm sure you're in touch with, really want to go for impeachment?
NEEDHAM: No, I think they are trying to find a way to constrain a lawless president. And so I think that when you look at what Jim Jordan is doing with the investigation into the IRS, which is fantastic, that's one mechanism that they have. The power of the purse is one mechanism that they have that they have tried to use. They are filing a lawsuit because the president of the United States is unilaterally changing the law. I think 40 different times with regards to Obamacare. This is a lawless administration, and trying to find a tool within the rule of law to constrain it is a frustrating challenge.
WILLIAMS: Well, I think you listen to Michael and you understand why there are lots of Republicans who think this man is a demon. This guy is awful. We got to get this guy out of here any way we can. He's breaking the law.
I don't agree with a lot of the points you are making, Michael, but I hear this on talk radio. I hear this in conservative columns that people are saying we think this guy is way over the line. And then they say oh, yes, we got to find a way to get him. Then you hear from Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, others, yes, we use the impeachment word. And then you come on and say, oh, no, we're not talking about impeachment, that's the Democrats. All the Democrats are doing is taking advantage of the fact that you guys have demonized President Obama to this extent, because not only does it help them with fundraising, lots of people, especially in the minority communities, see it as an attack on the first black president. Think it's unfair. And so it's going to spur their turnout in the mid- terms, which is going to be critical in several races.
WALLACE: Wait a second, I want to pick up on exactly that point. Do you think that the Republican opposition to this president, you heard Hakeem Jeffries talk about hatred, is racial, or do you think it is based on principles and policies?
WILLIAMS: Well, all I can do is look at the numbers. If you look at the core constituency, the people who are in let's say Tea Party opposition, support of impeachment, there's no diversity, it's a white, older group of people. As to whether or not it's racial, look, President Obama and others have said there are some people who don't like him because of his race; some people who do like him. But I would say if you just break it down as a matter of political analysis and say who is this group, it reminds me that the Republican Party has become almost a completely white party.
NEEDHAM: Chris, if you were to open up your dictionary to the word irony, you would find Juan Williams in there claiming I'm demonizing people because I am saying the president of the United States is lawless, which by the way the Supreme Court agreed with.
NEEDHAM: That's a ridiculous ironic statement. You're the one demonizing people who are concerned about the fact that we have a crisis of the Constitution, with Jonathan Turley, a liberal law professor, just testifying in the last couple of weeks, you are the one demonizing. You're demonizing good people who are concerned about a president who's weak and out of control.
WILLIAMS: We had a principled argument about President Obama's actions and use of executive actions and authority. But you call him lawless as if he's an outlaw. As if, you know, you have him riding the range. We got to go get that guy.
WILLIAMS: The people who want him impeached, they are almost all white and they are all older and guess what, they are all in the far right wing of the Republican Party.
NEEDHAM: And he might as well have said they are all racist. That's ridiculous.
STRASSEL: Look, I think what this underestimates is the amount of consideration that actually went into this lawsuit that has been brought against the president. I mean, the Republicans did sit down and had a discussion with a lot of legal scholars about has what the president done risen to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. You saw Paul Ryan come out this week and say of course it does not. But there have nonetheless been grave violations of the Constitution and the law, and this is a way to go forward. They put together a lawsuit that's very narrowly tailored.
WALLACE: I have about 30 seconds left. The thing that strikes me about this is it was almost exactly ten years ago that Barack Obama made that speech at the Democratic National Convention that we don't have a red America, we don't have a blue America, we have a United States. We're a long way from there now, aren't we?
FOURNIER: And this discussion illustrates it. I know you guys don't mean this, but the way Americans are hearing this conversation, they hear you saying that our president is a criminal, and they hear you saying that Republicans are racists. What they want, I know it's not what you are saying, but that's what they are hearing. What they want are solutions.
NEEDHAM: I agree with Jonathan Turley.
WALLACE: You can file a footnote on this. Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday. A final note when we come back.
WALLACE: For the latest on the Ebola outbreak and the transfer of Americans with the virus here to the U.S., stay tuned to this Fox station and Fox News Channel.
That's it for today. Have a great week. We'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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