This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Representative Allen West is telling Majority Leader Eric Cantor that Congress should go back to D.C., and he's not alone. Tonight, the calls for them to return to work are getting louder. But is it worth -- but it is worth noting that the House of Representatives has passed several bills, and even a budget, but they are only waiting for the Senate to act on them. So the House leadership might think the Senate should get back to town first.
Joining us is Republican Representative Allen West. Good evening, sir. And why do you think that -- I know you sent off an e-mail to Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Why do you think that the members of Congress should get back to town?
REP. ALLEN WEST, R-FLA.: Well, for one thing, Greta -- and good evening to you -- the public perception is that we're down here on a five to six-month -- week vacation. And when you look at the fact that we passed seven appropriations bills out of 12 in the House of Representatives, but the Senate has not taken action on any of those appropriations bills -- and by the time we would have come back, it would be 7 September, which pushes us up to a new fiscal year, and what you're going to end up hearing once again is continuing resolution and omnibus.
And we're looking at a Senate that has not passed a budget in about 829 days, but I think that we need to go back up as the House of Representatives to continue to do the work that we're supposed to do and completing the appropriations bills.
You know, in the military, we had a saying that you train and you perform to the mission and not to a certain time. And I think that that's what we need to have here. We got to get the mission accomplished.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, two -- two questions, then. Number one is ... should your complaint really be in light of the fact that the House has passed all these bills and they -- they're sort of dead on arrival in the Senate -- should your call really be to call the United States Senate to get back and consider the bills up or down, whatever they're going to do with them, because that's -- that may be the choke point? That's the first question -- more than the House of Representatives.
And then the second question is, is that you want get back to work, yet many members of Congress, including yourself, are going off -- 84 members of Congress are on their way to Israel, not on the taxpayer's dime, but to Israel instead of coming back to town, and you're one of them.
WEST: Well, you know, I will answer the first one, and that is both of us need to get back up there, being the House and being also the Senate. Look, earlier this year, the GAO put out a report that said there were about $200 billion to $300 billion of duplicative programs in Washington, D.C. That's a great start for us...
VAN SUSTEREN: It's sitting on my desk, by the way. That bill, by the way, is sitting on my desk. And I'm happy to print it out for any member of Congress who wants to read it and see it. But go ahead, sir.
WEST: Yes. I read it and I think that that's one of the things we should go back and tackle. And as far as going to Israel at the end of the month, it will be a great opportunity to go over there and meet with the prime minister and the president. But I am here as a member of the United States House of Representatives, and we have a serious situation here in our country.
And when I was an officer in the military, we had what was called "def con one," defense condition one. That means all leaves and all passes were canceled and it was all hands on deck. And I think that we're at that point in time right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: What -- if you came back to town -- and I've actually though that -- I think it would send a great signal to the American people that you really care. I know many -- I know Congress is working. I know many are having town halls. Many are going on codels. I don't -- I'm not a particular fan of the big ones right now when I think you should be in Washington. But everybody's working (INAUDIBLE) so I think it'd be -- it could be an important message to send the American people.
But I'm a little bit curious. Do you come back and sort of bid against yourself and pass more bills, or do you come back to town and somehow try to get the Senate at least to vote yours down so that you can go back and come up with something else?
WEST: Well, I think it's important that we come back, along with the Senate. And that was one of the things that I put out. It was a letter that I worked with some of the other freshman colleagues, about a little nine-step plan that we can look at doing, working with the Senate. And we need to have the buy-in from Majority Leader Harry Reid, who really is being seen as an obstructionist and he is seen as failing in his duties as the Senate majority leader.
We've got work to do, and I don't think that this is the time for me to sit back and point fingers at the Senate. But America right now needs leadership, and I would say that America is like a rudderless ship at sea in a very tumultuous storm and we're headed toward the rocks and no one's at the helm. And I think that someone needs to step up and show some leadership in this country.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, come on back. Why don't you come back? You can come back alone.
WEST: Yes, I'd be happy to. I mean, I believe that sometimes, you do have to stand alone, and maybe that's something I would have to come back and do and I'd be more than willing to do that. And I think that the constituents down here in CD-22 would understand me doing that, and possibly others will follow suit.
VAN SUSTEREN: Have you gotten a response to -- when you sent the e- mail off to leadership about calling congressman back, have you gotten a response to your e-mail?
WEST: No, I have not. But I can tell you, I saw an e-mail from some of my other freshman colleagues, and you're starting to see a lot of people in their districts talking about, You need to get back up to Washington, D.C. You need to press on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you expect, though, there's going to be sort of a groundswell of enthusiasm for it? I know that you freshman members of Congress have gotten a little more traction here than anyone had ever expected. Do you expect traction to get Congress back in early?
WEST: Well, I would hope that the American people will rally behind this recommendation and they would call the leadership being Republican or Democrat and they would also call the president. I understand that the president wants to go and spend time with his family, but there are men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan that have time away from their families and they don't come home until they get the mission complete. And I think that's what they expect of us, as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.
WEST: Thanks for having me, Greta.