Cleaver: Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich Has Been Served

Missouri congressman talks debt bill passage


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: All right, well, say this about one Emanuel Cleaver, the fellow who runs the Congressional Black Caucus. I think he had the best phraseologies, the best terms for what was going on here that would not leave you in doubt where he stood, a variation, this package, he said, of a Satan sandwich.

The chairman joins me right now.

Very good to have you, sir.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER, D-MO.: Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: Well, the sandwich has been served up and passed. How do you feel about that?

CLEAVER: With fries.


CLEAVER: I think that the public is going to eventually feel good about the fact that we didn’t go over into the abyss.

CAVUTO: Now, how many of your members voted for this?

CLEAVER: Fifteen. Fifteen members of the 43-member CBC voted for it.

CAVUTO: Congressional Black Caucus.

CLEAVER: Yes. And, frankly, without exception, members abhorred the deal, thought it was a bad piece of legislation. And...

CAVUTO: But you weren’t overly vocal about it, right? You kept your powder dry. Why was that?

CLEAVER: We tried to be practical. And that is, nobody wanted to see the nation fall into default. And so we didn’t vote initially. We sat back. We had a 15-minute vote. I actually voted with three seconds remaining on the clock.

CAVUTO: That was the idea. Let the Republicans vote first.


CAVUTO: Then, if the leadership needed you -- more to the point, the Democratic leadership that was for this -- you would be counted on.

CLEAVER: We would have gone over and voted for it, because the consequences of voting no were not as bad, frankly, as voting yes -- I mean, the consequences of voting no were -- were far worse than the consequences...


CAVUTO: You figured it could be financial Armageddon.

Let me ask you, though. You vote on this, and the markets still sell off on slowdown concerns, criticism that Congress was dithering during this process.


CAVUTO: And among your party members, sir, concern that the president caved.

Do you think the president caved?

CLEAVER: It’s not the president’s fault.

Look, it’s my fault. It’s the fault of any Democrat in the country who did not understand what was coming last November and did not get out and work. These guys were not able to come into Congress with guns. They won elections. And when they did, this process that just ended yesterday began. And...

CAVUTO: In other words, this is something they promised they would do.


CLEAVER: That is right.


CAVUTO: So it should be no shock.

CLEAVER: That’s our fault. If you disagree with carrying this deal to the brink, there’s no point in blaming the president and there’s no point in blaming the Tea Party.

CAVUTO: Well, I guess the argument among some of the more rabid members, sir, was that he caved on tax hikes when he had them on the table with Speaker Boehner, now none on the table -- and they might be down the road -- and on a host of other domestic initiatives that fell by the wayside, that the Republicans got the better of them.

CLEAVER: Well, the Republicans got the better of the deal. I don’t think the president had any other options.


CAVUTO: So, there’s not a revolt within the ranks?


CAVUTO: And no frustration or anger on the part of the Congressional Black Caucus?

CLEAVER: I’m not going to go that far.


CLEAVER: I think there’s a great deal of frustration inside the Democratic Caucus. And that includes some members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

But what I’m saying to our members and I’m saying to the Democratic Caucus, the Tea Party won. It’s not their fault. It’s not the president’s fault. They won. And anyone who is angry ought to be angry at themselves for not two years ago focusing on jobs. We did not do it.

Now, to be candid, the Republicans are making the same mistake. The nation is more interested in jobs than they are all the other shenanigans and histrionics that we’ve seen in Washington. And when the dust settles today, we still have 9.2 unemployment and the GDP has been weakened.


CAVUTO: Indeed.

CLEAVER: So, I think we have got to look at the reality. Americans want to work.

CAVUTO: All right. Sir, thank you very much. Congressman, Chairman, very good seeing you.

CLEAVER: Good to be here with you.

CAVUTO: You have had a rough couple of days, right?

CLEAVER: Rough couple of days, but I’ve had some chances to have some tuna sandwiches.


CAVUTO: OK. There we go. I have, too. They give them to me here and have them sitting in the sun for hours. And they say, Neil, go ahead. Try it.


CAVUTO: All right, sir, very good seeing you.

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