OTR Interviews

How YOU, the American citizen, can co-sponsor a bill in Congress

House Majority Leader Cantor sounds off on Republicans' new budget plan and a new program for the public to follow legislation in Congress

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: OK, here's an idea. Would you like to co-sponsor a bill in Congress? Well, now you can. And it's as easy as using Facebook. Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor launched a Citizen Cosponsor. Now, we spoke to Leader Cantor earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you sir.

REP. ERIC CANTOR, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Greta, always good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, I've been on the computer today, sort of navigating around this Citizen Cosponsor. Explain to me what this website is.

CANTOR: Well, Citizen Cosponsor is a new media phenomenon that we've unveiled today. And what it does is it allows people to engage in the legislative process, get behind bills, advocate for positions in the arena in which they live on line.

And all you do is go to the website of Citizen Cosponsor. You become a Citizen Cosponsor. And you then can put it on the Facebook page that you know and that your friends know. And it's almost like clicking on a "like" button. And basically, you're saying to the world that you like this piece of legislation.

And any time something moves with that legislation -- perhaps the member or the sponsor of the bill will have an online town hall, or there may be a tweet about it -- it will show up on your news feed, and it will, hopefully, engage the public in a much different but much more rapid way in the legislative process.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, as I listen to you talk, can't help but think about 20 years ago or 40 years ago or 60 years ago, if members of Congress knew that something like this could happen, where you could have this interactive with the -- with the citizens.

CANTOR: But it's phenomenal, though, but it really is going to the where people are. And it's just almost like the old, you know, whistle train stop tours, where, you know, you went to where the people would go so they could engage with their elected leaders.

All of us go and have meetings with constituents, whether at a town hall or a community center. And this is just, I think, signaling where people are, where they get their information, where they have debates. And you'll have the ability to debate a bill on line.

And also, what it does is it lends itself to the connectivity of social media. And I think that's what's really, really new and evolutionary about this. And we have evolved into this now society where we're also interconnected on line.

VAN SUSTEREN: As I looked at this, at the different things you can co-sponsor -- I realize it's just getting started -- is that someone -- some citizen can co-sponsor a bill and can then track it, and it gets all these news feeds to find out what's going on, where it is, but I would imagine if I were a member of Congress and I saw that there was an enormous amount of people in my district co-sponsoring some bill, which may be just something just important to my part of the country or my district, that it might have a sort of a bearing on how I thought I should proceed to represent people.

CANTOR: Absolutely. It's about citizen input. That's what this is all about. But it's basically trying to facilitate ownership in the process by citizens of the country. And for so long, you know, Washington has been this place that's so disconnected. What we're trying to do is connect with people in a much more effective way.

Let's help afford some ownership here so people can speak out. And you're right, it'll have the effect that, you know, the member of Congress will now take note and say, This is something we need to get behind.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you look at it, it's sort of interesting, is that you can actually see the person's picture of who's co-sponsored. Now, frankly, I was a little bit fearful -- I hit -- I was testing it and I thought, Oh, no, I've just co-sponsored everything, and -- so I've now got to un-co-sponsor it because of my job. But however -- but you know, a citizen can actually see the pictures, see these little pictures of the people co-sponsoring --

CANTOR: Right. Again, it's all about ownership. And your friends on your Facebook page will know that that's something you're interested in. And any time you engage around that bill, they'll hear about it because they'll see it come up on their news feed and on their page.

And that's, again, how we multiply the communication through this medium and, hopefully, connect more people to the process.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, I noticed that the first one has to do with the tax cut. You're going to -- you're going to introduce it tomorrow?

CANTOR: Yes, we're going to unveil the 20 percent small business tax cut bill tomorrow. It's called the Small Business Tax Cut Act of 2012. And it's straight up trying to help small businessmen and women have it a little easier so they can retain and create more jobs. That's it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so citizens can go on this and either vote yes or vote no. They can co-sponsor it or they can not co-sponsor this.

CANTOR: That is correct. And if they co-sponsor it, what they will be able to do is, as you suggest, they can track the bill through the process. But we're also intending to engage in on-line discussion about what people feel about this, how it's going to help their business.

I mean, that's what we want to do is to help afford the ownership of this piece of legislation so the small businessman or woman in my district down in Richmond, they'll know that, You know what? I'll really get some help if this bill passes because it'll allow me a 20 percent tax cut, and that is more money for that man or woman and a small business owner to put back into the business, to create a new job or to expand and grow.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Congressman Paul Ryan today unveiled his budget. The White House isn't a big fan. At least, that was the press release that they released right away. Does his budget have any chance of passing?

CANTOR: The budget will pass the House. I mean, it passed the House...

VAN SUSTEREN: But it's -- but it's dead on arrival, right? I mean...

CANTOR: Well, the...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, to be practical about this whole thing, is that these budgets end up -- they're a lot of work, but they end up to be dead on arrival, at least this time over in the Senate.

CANTOR: Well, and the Senate hasn't passed a budget under Harry Reid and the Democratic majority in over a thousand days. So it is something that will allow us to put forth a vision as to how to grow this economy and to deal with the fiscal situation.

I mean, we all are, you know, sort of around here very aware of the fact that the government is racking up well over a trillion dollars of annual deficit. And we cannot keep going like that.

And so what the budget does is it says, you know, we got to stop the uncontrolled spending. We have to begin to live within our means. And here's our blueprint to do that. And that's what this does.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I don't -- I haven't taken a look at the budget. And I know it's enormously complicated and very large. But I must -- I must think that the citizens are enormously frustrated because the president did send a budget over to the Senate, dead on arrival. The Senate doesn't come up with a bill at all -- a budget at all. Congressman Paul Ryan has one that'll pass the House. It'll get sent over to the Senate, and then it's dead on arrival there.

Meanwhile, every single American is out there doing his or her job, getting things done. And instead, we just sort of limp along here on Capitol Hill without budgets to control our spending, or our -- or our -- or our economy.

CANTOR: So much room for frustration over this. I mean, just in simple, broad terms, the government is spending over $3 trillion, taking in a little over $2 trillion.

VAN SUSTEREN: So how long before we implode?

CANTOR: Every...

VAN SUSTEREN: How long before we implode?

CANTOR: Every single year, and the -- not only is it frustrating, that very fact, there is an unwillingness to adopt a plan and to put a plan in place to resolve t. And that's all we're saying. We don't solve the problem overnight. Rome wasn't built in a day or burned in a day. And so we're saying, adopt our plan so we can get about the business of saying, there's a certainty of focus that we're going to address the problem and then grow the economy.

But you know, the unwillingness to even say we need a plan in place -- that's what's so frustrating. And we're going to try again. But you know, some of the things -- I think the president himself said, and I know he told me back almost a year ago, a little bit more, there are going to be some things left up to the election.

And that's really what the election's going to be about. It's going to be about who is best put to lead this country, to grow the economy, get people back to work and get the fiscal situation straight here in Washington.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.

CANTOR: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)