Cuellar slams executive orders: Let Congress write the law

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 7, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  Now we have got Henry Cuellar joining us, of course the Texas Democratic congressman, who says that what the president is planning goes too far.

Congressman, why does it go too far, in your opinion?  

REP. HENRY CUELLAR, D-TEXAS:  We complained about President Obama doing all those executive orders.  I think we're having the same thing.

As a member of Congress, I think Congress needs to write the law.  I don't care if it was President Obama or it's President Trump.  We have got to make sure that Congress is involved in making this policy, point blank.  

CAVUTO:  All right, so you did support tougher vetting measures for Syrian refugees in 2015.  You still stand by that now.  Your state accepted at least here to date about 189 Syrian refugees.  

So what is President Trump doing any differently than what President Obama did?  

CUELLAR:  Look, I want to see vetting.  I definitely want to see vetting. I don't want to let anybody come into the United States that is going to cause any harm.  

CAVUTO:  Isn't that what President Trump is doing here?  He's not banning people.  He's more aggressively vetting them, right?  

CUELLAR:  Yes, well, he is banning folks.  

And what we need to make sure is that we go through that extreme vetting. And I support extreme vetting.  But why do it only -- if we're worried about terrorism, why not also look at the countries that actually came in for the 9/11 tragedy that we had in the United States?  So there's a lot of questions that we need to make sure that we look at.


CAVUTO:  So beyond these seven that were cited.  


CAVUTO:  But did you have that view, sir, when Barack Obama limited it to those seven countries, the same seven that President Trump is?  

CUELLAR:  Notice what the difference was.  

Congress was working on this.  I voted on this.  And I still want to vote on this.  I think the question is, do you want to let a President Obama or President Trump make the policy, or do you let Congress make the law?  I think Congress needs to make the law.  

And, look, Republicans control the House and the Senate.

CAVUTO:  But it seems to me, sir -- no, I know you're a good American and a patriot and all that.  It just seems to me you're being much more aggressive going after President Trump for doing the same thing that President Obama did.  Or am I missing something?  

CUELLAR:  Well, I think you're a good American also, but I think what it was is, you remember me.  I was pretty tough on President Obama.  

If I thought he was wrong, you know that I was probably one of the few Democrats that came out saying that he's wrong.  Again, as a member of Congress, I think policy should be decided by Congress.  

Republicans control the House, the Senate and the presidency.  Let's make this go through the proper process, and which is make it a law.  If this is what we need to do, let's go ahead and do it.  But let's debate it.

CAVUTO:  So you don't share the president's need for the time being the urgency of this?  He's saying that the longer we dilly-dally -- I'm paraphrasing, Congressman -- the more we're setting ourselves up for something bad and that maybe the time down the road to have Congress come up with a law, that is kind of like waiting for Godot here, but that these things takes time and we might not have a lot of time.  

CUELLAR:  Well, look again at some of my Republican colleagues.  

I don't want to mention names, but you're familiar with them.  They also have concern with this policy or this executive order.  So, just like my Republican congressmen and senators have concerns, I have concerns.  

I'm just saying, if you want to make this a law, let's expedite it, but let's have a fair debate in Congress.  And, again, just like I was tough with President Obama, I think the same thing applies to President Trump. Congress should be deciding this policy, and not an executive order.  

CAVUTO:  Can I get your take on some of your Democratic colleagues who say that this is a Muslim ban?  The president says it's not a Muslim ban, as his predecessor said that these seven countries were not part of a Muslim ban.  

Then they call him on the carpet for saying you should have included other countries that have greater Muslim populations and have done more harm to the United States, which would effectively be a bigger Muslim ban, if that was their argument.  They seem inconsistent.  

CUELLAR:  Well, again, it's a coincidence that, if you base this order on stopping terrorism, people coming in, that you don't include any of the countries that were involved in 9/11.  

And this is what I'm saying, is there's just too many questions.


CAVUTO:  But let's say you included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, countries with far larger Muslim populations.  It would have been deemed by your colleagues to be a Muslim ban of greater proportion.  

CUELLAR:  Well, again, I can't speak for them, but can I tell you what I understand.  

My thing is, I don't want to base it on religion.  I think it's wrong. Whether it's a Muslim, or a Catholic, whatever the case, don't do it on religion.  I just want to make sure that we properly vet any individual from no matter where before they come in.

CAVUTO:  Got you.  

All right, Congressman, thank you very much.  It's always good having you on to argue the case.  

CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.


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