Interviews

Tester: Don't think the tone is good in the Senate right now

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 8, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  President Trump will be meeting with key Democrats tomorrow.  So this thing is still going on, this bipartisan outreach here, including this next fellow who is among those who is at least willing to consider a vote for Neil Gorsuch to be the next Supreme Court justice.

The Democratic senator from Montana with us right now, Jon Tester.  

Senator, thank you for coming.  

SEN. JON TESTER, D-MONTANA:  Hey, Neil, it's a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.  

CAVUTO:  Same here.  

You are meeting with the president.  Did he request the meeting?  Maybe enlighten me.  

TESTER:  Yes.  

No, he requested a number of us.  I don't really know who all is going over.  But my guess it's probably eight or 10 of us heading over.  I'm sure we're going to talk about a myriad of issues, including Neil Gorsuch.  

I'm going to talk to him about some problems that we have been having in Montana with Medicare and communication between CMS, the Medicare agency, and my office.  And I'm also going to talk to him a little bit about the hiring freeze as it applies to the VA and veterans' benefits, because we have got that backlog that we need to cut down.  

But I really look forward to the meeting tomorrow.  I have never met him. I look forward to meeting President Trump and talking about issues of importance to Montana and to the country.  So, we will see where the path goes.  But I look forward to meeting the president.  

CAVUTO:  It comes at a time, sir, I'm you're aware of all the dust-up over Elizabeth Warren and not being able to speak on the Senate floor, and then many of your colleagues quoting the same letters she was not allowed to quote to on the Senate floor and back and forth.  

What do you think of the tone in the Senate right now and whether your party is pushing things too far, whether Republicans are?  What do you think?  

TESTER:  Well, I don't think the tone is good.  I think people, quite frankly, are sick of the shenanigans in Washington, D.C., and have been for some time.  

What happened last night happened last night.  And we have had other things that happen all the time, whether Republicans were in control or Democrats were in control.  I think the bottom line and what we really need to focus on, Neil, is the job we have to do as senators, in this case with advice and consent on Cabinet nominees and with the Supreme Court justice moving forward.  

I do that there are some things out there with Sessions that are problematic for me, his support of the Patriot Act and the fact that he would allow government to get into law-abiding citizens' private communications.  That's a problem.  

But, ultimately, in the end, I think everybody needs to weigh these candidates and nominees out for what they are and do what is best for their state and for the country and move forward.  

CAVUTO:  Well, there's a concept, Senator.

Let's get your read.  I know there's eight or nine like you, Democratic senators who are open to hearing out Judge Gorsuch.  

TESTER:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  But many of your colleagues are still wincing about the way Republicans, they say, treated Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, about a year ago, and that they're not letting that go.  What do you say to them?  

TESTER:  Well, I think you have got to move forward.  And what is done is done.  And there's plenty of arguments that could be talked about Merrick Garland and how he was treated.  

But the fact is, is that I think it's important that each senator bring Neil Gorsuch in, hear him out, give him a fair shake, study his record, listen to the people from their states, and make a determination based on what they know about this potential Supreme Court justice.  

This may be the most important job we have to do as senators.  And I take it very, very seriously and I think the people I serve with do, too.  So we ought to act like adults and do what is right, get the information we need to make a decision, and either vote him up or vote him down, but have the reasons why whichever direction you're going you are.  

And it's just a matter of work, getting the research done, doing our due diligence, and meeting with the man, quite frankly, and hearing him out.  

CAVUTO:  Would you prefer that the Senate stick to old rules and not do the nuclear option and keep it to 60 votes on the justice, or, as Republicans have hinted, maybe go back to a simple majority and say, well, Harry Reid started this?  What do you say?  

TESTER:  Well, I don't -- I think we ought to stick with the 60-vote margin.  And I'll tell you why.  I don't want the Senate turning into the House.  

I'm a Senate guy.  I have served in the Senate when I was in the state legislature.  I have served in the Senate, and not in the House while I have been here.  And I really think the Senate is a spectacular body that the forefathers set up to be very deliberate and thinks things through before we make a decision.  

And I think that's the basis behind the 60-vote margin.  

CAVUTO:  Do you think Judge Garland (sic) could get those 60 votes?  

TESTER:  Judge Gorsuch?

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

TESTER:  We will see.  I think it's entirely possible that he could get the votes.

It just depends on how we do our work here in the Senate and check into his past practices and his writings and his decisions.  

CAVUTO:  All right, Senator, thank you.  I hear you're the one who has had little sleep, and yet I have had plenty.  And I screwed up.

TESTER:  Thanks, Neil.  

CAVUTO:  Senator, thank you very, very much.  Good having you.  

TESTER:  Thank you.  

CAVUTO:  All right, hope springs eternal.  Right?  Maybe they can get stuff done, put grievances, agita behind them and move on.  We will see.

END

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