Interviews

Roskam to Trump: Pull Obama-backed Boeing deal with Iran

Illinois congressman speaks out on 'Your World'

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 11, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, let's see, Iran, Syria, Russia.

When it comes to Iran, Boeing has a multibillion-dollar plane contract order, a Dreamliner and other plane order, that has gotten the attention of Republican Congressman Peter Roskam. And now he's urging President Trump to intervene here and just stop that order.

Congressman, very good to have you.

REP. PETER ROSKAM, R-ILLINOIS: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: You're basing that on Iran and Syria in cahoots, and that the last thing you want to do is reward Iran with a big contract that would benefit Boeing as well, essentially, right?

ROSKAM: Yes. There's -- look, there's no -- there's no question about this.

Iran is the world's largest state sponsor of terror, unambiguously. They have been a disaster as it relates to the nuclear deal. But set the nuclear deal aside and look at what they're doing around the world, and look no further than Syria.

There's documentation that is completely solid that they were ferrying materiel and so forth in July as it relates to Syria. And now, on the day of the chemical weapons attack, Boeing makes an announcement that they plan to sell to an Iranian airliner more planes.

And this is just -- it's completely incongruous. It makes no sense at all. The White House can stop it. Capitol Hill can stop it. But there's an urgency to this. And the idea is, these are fungible. These aircraft can be used for any purpose whatsoever. They're not simply limited to a commercial product.

But a commercial airliner can be used for a military purpose. We have seen it with Iran. And we have got to stop this thing. It's a terrible idea. And Washington, the White House and Capitol Hill, can stop it.

CAVUTO: You know the normal drill on these type of issues, Congressman, is that, if Boeing loses the contract, Airbus presumably picks it up, the Europeans win the contract and the jobs, the American company loses contract and the jobs.

You say what?

ROSKAM: I say this, two things.

Number one, history is a merciless disciplinarian for the entity that says, you know what, the other guy was going to do it, so we did it too. That has never -- from a moral point of view, that doesn't wash.

But here's the other thing. There's technology that relates to the Airbus-- the technology in an Airbus airplane has the same limitations as it relates to the export licensing that they need.

So we can have a great deal of influence on Airbus contracts. We can have a great deal of influence on Boeing contracts. And I will stipulate this. There's something that is more important than jobs, Because it comes down to a jobs argument. And what is more important than jobs is obviously lives. And I think it's outrageous...

CAVUTO: Have you run this by the White House or had a chance to get a reaction from anyone at the White House, the president, anyone?

ROSKAM: So, we have -- in answer to your question, not yet. So, we have sent this letter to President Trump. We have engaged the White House in that sense.

But we have laid out a lot of groundwork with votes on Capitol Hill ever since Boeing began to probe this. And here's the thing. The remedy here is that Iran stops funding terrorism. Once they do, sell them anything. That's fine.

But the notion that the world's largest state sponsor of terror gets to do business with an iconic American company makes no sense to me at all. So, I don't want to see a company like Boeing be complicit forever more in terror. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

CAVUTO: All right, I understand what you're saying about the commercial use of planes, commercial planes that could be reconfigured for other nefarious purposes.

But I do want to switch gears a little bit on the tax cut situation. We're getting different readings that the timeline on these tax cuts, Congressman, could get delayed and it might be sort of watered down a little bit.

Now, it depends on the eye of the beholder. But do you think that we will get tax cuts this year?

ROSKAM: I do.

CAVUTO: The president told Maria Bartiromo that we will, but the timetable might slip back. They might not be retroactive. They might not be either.

What do you think?

ROSKAM: Look, here is the thing -- 2017 is the year for tax reform.

There's a national consensus that our tax code is dissolving underneath us, Neil. It's not working for us anymore. And so we have got to...

CAVUTO: But you all have to apparently do the health care thing first. Are you confident that you can get that done and everyone can be in sync and agreement to get that done?

ROSKAM: Look, I'm not necessarily saying you have got to do health care first.

I think that we have learned a lot from health care. And one of the things that we learned was we have got to build a broader consensus on different strategies moving forward.

We have got to simplify this code, which the House blueprint does.

CAVUTO: Right.

ROSKAM: We have got to create growth, which the House blueprint does.

You have got figure base erosion.

CAVUTO: But everybody seems to be saying, Congressman, they're going to -- I don't know why, but they're going to keep plowing ahead with trying to get this health care thing right. Do you think that is a mistake?

ROSKAM: I think the smarter move is to dump the current bill, pass the aspirational bill out of the House of Representatives that we all can agree to, let the Senate do what they manage to can do.

CAVUTO: Right.

ROSKAM: Meanwhile, let's move forward on tax reform.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: The president apparently isn't going to do that, sir.

He's not, for whatever reason. Maybe it's the trillion dollars in bench line revenue or whatever. He's not going to do that. Then what?

ROSKAM: Well, if he chooses not to do that, then he has got to figure out some way to unclog the drain, basically.

CAVUTO: All right.

ROSKAM: And so that puts more pressure from a health care point of view.

But the notion of just setting aside tax reform until health care is done, I think, is a misstep.

CAVUTO: All right.

ROSKAM: The smarter move is to do these things simultaneously.

CAVUTO: Congressman Roskam, very good seeing you again. Thank you very, very much.

ROSKAM: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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