Interviews

Yarmuth: Spending bill sets framework for 2018 negotiations

Congressman says the bill is a victory for both parties

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 3, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, the numbers are not official yet, but, as expected, it's looking like the budget measure that keeps the government operating through the end of September will pass, and comfortably so.

But there are a lot of nays among the Republican Party. There you can see 102 of them. There are 15 nays on the Democratic side. You might see the greater number of Democratic yes votes a sign that they got the better of this, or so they say.

The bottom line is that the two parties worked in tandem to try to avoid a shutdown, and it worked, or presumably will work when this gets to the United States Senate.

House Budget Committee ranking member Democrat John Yarmuth joins us right now, Democrat of the fine state of Kentucky.

Well, this could have been a problem. It could have been a shutdown. Both parties avoided that. So, isn't that a victory for both?

REP. JOHN YARMUTH, D-KENTUCKY: Oh, I think it is.

Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, is complaining our taking a victory dance. I really don't know what he expects us to do. We had a very successful negotiation and got a lot of our priorities satisfied.

He's entitled to take a victory lap for whatever they felt they got out of it. So, we're both going to try to spin it as best we can.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: I think what he was wincing at -- and I have seen this happen both times with both parties in the past, and, to your point, I think that's probably to be expected -- that it might put a chill on bipartisanship, if the other side seizes on it and spikes the ball. What did you think of that?

YARMUTH: Oh, I that is probably not going to happen.

I think this actually sets a framework for the 2008 -- the 2018 budget negotiations. The dynamics will be the same as we get towards September. And I suspect that this sets a really good standard for where we're going to go for next year.

CAVUTO: Do you get a sense that the president might want to make good on his promise to even tempt a government shutdown because of the theatrics around this and the fact that he can't move things that, maybe due to simple budget reconciliation, if you had a simple majority, he could push more through?

Presidents have always bemoaned that sort of thing. But how do you feel about that? Some Republicans were leery of it. What about you?

YARMUTH: Yes. Well, I don't think he will.

I think, you know, we have Majority Leader McConnell from my state who doesn't -- says that we're not going to change the filibuster. The issue in this particular situation was not with the Senate. This was with the House, because, as you noted, in the vote count, Democrats had to carry the day.

Democrats had to put up more votes than Republicans did. And that's been the case, by the way, on every budget measure since 2011. There have been enough Republican defections that Democrats had to provide the majority.

So, this has been a standard procedure. And that had nothing to do with the filibuster, the 60-vote rule in the Senate. So, I think, by the time we get to the negotiations over 2018, the president will calm down and realize that his Republicans in the Congress really don't agree with him.

CAVUTO: Well, he got his way, he says, and Republicans took heart in noticing more defense spending and the fact that they were, unbeknownst to a lot of people, still going through with this border wall, fence, whatever you want to put it.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: What do you say to that?

YARMUTH: Well, it was actually -- you can argue about semantics.

The funding in the bill was for maintenance and repair of existing border security measures.

CAVUTO: Right.

YARMUTH: So, it wasn't new border money.

I think he can spin it that way. We will spin it our way. We were happy that there was no new money for new border wall in the bill.

CAVUTO: All right.

YARMUTH: And both sides are happy, if that's the case.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I would be remiss if I didn't mention, whatever you think of the health care repeal and replace effort Republicans are leading right now, we just got news that Aetna, the big insurer, is pulling out of Virginia.

It follows a pattern of big insurers who are signaling that it's just not worth it for them. So, one way or the other, there's a fix that is needed.

Do you acknowledge that? And do you think that, as things stand now with President Obama's Affordable Care Act, that it is dying on the vine, that something has to be done to reverse that?

YARMUTH: Right. Well, let's be clear. We're talking about problems in the individual insurance market, which is about 6 percent of the population.

Now, for 6 percent of the population, there's a problem. And we have -- we need -- we have to address that.

CAVUTO: Well, it's a majority of those who depend on help getting that coverage, though, right?

YARMUTH: If they're in the individual market, outside of Medicaid expansion, yes, it's a problem for them.

And the problem has arose first when the Republicans eliminated the risk corridors that were in the law that allowed insurance companies to be reimbursed, basically, or protected against adverse selection.

CAVUTO: But you would be open for a fix for that?

YARMUTH: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: Is it still -- Democrats just are saying don't repeal it, right?

YARMUTH: Right.

CAVUTO: Just, we can work together to fix it. Don't try to kill it.

YARMUTH: Absolutely.

Neil, I think we absolutely have to fix the individual insurance market.

CAVUTO: So, do you see anything now, Congressman, that Republicans are doing? Because they're not getting rid of a lot of the features that you like.

YARMUTH: Right.

CAVUTO: They just, they say, strengthening them...

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: ... still, they argue for preexisting conditions -- I know Chuck Schumer has attacked that.

YARMUTH: Right.

CAVUTO: But that they're making it better. And so what is the harm in trying to work with them to make it better?

YARMUTH: Well, the only analysis of it has been by CBO. And they say 24 million fewer people will have insurance. Rates will go up significantly for older Americans just shy of Medicare age.

You know, they're going to cut $880 billion out of Medicaid, which will reduce the number of people covered through that program. So, I don't see any way in which they make it better.

CAVUTO: All right.

YARMUTH: And, actually, in this -- the plan that they have now that they're talking about with this high-risk pool subsidy from the government, $130 billion, that is essentially just providing a public option through a difference means, and which is kind of ironic that they're saying, yes, the federal government will pay for this.

CAVUTO: All right.

YARMUTH: So, it kind of -- I don't think it makes it better.

CAVUTO: And the fight goes on. Right? The fight goes on.

YARMUTH: Yes, it does.

CAVUTO: All right, sir, thank you very, very much.

YARMUTH: OK, Neil. It's good to be with you.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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