Rep. Steve Scalise on 2018 midterms: Don't let Democrats reverse our success

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 17, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right you have heard that Democratic candidate who is taking on Jim Jordan that said she would be among those not only repudiating Nancy Pelosi if she were to get to Capitol Hill and Democrats have the majority, but she would also work to, well, start from scratch on those tax cuts.

That has been a major clarion call of Republicans trying to keep the House, that that's what you have to look forward to. Now, some people might welcome that.

I would wager that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise thinks that you wouldn't like that. He joins us right now.

Congressman, always good to have you. Thank you.

REP. STEVE SCALISE, R-LA, HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: Good to be back with, Neil.

And it's funny. You show these candidates on the Democrat side, and they repudiate Pelosi, and then they turn right around and they parrot Pelosi on the policies. She will vote with Nancy Pelosi right down the line to raise taxes again, reversing the success we're seeing in our economy in the middle class.

Hardworking families are benefiting the most. Why would you want to reverse that with another Pelosi puppet? And we're seeing that with a lot of their candidates.

CAVUTO: All right, so even though she said she would repudiate Pelosi, you say that she's arguing for the same things that was Ms. Pelosi is pushing for.

SCALISE: Yes, she said she agrees with her policies.

CAVUTO: Right, in other words, rescinding the tax cuts.

Now, she then kind of went on to say that -- agrees that they are crumbs and that what the middle and lower classes have gotten are crumbs.

How do you counter that in campaign ads and the Republican approach to keeping the House?

SCALISE: Well, the first thing we do is continue to remind folks that there is a clear difference in this election in November.

We cut taxes for everybody at every single income level. And the people benefiting the most are middle-class families, who were struggling under eight years of a weak economy under Barack Obama.

So President Trump said, we want to make sure we rebuild our middle class. And that's happening. And, frankly, the regulation relief that we have provided is one of the big things, in addition to the tax cuts, that's bring those good manufacturing jobs back to America.

Don't reverse that success. By the way, they also want to repeal ICE.
They want to abolish the very agency that's protecting our country from criminals and human traffickers.

So we're going to remind people what's at stake in this election. By the way, we also want to make those tax cuts permanent. The temporary tax cuts, we're going to have a bill to let every Democrat who voted against cutting middle-class taxes, we're going to let them have a vote to actually make those successful tax cuts permanent.

CAVUTO: So, let me ask you what could disrupt this, this recovery, because you're quite right. It's a very strong recovery. And there are hints it could get stronger still.

But the one impediment, the one worry, these trade tariffs that could escalate. Many of your colleagues are concerned that the president is playing with a live grenade there. Are you?

SCALISE: Well, you know, the president's made it real clear that he wants America to be treated fairly. And that's what's really going on here.

There is a high-stakes negotiation. But go look at a lot of these countries, and you can start with Canada. They're a great friend of ours, Neil. But you know what? If you're a lot of industries in America and you try to go do business in Canada, there are huge barriers to getting your products in the Canadian markets.

They don't have those same impediments when they try to bring their products here. All we're asking is for countries to treat us fairly. And I don't think that's something that is something that should be very controversial.

But at the same time, we know we don't want a trade war. So let's get through these negotiations with better deals for America and let all of our-- not only our consumers benefit, but all of our companies that make products that build things in America, let's make sure we're not treated unfairly as well.

CAVUTO: Every party has its extremes or -- and then wants to find its soul.

There has been argument, as you know, Congressman, going on with Democrats, they don't know if they want to go the hard left route, the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren route, or something more to the middle or at least moderate for Democrats, the Joe Biden route.

Republicans are dealing with this as well when it comes to even considering who they want to be their next speaker. Jim Jordan is among those who might be throwing his hat into the ring. Your name has come up. Kevin McCarthy's name has come up.

First of all, are you interested in that spot? Are you worried about the direction it's taking, because no one seems to know who would have the edge?

SCALISE: No, I think -- first of all, I have said I'm not running.

And we have got to stay focused on holding the majority and moving our agenda forward.


CAVUTO: But you said you're not running. You said -- I'm sorry, sir. You said you're not running.


CAVUTO: But a lot of people want you to.

SCALISE: No, I mean, I think if you look right now, the majority of our conference is only focused on moving our agenda forward and holding the majority.

We will have an opportunity in November to make sure that we're going to figure out who's going to have chairmanships and titles. But we're not worried about that right now, because Nancy Pelosi is speaker if we lose our focus.


CAVUTO: But do you want that person to be a conservative, sir?

Do you want -- because that's the battle royal, right, I mean, whether it should be someone more mainstream, like a Paul Ryan, maybe even a Kevin McCarthy, someone a little bit more to the right.

It seems to be a soul kind of a question.

SCALISE: I think, in the end, if you look at where we are today, and Kevin McCarthy, all of us -- Newt Gingrich would tell you this Republican majority is much more conservative than the majority we had 1994.

And so whatever the labels are today, they change over time. But, at the end, we're working with President Trump to move a conservative agenda forward. And we have been successful.

I want us to be even more successful. We, by the way, out of the House passed a repeal and replace of Obamacare, something that would actually lower health premiums and create a private marketplace for health care that doesn't exist today.

That bill fell by one vote in the Senate. Let's go get some more Republican senators in November, and I think we will. And then let's come back at that. Let's keep building on the success of the tax cuts, keep creating more jobs, get health care prices under control, get this economy moving again and get spending under control.

That's what we want to do next year. But we can't do that if Nancy Pelosi is speaker.

CAVUTO: In October, a lot of Americans are going to be facing huge premium increases because of that health care law.

And because Republicans have the run of the table, control the House and the Senate and the White House, are you afraid voters are going to blame that on you?

SCALISE: I think if we were not successful in getting the tax cut bill passed, they would have. And they would have been right to do that.

What you can look at right now is a House Republican majority that passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that would have actually lowered premiums. And I would put that bill up against anything else that's out there to show how we would have actually helped families be in control of their health care decisions again.

The bill failed by one vote in the Senate. We all know. We saw the -- the infamous thumb going down. But, Neil, we know -- we know also that this is a really good field out there for Republicans to get more Senate seats.

CAVUTO: Are you angry at John McCain? You talked about the thumb going down. That was John McCain's thumb.

SCALISE: What I was angry at is, the Senate didn't stay and figure out how to -- how to get the job done. They fell one vote short.

But I also know this. They want to come back with more Republican senators and get it done. And we're going to keep at it too. We would still have to pass a bill through the House. And that wouldn't be easy, but we would do it. They have got to do it as well. But we -- it all starts with these elections in November.

CAVUTO: You know, Congressman, what do you make of the president taking away the security clearance of former CIA Director Brennan, and a hint of doing the same to a number of others?

SCALISE: Well, I was surprised that Brennan had kept his security clearance for so long.

I mean, he wasn't being of any value to the administration. And he's just going out there and, frankly, I think continuing this kind of partisan witch-hunt, that he's out there bashing the president for things that he's not even familiar with, just because it seemed cool on the left to bash the president.

That's not what those security clearances are supposed to be for. They're supposed to be there to provide value to the administration. And if they're not being used to help our country be more secure, then why are they there? It's not some birthright.

CAVUTO: All right, so when he went on the very next day right to write an editorial in The New York Times, sir, to say that the president's notion that there was no collusion is hogwash, what does he know that we don't?

SCALISE: Well, he ought to say what that is, because there have been a lot of investigations, including what the House has done, to see if there was any collusion between any of the campaigns.

And we found none. And so, if he's got some new evidence, he ought to be getting it out there.

But to continue just going on and making blanket accusations with no fact behind it, I think people are starting to get fed up with that. We have seen some of the problems within the FBI and over at Justice. Let's go and get this agency cleaned up again.

America needs and deserves a Justice Department and an FBI that's working for them every day without a political bias. And if somebody over there -- and we have seen, unfortunately, a number of people over there that had political biases. They were literally trying to derail the presidency of Donald Trump.

And whether the name is Donald Trump or Barack Obama, those agencies shouldn't be working to try to undermine our own government. And so we're going to continue rooting out those kind of bad apples. I would hope the agency would work with us too, so that they could get rid of the bad actors and then focus on keeping this country safe.

CAVUTO: Congressman Scalise, thank you very, very much. Hope you continue to feel well. Good seeing you.

SCALISE: Feeling great. Great to be back with you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Very good, Steve Scalise.


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