White House wants to see fine print of compromise border funding bill

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 13, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The president must not repeat his mistakes of the recent past. President Trump, sign this bill.

MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: If the text of the bill reflects the principles agreed to on Monday, it won't be a perfect deal, but it will be a good deal.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's one for the American people. It's a compromise, and that's what appropriators do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would encourage the president to look at a continuing resolution, and we'd help them do it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: We haven't gotten it yet. We'll be getting it. We'll be looking for landmines. I don't want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing.


BRET BAIER, HOST: Well, the question is, what happens? It's in this legislation is being put together. It hasn't really been formed yet on Capitol Hill. All kinds of talks of what is happening behind the scenes. One of them deals with the just completed drug trial of "El Chapo." Take a listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TX: What the El Chapo Act does is real simple. It takes the money, the billions that El Chapo made, crossing the border illegally, and it takes that $14 billion and it uses it to pay for the wall.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-LA: If we get money out of an El Chapo, I'm all for it. He's not going to need it where he's going. If we can find his assets, I think we ought to seize them. Ted's right. I'll vote for that.


BAIER: I'm going to add the piano to our graphics. I think that is really good.


BAIER: Anyway, let's bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for "The Washington Times,", national security analyst Morgan Ortagus, and David Catanese, senior politics writer for "U.S. News and World Report." Charlie, this is kind of in flux now. We don't know. The inclination that the president is going to sign it, but he says he's going to look for landmines. You have things up there wires that are riders they can put in legislation, all kinds of stuff that can happen in the final hours of the must sign bill.

CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Yes. And of course, the sticking point here, the five, wherever, between six and $1 billion dollars for the wall, that's pretty small change for the things going on in Washington.

But the big picture, I think, is this. We have known for a long time that Democrats and even a large number of Republicans are not in favor of doing something like this on the border in terms of a wall. The fact that Donald Trump was able to get what he has gotten out of it I think is a positive thing.

I think the more important thing, just a week ago, Democrats were talking about actually reducing the number of detention facilities and the number of beds for holding people who illegally cross the border. That is in essence abolishing ICE. The fact that we are talking about now is, and again, as you point out, we haven't seen legislation, adding facilities, adding space, that's a huge victory for the president.

And I think that as disappointing as it is for conservatives, there's probably some wisdom in taking the money you get. If you can get more from El Chapo, that's even better. But then trying to build on it from there. I think it is a reasonable starting point.

BAIER: All right, Morgan, our FOX Poll One, building the U.S.-Mexico border wall just out, favor 46 percent, oppose, 50 percent. It has shifted a little bit on the positive side really over the past few months.

MORGAN ORTAGUS, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. And I think that that is an indication of the president's campaign of trying to paint the Democrats as being for open borders, being extreme. Going back to Charlie's point here, I wish the freedom caucus would learn to protect the quarterback a little bit more. There's some wins that Charlie just talked about in this bill. He also got more money for judges.

Nancy Pelosi said that the president would not get a dollar for the wall. He has $1.735 billion. Now, the entirety of that can't be used for the wall, but it went from not getting a dollar to getting some real wins in this bill. And what he's ultimately going to be able to say as he goes into 2020 is finish the wall, and that is going to go with the keep America great slogan. And he's going to be able to say, I'm now fighting this fight on my own terms. I'm the only who can do this. So is it perfect? Nothing is ever perfect in Washington. So I think there's enough wins for the president to move forward.

BAIER: In the meantime, Democrats collectively seem pretty happy with this negotiation. Take a listen.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, D-N.Y.: The overwhelming majority in the House Democratic caucus will support this legislation.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER COONS, D-DEL.: It will invest more in border security. It will invest in modern technology. It will invest in more border fencing.

SCHUMER: President Trump, in politics, to quote the Rolling Stones, you can't always get what you want.


BAIER: So asked the question a different way, FOX Poll Two, budget deal that includes money for a barrier, security, humanitarian aid, and look at the numbers.

DAVID CATANESE, SENIOR POLITICS WRITER, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": Huge, because it doesn't say the word "wall." And this is what we are arguing about, semantics. The Democrats were putting out messaging points this week, saying there is no money for the wall. Then I get an inbox from Senator Dianne Feinstein that says this is a good compromise because it has some wall funding.

So look, a deal is something that both sides can claim victory on. And Democrats are going to say, Trump didn't get is border wall, although the $1.3 billion will fund about 55 miles of wall, not that much but something. And then Trump will be able to say I got money for a border wall. I think the x-factor in this is does he do an executive order which allows him to move funding around, take money out of other pots of the federal government, move it toward a wall. That is where you will get more Democratic backlash.

BAIER: Here is the GOP on getting money from elsewhere.


TRUMP: With a wall they want to be stingy, but we have options that most people don't really understand.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I think the president is inclined to accept the agreement, move on, and try to find money elsewhere.

KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALIF., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: He can grab other money that is out there and use that to build a wall, to finish off from the $1.4 billion that's inside of this bill.


BAIER: Charlie, there are limits, but there is money that can be moved around of.

HURT: Absolutely. And as you point out, we haven't seen the legislation, we don't know what the language is exactly. But that is why I tend to focus on the enforcement part of this, the part about detention facilities because that is the part where Democrats really looked like they were not going to budge, and it turns out that they did budge. And then finally, in terms of turning towards 2020, President Trump has proved that this is a very good issue for him. And he capitalizes on it very well. And I think that proceeding in the direction of we have more to do, keep voting for me, is probably a smart strategy.

ORTAGUS: Yes, I concur. I think he just needs to keep making the case that he's fighting this fight on his own terms. The more that he tries to say I'm for reasonable solutions that you talked about in that poll, the more he makes that case, the American people are with him. The more that they talk about the wall in that context, it's going to be a harder fight.

BAIER: All right, stand by. Next up, the national debt soars, while the Green New Deal struggles, at least semantically.



MCCONNELL: I have noted with great interest the Green New Deal. And we're going to be voting on that in the Senate.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IA: A lot of people in this country, mostly cities slickers, that think food grows in supermarkets and not on farms. I think it is very unrealistic.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN., PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: I see it as aspirational. I see it as a jump start. So I would vote yes, but I would also if it got down to the nitty-gritty of an actual legislation as opposed to, oh, here are some goals we have, that would be different for me.


BAIER: An uproar about voting on the Green New Deal as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to do. Ed Markey, one of the sponsors of this overall plan, "Don't let Mitch McConnell fool you. This is nothing but an attempt to sabotage the movement we are building. He wants to silence your voice so the Republicans don't have to explain McConnell why they are climate change deniers. McConnell wants this to be the end. This is just the beginning."

Our friend Jonah Goldberg tweeted after that "There seems to be more liberal outrage at Mitch McConnell for agreeing to let Dems vote on the Green New Deal then there is at Gavin Newsom," the governor of California, "for killing a high-speed rail. What a stupid time to be alive."

What about all this? We're back with the panel. Dave, smart political move by McConnell, how does it read?

CATANESE: Yes, it's cunning. It's smart to get all these Democrats to vote for it. I think most of the Democratic presidential candidates will vote for it because their base wants it. They are running in a Democratic primary right now. But they also know realistic this is not going to happen.

Reducing the entire carbon imprint by 2030? That's in 11 years. Even liberals are laughing at that. Nancy Pelosi gave a quote last week. She knows this isn't real. Everybody is for the Green New Deal but nobody knows what's in it. So look, I don't even think she wants to take it up with total control of the House. But I think if you are a liberal Democrat running in a primary right now, you're probably going to vote for it.

BAIER: But isn't that what Pelosi said about Obamacare, you vote for it and then you find what's in it later? Morgan?

ORTAGUS: The bottom line is this Green New Deal, I look like I'm for it today because of my jacket.


BAIER: Not an endorsement?

ORTAGUS: Not an endorsement by any means. It's a bust. We're talking about mandating 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030. These are things that would just be literally impossible for American manufacturers to do. And it's looking like you would have to spend at least $1 trillion on public work type projects to do this.

And really, the political malpractice here is these six senators who signed onto it who are running for president, they clearly did not look at this. Their staff did not look at this. And if this is how 2020 is going to go - - some of the stuff that was in there was pretty laughable.

BAIER: In the meantime, you have the national debt going above $22 trillion. And you look at the debt clock, it is a scary clock to look at. In the background of this are these massive plans as we look at that clock ticking.

HURT: Yes. And that brings me back to the whole debate about securing the border. If Democrats and Republicans can't even agree on something that is pretty basic and fundamental like securing the border, my goodness, how are they ever going to tackle something as difficult as $22 trillion in debt. And of course, when you add in the unfunded mandates, it winds up being in the $60, $70 trillion that our children and grandchildren are going to owe over the next couple of generations. It is terrifying, and there's no faith that people here in Congress are going to do the hard work and make the sacrifices to fix that.

BAIER: Fox Poll Eight, socialism, capitalism. There is a debate out there about socialism. I think the president is probably going to run against, not making us a socialist country. There you see the breakdown in our latest poll. And feeling about the U.S. economy, are you optimistic, pessimistic? Right now, optimism at 63 percent as compared back to February, 2018. Morgan?

ORTAGUS: These numbers on socialism in these polls are really an indictment of our education system that people are really that ignorant of the effects of socialism. And I think that we need to go back to teaching the cold war again. The bottom line is Charlie just said this stuff, what our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay for it, that is true. But really, it's my generation. There is no Social Security for me by the time that I retire if we look at the current estimates for my generation. So this is something that we have always talked about as something we are passing on. We are not passing it on. It's going to right on my lap in a few years.

BAIER: When we come back, yet another reason not to judge a book by its cover.


BAIER: Finally tonight, one woman finds treasure in another person's trash.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought, it's Monopoly money, oh, how fun.


BAIER: Cathy McAllister, a book sale volunteer in Phoenix, looking through donated books when she found the old copy of the "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire." She took a look though it and found $4,000 worth of cash and a letter saying who the money belonged to. McAllister was able to locate that family, and she returned the $4,000 to their rightful owners. "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire," good things happen.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this “Special Report,” fair, balanced, and unafraid. "The Story" hosted by Martha MacCallum in New York starts right now. Do the right thing, right?

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