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tv   Washington Journal Mike Lillis  CSPAN  November 15, 2021 2:41pm-3:21pm EST

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>> president biden will sign the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this afternoon at 3 p.m. eastern. democratic and republican members of congress will join the president for the signing ceremony at the white house. we will bring it to you live here on c-span. >> get c-span on the go. watch the day's biggest political events live or on demand any time, anywhere on our new mobile video app. c-span now. access top highlights, listen to c-span radio, and discover new podcasts all for free. download c-span now today. shing. host: each monday on washington journal, we like to take a look at the week ahead in washington.
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we are joined by a congressional reporter with the hill. democrats expect to pass $1.75 trillion biden package this week. explain how they intend to do that. guest: they have been fighting over this bill for months. this is crunch time. the fight has been very public. this is what joe biden campaigned on. he is wanting to get it done. these fights have been pretty embarrassing. it has been the house against the senate, congress against the white house. anytime you had that narrative, it can be embarrassing.
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it has been a particularly messy one because of the length of it. this week, the house -- nancy pelosi is wanting to bring this to the floor. there is no scheduled date, but the plan is to do it before they leave for the thanksgiving holiday. to do so, they had to get commitment from the moderates, who were holding out last week. moderate democrats said we need to see an official estimate from the budget office, which is typically a routine step on any piece of legislation that comes to the floor. in this case, they were ready to bypass that step. that is important. anyone provision might cost one
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thing. that is what they are waiting for from the ceo. moderates committed to voting on a bill this week. if they get additional information, they are giving that information. they seem to be on course to bring it to the floor. at the end of the day, what they want is to move beyond the process. biden's poll numbers are sinking. they want to move on. they want to get it done and start talking about the benefit of the package. they think that this is the week
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to do it. host: what is harder for the currents? they cannot lose more than three votes for the senate, where they can news exactly zero votes. guest: i think they are kind of identical at this point. they have had similar concerns. your hearing a lot about joe manchin. in many ways, they have been negotiating on behalf of the moderate in the house. the process has been back and forth. the thinking is that if they can sign on to something, that will be just fine with the moderates in the house. i said that this is the week for the house but that is not exactly true.
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there are supposed to be changes made in the senate. it is expected, like paid leave or medicare expansion, like maybe some of the immigration language or climate change language. things like that might get altered in the senate. that means it would ping-pong back to the senate at some point. this is a process that will go well into december. the point is that the margins are slim. it is a heavy lift in both places. if anything can pass through the senate, it will pass the house. host: is this bill still being written, as we? guest: technically, but they are really close. most of the bill -- they have
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already had a committee last friday. if there are changes, it will be minor. it would just be technical language that will be important for the implementation of this stuff. the benefits that you have heard of will not change, at least in the house bill. host: has the congressional budget office offered any as to whether they think democrats are close or far off in terms of how much it will cost? guest: good question. the numbers that they have provided already -- nancy pelosi put out a letter on friday and said six committees have been given numbers and they comport very similarly with the numbers that the white house had predicted. the stipulation was if the numbers are similar to the white house, there will be no problem with us.
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she said three more committees will be getting numbers today. a lot of those numbers are rolling. they will probably not be done by the time they vote on a bill. the moderates have made their concessions. so far, the numbers deemed to be sticking with the white house. he had said because we want this to be deficit neutral, we are overconfident any and we want the number to be higher in case something goes wrong. in which case it would still be
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covered. he is claiming it will reduce the deficit. host: if it does come back different, so what? does it only met a political the terms of individual members? what actually happens if those numbers are off? guest: there is no penalty. congress is good at passing bills. there has been deficit. that could be a political penalty. it did not matter when trump was in office.
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they piled trillions of dollars on top of the debt. there is no penalty for that among the voters. what would happen if it comes back extremely differently and what expected? what the moderates have said in their short statement a couple weeks ago is, in which case, we will with nancy pelosi and the committee heads to come up with more language we will make sure that the whole thing is paid for. host: if you want to understand what is going on behind us, there are phone lines for you to call in. now that we have given you a
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chance, take a sip of water and we will get to the call. caller: thank you. mike seems like a nice guy and a very important guy in terms of congressional matters. he reminds me of howard field from that the network. a little disheveled, but he knows what he is talking about. i am very interested did -- interested. host: you yourself are going to run? as an independent? caller: not as an independent. that is not really say anything.
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i made the party. i was always green, but now i am global green anti-empire. we obviously have to change the nature of the government that we are in. it is not really a representative government at all. it is neither a democratic or republican. host: what is your question? caller: in terms of the capability of running for office , global green anti-empire -- we have an empire, so we should be an
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>> one. things i expected him to do. all of this fluff and stuff they have put in these bills, they didn't put anything in here for working class people as far as the minimum wage is concerned, in my opinion. and also i feel like it's just -- it's really sad that -- how capitalism has done the working class american as far as taking care of business and making sure things are done. time and time again we voted on different parties, republican, democrat. and none of it seems to trickle down to the working class man and woman. that's just my opinion. host: mike, what do you take from that as democrats try to
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approach this massive bill? guest: if you ask the democrats that's the problem that they are trying to address. there is a lot of things in the build back better act, this big $1.75 trillion bill that aim to address those disparities. the wage stagnation we have seen over the course of 40 years. and so there is no minimum wage. you might remember that when the minimum wage passed the house it got to the senate and senator sinema gave the thumbs down alaa john mccain. it didn't go through the senate. even with a democratic majority. but there are a lot of provisions in the build back better act that democrats say address the problem. that includes an extension of the child tax credit. childcare subdies. it includes -- subsidies. it includes an expansion of the a.c.a. benefits under obamacare. medicare benefits. medicaid benefits. public housing vouchers.
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worker training. the list goes on and on. it's an enormous package. so they think that they are adoctorsing -- addressing those things even as they failed on minimum wage. host: i want to come back to that story on the front page of the hill.com democrats expect to pass $1.75 trillion biden package this week. what i think they call in your line of work a scene setter story. this is the story of what's going to be happening on capitol hill this week. question on how you do a story like that from mlb on twitter who wants to know how often do you speak to the actual legislators? their staff more than the members? how do you determine what's information versus spin when you do that? guest: that's a great question. when congress is in, and the house and senate have different schedules, but my focus is on the house, when congress is in there are dozens if not hundreds of reporters running barned that capitol building. constantly talking to lawmakers,
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to staffers, and then when they are gone, you try and get them on the phone, both lawmakers and staffers. you are trying to get the information from the source. the question about spin is a very good one also. and no one wants to get taken for a ride. if you have been around here long enough covering this stuff long enough, you know who to trust, who to not trust. and to even -- even those you trust you trust to vare fievment you got to fact check the numbers. and in cases when you can't, you have to attribute it to people rather than writing it matter of factually. it's a very good question. we are constantly up there in the capitol talking to members. in a debate like this it's the only way to do it. everything is moving so quickly. a story you wrote now might be irrelevant in an hour, literally, because some provision of the bill has already changed because of some negotiation between pelosi and
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somebody else. it's all been in flux and moving at the speed of light. which makes it a very fascinating debate to watch. very good question. host: florida, this is shirley, democrat, good morning. caller: good morning. hi, thank you for taking my call. what i would like to say is i'd like to tell the democrats that aim so very proud of them. they have been fighting tooth and nail, republicans, they are not going to do anything. when they do they get attacked and stuff. they just have to realize that they got this fight on their own. we are depending on them to deliver. they make us so proud so far the democrats have. we just need them to go out and talk about what they are doing for the people more. they need to be -- just tell them what they are doing. because the polls should be much
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higher than it is. i love the democratic party. thank god for them. thank you. host: mike on the polling and the messaging. guest: if you look at these provisions individually, go back to something like that the minimum wage, that poll is very pop 350u lar across the board. it doesn't matter the party. it doesn't mat the era. that's something that's polled very highly for many years. that popularity has not translated into a legislative win on capitol hill. what the democrats have done knowing that, knowing that they have very slim margins, one, and knowing that even popular provisions over the years have not been able to get across the finish line, particularly with the filibuster in the senate, they are leaning on a budget gimmick, budget process called reconciliation which allows them to sidestep the filibuster in the senate. so they can take these popular provisions, they can pass them,
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without a single republican vote, and then they can take credit for all of it. they don't have to even say it was bipartisan because it's not going to be. a little bit different on the infrastructure part of this. there were a number of senate republican votes, including mitch mcconnell voted for the infrastructure bill. 13 republicans in the house voted for the infrastructure bill. .
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host: about halfway through our conversation with mike lillis of "the hill." talk about the other budget and government funding deadlines that are hanging over congress right now and what impacts they could have on the floor time and sort of the legislative planning here for the build back better act? mr. mcgovern: that's a great -- guest: that's a great question. it's already tight. it's the middle of november so it's strange to say it's tight. if the house were to pass the build back better act this week, there's no time for the senate to do it before the thanksgiving holiday which is next week when both the house and senate will be gone. now you're looking for december. they're already leaning up against the december 3
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government shutdown, the government funding authorization expires on december 3. they have to pass something to either extend it short term or something longer term which would take even more heavy lifting. on top of that, there is the debt ceiling, which you remember back in september, was a big fight. and mitch mcconnell, who had vowed not to help the democrats with the debt ceiling, he kind of caved in september and said, ok, we'll do it for short term. we'll do it for december 3, same deadline. but we're not going to help you next time. if there are no republican votes or very few republican votes for lifting the debt ceiling in december, then you are looking at a government default which has never happened in the history of the country and a lot of economists warn it would be sort of economic armaggedon. not just here but globally. if you're pushing build back better, this enormous, massive package into -- it will be
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competing for floor time with these other huge bills that will have to hit the floor at exactly the same time. they claim they will be out of washington december 13 but if you're a betting man you wouldn't put any money on it. no one's buying plane tickets home for the holidays yet because it will be a long december with all of these deadlines. and then the other piece of this is the ndaa. this is the pentagon funding authorization, which is usually popular, always bipartisan. it's a $778 billion bill to fund the pentagon. passed the house in september with overwhelming support. and charles schumer, the senate majority leader, supports it, wants to bring it to the floor. but because it will take up some time. there will be amendments, all the process that goes on in the senate, he doesn't want to occupy this huge chunk of floor time if build back better is going to come over, if he's got to do government funding, if he's got to do debt ceiling.
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so now he's vowing this week to try to do the pentagon spending bill while he waits for the house to pass build back better. so he has a little bit of a window of time and he's going to try to do pentagon spending this week, whether they can do it by the end of the week i guess remains to be seen. host: just a couple of things for our congressional reporter to cover, right? guest: right. host: republican, good morning. caller: good morning. mike, you answered my question earlier how they were going to pass it through the senate. because i don't think mcconnell is going to allow any of his members to vote. you're absolutely right about that. but do you think the democrats made a mistake by breaking these two bills apart? because they pretty much lost their leverage, don't you think? that's it, jonathan. host: thanks, steve. mike. guest: steve, that's a great question. if you would ask the liberals,
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they would have agreed with you wholeheartedly. that's the whole reason they didn't want to break them apart and they were insisting that the build back better act come to the floor first before they were going to vote for infrastructure. and, again, because of the thin margins over there, they would have leveraged to block the infrastructure bill, the more popular bill. what happened last -- not last friday but week before, as the liberals and the moderates in the house sat down, they were in a room until almost midnight on friday and they hashed out a deal where the liberals caved and they said we will take your word, talking to the moderates -- we'll take your word you'll vote for the build back better act if -- and will vote for infrastructure today. just get the ball rolling. get joe biden a win. and -- but when the c.b.o. scores comes in, if it comports with the white house numbers, you'll have to vote for the larger bill. it's a nonbinding agreement. it was funny the liberals had
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held out for months and months and months opposing the infrastructure bill, not on policy but on process, and then at the last minute they said, well, we'll vote for it with this two -- it was a literally two-sentence statement from the moderates. there has not been a lot of trust between those two camps. suddenly, the liberals said we'll trust you. so that's where we are. the moderates could always renege. mafrj ip could always -- manchin could always put his foot down and said i have infrastructure. that's what i wanted. the other stuff is too big, especially with the inflation spike. he has been very vocal over his concern of inflation. and another huge influx of government spending might exacerbate it. this is congress. anything can happen. but there's a lot of stake, also, for the democrats. mention biden's poll numbers. you saw the results of elections around the country in state races a couple tuesdays ago.
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they are kind of in crisis mode. they want to get some victories. they want to get some pucks in the net, as some of them up there would say. so there's a lot at stake. it sounds like they think they have all the votes to get this done. again, the process is messy. but it's a good question about separating those two bills. because there was always this idea they had to be separate but they had to be married for one group and the moderates, they had said all along this is all about deficit spending. but by agreeing to vote on build back better this week without a full accounting from the c.b.o., they sort of revealed the deficit spending wasn't the only thing. they just wanted to separate the two bills. go home to their districts and claim a big bipartisan win on a popular infrastructure bill and claim that it was separate from the larger bill that is less popular, more partisan, and is going to be used on the campaign trail against them.
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host: however have you been covering the 1/6, the last committee? guest: on and off. i don't cover it -- we have others in the office who cover it more closely. it's certainly a backdrop of all these conversations. host: lynn with a question on twitter just on the latest news from there. do you think the 1/6 committee will hold mark meadows in contempt along with others who ignored subpoenas as steve bannon is preparing to show up in court today? bannon, of course, indicted last week by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of congress after failing to comply with a subpoena from the committee. guest: right. it's a good question. the yes is yes. i -- the answer is yes. the d.o.j. was under a lot of criticism from members of both parties. from the adam kinzingers and liz cheneys of the world as well as pretty much every democrat, why is marek garland not -- merrick garland not pursuing this?
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there was a lot of praise on friday when they announced the bannon indictment. immediately, benny thompson, the chairman of the select committee, and liz cheney, the vice chairman, put out a statement and said, this is indication mark meadows and others who do not want to cooperate with our investigation, you're on notice that you'll be next. the answer is yes. host: idaho, ned, independent. good morning. caller: good morning, guys. mike, the defense authorization bill is extremely important that they address that. it is such a mess. we don't even know. our military is scattered across the world right now. with the whole afghanistan thing. they had to divert so many carriers. and air wings to do that airlift. if you recall, there was an earthquake in haiti that we had to respond with southcomm to do
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that. we are trying to modernize the whole department but also pivot to the pacific right now. the other problem is, our use of our national guard. they're having to deploy 500 troops for the trial in ohio this -- because they may riot. we -- our national guard is overstretched right now really bad. responding to wildfires. host: we'll take it. mike on the ndaa. isn't that usually one of the less political bills in congress? guest: yeah. it's always one of the most popular. the question is not whether it will pass. the question is just when and that's an issue of schumer picking some floor time. as i mentioned, he's shooting to do that this week. there are a couple kind of controversial elements to this one.
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the house democrats in their put a stipulation that women will now be required to register for selective service. you know, we don't have a draft but men, when they turn 18 in this country, still have to register with the selective service. there are penalties for those who do not do so. there are a lot of conservatives who don't like that provision. and so there's a thinking that some of the senate conservatives will offer amendments to strip that language. schumer is going to have a lot of control over what amendments can hit the floor. that one might not be one of them. there are a couple little sticking points like that. there's also -- schumer has expressed a lot of interest in voting to repeal the 2002 war authorization that empowered bush to go to iraq. that's been around for almost 20 years. and a lot of people on both sides think it is no longer relevant and should be repealed and the ndaa might be the vehicle to do it. so there are some controversial
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element in it. but -- elements in it. but for the most part 99% isn't controversial. this money goes to every district in every part of the country. the $778 billion is $25 billion more than even the pentagon requested. so this happens all the time where this is free money for districts and lawmakers love to bring home the bacon. the defense bill is an easy way to do it. it's a noncontroversial way to do and it will happen. host: claudia, white mills, pennsylvania. republican. good morning. caller: good morning. how are you doing? host: doing well. what's your question or comment? caller: my question is -- i am a republican in a democratic state. i watch the politics going on in
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the news. they don't focus on assad. fixed income. i was talking about people with children. how do they expect the seniors to survive in this country? when are they going to start helping to take care of the seniors? host: mike on provisions in build back better that may focus on those issues or don't? guest: yeah, there are several in there. they don't go as far as some would have liked. the biggest fight they have had over this was an expansion of medicare. you had a number of liberal democrats. bernie sanders being the most notable one who wanted to expand medicare to include vision, hearing, and dental. coverage. manchin in the senate was opposed to that. it was paired back and in fact
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biden's framework, which he introduced a few weeks ago, only included hearing and the house bill that is expected to pass this week only includes hearing. if they expand that in the senate we don't know. is that a red line for manchin? could he be apieced with other things -- appeased with other things, that is to come. there is home care for the elderly. there is -- what else? i am trying to think. there's public housing vouchers, things that can affect the elderly. there's hundreds of billions of dollars in in for elder care as well as the education benefits that will affect the younger generations as you rightly point out. host: houston, texas, rodney, independent. good morning. caller: good morning.
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host: go ahead, sir. caller: i'm wondering why they keep taking senior citizens out, the elderly? i am disabled. i can't work. trying to live on what they give us a month, it's just -- we can't afford to eat or anything. file for food stamps and everything and they talk about oh, you make too much. and it's just stupid. i worked two, three jobs all my life, paid my taxes to have it sit here and starve and the seniors need the help. not all these other bull crap, sending our tax dollars to other countries and not helping the senior citizens here in our own country. host: rodney, what would be the questioningest and best -- quickest and best way to help you? caller: they could send us a stimulus check or something to help with bills. everything i know sitting in a
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pawnshop and i can't afford to get it out because been waiting on a stimulus they ain't never sending. i've been paying the interest for over a year just so i can get it out. and it's just to the point of -- i don't know what the hell is going on. host: rodney, thanks for sharing your story. mike lillis, rodney was talking about another stimulus check would something that could help him. is that something that's being debated right now or offered? guest: it's not part of the most recent package. there have been two rounds of stimulus over the last year and a half. most recently in the bill that passed in march. but that's kind of the last we heard of the direct stimulus. you know, rodney is voicing concerns that we're hearing quite often, including the call before him. and there are a ton of bills up on capitol hill to expand social
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security, to expand medicare, to lower the age of medicare, to make the benefits more generous. as i mentioned, some of those are included in build back better. there are home care provisions in build back better. for the most part, expanding entitlements is a very controversial idea because then you get cries of -- that it's socialized medicine, it's socialism, that it's government overreach, that it's too expensive. you often hear medicare and medicaid are about to go bankrupt which is not quite the case but it's a good talking point for those fiscal hawks out there who are concerned about rising debt. and it's a very powerful argument on the campaign trail. so that's the fight that we've been having literally since medicare and social security were created. is it the government's role, one, to take care of the elderly? and if so, how -- to what extent do we do it? it's been a -- it's largely a
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partisan issue. if you remember george bush passed the -- he enacted the largest expansion of medicare since the program's founding in 2003 when he created the prescription drug benefit. and so at times it's been a bipartisan effort. just not right now. right now you're hearing the expansion of medicare is government overreach and should not be done as part of this bill or any other. we're back to the partisanship on entitlements and for rodney, that's why we haven't expanded them. host: before we let you get your actual workweek started, as we wrap up the week ahead in washington, what haven't we talked about that you're going to be watching for this week in congress? guest: i think you touched on it with the january 6 commission. that's moving very quickly. they've already subpoenaed, i think, 35 people. and you can expect more any day, every day. they want to get rolling on that investigation. they don't want it to be a
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political football. at least they say. come november of next year. bennie thompson said he wants to wrap that up by early spring. to do so they'll have to really get cracking. all eyes on january 6 even as they wait for the build back better vote. there's nothing really on the calendar right now. there's some suspension votes. house comes in today and there are some suspension votes on the calendar which just means they're bipartisan, noncontroversial bills that everybody's going to vote for. they kind of put those in as place keepers, as ways to get guys into town and vote on some noncontroversial things while they wait for something bigger, in this case, it's the build back better act. and in the senate, kind of the same thing. they'll start moving on ndaa. there are a couple nominations for some deputies at the treasury and the ag department. but mostly everyone is just in wait and see mode to see what
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comes out of this debate over biden's agenda. in the meantime, you know, everyone's talking about biden's polling numbers. it's been a very, very tough couple months for the administration and for democrats. so there's a lot at stake here. again, they want to switch the conversation from process, which is dry and messy and get on to talking about benefits, which they hope to get out the door very quickly. host: house in at 2:00 p.m. today. the senate in at 3:00 p.m. today. ♪

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