tv House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows Addresses National Press Club CSPAN July 24, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm EDT
cato institute. a republican, go ahead. aller: thank you, the cesspool is filled with the legal system. to attorneys that bring laws the books have someone they can sue and take their money from. not, the legal system has nothing to do with morality anymore. people.e enemy of the for every law created, there is criminal act that the people suffer under, that is what is taking place, sessions is the by this, sappointment he is an attorney. >> seeee the rest of this "washington journal" segment at c-span.org. we'll leave the last few mince for how freedom caucus chair mark meadows. he'll be talking about his conference's agenda, including efforts to repeal and replace the nation's health care law. this is live from the national press club. >> before we get started, i wanted to remind some people here in the audience and our -- about some housekeeping things that we have happening here. first of all, to remind you for
those that came late, if you have a smart phone, and we do encourage the use of smart phone here at the club, we're the -- despite our ancient accrue at thisments, do encourage the 21st century technology, we would like your phones on silent or vibrate because we also like you to tweet and follow along here in the room and of course to our viewing audience. to do that you would follow us using the handle@pressclubdc. using the pashclag npc live. r hash tag headliners. sing the handle@pressclubdc. that's for our television online and radio audiences. please be aware today there are members here in the audience who
are members of the general public. so therefore if you hear any expressions of applause or signs of approval or disapproval, that doesn't necessarily mean it's coming from the working journalists in the room. we do have some decorum. i like to think we do. mr. ballou: before we get into the rest of it, i would like to introduce the head table. then we will thank some important people who put together today's luncheon. arting on my far left tamm a -- tamara, founder and chief strategist of commune caddo c.r. and member of the national press clubheadliners team. this is a team that brings our speakers here into the club on a year-round basis. clad to see you are in the head table instead of outside taking tickets. . illip, senior editor
susanna, reporter at inside health policy. ben williamson, press secretary at the office of congressman mark meadows. national "politico" reporter, "politico" magazine, one of our star softball players on the press club softball team. allissa, spokeswoman for the house freedom caucus. skipping over myself, one of our newest members, we handed him his card today, robert, kosta, national, political reporter for "the washington post." moderator of pbs' washington week welcome to the club. ipping over our speaker -- skipping over our speaker, matt, esident of advocacy -- advocates group and international press clubheadliners member who coordinated today's luncheon. thank you very much.
mrs. debi meadows, wife of congressman meadows. ellen ferguson, who has seen lots over the years around capitol hill, agriculture and trade reporter at c.q. roll call. thank you. elen. and lauren mashburn managing editors and anchor of ewtn news nightly on the global catholic channel. we're missing one person. michelle hatman, reporter at "wall street journal" who is tied up on a plane but hopefully can join us at some point for the luncheon and applaud the members of the dais at this time. thank you. [applause] i'd also like to acknowledge some additional members of the headliners team who helped organize today's luncheon and prepared me. lisa matthews. laura, heather, i mentioned
tamara, she helped with today's luncheon, and mark. particularly want to thank our staff liaison from the office of membership engagement, lindsay, and laura. now, the blame for an increasingly partisan and sometimes dysfunctional congress is spread widely around washington. one group that seems to always come up in the conversation is the house freedom caucus. is that a fair assessment of the disruption that this group of what's characterized as far right conservative republicans can cause even within its own conference? or is it an unfair depiction of lawmakers who say they are trying to give a voice to americans who feel washington is not representing them as the caucus says on its facebook page. today's luncheon headliners guest, representative mark meadows of north carolina's 11th district, which i should add represents in part, asheville, north carolina, where i have family.
incidentally. i'm going to call my uncle joe if i don't like something you're doing. he is chairman of the house freedom caucus and will help us explore those questions about the group. congressman meadows has been in congress since 2013 after working almost three decades as a small business owner and was elected chairman of the caucus in november of 2016. over the past several years, his caucus has been at the heart of several significant legislative policy and political battles. the government shutdown of 2013, which tried to repeal the affordable care act of government funding. 2015 vote of no confidence in then house speaker john boehner, which is said to have led for him to retire from the speakership. the caucus has pushed to repeal and repleas -- replace the affordable care act literally dozens of times over the past several years. holing republicans' feet to the fire. in spite of that, the affordable
care act, as you know, remains the law of the land. so we're going to ask about that later. they have urged congressional leadership to raise the debt ceiling in conjunction with deep spending cuts among other demands causing what was known a few years ago, the debt ceiling crisis, which got the markets more than a bit upset. more recently congressman meadows has called for congress to be more productive and to work through the august recess. kind of upset some your colleagues, didn't you, on that one? he told "the washington post" earlier this month, quote, there is a real anxiety among the people that i serve on why we're not putting more things on the president's desk. they are tired of excuses. despite its influence, little is actually known about the house freedom caucus. they have about 40 members, but no one knows for sure. maybe you can clear that up. today congressman meadows will lead us through the inner workings of the group,
illuminate the deliberations, explain its philosophy and outline its agenda. i want to remind you if you have cars on the -- cards on the table, you can send them up at any point during the luncheon through the end and we'll try to sort them out and will i ask as many questions as time permits that don't -- and i will ask as many questions as time permits that don't repeat themselves. with that i bring up to the podium house freedom caucus chairman, congressman mark meadows. [applause] . -- mr. meadows: good afternoon. teat great to be with you. and certainly with that introduction i guess there is a whole lot of clarification that needs to be done. jeff, thank you for the invitation. matt, thank you for the logistics that really gives not only a warm reception but certainly one that is very organized. what i'd like to do is take you
back to the 1850's. very quickly. so we can put things in perspective. so i'd like to take you to the mississippi river where there was one particular writer who was going up and down on the mississippi and that particular writer we now know by the name of mark twain, but at that particular time as he was going up and down the mississippi river, many people don't really know how he got his name. so they would throw out a particular marker as they were going up and down the mississippi. the mississippi river was six feet deep, they would holler back, mark one. meaning it was six feet deep. but it was too shallow to go ashore for the men to drink. but if the depth of the mississippi was 12 feet deep,
they would holler mark twain. with that all the men would cheer and they would be excited because they could go ashore for a night of drinking and beverages. d so it is that mark twain decided to pick the name mark twain. so at the very mention of it, men would cheer. and so as i get introduced today, i come to you in great humility knowing that as a committed christian and someone who was never planning to run to be a member of congress, that i come before you being able to address not only this wonderful crowd, but millions of people watching perhaps on television and addressing a group that has a tradition of making sure that journalism has its excellence.
thank you for the invitation. but the other is since men may not cheer with the introduction of my name, i would like to go on a little bit further and tell you the rest of the story as it relates to the freedom caucus. this is the first time i must confess that we ever had a house freedom caucus cookie. we have a 68% name idea across the country. for many of you -- how many of you think that the freedom caucus has been out there for six years? raise your hand. how many of you think it's been out there for four years? all right. how many of you think it has been out there for two years? hume of you -- how many of you didn't vote? most of you -- actually the freedom caucus is -- hi one democrat colleague the other day who was -- i had one democrat colleague the other day who was saying for six years you have been out there trying to make
sure that things don't get done in washington, d.c. i said that's real interesting because actually we created a little over two years ago. i got on the phone after a very frustrating time where we had some of the conservative members voting one way. more conservative members voting another way. i got on the phone with jim jordan, i said, we have to actually be organized. if we're going to carry forward a message for the millions of american people who think that washington, d.c., has forgotten them, we need to be organized. and so i love to talk policy. very rarely will you ever get a reporter who will -- where i will actually agree to talk strategic -- strategy. today someone of the few days i'll share the freedom caucus strange -- strang. the kind of behind the scenes what happened. there are interesting thoughts in terms of who we're as a caucus.
we do not give out the number of our members. so i've got -- we would have to kill if we told you. i can tell you that as we have freedom caucus members, many of them think that we're exactly alike. and yet in some of the best debates you'll find on capitol hill because as we come together, the three dozen plus members come together on actually we'll meet tonight, the first night back, generally we meet on the first night of votes, after votes. so we come together and we actually have debate on some of the policies that we should be having debate on the floor of the house each and every day. and yet what we found is is so many times there are speeches that get made on the floor of the house, but there is not a whole lot of debate. there is not a whole lot of going back and forth. so as you look at some of our members, they are very different. we have libertarians and what you would say traditional
conservatives. we have some who are more aligned with leadership and some who would never vote for leadership. and yet here we're, i believe we needed to take a business approach to what we do as conservatives. so as we embark on setting things up, we actually -- the freedom caucus has a set of bylaws. people don't realize as we came together we said we need a structure, some rules. we actually have a set of bylaws and that structure actually provides for a good foundation to make sure that we're member driven. one of the complaints we have is that it's not right that just a few members of congress would be super members of congress and get to decide everything that happens on capitol hill. we believe that it needs to be a bottom up approach anti-same goes for the freedom caucus. as we looked at that, we said that everybody who brings an idea there gets to take that idea. so i'll give you a frime example. we have very diverse members as i mentioned.
one of those diverse members is a gentleman from virginia by the name of morgan griffith. you at least know two members of the freedom caucus. let me just tell you, your reputation will handle it, we'll invite you to the next meeting, jeff. as we look at this, one of the things that we have is morgan griffith from virginia has a certain expertise. he understands the rules pretty well. he and i try to banter back and forth to find rules that perhaps no one else really understands or has read. they are available to everybody. but it's a matter of reading what you might have there. since i always believe that you should at least get something as a takeway from every time that i get to address the press, here's the take away today. for the first time in 35 years, 35-plus years there will be a rule that will be used this week
holman rule. we're using the rule which the holman rule actually was nonexistent since 1983. we put it back in as a way to cut down on some of the federal bureaucracy. it gives us the tools to actually go in and cut the funding without cutting ab-- an entire agency. this morning, morgan griffith put forth an amendment that would be part of the appropriations coming up later this week if it's ruled in order that would actually cut the scores for c.b.o. for the congressional budget office. you can tell that a number of us have been very critical of the congressional budget office. in fact, i think they are the one group that makes a weatherman's 10-day forecast look accurate. so as we see that, we believe
that we needed to address it. so this amendment will actually go in using the holman rule that says we're going to reduce their employees by 89, some $a million -- $15 million. not a big targeted selection. but in doing that what we said is, is they ought to be aggregators. there are plenty of think tanks out there. so we ought to take a score from heritage, from a.e.i., from brookings, from the urban institute. and bring them together for a composite score that would present a very wide swath of actually think tanks and their abilities. so we think that that's a pragmatic way to use the private congress yet let depend on a score that's accurate. in terms of making news, jeff, that is something you can tweet out because we're going to be debating that this week.
i use that -- thank you. i use that as an example of just the diversity of who we're. we have morgan griffith, who is not considered a bomb thrower. but also is one who, as we have seen over and over again, is a thoughtful individual. so as we have gone back and forth over the last 72 hours, we said we could put this out here. the other thing that is a misnomer is that we all vote in lockstep together. now, we have in part of our bylaws if we get to an 80% threshold we will take a position. now, i say that because getting three dozen people to agree on anything is almost impossible. getting to 80% is extremely difficult. but we have made the decision that if we get to 80%, we will take an official position. which means we will all vote together with one exception. you get two passes a year -- i
mean two passes a congress to vote. so let's say you had something that was very critical to your district. as we have taken that position and you -- let's take the export-import bank. well, i have boeing in my district. i need to be supporting them. you would be able to get a pass up to twice during a congressional calendar and not be kicked out of the group. but outside of that, you are going to have to vote with the group. what the power of this is is it gives us the power of knee gation. -- negation. when i say that is when you can stop things from happening and gives you great power on what things might happen. it's the power of no. but it's just as critical for us to have the power of yes. and that's one of the things that i think that in a unified government as we work together, the american people are tired of gridlock. they want something done. jeff mentioned the debt
crelling. i -- ceiling. i believe we need to get the debt ceiling done rightway. we took an official position six weeks ago and said the debt ceiling is coming. it is time we get it done. it is like a florist being surprised by valentine's day. we know it's coming, let's go ahead and deal with it and make sure that we do that. and so as we start to look at that, you will find the freedom caucus is pushing more and more and more to make critical decisions. even if they are decisions we don't like. therere is structure, but is also great flexibility. and i'll share this. sometimes things are not always as they seem. and so i'll share this personal story from the mountains of north carolina. we live about 45 minutes from away, or did live, from a wal-mart. and now you think about how far out we're to be 45 minutes away from a wal-mart.
we can watch the light change in the wintertime. it goes to blinking so we don't even get the benefit of red, yellow, and green. so as we see that, we're 45 minutes away. but the priest's wife of the episcopal church was going down to address the ladies at a gathering. so she went down the mountain and realized as she was going down she didn't have pantyhose. she pulled into wal-mart parking lot, jump out of the car, went in and got the hose, came running back out, jumped in the car and got ready to leave and realized there was not a place to put them on between the wal-mart and where she was going. so without getting too graphic she decided to go ahead and put those on in the front seat of her car. all of a sudden she got this weird feeling that somebody was looking at her. so sure enough she looks over her shoulder and there is somebody staring in the window at her. she opens the door and she says what do you want you pervert?
he says, don't know, ma'am, but you're sitting in my car. true story [laughing brark [-- [laughing] >> i say that because things are not always as they seem. as you read the headlines about the freedom caucus what i'm hopeful today is to share a little bit more of what is not here. so there is structure but yet there is flexibility. a prime example we called for us to canceled the recess if we said there is no result, there should be no recess, that happened one particular night at a meeting where we were there then all of a sudden we were having this meeting and the notice came that we were canceling our friday votes. well, we couldn't figure out why we were canceling our friday votes since we had plenty to do. so the comment was made, you know, we shouldn't be canceling friday votes. in fact, if anything, we should be staying here in august.
from one comment that was started by a member within the caucus, we took an official position that particular night and actually said, let's stay in auction. you know what? i bet more than 80% of americans agree that we should stay in in august and get things done. when you look at that, that's what we're all about. is getting that forgotten man or forgotten woman a voice on capitol hill. our reach many times goes well beyond the freedom caucus. i share that as we look at the affordable care act. we knew during the affordable care act is is that we had to get it right for the american people and that meant two things. we had to lower premiums. and we had to make sure pre-existing conditions were taken care of. if we didn't do those two things, we would have failed. and so as we looked at that we started going out beyond our members to see if there were other people who felt the same way.
and as they whipped the first vote, we started to realize that not only was there not even close to enough votes, but that we needed to get it better. part of that is the process. we're all about process and when you read about the bill that you are about to vote on, in "politico," for the very first time, there is a problem, right, tim? you may not -- you don't see a problem with it because you're with "politico." when we read about a little bill and we seed the text for the first time in a publication, you would think that we would be part of that process. by had a problem with the process, but we also had a problem with the product. so as we started to look at that, we decided to go on a communications strategy to take our message to where our power really comes from. and the power comes from the people themselves who think that washington, d.c., has forgotten them. they are just begging for someone to stand up on their
behalf. they are begging for people to say i'm tired to the political correctness, get something done. allissa, who is here came up with the communications strategy. it's amazing. we kept going out. many of our leadership were talking about what a great bill it was. all we had to do was just share the facts. so there was one particular day as we mentioned, there was three press conferences and an infomercial by our leadership trying to sell a product to the american people they didn't want to buy. we thought it was better to actually sell them something that they want to buy and that actually lowers premiums. whenever you have the power of the american people on your side, it actually goes real well. let me in the interest of time shift to two other things. we originally said we wanted a straight repeal. we all voted on it in 2015. we said if it was good enough to send it to president obama, it surely should be good enough to
send it to petroleump. we might as well go ahead and do that. we couldn't figure out where there was a good argument to not do that. alongside that we worked with senator rand paul, senator mike lee, senator ted cruz and others, saying if we're going to repeal it let's have a replacement plan there. senator paul, mark sanford had a replacement plan that was going on parallel tracks. where we believe what would happen is we would pass a straight repeal and pass the house and senate, and yet in the replacement we figured it could pass the house and maybe fail in the senate, but the pressure would grow since democrats would never repeal something that had a name of their previous administration's president. we felt like if we did the hard work of repealing, that we could get some democrats help us on the replacement side of that. as we have seen, when you conflate the two and bring them together, it makes them more difficult. i am still optimistic that we'll have a motion tomorrow out of
the senate where they will go on and start to debate this. but i can tell you that it was in no small part to a lot of other people that actually got involved in the negotiations to try to at least get something from the house to the senate. real shout out to congressman tom who was part of the tuesday group who actually was willing to meet and take great political risk to meet with someone who is seen as much more conservative to try to get some strange -- strategy. here's what we did, we kept our members closely informed throughout that entire debate. it was happening over the easter break. as we were looking at that we were holding conference calls and letting them know. they empowdered a number of us to negotiate on their behalf realizing the final product would not be perfect. and we have embarked and tried to say that on any given situation we will offer two
solutions. because we have been accused of saying it's our way or the highway. so whether it's with the debt ceiling or whether it's with the budget or anything else, we're trying to make sure that we give at least two alternatives for a solution. so when you hear that it is our way or the highway, no today you heard this, and will i challenge you, reporters here in the room, ask us, what are your two ways to solve this particular situation. if we can't arparticular late that, i would let you remind me of this conversation we'll make sure we have two results. let me close by saying this, we have the greatest country in the world. we have a free press that literally is to be admired from around the globe. we have men and women who have fought and died for this country, many of them have shed blood to make sure those
freedoms are preserved. it is that freedom that we can all applaud that is never more obvious to me than when debbie and i were on the hills in normandy to see the white stars and white crosses all across that hill. where people who fought many times for countries that would never say thank you for a people that might even today not say thank you. but it's a reminder that that's what makes america unique. we're willing to put forth sacrifices for the cause of freedom whether it's the freedom of the press or any of the others that are enumerated in our founding documents. and i just want to say thank you for allowing me the chance to be here. and it is an honor to represent the freedom caucus, a very diverse group, one that i'm humble to serve for a temporary basis as their chairman. god bless you, thank you so much
for allowing me to come. [applause] mr. ballou: the questions we're getting are all over the map. we're going to try to get through these as quickly as we can. they come from email, cards. to it.et right to it. you talked about trying to pass health care. what are you going to do if the motion to proceed in the senate fails and -- for example, how damaging is it going to be to members like congressman macarthur who walked the plank and voted for the house bill? mr. meadows: any time you pass anything in the house and it doesn't go anywhere in the senate, we're used to that. and sadly we're used to that.
i think this is a unique situation, jeff. in that where we're with this is that a motion to proceed and ultimately getting something out of the senate is a must. it is not a -- something that we can fail at. primarily it's because a number of us have campaigned on it for a number of years. it's something that the president has campaigned on. and so what i would say is just like when they put the fork in it and said it was done in the house, that it was over with, the bill was pulled on that infamous friday afternoon, we have to stay engaged. i can tell you that the upper chamber you have people from all different sperspectives trying to -- perspectives trying to work to do that. i have had conversation was ted cruz and mike lee and pat toomey and lindsey graham and everybody in between as we look at that trying to come up with
solutions. they need to stay engaged. i believe that if they don't do the motion to proceed this week, then what they need to do is actually make sure that we stay in in august until ultimately the pressure of going home becomes so great that they come to some kind of compromise. . mr. ballou: in october, 2013, the government shut down because you and your congress members insisted on signing the affordable care act repeal to funding the government. was the effort worth it? especially since the debt ceiling was raised, the government was funded and the a.c.a. still is the law of the land? mr. meadows: let me be clear so that the freedom caucus does not get blamed for a 2013 shutdown. they weren't in existence then. i was. they weren't there. a lot of people, again, they bring them together and state freedom caucus was there. i did lead a letter. there was another letter in the
senate. and here's -- to be fair some of the same members, jim jordan, self, were in that group giving boehner a fairly hard time. there were some 0 people on that letter. if all 60 people could be in the freedom caucus, i would welcome that today. as we look at that, to be fair, did it accomplish the result that we hoped to accomplish? the answer is no. we believe that the affordable care act was not ready to roll out. we believe that the website wouldn't work. we believe that ultimately premiums wouldn't go down. we also believed that if you had your health care that you wouldn't necessarily be able to keep it. when we found all of those things, a lot of things i can tell you -- was on the house floor at close to midnight dealing with one of the administration's congressional liaisons saying, certainly just a six-month delay would be more
prudent instead of trying to roll out something that's not ready. and yet it was -- they had made a decision that was a go-no go point. in doing a shut down it didn't produce the results. the answer obviously is no. could we have found another way to leverage it? perhaps so. mr. ballou: we come back to health care. two years ago this week you filed a motion to vacate the chair as i indicated in my opening remarks which triggered a series of events that led to the departure of then speaker john boehner. do you regret that decision in any way given that now freedom caucus members complain that speaker ryan has not been an improvement? mr. meadows: it was actually two years ago today this coming friday. it was my birthday, july 28. which is this friday. i'm reminded of that. do i regret that? the answer is no.
i done brie get that -- i don't regret that. it was a function, again, of empow irregular the people. empowering members of congress. and when do you that i can tell you that the original resolution had some 40 different points. we ended up with five nonpartisan points that talked about empowering members of congress. the truth of the mooter is there is 435 members of congress that represent 435 very different districts. jerry connolly's district is the 11th of virginia. my is the 11th district of north carolina. we have a deal. his is so different than my deal and he is so much more to the left, his district, than mine is to the right, if he gets a primary opponent, i'm going to come in and endorse his primary opponent and say jerry is far too liberal for me to work with. likewise he's going to come to north carolina and say i'm far too conservative to work with.
it's all about empowering those members. when you do not allowing 435 members representing very different districts to carry on the will of the people, we're making a mistake. and so whether that is with the current speaker or future speaker or a past speaker, it is very critical that we allow everyone's voice to be heard. mr. ballou: i got this question about 10 different ways. i realize the freedom caucus is a relatively recent creation, as i indicate the earlier. so same members have been grouped together in various configurations. and those members help to drive a number of votes to try to repeal the affordable care act. there is sort of a criticism, why didn't you have your plan together if you had all that time? all those attempts over and over and over again? so much happening, so many conflicts, so much debate that
would have thought to have been resolved behind closed doors as you were making these attempts to repeal the a.c.a. mr. meadows: i guess the question is why didn't we have a plan? i can tell you in the first 30 days of this new administration there was one group who did have a plan. it was the freedom caucus. we actually put out a repeal and replacement plan because we felt like it was important. we have been talking about this for seven years. you can't win anything without a plan. the other part of that is that it's critically important that you can't care about who gets the credit. truman, that was wunsch his favorite quotes, ronald reagan used to say, it's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit? this town is all about getting credit. it's all about me. i did it. i'm here to tell you that smarter people than me came up with a plan that we rolled out. it didn't get accepted by our leadership. i don't know why we didn't have something sitting on the president's desk on january
20th. we should have been prepared. we should have been there to do that. is that a criticism that is fair? without a doubt. that's why i'm saying it's time we take action. whether it's this or anything else that we're dealing with. mr. ballou: the knock was not just a plan wasn't ready in january, dunts see a plan time after time and time over the course of several years to debate then as opposed to when you got a new president. mr. meadows: i think the political reality of that is the understanding that president obama wouldn't have signed something into law and actually repealed it. would have been to be disingenuous to suggest he would do that. perhaps the replacement plan was not seen as important as trying to push that. the american people needed to see what a replacement is all about. but that's a fair assessment. mr. ballou: now some policy minutia. with the additional medicare
payroll tax and 3.8% net income investment tax, both leff have ied on people earning $250,000 for a married couple. will that survife? from the affordable care act -- will that survive? from the affordable care act, you guys don't like taxes -- mr. meadows: do you like taxs? mr. ballou: i have to pay my fair share. this came from the affordable care act. will it survive the final republican version of the health care bill? do you like it? do you not like it? why? why not? mr. meadows: great question. i got to ask this question by some reporters when i was talking through the halls the other day. what about the tax? there's two taxes you mentioned. it's generally considered a tax on the rich. are you going to give them a break and take health care from the poor? i think the answer to that is no.
we're not going to take health care from the poor and give the rich a tax break. that being said, we were for repealing all the taxes. we don't think it's good to tax the poor or rich. we think the less taxes that you get to pay, you are better, jeff, at spending your money than i am. if you don't believe that, give me your wallet and i'll show you how i can spend your money. mr. ballou: can i do that myself. mr. meadows: you should be empowered to spend your money. we believe the more money we put back in your pocket, the better off you are to spend your own money. that being said, would we allow that to be a deal breaker to stop us from finding a replacement? i went on record to say, listen, as the freedom caucus we believe we need to repeal all the taxes. that being said if there is a pay-for, we have to figure out a way to do a safety net to make sure that it's paid for. those are two tax that is perhaps could stay in as we look
at that going forward. . ballou: you brought up process. no hearings were held on the caps provision. which would be significant entitlement reform passed for reconciliation, think that was a good move? mr. meadows: the hearings -- actually we had a whole lot of hearings in the previous congress. there have been none in this congress as we looked at that. part of that is is we believe the hearings we had in a previous congress should suffice. when we look at both the positives and negatives. i can tell you i had in my committee, oversight government reform committee, hi the infamous jonathan grumer. -- jonathan, if you -- well, you-all know that he was the guy that basically said the american people are too stupid and that's why we actually got the affordable care act. we also found out other things in that testimony there were a
whole lot of things that he put forward that weren't -- they didn't pass muster. we had a number of hearings. certainly ways and means and energy and commerce had hearings in previous committees. let's face it. the resistance to a replacement bill is not because we haven't had hearings. e resistance is primary -- primarily political. it's also practical in a standpoint. everybody can think of the pre-existing condition that some member of their family might have to make sure that they are taken care of. that's why we have been very consistent on lowering premiums and taking their of those pre-existing conditions. should we have hearings? without a doubt. i believe we should have hearings on a number of things. even now in some that may not be as welcomed as others. mr. ballou: that was a demand not just from other members of your party but also from
democrats. you talk about trying to work together in terms of politically polarized environments in some respects. ou have -- is there way for -- to a bipartisan solution to try to do something that's sort of out of the box that is a win-win for the american people, realizing you have a position. maybe the progressive caucus and the democrats have a position. tuesday group has its position. do you think there is a way to sort of do something -- new way forward that brings everybody to the table instead of the criticisms this bill was done in the dark. so forth? mr. meadows: the answer is possible. i don't want to be pollyanna about it. when you come to washington, d.c., i think the thing that surprised me the most was that i felt like when i got here that if you had a good idea and he -- you went out and convinced
enough of your colleagues, that was a good idea, it would percolate to the top and pass and become law. nothing could be further from the truth. this was a disappointment to me as a business guy where you look at the results as really counting. when we look at that, jeff, i think the real question becomes is can we find some common ground together where we actually look at that? if we repeal the affordable care act first, i think that you do give democrats onboard. you don't get them more conservative piece of legislation. if anything i don't think you do get a conservative piece of legislation. i think you pass a straight repeal. i think the conservatives are kind of left out. what you do is get more moderate republicans teaming up with enough democrats to put a replacement plan in place. but i don't see that as long as there is a repeal. i think democrats feel like they passed this and it's kind of
like an octopus. it's tentacles reach into every aspect of government and life and pulling that out is difficult. if you repealed it could you find some bipartisan solutions? i think so. we have been working with some -- i went to five different democrats and said, all right, assuming we repeal it, you tell me what the five most important things are that you would put in replacement, i got some real meaningful input from democrats that probably would not want me to say who they are here on a live mike. mr. ballou: another subject for a minute. we'll come back to health care. agriculture. the house ag committee hopes to move a new farm bill later this year or 2018. but many of your colleagues blocked passage of the last house farm bill until the nutrition title was removed. would members of the freedom caucus permit a farm bill that passed the house if it includes that or does not cut the cost of
snap sufficiently? mr. meadows: we have taken an official position on this. i am one of the few that voted for the last farmville -- farm bill. the number one economic grinder in my district is ag. again you vote your district. that's a novel concept. it's interesting. we go and say, well, we're not going to vote the party. we're going to vote the people we represent. when you do that, good things happen. but that being said, when you look at nutrition, actually it got pulled apart and put back together and it ended up passing. we believe that there should be a work requirement for able-bodied adults with nondependent children we have to put the value back in work once again. it is not fair to the american taxpayer for us to continue to give benefits if someone could work. and in maine a prime example, i met with the governor, they put in a 20-hour work requirement.
that's not a real high bar. 20 hours. you could volunteer, you could get education credit for it. or you could work. they found that over 80% of the people got off of snap when they did that. the interesting thing is, they also found that the five place that is use most of these snap benefits in maine were not in maine. one of them was kissimmee, florida. the other was las vegas, nevada. that's a problem when you are having a safety net for maine, it's a long commute from those two places. so we believe that we need to mutt a work requirement -- put a work requirement. that's what we have taken an official position on. as we do that we think we can find other common ground. mr. ballou: sorry going all over the map. spending bills, will the border wall be in the spending bill? what are the odds of a government shutdown this fall? mr. meadows: i think the odds after government shutdown are
very minimal. when it cosms to -- comes to that. i do think the funding of the border wall will happen. the president has made it part of the his campaign. there is two reasons for that. it's not just securing the southern border, if you are going to do anything on immigration, whether it's reforming the legal immigration process, you have to secure your southern border. even some of the most moderate members of that -- of the g.o.p. are signature there looking and saying, well, part of a five-step process is to secure the southern border. so the president's committed to that. we're committed to helping him. whether it becomes something that we shut the government down over, don't see that happening. i do find a way that we will find at least a billion or so dollars to make sure that we start the wall. mr. ballou: back to technical questions on the farm bill. net farming decline 50% since the last farm bill was acted
yet's saving four times as much as was expected at the time of passage according to c.b.o. since farm bill passage other enacted legislation has pushed deficit spending $650 billion higher. would you agree the farm bill reforms are working and they deserve to be continued and supported? mr. meadows: the answer is some of them may be working and some could continue. i guess this is from my good friend giving me these detailed questions as he's got that. i can say that, that you got to take every piece of legislation. i have a novel idea. i actually read the legislation that i vote on. if more of us actually did that -- [applause] mr. meadows: instead of just taking the talking points and debating the talking points -- that's what a lot of people do. i can tell you the affordable care act was never on my bucket list to get -- i now have a ph.d. in health care policy from reading and readling and reading and listening.
there is an element of truth in every argument. if you just realize that. when everybody's making an argument, even if it's 180 degrees opposite of yours, if you listen for the truth in it, can you sometimes get to a point where you see that. in that are there some good things in the farm bill? yes. the less government involvement that we have generally the better off we're. i found that one of the -- probably the only thing that the government does extremely well is defend our country. outside of that, everything is suspect. mr. ballou: are you for medicaid expansion? and -- this is a tied question. in terms of your vision of health care, legislatively, how much would medicare be cut by in terms of billions of dollars? what's an acceptable figure? mr. meadows: really there is two different functions.
one is medicaid or medicare? is the question -- mr. ballou: medicaid. mr. meadows: i'm from noone expansion state. we didn't expand. we felts like a lot of the expansion actually has the potential harm of those who actually need medicaid. in fact we're seeing that in some states. but they are actually moving dollars away from those that are truly needing the helping for some that are able-bodied and quite frankly should work. we believe there should be a mandatory work requirement. so if we kept it at 138% of poverty where it is now and put a mandatory work requirement on there, i could even see it leaving it at that. then it gets back to the very basic of what we're doing. we have over -- well over 1,000 jobs. i use that figure because i know it is a conservative figure, of jobs that we could fill tomorrow in western north carolina if they would do two things.
pass a drug test and show up to work. that's a low bar. [applause] mr. meadows: we have to put the value back in it. if we don't start looking at federal policy that empowers people to actually not only get out of the cycle of poverty, but to understand that that value of work is probably the thing that gets them out of poverty quicker than anything else, we need to make sure we're not an enabler. mr. ballou: some people think that's unnecessary. most people are honest and show up to work. why mandate that? mr. meadows: i'm not saying we mandate showing up to work. i'm just saying that we got 1,000 jobs -- because if you are going to -- if i'm going to use your money to give someone else a benefit, then i need to be responsible with taking your benefit and making sure it's going to the most needy of the needy. if there is something who could work and chooses not to and doesn't have children, then i don't know that they should be
entitled to a safety net as much as the mom with two kids that you understand why perhaps she can't work or doesn't work. i think that as we look at that we have to make sure that we provide safety net. we're a compassionate nation. some of the most generous people are the people who will take money out of their pock tote give to the people in need. yet at the same time we have this sense of fairness that says, boy, if you are taking advantage of me, that's not right. so sometimes we need to make sure that we put in the standard to make sure we have that. mr. ballou: house appropriations. house republicans have proposed $26.7 billion in spending more than the president requested. agriculture, defense, energy, water, and legislative branch. you said we don't have agreement on top line numbers. not an agreement with the senate. further that you expect to have to pass a continuing resolution in september to keep the
government funded for at least part of fiscal year 2018. those numbers get past the president's desk at the end of the day, his or yours, what does this look like? mr. meadows: i think we have already gone beyond the budget that was put out by the administration. obviously we're negotiating this week on 12 appropriations bills that would have nondefense discretionary at $511 billion. and then defense at -- actually $621 billion plus $10 billion in o.c.o. the problem with that we're starting to teach our children how to count billion one, billion two, billion three. eventually you run into real money. i fully expect those numbers are not where we'll end up. we'll actually end up much higher than that on nondefense discretionary. that's my whole point. if we're going to do that do some offsets on the mandatory
spending side of things. if we're going to increase by $100 billion today, how much do we save oferte next 10 years to offset that? mr. ballou: you believe in a mini bus or omnibus? some people are pushing to push a package of these bills out at once. how big or how small can you tolerate? mr. meadows: i believe that we need to go back to regular order which means that you actually pass 12 appropriations bills. you send them over -- this is a recent phenomena when we have done these c.r.'s. originally it was only for a week or two while we were still negotiating to get there. now they are three months, year. we have to get back to 12 appropriations bills. let the appropriators do their business. the real stumbling block again is the senate. it's not just the senate. it's differences in our own conference. specifically would i be for the mini bus or 12 appropriations bills? that's in an omni with us right now. i'm for the 12 appropriations bills in the omnibus primarily
because the appropriators have done their business as if they were passing individual bills. so they have a lot of conservative riders in there. we would support that. i would support that. mr. ballou: taxes. what is an acceptable tax reform package look like to you? one example, trying to navigate an online sales tax. not a big fan of taxes, but it looks like some of your members will take a look at that in the freedom caucus. is the freedom caucus shifting its position in terms of taxes in this arena? two parter, would you back this specific tax -- mr. meadows: kristi noem sent you this question. she came to the freedom caucus. that's one of the other things you might not realize. we get a lot of people that are now coming to the freedom caucus to talk about their ideas and say can we support it? they found it's a very deliberative body. with this online sales tax it's
a matter of fairness. not a matter of a new tax as much as it is you do you support brick and mortar. online? there are very different views. i would say there is zero chance we would get an 80% threshold for or against it. just showing the diversity of our group. but as we look at that, what we're trying to do is give her an idea as well as chairman hensarling on flood insurance, on how many noings and how many yeses there are with that. a lot of it just defends on where your district is. as we look at that. are we changing on taxs? i want to make sure i don't make news. no, we're not changing on taxes. you were pretty good there slipping it in. we're not changing on taxes. we believe that less taxes are good for the economy. we believe that we need to be very aggressive with the tax cut. and we also believe that we need to make a decision now. this is, again, one of those things it is not a fine wine.
it doesn't improve with time. let's make a decision and get it done. r. ballou: carbon tax? mr. meadows: i am not in favor. looking for the element of truth. i had some of my democrat colleagues trying to share that. i even have one staffer who thinks that it has merit. i'm at least willing to listen. mr. ballou: transportation, infrastructure, you are trying to reduce taxes but taxes need to fund bridges, roads. what's the acceptable transportation package in terms of taxes versus what you would not like to have go forward? mr. meadows: well, we have two or three. the highway trust fund has two different investigators going the wrong way. cars are becoming more fuel efficient. less miles, less revenue from a gas tax. those investigators are going like that where there is no way it can adequately do that. at the same time, toll roledse roads, i'm not -- toll roads, i'm not a big fan.
drive between d.c. and new york and figure out what the problem is. if any of you have ever done that, get your wallet out and get ready to continue to pay over and over again. here's what we can do. we can do public-private partnerships. look at the gas tax and highway trust fund for another part. i co-sponsored a piece of legislation from john delaney who is a democrat from maryland who looked at a infrastructure bank. looking at some of the repatriation of earnings come interesting abroad to look at another facilities to make sure that -- i think it's a combination of all those as we put forth to look at funding the $1 frill in infrastructure that the president's -- $1 trillion in infrastructure the president's committed -- >> congressman mark meadows wrapping up his speech at the national press club and joining his colleagues at the u.s. house which gavels in momentarily. working this afternoon on intelligence programs bill. a house minority leader nancy pelosi urging members to reject
that bill because republican leaders are not allowing lengthy debate. later this week they'll take up a bill funding defense related programs, also for energy, water, legislative branch, v.a., military construction. votes later. live coverage now here on c-span. the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the prayer will be offered by our chaplain, father conroy. chaplain conroy: let us pray. lord our god, thank you for giving us another day. as they are returning to the capitol, please be with the members of this people's house and all their undertakings today. you know them through and through. you know how they relate with one another and know them as the american people do as the 115