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Ryan Weekly Press Conference Ahead of Immigration Vote; Dr. Sanjay Gupta Focuses on Feeding America's Hungry with "Champions for Change". Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 21, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:57] REP. PAUL RYAN, (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We heard yesterday from some manufacturers what tax reform has meant for them and for their co-workers. In essence, tax reform has been an absolute game changer for people in this economy. These companies now have the confidence to make the investments and to take the risks that lead to growth. For workers, this has already been translating into higher pay and more paths for advancement. It means more American- made goods on the shelves here and around the world.

This economic insurgence, this economic resurgence, it happened just six months ago. In fact, the job market is so strong now that the number of job openings now exceeds the number of jobs people are looking for in America. Think about that. There are more job openings in this country than there are people looking for work.

So today, we're going to be voting on a farm bill that will help close the skills gap and get more people into the work force and on to the ladder of opportunity. This is a perfect time to pull people out of poverty into the work force on to the ladder of opportunity. We see this as a great moment to get the folks who have been marginalized in this society, who have been on the sidelines, on to a life of self- sufficiency and to advancement. This is good for America's workers and it's going help more families take part in this economic resurgence.

Do any of you have any questions?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I have questions about the compromise bill. First off, what do you think should be done about the children and parents who have already been separated?

RYAN: I believe HHS is working on that. We obviously want to have families reunited. So I believe HHS is working on that. No, excuse me. DHS is working on that with HHS.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And the bill allows for the indefinite detention of these families. How long is it humane to hold children, even if they're with their parents?

RYAN: Obviously, what we're trying to do is put these families at the head of the queue so they that can be adjudicated faster and have the proper facilities to house them. But I'm beginning to think the Democrats, who make this alternative argument, are less interested in keeping families intact and more interested in having open borders. The last thing we want do is have an incentive for illegal immigration and open borders.

We want to keep families intact and enforce our laws and secure our border. That is what the vast majority of Americans want to have happen. We're finishing up about 70 opioid bills of a two-week run here and one of the biggest problems we have facing this opioid crisis in this country is cheap heroin coming in from the Mexican cartels from the southern border. So I don't think Americans want to see an open border. We want to see a secure border. We want to enforce our immigration laws. And we want to keep families together. We can do that. And I would encourage Democrats in joining us to do that.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, many of your colleagues, GOP colleagues, as well as some people from the White House, are predicting both immigration bills are going to fail today. What's plan "C" at this point? The stand-alone bill?

[11:35:01] RYAN: We will cross that bridge when we get to it. Let's take a step back here and remember why we're here this week with this process. Our goal was to prevent a discharge petition from reaching the floor. A discharge petition would have brought legislation to the floor that the president would have surely vetoed. It would have been an exercise in futility. But a lot of our members want to be able to express themselves by voting for the policies that they like so they can express their votes on the floor. And what the president helped us do this week is he answered the questions members had, which is, are these bills coming to the floor bills that, if they made it to his desk, he would sign into law.

He was extremely helpful on that front. The bills coming to the floor today are bills that, if it got to his desk, he would sign into law. Therefore, it's a legitimate exercise. It's not a discharge petition. But members will be able to express themselves. If these bills do not pass today, then we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But the last thing I want to do right now is undercut on the votes we're about to have and what I think are pretty darn good immigration measures.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You're saying it could still be a success. If the bills fair because it did away with --


RYAN: Yes. We're bringing bills to the floor that, if they got to his desk, he would say. First, the discharge petition, which means we would be bringing to the floor that would get vetoed by the president. And we're giving members the ability to vote for the policy of their preference.

Kim? UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How can you call the discharge petition of a

futile gesture and call this illegitimate exercise when your vote counters don't think that either of these don't pass --


RYAN: Because we're bringing legislation to the floor that, if it got to president's desk, he'd actually sign it into law. Let me say it this way. Let me say it this way. When the Supreme Court removed our DACA deadline -- look, you all -- you guys cover Congress. Congress functions best when it has deadlines. And when the Supreme Court removed our docket deadline, the Democrats took a walk and they basically did not participate in working on solving these problems. So we've been trying to solve these problems on our own. What we did not want to do is bring legislation to the floor that we knew would simply result in a veto. But our members wanted to express themselves on issues they care a great deal about and they wanted to do it inside of legislation that, if it got to the president's desk, would get signed into law.

The president -- he and I have talked a lot about this this week. He's as frustrated about the filibuster as anybody is these days. But what a lot of members are concerned about is , even if it passed the bill, it's going to take nine Democrats in the Senate to even get it through the Senate because of the filibuster before it gets to his desk. And that is also a source of the frustration we have around here.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Imagine a world where there was no president and there was no Senate. If there --


RYAN: Next question.


That's pretty silly.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any bill that you could produce that would get out of the House of Representatives?

RYAN: I don't know the answer to that question. We're going to have some votes today. We're going to see.

Here's the way I look at this. DACA is broken. The immigration system is broken. The border is not fully secured. These are facts. They need to be solved. At the end of the day, I believe we'll come back around. If a bill isn't passed today, we're going to come back around to the president's four pillars. Because the president put out an extremely reasonable plan of his four pillars and how to solve some of the thorniest immigration issues that have been plaguing us for a long, long time. Hey, don't forget for a second here, when Barack Obama was president,

for a while he had 60 votes in the Senate and a huge majority in the House, and he didn't do anything to fix the broken immigration system. Nothing. And they had total control of government. So here we are with filibusters galore in the Senate, trying to fix this problem when the Democrats had taken a walk on this thing. I think, at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, when deadlines come around, we're probably going to end up with the president's four pillars.


RYAN: OK, I'm calling on you because you won.


RYAN: And I hope you're happy that our members threw this game to you guys.


Out of defense and respect for the First Amendment.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you. We can use all the respect we can get.

Why should what the president wants override what the House Republicans want and can have?

RYAN: The House Republicans want what the president wants because we want to secure our borders. We want to have a nation of laws, enforcing the law. And we want to fix the broken immigration system.

By the way, when we pass legislation around here, we'd like it to go into law. That's kind of important. Therefore, you want to make sure you're bringing bills to the floor that would have the president's support if it got to his desk. That's the conversation we've had this week.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you say the discharge petition is a dead issue at this point if these votes do --


RYAN: The promise and the goal was always -- we were never going to be able to promise an outcome, but we could promise an effort and a fair process. That's what is being delivered on today.

[11:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Republicans have talked a long time about the problem with the immigration system. And if you're able to pass either of these bills today, it would be the first time Republicans have been able, on their own --

RYAN: That's right. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- to pass a more comprehensive immigration bill. If it fails, if the bill fails today, do you have any counsel for your successor or even later this fall?

RYAN: Again --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it time for Republicans to acknowledge that they're unable to pass, they're unable to bridge their irreconcilable differences on this issue?


RYAN: This is the -- this is the frustration with the filibuster. It also is the frustration that, again, once our deadline left, the Democrats took a walk. I think, in many cases, they're more interested in the issue than the solution. I think when you get deadlines, it's going to make it easier. I do believe the president's four pillars is a very good landing spot to ultimately making law. I think we're advancing the cause even if something doesn't necessarily pass.

I think we're making advancements because we're putting ideas on the table, members are being able to express themselves, and we've brought to the floor the kind of process that our members have been asking for even if it may not result in law. Because, as I mentioned, even if we have something out of here, you need nine Democrats to stop trying to stop things and voting with us. I don't see that happening.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you going to bring up a bill later this year?

RYAN: We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, Nancy Pelosi called your bill perhaps a compromise with the devil but not a compromise with the Democrats. What do you make of that language --


RYAN: Not even -- yes, I'm just not even going to comment on it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, slightly different topic. Last week --



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Last week, you met with Rod Rosenstein over this dispute you have over records. Some of your members want to hold him in contempt. One, are you supportive of holding him in contempt?


RYAN: I'm supportive of making sure that we get the documents we rightly deserve, that we legitimately requested. We expect compliance. I'm still getting daily reports from our committee chairs about the progress on the compliance. I'm going to regroup with them tomorrow. But I expect them to comply with all of our very legitimate document requests because this is a legitimate congressional oversight of the executive branch.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Some of your colleagues are using this fight and calls for contempt as a pretext for the president to fire Rod Rosenstein.

RYAN: No. I'm concerned they've been dragging their feet over at the Justice Department to giving Congress -- they could have spared the country a whole bunch of drama if they would have complied with these documentary requests months ago when they were made in the first place.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Speaker, to follow up on what Lisa was saying, is immigration the new third rail for Republican politics? Are we destined --


RYAN: How many third rails do we have these days in politics? There's a bunch of third rails.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It seems to be the hottest one.

RYAN: I think this issue -- look, you know me and entitlements. I've been trying to reform entitlements ever since the day I got here. These are hard issues. But these issues will ultimately get solved in this country, you know why, because they have to get solved in this country. It's broken. Our immigration system is broken. We have a lot of problems that are broken. I do believe we're advancing really good ideas today with the votes we're having.

And I think these are the seeds that are going to be planted for an ultimate solution. Whether they get through today or they get through tomorrow or the day after that, these are good ideas that are going to ultimately show a way forward on this. But the Democrats I think basically decided to take a walk when the deadline went away. And I think what we'll ultimately get, at the end of the day, is something that looks like the president's four pillars.

Thank you very much.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You heard right there, House Speaker Paul Ryan at his weekly press conference on the separation of families. Importantly, he said that he thinks that they're working on it, trying to get the children, who are separated now, back with their families. On the votes today in the House, no matter what he said, not a vote of confidence of how things could be going this afternoon.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:46:09] BOLDUAN: This week we've been sharing extraordinary stories of people making a difference in a special series called "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE." Right here in the U.S., more than 41 million people have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for other basic life necessities.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, went to find out what can be done to solve America's hunger problem.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When I first heard the story I'm about to tell you, I really didn't believe it. It starts with these adorable children. Four out of five kids in this classroom are food insecure, not sure when or if they'll get their next meal.

Covering hunger, even widespread hunger, famine, have been some of the most emotionally tough stories I've covered in 17 years as a journalist.

(on camera): Welcome to a very special edition of SGND, the frontlines of famine. I'm in the Kenya at one of the largest refugee camps in the world.

Still, I wasn't ready to believe just how bad the problem was back home.

What's happening in the United States is by no means a famine. But one in eight Americans, one in six children struggle with hunger.

CHARITY MILLS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRI-LAKES CARES: What I have found is that poverty lives right next door to all of us. It can happen to anybody. And it happens due to some sort of catastrophic event that you're not expecting.

GUPTA (voice-over): There's something else. The face of hunger might surprise you. It surprised me.

Charity Mills, mother of five. Her husband, back in grad school, retraining after the recession.

Every meal now dependent on the generosity of others.

MILLS: There was a time when we were 100 percent dependent on it. That was a difficult time.

GUPTA: Today, the organization of Feeding America is all about feeding Charity Mills and her family.

(on camera): Do you do this every morning?


GUPTA: It's incredible work.

LABOTTO (ph): It is.

GUPTA (voice-over): Here in Colorado Springs, Paul Labotto (ph) and I are on a mission to collect food that might otherwise go to waste.

(on camera): There is food that will be picked up today that will help feed people tonight.

LABOTTO (ph): Yes, sir.

GUPTA: And 40 percent of the food goes to waste in this country. How do you live in a society where 40 percent goes to waste and people are hungry?

I think when it happens on the fields, on the docks, in the stores, in peoples' homes, they'll feel empowered to do something about it.

(voice-over): Today, Paul and I bring back almost a thousand pounds of food to be inspected and sorted. A lot of it lasts longer than you think.

MARY LASCH, VOLUNTEER, CARE AND SHARE FOOD BANK: I think that's the greatest surprise that meat in a can would last that long.

GUPTA (on camera): So five years after the expiration date.


GUPTA: I did not know that.


GUPTA: That surprised me.

(voice-over): When you spend time at a place like Feeding America and meet some of their two million volunteers, you quickly realize everybody here has a story about hunger.

Like my Champion for Change, Mary Lasch.

LASCH: I know the pain in the stomach, the sadness. You're scared to say anything. You know, my parents worked at a five-star resort in the Poconos. My dad was a chef. But yet, his kids were hungry. Because of abuse and neglect, he didn't feed us, but he fed hundreds of other people daily. But not his own kids.

GUPTA (on camera): How much of what you went through at that time is part of what you're doing now?

LASCH: That is what drives me. If I can make a difference in one child's life a day, I feel that my work is done.

[11:50:05] GUPTA: This is it. This is Feeding America.

This feels like you're actually doing something worthwhile.

PATRICK BRENNAN, VOLUNTEER, FEEDING AMERICA: We're going to dig some potatoes.


BRENNAN: This is what a potato plant looks like.

GUPTA: This is it.

BRENNAN: This is it right here.

GUPTA: People forget food comes from the ground sometimes.

BRENNAN: It's amazing.

GUPTA (voice-over): Former Green Beret Patrick Brennan is my commanding officer today at this farm in San Antonio.

BRENNAN: We have this basketful that we harvested this morning.

GUPTA (on camera): That's all pretty good-looking produce.

BRENNAN: It's fantastic.

GUPTA (voice-over): The one thing I hope you will remember, if we simply stop wasting food, we could absolutely feed America.

Remember those kids? The food we're passing out and will feed them and their families is food that might have otherwise gone to waste.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: When I get those food bags, they're really heavy, and that heaviness is love.

GUPTA (on camera): It's hard to hear about these kids. You can't believe that a kid would be hungry, first of all. And then they're taking food home for their family. It's a lot of responsibility, I think. And -- it's like we can do better. It's like what can be better.

(voice-over): It's the reason I wanted to tell the story of Feeding America.

Matt Knotts is the organization's president.

MATT KNOTTS, PRESIDENT, FEEDING AMERICA: I think it's a solvable problem, actually. As I said, we're working at scale to solve that problem, to get food from every point in the U.S. food supply chain, from farm to fork, where there's surplus food and to capture that food and get it people who need it most.

GUPTA: People like Charity Mills. The food we picked up earlier made its way to this pantry and then to Charity's home.

MILLS: Tonight is spaghetti, which is a pretty typical family meal for us.

Did you get your science test back today?

GUPTA (on camera): Have you ever stepped back and thought about how many people you've likely helped feed now?

LASCH: I haven't, but I don't feel like it's been enough yet. However I can help as long, as I can help, I will do it.


BOLDUAN: Sanjay Gupta is here with me now.

Sanjay, it's such a basic thing and it is also everything.

GUPTA: You deal with so many things that you're talking about in the news that are unsolvable problems.


GUPTA: This one seems very solvable. It's very sad. I think, that we live in a country where 40 percent of food is wasted.


BOLDUAN: That's never should -- that doesn't -- it almost doesn't even compute. It shouldn't make sense.

GUPTA: It's amazing to me. We don't have respect for food. When you live in a resource-rich country like the United States, basic things like that are taken for granted. At the same time, one in six children aren't sure if they're getting a next meal. Those two facts should not exist side by side. People are hungry and we waste all this food. That's a math problem.

BOLDUAN: And it gets to everything to your area of expertise. When you're talking about children sitting in a classroom, it's brain power.


BOLDUAN: How are they expected to learn if all they're thinking about is their poor little tummies?

GUPTA: That's right. They not only need food, they need to have the right food as well.


GUPTA: They need to get the right food as well. There are great programs out there. Some of them just throw more and more calories at issues. These are kids whose brains are still developing. Like that little kid you met in the piece, he's getting his food, and now he's also, in some ways, responsible for taking a lot of food home. Think of that. The kid, a third grader, who is basically now trying to make sure he feeds his family.

BOLDUAN: Feeding America.


BOLDUAN: They seem like they really are game changers.

GUPTA: We want to put them out of business because we shouldn't need them anymore.


GUPTA: But for the time being, they're doing incredible work.

BOLDUAN: It's really amazing stuff.

What do they need most?

GUPTA: I think this sort of awareness actually goes a long way. That's not just a euphemism. I don't think people realize that our neighbors, our kids' friends' parents, people are really sometimes hungry. They're just not sure about where they're getting their meals from. They're going to pantries, they're stigmatized, they feel embarrassed by it. I think the awareness goes a long way. Keep in mind, this is a pretty pervasive problem. But food wastage.

You know the sell-by dates and use-by dates? I pay attention. You probably pay attention. They're pretty meaningless. It only thing that requires one of these dates is infant formula. Canned meal, like canned tuna, for example, can stay five years past the date that's stamped on the can. That food is ending up in landfills instead of feeding people who are truly needy and want this food. So food wastage in the home is a big thing. Uglier fruits, that fruit never gets eaten. The produce never gets eaten. That stuff can feed families. Instead, it ends up in landfills.

BOLDUAN: If you ever have a chance to work with someone who farms, makes food themselves, you will appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: Yes. You plant it, it comes up. I don't care if it's an ugly zucchini, it's still a zucchini and it still tastes just as good.

GUPTA: That's right.

BOLDUAN: When you do it yourself, it matters.

GUPTA: It matters even more. You really love that.

[11:55:01] BOLDUAN: So true.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you. Thanks for bringing that story to us.

GUPTA: You've got it. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Sanjay.

BOLDUAN: We're going to continue to share these inspirational stories all this week.

And please don't miss our "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" prime-time special, hosted by the one and only Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Saturday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

I want to take you right now back to Capitol Hill. Ahead of the big votes that will be happening shortly, we're looking at this. Kids staging a protest, an immigration protest, ahead of those House votes. Those blankets, those runners' blankets, those are the blankets we're seeing from inside those detention centers. You also see something like a kennel or a crate. You see what message they're trying to send as Republicans and Democrats are going to head into the House chamber to place votes, to cast their votes on immigration bills.

We'll be right back.