Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Headed for Clash with Congress over Budget; Rep. Tom Reed (R) of New York Discusses Trump's Budget Requests, the Runaway Deficit, Trump's National Emergency; Boeing Faces Safety Questions after 2nd 737 Crash in 5 Months; CNN Poll: Biden & Sanders Lead Democratic Field in Iowa. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 11, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:09] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

After the most stinging political defeat of his presidency, President Trump seems to be going back for more. This hour, the president is unveiling his budget wish list for next year and, in it, he is calling for more than $8.5 billion for the border wall while cutting spending pretty much everywhere else across the board, except for the Defense Department. The same border wall that Congress refused to fund and the same border wall that was the issue behind shutting the government down for five weeks. It's the next really nasty fight in Congress and it has everything to do with your money. Republicans are going to say it is a sign that the president is a fighter. Democrats are already saying that it is a sign that he hasn't learned his lesson.

Let's go to the White House. CNN's Abby Phillip is there for us.

Abby, what are you hearing there today?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is always one of those annual fights where it pits the president against the Congress, which prefers particularly to hold the purse strings. But as a statement of priorities, this budget says that President Trump is not done with his border wall fight. He is going to continue to ask Congress for more money than last time around and didn't get. This funding comes at a time when he is also trying to cut spending, as well. He is cutting all discretionary funding in the federal government by five percent, with the exception of the Defense Department. A small sliver of that increase in the budget is going to go toward this wall. About $5 billion of it will go toward the Department of Homeland Security, but $3.6 billion will go toward military defense spending.

Now, one of the reasons you have probably heard that before is because when the president said he was going to sign an emergency declaration, one of the sources of the funding that he was going to pull from was this military construction budget. This budget asks for more money for the military construction budget that will go towards a wall. But it also asks Congress to backfill the money that he funneled away from military construction projects for his national emergency to build the wall. So the president is really pushing the boundaries here of what Congress has already said they basically don't want to do.

This is all happening at a time when we are just days away from the Senate voting to basically say we disapprove of your move to declare a national emergency in order to build the wall. It's a bold move for President Trump. But it should be noted that these budgets typically don't go anywhere. Congress has already rejected it and, frankly, they go about their process of funding the federal government taking the budgets from the president under advisement.

One other small note about what the budget does, at a time when people are paying a lot of attention to deficits that have ballooned under the Trump administration, this budget proposes a balanced budget in 15 years, so that is what a lot of what these budget cuts are going towards, is a balanced budget projection for 2034. That's a long ways away. We are also a long ways away from this budget ever becoming much of a reality -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Abby, thanks so much. Good to see you. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now to discuss this and much more Republican Congressman Tom Reed, of New York. Here's here with me.

Thank you for coming in, Congressman.

REP. TOM REED, (R), NEW YORK: Great to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Really appreciate it.

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who handles the budget, says this, "That the budget request is not even worth the paper it is written on." You say what?

REED: You know, obviously, the president's budget is just that. It's the president's vision as to where we need to go as a country under his proposed budget direction. Congress will weigh in. We'll go through the budget negotiations and we'll prioritize in the House of Representatives, work with the Senate, and come up with a funding bill that reflects those prioritizations that I think we can agree upon.

BOLDUAN: Talking about priorities, that's what this is about. One thing I have been harping on for quite some time is like, is there a deficit hawk left in Washington. This is the perfect time to discuss it. You have spoken out often and loudly against runaway spending in Washington. You have taken tough votes to stand on this principle. When you see, as Abby Phillip was pointing out, there's really no attempt at balancing the budget in this budget proposal, it would balance the budget in 15 years, well after even a second term of President Trump, how do you support it?

REED: You know, that's where, when we broke with our party on the budget deal, for example. I agree that the deficits are becoming a problem that is unsustainable. Our national debt at $23 trillion, at some time, you run out of runway and that crisis hits. We should be taking proactive steps now. I appreciate the president's proposals in reducing some of the spending, identifying some areas that we can have a debate on reducing spending. But you also have to look at this from the perspective of what's beyond those discretionary lines, those items that come up every year --


BOLDUAN: That everyone is trying to fiddle around with, yes.

[11:05:02] REED: It's really when you're looking at -- we spend about $4 trillion. That's about $1 trillion of that $4 trillion that is spent in those discretionary lines. You really have to look at the other $3 trillion. Hopefully, there's common ground in getting drug costs and health care costs under control. If we can get health care costs under control because that impacts multiple lines of the federal coffers because it hits the federal work place, it hits the federal retirement coffers, it hits many different areas. That is an area that maybe we can find common ground.

BOLDUAN: The president campaigned, and I found a million sound bytes and statements from the campaign when we were looking this morning, about not only eliminating debt, but also getting to this point, balancing the budget and doing is quickly. For our viewers, here is one example.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are so many things that we can --


TRUMP: We can balance the budget very quickly.

SEAN HANITY, FOX HOST HANNITY: You think in five years?

TRUMP: I think over a five-year period. I don't know. Maybe I can even surprise you.


BOLDUAN: So I might be going out on a limb here, but that is not going to happen. In this moment, when the president is launching his reelection campaign, should Republican voters hold him accountable for promises like that, that are made, and they're not going to hold?

REED: It's not just the president, it's all of Congress. It's members that have run -- I mean, I have run on the debt crisis because I see it as an imminent threat to America's future. The national debt is the national security threat that we see at the highest levels of government across most spectrums and in the military's perspective. Attacking this issue shouldn't be a political issue. This should be a substantive, existential threat against America and we need to come together. People need to realize the crisis is going on as we speak.

BOLDUAN: Isn't it, fact of the matter, that gridlock in Washington is good politics to run on? That is really what this is.


REED: It's really politics. I guess politics runs the day in Washington, D.C. But at the end of the day, these problems will roost and these are real Americans that will be put in harm's way.

BOLDUAN: And I guess to -- it gets to the border wall funding that the president is asking for more funding. I mean, you voted with the president. You stood with the president when it came to the vote on the president's national emergency declaration. You are now pushing to limit the president, any president from being able to basically do the same in the future. How do you square those two things?

BOLDUAN: First, I recognize the crisis. So even going forward under our proposed amendments to the National Emergency Act recognize there will be emergency situations such as what I feel is occurring at the border, and that's why I vote in support of what the president is doing. Going forward, we shouldn't have the resolution of disapproval where Congress can play politics and engage in the process. We have 31 existing emergency declarations going back to the Carter years. Congress should be weighing in on each and every one of them so they don't stay open ended in perpetuity.

BOLDUAN: So you say there's a crisis at the border. If what the president is doing is appropriate, why do you want to limit a president in the future from doing it?

REED: This is about the presidential authority not just at the border but in every emergency situation going forward. We need to rein in the executive branch and have Congress be a co-equal branch of Congress like it needs to be, a check and balance, and have Congress weigh in on each and every emergency act.


BOLDUAN: You have to understand how that is confusing for someone to understand. You are with the president, you stand with the president on this --

REED: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: -- but you want to rein in the executive from being able to do that in the future.

REED: Correct.


BOLDUAN: Explain how that can't be -- how it can't be hypocritical.

REED: Because in the future, a may agree with a future president when she declares a national emergency. I am likely to agree with them on those situations. What happens is we don't have the check on the executive branch.


BOLDUAN: Congress has power. Congress has the power to vote on the resolution.

REED: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Congress has the power to override a veto. And you stood with the president.

REED: That is exactly the problem. Congress can choose to do that. What I'm saying is Congress needs to do that in each and every emergency declaration that occurs going forward so we can put limits on this, so you don't have emergency declarations from Carter's administration still on the books that presidents today can utilize for emergency authority to go beyond the scope of the executive branch.

BOLDUAN: If you think, on principle, that a president, that and executive, a president should not be able to overstep and go around Congress in this way, why not stand up to the president on this one?

REED: Just to be clear, what I'm saying is, in the future, there will be emergency situations. A president still needs the emergency authority. Congress needs to weigh in on each and every one of them. This one, I agree with the president. Future emergency declarations I could disagree. That is where Congress has to be a co-equal branch on each and every declaration that occurs, not just pick and choose when it's politically expedient.

BOLDUAN: You're making the case that you are not playing politics in what you are doing right now?

REED: No, because what we are doing is reestablishing Congress's role. The root cause of this problem is too much authority in the executive branch. Going forward --

BOLDUAN: Why not stand up to the president on this one? It seems basic. The root -- if we got here because of a root-cause problem coming from the executive branch, if there's no problem with what the president did here, do you think there's any problem with what the president did here?

[11:10:12] REED: I believe there's an emergency at the border. I agree with the president's assessment. That's why I stood with the president on this --


BOLDUAN: That's why I don't understand. You put this measure forward after this whole situation. So why do you see any problem with what he is doing or where the authority lies if you stand with the president on this?

REED: As the law is today, it allows the president to do this. What we are talking about is, going forward, in those situations that Congress has to weigh in -- (CROSSTALK)

REED: True. But every president has the discretion and will have the discretion going forward. What Congress is doing here, rather than playing politics and picking and choosing when resolutions will occur, this is a resolution of disapproval. This occurs at the selection of our congressional leadership. Congress should have to go on record, each and every member, on each and every emergency action so they can be held accountable to the people. That is the fundamental root of the problem, I think.

BOLDUAN: The root of a lot of problems.


BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in, Congressman.

REED: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Coming up next for us, new questions for Boeing after two deadly plane crashes in five months, both of them the exact same model of aircraft. Are those planes safe with so many airlines flying them? That's next.

Plus, new polls show Republicans in Iowa are standing with President Trump. Why are 40 percent also saying they want to see another Republican take him on? We'll dive into the numbers, coming up.


[11:15:54] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, search teams have now recovered the black boxes from the Ethiopian Airlines flight that went down yesterday moments after takeoff killing all 157 people on board. CNN is hearing from an eyewitness who says the plane was smoking, swerving, dipping before it crashed. Compounding this tragedy is it is the second time in five months that this model, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, has crashed with deadly results. Now some countries are grounding the new model jets and Boeing is under intense scrutiny.

We'll get to that in just a second.

But first, I want to go to the ground to the crash site in Ethiopia. CNN's David McKenzie is there.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This troubling crash, this tragic incident, behind me, you can see the big diggers. They are separating parts of the engine of this, what was a brand-new Boeing from parts of the fuselage. There's been tragic moments of bringing out the remains of those lost on this flight. There had been officials from the U.S., other countries and Ethiopian Airlines on the scene.

Moments ago, I spoke to a witness who says he was tending his sheep -- he is a shepherd. This is a very rural area of Ethiopia -- when he heard the noise of the plane coming over. He said when he came out to look, there were flames, as he put it, toward the tail side of the plane. Relatively soon after that, it smashed at the hillside creating a crater that's about as big as a basketball court. A horrendous, catastrophic impact into the hillside. No survivors.

Earlier, we spoke to the U.S. ambassador, who was here on the scene. Take a listen.


MICHAEL RAYNOR, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ETHIOPIA: Eight Americans showing great interest in Africa, people who either lived here or were here to work and to contribute to the development of this continent. Eight inspiring lives and eight true tragedies. Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by their deaths.


MCKENZIE: The ambassador said that the investigators are on their way here. They will be here overnight. He also said that Interpol is working with U.S. and Ethiopian authorities to try to identify the remains of those lost in the terrible incident.


BOLDUAN: David, thank you so much. David McKenzie on the ground for us.

Joining me right now for more on what this means, especially for Boeing and anyone who is flying, Richard Quest is here, CNN aviation correspondent, host of CNN International's "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."

Richard, what are you hearing from Boeing about this?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Boeing just put out a statement in the last hour. It says -- it's a long statement which, of course, once again, it is discussing and looking at the matter with the operators and the airlines. It says, "The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators."

That will be regarded as sort of a holding statement while they wait for more information from the two boxes, the data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, that you just mentioned.

The eyewitness account, look, the eyewitnesses are usually in some cases wrong. They are often exaggerated. They don't necessarily explain what might have caused it. What will give a result is these two recorders. It will be a day or two before we get some early indications on exactly what was involved.

BOLDUAN: The fact of the matter is, two brand-new planes crashed, multiple victims, same plane five months apart. It leaves everyone to wonder why Boeing hasn't taken a step of grounding them all until they know? QUEST: There's a very good reason, because Boeing, at the moment,

doesn't have any reason to believe that there's anything wrong with the planes, and more than they believe there was anything wrong with the Lion air -- there wasn't anything wrong the Lion airplane as such. It was just that it was mis-flown in a particular circumstance. The plane didn't fail in Lion Air. It was a question of circumstances. If it's the same error, they don't know.

[11:20:09] Now, the problem here is the chart that you are showing on the screen now. You have the Chinese regulator, the Chinese equivalent of the FAA, saying ground the fleet, there are more than 90 of these planes flying around China, we want it grounded until there are more details. And that will beg the question to the U.S. regulator, the FAA, why do you not ground the fleet out of an abundance of caution. If you claim that safety is first, what is wrong with taking this precautionary step? Those other three airlines that are flying, the biggest three flying it. And on this point, Kate, it's very easy for Boeing or somebody else to say there's nothing wrong, don't ground. The plane is safe, don't ground. But the passengers are entitled to reply that the Chinese have thought it serious enough to ground 94 of those planes flying in their air space. It's leaving the American traveling public in an intolerable position having to make their own judgment on what they think. Chinese regulator, U.S. regulator, Ethiopian regulator, Indonesian regulator, who do we believe?

BOLDUAN: You'd think they would all be looking at the same risk factors when it comes to the flying public

QUEST: There's no facts. There's no facts at the moment to indicate one way or the other --


QUEST: No. Except the three coincidences. Same brand-new plane, same early phase of flight, and same seemingly motions of the changes in altitude. And once again, an extremely violent way out of the sky, straight down. There are these similarities. But, if I say to you one plus one equals -- this is the position. Who is in the best position to tell you what that answer is?

BOLDUAN: Right now, it's going to be the NTSB in a couple more days.

Real quick, Richard, everyone is calling this Boeing's best seller. Why has this plane been such a best seller? What was the draw?

QUEST: Because it doesn't -- it doesn't make as much - it doesn't sell it for as much as the 777 but they sell many more of them. They sell the planes by the thousand. It is a production line that makes them in the 50s and 60s per month. This is the -- or at least that's their goal.


QUEST: This is their most extraordinary operation. There are 4,000 of these planes. So anything, anything at all that calls it into question, this particular aircraft, which is Boeing's best seller because it makes so many, is what we are talking about.

BOLDUAN: I will say, in the midst of this, it leaves the public in an impossible decision.


BOLDUAN: Two days, three days is something. That is still a ton of flights that won't be happening in two or three days while they trying to get this early information coming out.

Thank you, Richard. I really appreciate it.

QUEST: Pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the 2020 race is heating up in the first state to vote. We're talking about Iowa. And Iowa Democrats' first choice hasn't even announced yet. What does that say?

We'll be right back.


[11:28:06] BOLDUAN: This just in to CNN. Democrats have made their choice. Not on who will be the nominee, but they have picked the location for the 2020 convention, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a Midwest convention, the first in decades, and in a critical state that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.

New CNN polling in another midwestern state is sending signals of what Democrats are looking for in that nominee. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders are top choices for president among Democratic caucus goers. Biden is 27 percent, though he is not in the race, and Sanders at 25. Elizabeth Warren in a distant third with 9 percent support. What are Iowa Democrats saying if the current top choice hasn't even announced he is running yet?

Joining me now is CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff -- I left my heart in Iowa -- Zeleny, and CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein.

It's great to see you guys.

OK, Jeff, you spend more time in Iowa than anyone not paying taxes there.


BOLDUAN: Why not? What are Iowa Democrats saying right now with these numbers?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, there's no question that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have the most name recognition. They have been around. Of course, Joe Biden has run in 1998 and 2008, and Bernie Sanders just four years ago. That's what the polls largely are. In this early snapshot in time, they are name recognition polls. But they also show us something else. They show us sort of how age and ideology are breaking down. And there's a split. Older voters like Joe Biden more, and younger voters, under 45, like Bernie Sanders more, by and large. But a few things inside the poll I found interesting. Even the most liberals in Iowa, the ones who identify themselves as liberals, some of them had concerns about how liberal Bernie Sanders is. I have to question if some of this Socialist branding is working to his detriment. At this point, we should point out it is a very early, early period. Early polls don't matter much except for name I.D. It is one thing Joe Biden is looking at. He is likely to jump in, I am told by some people close to him, probably in early April.