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State of the Union
Interview With Arizona Senator John McCain; Israel Raids Missile Site in Gaza; Congressional Panel
Aired July 13, 2014 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: More children wade onto American soil while Washington idles over what to do with them.
Today, Arizona Senator John McCain on stopping the kids from coming and dealing with the 52,000 who have arrived since October.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have seen these children, and they are being treated humanely, but it cannot continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: And the scene at the Rio Grande, as viewed by one of the U.S. border guards who works it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He's been president for five-and-a-half years. When he's going to take responsibility for something?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Frustration paves the two-way street between the White House and the Capitol, and now the speaker wants to take the president to court. We will poll our jury of four House lawmakers to get a political verdict.
This is STATE OF THE UNION.
Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley.
Senator McCain will join us in a few moments, but first breaking news in the Middle East. Israeli forces crossed into Gaza overnight, raiding a Hamas missile site, and now they are telling residents in Northern Gaza to leave their homes, a clear signal that more airstrikes are imminent.
CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me live in Gaza City.
You are all too familiar with those warnings, Ben. Tell us what's going on.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were up north in an area where the inhabitants are leaving. They have been ordered to leave by the Israelis in anticipation of a ground operation.
We saw one of the -- it looked like one of the last families to leave the area. They were walking out of the Atatra, a village in Northern Gaza. They were able to catch a taxi, and just as this family, a man and his wife and five little girls, were about to get into the taxi, 300 yards away, either an artillery round or a rocket from the Israeli ships offshore hit and really just terrified the little girls.
They started to scream and cry, and the father sent them on their way. He stayed behind because many of the men feel they need to guard their houses, but I saw in 2009 that was one of the areas that was really ripped to pieces, house after house completely destroyed. So many of those people who have left the northern part of Gaza are now in Gaza City, where it is relatively safe -- and I underscore relatively, because there are also airstrikes here, quite intense overnight.
They're staying in United Nations schools. The desks have been moved out of the classrooms. These schools are teeming with little kids, with very little to do. They're provided so far with no food. The only source of sustenance is a water tanker. They are just the have to wait until they can get back to their homes, if those homes are still there in a few days -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Ben, we also know that Israel has taken more than 100 strikes into Israel from Gaza, and we know that's part of why they're in there, to try to stop and destroy wherever those sites are that the missiles are coming from.
But what is the precise endgame? What stops this flare-up?
WEDEMAN: Well, you have to look back at previous flare-ups.
In 2009, what happened was both sides at the same time declared a unilateral cease-fire, which more or less held for a while. That was probably because, in that instance, Israel conducted a ground incursion with heavy civilian casualties, and essentially achieved the goal, their limited goals, and pulled out.
In 2012, November 2012, after eight days, with Egyptian mediation, the fighting came to an end. This time around, there is no apparent mediation, and both sides seem to be sort of pushing the envelope in this case. Hamas clearly has better military capabilities, better missiles, reaching farther into Israel than ever before.
And in Israel, President -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a -- under a lot of pressure from particularly the right flank to really put an end to the missile fire, although the fact of the matter is, I suspect we will be back here in a few years doing the same thing over again -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Ben Wedeman in Gaza City for us, thanks, Ben.
I want to bring in Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, first, you heard what Ben had to say. What is the U.S. role right now?
MCCAIN: I think the United States should do what it can to bring about an end to this situation, which -- I slightly disagree with Ben. I would argue that, given conditions in the Middle East, this might be more dangerous than any time in the past, not only conditions domestically within Israel, but also the fact Egypt is not really playing the role they traditionally have, countries like Qatar and others that could play a role.
So, we obviously want to do what we can do to bring an end to this conflict. But, Candy, it's very important to understand there's no moral equivalency here, that Israel is being attacked by hundreds of rockets.
Their people, a third of their population, has got about a 60- second warning. Picture the United States of America with a country contiguous to ours, we're being subjected to rocket attacks. So the restraint of the Israelis, in my view, is -- is admirable.
And thanks to Iron Dome, which is an Israeli/U.S. cooperation result, there's not been casualties, but the patience of Bibi Netanyahu, as well as the fact that he's getting pressured from the more conservative wing of his coalition, is -- this is more dangerous, I think, than at any time in the past.
CROWLEY: Well, he -- there have been no casualties that we know of on the Israeli side during this recent going back and forth. Obviously, it started with the deaths of the three Israeli teens. But we have seen more than 100 Palestinian casualties and rising.
And so there's always that question about, when does this stop? So, what you're saying, which is what I believe Ben did, was that there's no real broker there, as Egypt was before, and the U.S. really, in the past, whether it's President Obama or anyone else, has really been unable to broker these kind of truces.
MCCAIN: Yes, and there's a -- because of the breakdown in Israeli/Palestinian talks, and the expectations were there, and the decision in Syria, the United States' influence has never been less than it is today.
And we're seeing the results of that. But, again, I want to point out, because there haven't been more Israeli casualties isn't because the Hamas, a terrorist organization, hasn't tried.
MCCAIN: In fact, they are indiscriminately targeting civilians, while Israelis are going so far as to warning the people in Gaza of impending strikes. There's a dramatic difference here.
It's a matter of capabilities, rather than intent, to say the least.
CROWLEY: Let me turn you to U.S. borders here, in this case, the border with Mexico.
The president has asked for almost $4 billion in emergency money to deal with this ever-rising number of unaccompanied minors that are coming across the border. What is it going to take to get you and other Republicans to approve that money?
MCCAIN: There has to be a halt to this.
That's what we want. And the best way to do that is for planeloads of these young people to be returning to the country of origin and their families who have spent as much as a year's salary paying these coyotes, who are also by -- in the business of an $85- billion-a-year drug business, will not be able to get their money and send their kids north.
As soon as they see their money is not effective in getting their kids to this country, then it will stop, and not before. And as tragic and as terrible as this situation is, we cannot have an unending flow of children from all over the world, much less Central America, into our country. So we have to repeal...
CROWLEY: But, Senator...
MCCAIN: Yes, go ahead.
CROWLEY: Go ahead.
MCCAIN: Go ahead.
CROWLEY: I was going to say, and I was going to talk about, you have a bill with Senator Flake which would expedite the process that would return these children to their countries.
I want to play you something that Senate Leahy said about returning these kids and then ask you something on the other side of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: When you have an 8- or 9-year-old girl who is being raped by gangs that are sending them up here, or they're being sent by their parents to escape that kind of violence, I'm not sure Americans all really feel that we should immediately send them back. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So, Senator, essentially, when you say expedited process, a lot of the folks who advocate for these children say that just means that no one's going to hear their case. Many of them are fleeing violence and perhaps death.
So, how can you expedite a process and somehow avoid the very real danger that some of these children face in their homelands?
MCCAIN: Well, in all due respect to my colleague in the Senate and others, are they ignoring what's happening to these children on the way up?
Are they ignoring the -- the rapes, the death, the riding on the top of a train and the deaths and injury? I would think that...
CROWLEY: But doesn't that tell you about something about the -- the situation in their home countries...
CROWLEY: ... that they would -- that they would..
CROWLEY: ... put themselves at that kind of risk?
MCCAIN: It tells me about conditions all over the world, in Nigeria and the Middle East today and the horrible things that are taking place all over the world.
And so the best thing to do is, if they have a case, we ought to beef up our consulate and our embassy and our capabilities, so they come there and present their case. And if they -- if it's valid, then we will bring them to the United States of America, not showing up at our borders.
The trip up that they're taking, we should do everything in our power to prevent that. So if -- and the fact is that we cannot have an unending stream of children, whether it be from Central America or anyplace else, to come into our country, with all of the strains and pressures that is put on our capabilities.
It's not acceptable. Every nation has the requirement to secure its borders. Our borders are not secure, no matter what they say.
CROWLEY: Well, many of these children, Senator, are just presenting themselves to border guards. It's not like they're slipping through.
MCCAIN: Yes. Yes.
CROWLEY: In fact, when we look at some of the statistics, what we're seeing, that enforcement does seem to be at an all-time high. I'm not talking children now. I mean in general.
CROWLEY: And that deportation -- again, not about children -- but deportation of those who are trying to cross illegally is also at an all-time high. So, is this really about border security?
MCCAIN: Well, a lot of it is about border security, because the same people, by the way, that are transporting the children are transporting, according to General Kelly, the head of Southern Command, $85-billion-a-year business in drugs.
And he says he is watching it happen because he doesn't have the capability to stop it. But the important thing here is that these children -- all we need to do is change the act, the trafficking victims prevention act, to treat these children the same way as we do with Canada and especially Mexico.
If you come to our country illegally, you will be sent back. And, unfortunately, things are very bad for them in their country. Things are terrible for them on the trip, and that has to be stopped as well. So it is a terrible situation. It's a humanitarian crisis, but, for us, we Republicans and I'm sure many Democrats will have to see an end to this.
Look, we need to spend about $6 billion to have our borders secure. The president wants $3.7 billion. If this keeps up, he will ask for another $3.7 billion next year. It has got to come to a halt.
CROWLEY: At some point, Senator, though, one has to take care of these 50,000-plus that have come here since October. What is your plan to deal with them? Doesn't that require more resources, more money for more social workers, more judges?
The law is what the law is right now. I understand you want to change it. But doesn't the president need this money? And don't you put yourself, again, Republicans, in the position that you're complaining about this, but not giving the money to at least deal with the problem as it is right now?
MCCAIN: If we don't address the root cause of the problem, and that is sending kids back where they came from and their parents having wasted $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, $6,000, $7,000 that went into the hands of the coyotes, the same people that are transporting billions of dollars of drugs into this country, then it won't matter how much money we spend.
The cause of it is that they believe that they can come here and stay, no matter what the circumstances are. I'm for increasing the judges. I'm for increasing many things. By the way, technology is the way to secure our border, which is not secure.
And so we can address this problem, but we have to address the root part of the problem, including increased judges and all of those other things.
MCCAIN: But it has to be brought to an end. That's my point.
CROWLEY: Unfortunately, I have to move you on to one last subject, because I wanted to get your take on something that has happened in the papers.
And that is an op-ed in "The Washington Post" from a friend of yours, Governor Rick Perry, who took on Rand Paul, another friend of yours, I suspect. And what Mr. Perry had to say was that: "Viewed together, Obama's policies have certainly led us to this dangerous point in Iraq and Syria, but Paul's brand of isolationism or whatever he prefers would compound the threat of terrorism even further."
Rand Paul's chief adviser responded to an inquiry from BuzzFeed. And he called the Perry article "utter nonsense. Interesting to be lectured in entirely in talking points, though, and his," meaning Perry's, "new glasses apparently don't make him see the world any more clearly."
Who sees the world and specifically terrorism more clearly, Governor Perry or Senator Paul?
MCCAIN: Well, it's hard for me to describe both of their positions, because I don't know them very much in-depth.
But Senator Paul is part of a wing of the party that's been there ever since -- prior to World War I in our Republican Party. And that is a withdrawal to fortress America. And I believe that the president of the United States has shown, absent American leadership, what can happen in the world today.
So I'm not particularly interested in getting between Senator Paul and Governor Perry, but I do believe that the things we're seeing in the world today, in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime, is a direct result of an absence of American leadership. And we are paying a very, very heavy price now, and we will in the future, until we decide to understand that America is an essential role in maintaining peace and stability throughout the world, and that does not mean sending combat troops everywhere.
My time with you is well over, but I have got to ask yes or no. Do you think Senator Paul is an isolationist?
MCCAIN: I think he has a view of America's role that is far different from mine in the world.
And I understand also his appeal to many Americans, who are very weary of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and others.
MCCAIN: And I would argue Americans who were weary after World War II, when President Truman said we had to stay in Korea. CROWLEY: Senator McCain, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
CROWLEY: Next up: the speaker vs. the president. Is the lawsuit the preamble to impeachment or the substitute? Our all-congressional roundtable is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sue him. Impeach him.
OBAMA: Really? For -- for what? You're going to sue me for doing my job? OK.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: That, of course, is President Obama. He was chiding House Republicans in front of some supporters in Texas this past week.
House Speaker John Boehner at the same time was announcing he's going to be suing the president over the president's executive actions regarding the health care law.
Joining me around the table are four members of the House, Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee, and her Republican colleague Aaron Schock from Illinois, Beto O'Rourke, Democrat from Texas, and Donna Edwards, Democrat from Maryland.
Thank you all so much for joining us.
So, let's start with the politics of the lawsuit, since we try to specialize in politics here. And that is, you -- we have already seen Democratic letters raising funds off both the lawsuit and threats of impeachment. And we have seen Republican conservatives sort of pushing Boehner on and talking the next step, impeachment.
So how does this play as you all look toward the midterms?
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I will jump in on that.
The lawsuit is about process. And the American people appreciate and want an orderly process. And, to them, the means is as important as the ends. And what they have seen is a president who has gone outside of his constitutional authority and is trying to make his own laws. And what they have repeatedly said -- and, Candy, this isn't a
partisan issue. We hear about it from Democrats, from Republicans, from independents. We hear a lot about it from women. There is an expectation that the president will conduct himself in a certain manner and that he is going to follow the letter of the law.
We are a nation of laws. And I have got to tell you, a lot of constitutional scholars are on our side in this debate.
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Oh, Candy, I have really got to jump in here.
I don't understand the politics, quite frankly. I mean, 74 percent of Republicans support the Affordable Care Act. And so they're suing against their own Republicans. They wanted a delay in the individual mandate, in fact, in the House passed a delay of the individual mandate, and now they're suing over the individual mandate.
Most of American people want to focus on jobs and the economy. We have had 52 straight months of job growth, positive job growth, 6.1 percent unemployment. People want to focus on jobs, extending unemployment, raising the minimum wage.
And what's on the Republicans' leaderboard? Suing the president and impeaching the president. No, I don't understand the politics.
CROWLEY: And we should say that the speaker has said, no, impeachment is not on his board. We are hearing Republicans talk about it, but not the bulk of Republicans.
I -- Congressman Schock, look, the thing is, I -- I don't know how Americans look at this, but my guess is they'd look up and think, what are they doing now? The speaker is suing the president? And I don't think they necessarily blame one or the other, but they just see a Washington that does not function, children at the border, a health care system -- I mean, how does this play?
REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: You know, Candy, I think -- I think this lawsuit is about a number of things, but, first and foremost, it's about the rule of law.
And the fact of the matter is, we have a president who has boasted at rally after rally that, if Congress doesn't pass the laws that he wants, he will act unilaterally and implement his own laws. I don't care what your political philosophy -- political philosophy is, and I don't care what your -- your political view of this process is.
We have a Constitution. And every two years, each of the four of us around this table take an oath. We raise our right hand, and we swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This lawsuit is more than just about holding the president within his realm of authority, which is to faithfully execute the laws that Congress passes. It's also about us fulfilling our constitutional responsibility,
our oath to protect and defend the Constitution. If we allow this president to write his own laws, to implement his own laws outside of the bounds and purview of the Congress, we will -- we will open the floodgates for future presidents, Republicans and Democrats, to do the same. And that's a dangerous precedent to set.
CROWLEY: Congressman O'Rourke, has the president made some tactical errors dealing with Congress? Because what's happened here -- outside legal errors and whether there is, you know, substantial evidence for a suit, has he made errors in dealing with Congress?
REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS: I don't know.
And, as you probably know, I'm a freshman. I have only been here for about 18 months.
CROWLEY: Well, long enough to tell, isn't it?
O'ROURKE: In terms of the merits of the argument, my understanding is that this president has authored fewer executive actions than almost any other president preceding his presidency in recent history.
But, furthermore, and probably more importantly, the veterans that I represent in El Paso want to us fix the VA. Those who are unemployed in El Paso want us to work on the economy. People are asking what we're going to do about this humanitarian crisis on the Texas/Mexico border.
So that's what my constituents, what I think most people in America want us to work on. I happen to think this lawsuit is a waste of time and resource and focus, when we have some very serious issues confronting this country.
CROWLEY: Let me quick -- I'm going to get you in.
SCHOCK: ... ask this question of my Democratic colleagues. Do they believe that the president is faithfully executing the laws of the Congress?
EDWARDS: You want a short answer to that?
SCHOCK: Do they believe that the crisis at the border is a result of the president?
EDWARDS: Absolutely, we believe the president -- the president is faithfully executing the laws.
And, if you want to talk about the crisis at the border, it has been exacerbated by the fact that Republicans refuse to address immigration reform.
BLACKBURN: Let's go back to this, because there are three equal branches of government. And the president is to do what -- he is to implement the laws. The Supreme Court has 12 times said, look, you are outside of your jurisdiction.
The president is trying to consolidate his power. The American people don't like it. They talk about jobs, the economy, Obamacare. What they say is, look at the uncertainty that this president and this administration is interjecting in the normal course of doing business.
EDWARDS: The president -- the president wants to act. The president wants to get something done, in the absence and the failure of Republicans in Congress...
BLACKBURN: Well, he should...
BLACKBURN: ... in the manner allowed to him, and not trying to make his own laws and be an imperial president.
CROWLEY: Before we -- I have got to take a break here, but I want to quick play a couple of sound bites. These were not an exchange, per se, between President Obama and the speaker of the House, but it is a tit-for-tat between the two of them.
I want to play it, and then go into break. And I'm going to come back and ask you what you think people hear when they hear this sort of thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: If we don't secure the border, nothing's going to change. And if you look at the president's request, it's all more about continuing to deal with the problem.
OBAMA: Congress just said no to fixing our broken immigration system. These guys still can't get their act together.
BOEHNER: He's been president for five-and-a-half years. When he's going to take responsibility for something? OBAMA: You're going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my
job, while you don't do your job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Can this marriage be saved? We are going to talk about that when we come back.
CROWLEY: Also about the problem on the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: I got to show you this very calm actually really beautiful picture at the bottom of your screen, that is U.S. soil, that river is the Rio Grande, and what you're seeing on the other side of the river is Mexico. This is where all the action has been with those unaccompanied minors that we've been talking about. Some 52,000 of them crossing into the U.S. since October.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So it is one of the things that we have just the panel to talk about that, but I wanted to button up first our last conversation, and that is when the American people, your constituents, the folks you hope will return all of to you office, look on their screen, they see the president going oh, yes, well sue me. And they see the speaker saying, when is he going to take responsibility?
Aren't your constituents back home going what is the matter for these people? What is the argument for not saying I'm not voting for any of them?
BLACKBURN: Well, I think, one of the things to realize is that the House has passed 300 bills that are sitting on Harry Reid's desk, 300 bills. Deal with jobs. Deal with so many of these issues and Harry Reid will not take them up.
So yes, there is a problem with inaction. And the other thing to look at is that here is the sound bites and they say, why don't you all talk to one another? And it would be very helpful for the president to come and talk with members of Congress. I don't know when he's last talked to the Democrats.
EDWARDS: Well, he has.
He doesn't (INAUDIBLE). He doesn't talk to Republicans -
EDWARDS: The jobs in the House of Representatives has (ph) actually passed laws that they know have a chance of going to the Senate being passed, and on to the president for his signature. It's true the House has done a whole bunch of stuff that they
know is never going to become law. What the --
BLACKBURN: That isn't correct.
EDWARDS: What the American people want is for us to extend unemployment benefits, to create jobs, to rebuild our infrastructure, to fix the crisis on the border. The American people want --
BLACKBURN: They're bipartisan. They're bipartisan bills.
EDWARDS: The American people want that kind of action. An immigration bill has passed the Senate. Two hundred members of the Congress -- of the House are waiting to vote on an immigration bill in the House. All we need is 18 Democrats.
Can't Speaker Boehner at least get that done so that the president can take the action that he needs?
CROWLEY: I'm not sure that Americans don't look and think, why aren't they voting on an immigration bill, as they're watching this unfold on the border.
SCHOCK: Well Candy, as Marsha was saying most of the legislation that passed the House has been done so in a bipartisan vote, much different then when I was a freshman and the Democrats controlled the entire process, which was a very hyperpartisan process.
Our rules -- our bills have gone through the House floor on open rule. We're in the appropriation process right now. We've been voting on 100 amendments, those have been Democratic and Republican amendments. So, everybody has been involved in process in the House where these bills have moved over to the Senate and died a slow death.
Your question about what our constituents are thinking they're thinking there ought to be rules of engagement. They're thinking that Congress has its responsible and role and the president has its responsibility and role. My constituents see the president who used to be their state U.S. senator saying, if you don't like what I'm doing, sue me, that's not the type of -
CROWLEY: A jargon (ph) (INAUDIBLE) -
CROWLEY: I mean that's a problem --
SCHOCK: Candy, the reason that we're suing him is because he's out of bounce. He's not following the rule of law. They're facing whiplash on their health care policy because they don't know what...
SCHOCK: ...the rules keep (INAUDIBLE).
CROWLEY: Let me ask Congressman O'Rourke here on this for a second.
You know, when you look at the border question, for instance, and there is a lot of question about, you know, why can't you pass an immigration bill. But I think the question now is, where is that leadership? The thing that Republicans have been hitting the president on for some time now has been, wait a second, we've had the V.A., which you brought up. We've had the income tax, the tax problem over at the IRS.
There have been a number of things and the president just sort of -- the administration has looked like it wasn't on top of it. Having said that, optics (ph) are a lot in politics. Do you think it is a mistake for the president not to have gone to the border this week when he was in Texas and because it may make him look uninvolved? Fair or not?
O'ROURKE: I wish he would have come to the border. I wish he would have visited McAllen, Texas, ground zero for these refugees fleeing Central America. I wish he would have come to my district in El Paso where we've seen thousands of family members. I want him to meet them in (INAUDIBLE) the Border Patrol of ICE, Annunciation House, a Catholic charity that's helping to take care of these families and reunite them with their families and just make sure that they're OK in this vulnerable time in their lives.
And I think it would have sent an important message to the rest of the country about how seriously he takes this issue beyond the spending request that he sent to Congress last week.
CROWLEY: And Congresswoman Edwards, it does -- I want to get you in on this as well because, you know, you're a firm supporter of the president as you are I suspect. But the problem here seems to be one of perception, and you know politics is a lot about perception.
How is the president going to get together with the House that is reluctant to give him a bunch of money without some other things that go along with controlling the border? How do you get to agreement on how to deal with these children?
EDWARDS: Well, I think the president has said really the root cause of the problem that we have here is the fact that we have a patchwork quilt of immigration laws that are no longer working. There's a proposal in the Congress to get something to the president's desk to deal comprehensively with immigration and in the absence of that the president has proposed this $3.7 billion package and of that $1.8 billion goes to deal directly with these unaccompanied children in addition to other kinds of border security measures.
If the House and the Congress really showed the intent to get something done, they would take up the president's proposal, meet with the president, come to an agreement, and deal with the present crisis that we have. But the present crisis, the underlying cause of that is the fact that we refuse and that Republicans in Congress have refused to deal with immigration reform.
SCHOCK: Candy, there is there is nothing in the Senate immigration bill that would have stemmed the tide of these refugees seeking asylum in America. That's a fact. There's nothing that's being proposed by House Democrats that would have stemmed the tide of refugees seeking asylum in the United States of America.
These people were coming to the United States because their home countries are unsafe and because the president's ambiguity on whether or not he will enforce America's borders and the rule of law that we currently have on the books. The fact that last week, the entire press internationally was a-twitter about the president's secretary of homeland securities' ambiguity on whether or not the children would stay or go only exacerbates the problem with more people fleeing across the border, hoping and believing that they can stay.
SCHOCK: More than any new law the president needs to be clear about what his intent is enforcing our nation's laws.
O'ROURKE: Your previous guest, Senator McCain, said the problem is border security and the president is to lax (ph). Others may think that it's that we haven't passed immigration reform. I think the origin of the problem is this instability and insecurity in Honduras, in Guatemala and El Salvador. And we really won't stop this crisis until we address those core issues and we're going to have to do it in a regional way.
Asylum requests in the U.S. are up obviously -- seriously over the last few years, but they're up in Nicaragua, they're up in Mexico and Belize, in Costa Rica and other regional areas 700% over the last five years.
So, if we're truly going to fix this problem we're going to have to address it here. Why not have state department and DHS down in those countries processing potential refugees and applicants for asylum on the ground so they don't have to come through Mexico, to the border.
BLACKBURN: No. There's a step we have to do before we get to that --
BLACKBURN: Everybody says -
EDWARDS: (INAUDIBLE) exactly that, which is why it's really important for us to consider it. It includes resources for the Department of State for the Department of Justice and for Homeland Security. HHS to deal with the crisis that we have immediately with these 52,000 children --
BLACKBURN: The way to deal with it is to secure the border first and be in the shelters.
(CROSSTALK) BLACKBURN: The thing that you hear when you're talking with
individuals that are handling the effects, what has been the effect of this issue. And by the way, the 2012, June 2012 executive order of not deporting children is one of the drivers of this. But Candy, they all say to a person, just as Senator McCain said, you got to start by securing that border. Because of the human trafficking --
CROWLEY: I need to button this up. But what do you say to the fact that this president has deported those without papers at a much higher rate than others have before him, and that border captures are down because not as many are coming.
O'ROURKE: By what measure is the border not secured?
BLACKBURN: But Candy, talking with people that are a part of this situation, they all say you have to secure the border, and the president needs to change some of his actions.-
O'ROURKE: As secure as it's ever been.
EDWARDS: The fact is that there are more Border Patrol agents that we have ever had --
BLACKBURN: I've been at the shelter and I've talked with these individuals, whether they're in public health or BCFS, who is the contractor for this. There are things the president needs to do. He needs to stop releasing criminal aliens. Do you realize in 2013 he leased 36,000 criminal aliens with 88,000 (ph) charges against them?
EDWARDS: This president has actually put more into border security enforcement than we've ever had -
EDWARDS: Than we've ever had in the nation's history. Since 2004, the numbers of border security agents that we've had, the amount of fencing that we've had go up, the enforcement that's gone on that border, the deportations that have happened are higher than they've ever been in this country's history. That is not the problem.
BLACKBURN: It is being overrun human trafficking.
CROWLEY: Let me stop you here because I got to -- I got to take a break and move on to the next subject.
I want you to picture this. An all-Republican House and Senate and a Democratic White House. We'll ask our congressional members to do just that, picture that, when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: We are back with our four members of congress, Maryland
Democrat Donna Edwards, Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, Republican Aaron Schock and Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke. Thank you so much all of you for hanging out with us (ph).
So, let's -- if you were going to go to Las Vegas and bet, probably even odds about now, I think, for Republicans to take over the Senate, really good odds that they will continue to control the House. Suppose for a minute there is an all-Republican Capitol Hill and a Democrat in the White House for his last two years. Play that scenario out for me. What happens? Nothing? Are we in good luck (ph) for (ph) sure (ph)?
SCHOCK: We saw it in the mid '90s with President Clinton and a Republican House and Senate. We saw them pass things like welfare-to- work in a bipartisan vote. It took a few presidential vetoes before they got it not too hot, not too cold but just right.
And so I think the question will really be for the president, does he want to negotiate with the legislative branch or does he want to continue as he has in going it alone and acting unilaterally in implementing laws certainly that the Congress believes is unconstitutional.
But as Marsha's point, we have passed over 300 bills in the House that have been stuck in the Senate with the Republican Senate it will allow us the opportunity to put these bipartisan bills on the president's desks and then to be able to negotiate with him on things like...
SCHOCK: ...immigration reform, on things like tax reform that he has said he would support. These are things that are important for economy to make America more competitive, to allow for our economy to grow. And so I think if the president will take a page out of Bill Clinton's book and be willing to negotiate and be willing to bring members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, over to the White House, that we can engage with him and get some things done with his final two years.
CROWLEY: So, let me -- let me hit the Democrats on this. I know this is probably your worst nightmare but let me -- let me suggest to you that there are some who argue, look, the Republicans would have to prove they can lead. They have to do something with this president for the two years that it would take until (ph) we (ph) have (ph) another (ph).
BLACKBURN: That's right.
O'ROURKE: You know, maybe I haven't been here long enough. I'm not as caught up in the politics as I am interested in how we're going to fix some of these things. So, the bills that we worked on, including immigration bills we worked on with other Republicans. Steve Pearce, Republican of New Mexico and myself authored the bill to reunify family members of American citizens who were stuck in their countries of origin because of technicalities with the immigration law. I've worked with Republican members of the Veteran Affairs committee to work on changes to improve that system.
I think we can get something done regardless of the makeup of Congress and who is in the White House. And I think part of that is just having the attitude and the desire to do that, and again maybe I haven't been here long enough but I still think that that's possible.
CROWLEY: No. I think you sort of hit on something because I do often say, Congresswomen, either one of you, the parts are much better than the whole generally when you're looking at Congress, that you do find that people do work together in pockets. It just never presents the larger picture.
EDWARDS: Well, I think on small things but I mean, we're talking about big things that are important for the American people. And frankly, Republicans have not demonstrated even up until now that they want to lead, because otherwise we would have extended unemployment benefits, otherwise we would have raised the minimum wage for the American people, otherwise we would have made sure that we had a long- term infrastructure authorization so that we could put people back to work.
BLACKBURN: Yes. I will. I think the important thing is here, in the House, we have worked in a bipartisan manner on many of these issues. They are languishing in the Senate. The president has shown a refusal to be presidential in this process, and to bring everybody to the table to work things out.
He's talked about a bill he did with the Republican. We've got so many other examples of this. People want problems solved. They want to get the job done. They do not like this bicker, bicker, yap, yap, lack of stability. They want to see this country. They want the country to be healthy. They want the country to be productive, and they want Congress to get the job done. And I think under Republican leadership in the House and Senate, you will see that.
CROWLEY: Let me stop you right there, because I do, right after this break, want to get back down to the real news of this week.
Everything coming up, Cleveland, Lebron James, and the Republican convention in one week, but could King James' return create complications for Republicans?
CROWLEY: I cannot leave you today without talking about Lebron James who is going back to Cleveland, and also the Republicans are going to go there for their convention.
So, I wanted to get your take on what was the hugest story of the week really.
O'ROURKE: Speaking about Lebron, one thing that really struck me was part of the reason he cited for coming back to Cleveland was coming back to a community to help that community grow and develop. In El Paso we just got a triple A franchise, the El Paso Chihuahuas. And I've seen what it has done for the town to have that level of professionalism in athletics that unifies and brings the community together. So, I really admire his decision and why he made it.
CROWLEY: Which is different than why he left you're telling me.
SCHOCK: Lebron's comments were classy and well done.
EDWARDS: It's just about being able to go back home and to have that home embrace you in the same way that you embrace them and raise your family there. But also I think Cleveland hopes they're going to bring a championship to Cleveland.
BLACKBURN: Well, and he pointed out that he appreciates his roots and his upbringing, and he wants to share that with his family and to give back.
And in my family we were raised that you give back more than you take. And I kind of saw that in his comments that he made. Very mature.
EDWARDS: Well, I'm a basketball fan and so I saw it because I'm looking forward to, you know, to seeing him really win a championship for that team. The same way that he did for Miami. This is actually really important to the fiber of the community and so you could see the same folks who had burned the Lebron jerseys when he left, they're going out to buy the new one.
CROWLEY: I have less than a minute left. This is our close it question of the week. So, if the Cleveland Cavaliers make the playoffs and they have a game in Cleveland in June on the same day that Republicans hold their convention, what will the city decide?
SCHOCK: It will be an exciting time to be in Cleveland. And I don't think -- anything could be more logistically complicated than a convention in Tampa which we went through. And if you were...
SCHOCK: ...down there you will know it was complicated.
BLACKBURN: You know then what you will see is the entire conversation of Cleveland will be about victory and the GOP, the growth and opportunity party. It will be a perfect time for them to be in Cleveland.
O'ROURKE: I'll be watching the basketball game.
CROWLEY: That's right.
I want to thank all of you for being here. Congresswoman Blackburn, Congresswoman Edwards, Congressman O'Rourke, Congressman Schock, thanks.
We'll be right back.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Please be sure to watch us each week at this time or set your DVR so you don't miss a moment.
Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," is next after a check of the headlines.