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You Can Quote Me -- July 14, 2013 -- Rep. Peter Welch - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

You Can Quote Me -- July 14, 2013 -- Rep. Peter Welch

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

You Can Quote Me -- July 14, 2013 -- Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, joins Kristin Carlson and Darren Perron to discuss issues facing Congress including health care, education and the Farm Bill.

TRANSCRIPTION:

>> Announcer: FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. I'M KRISTEN CARLSON. OUR NEWSMAKER THIS SUNDAY MORNING IS CONGRESSMAN PETER WELCH. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU.

>> JOINING THE QUESTION IS MY COLLEAGUE DARREN PERRON.

>> CONGRESSMAN, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING. LET'S START WITH BIG TICKET ISSUES YOU FOLKS ARE FACING DOWN IN WASHINGTON. I'D LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE STUDENT LOANS. RIGHT NOW, WE'RE AT 3.4% INTEREST RATE AND NOW WE'RE LOOKING AT DOUBLE THAT. IT'S BEEN CALLED A CRISIS, THE NEXT BUBBLE TO BURST. IS IT, AND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?

>> WELL, IT IS A CRISIS. THE COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION TO YOU ARE KIDS AND -- OUR KIDS AND FAMILIES IS BRUTAL AND STUDENT LOANS HAVE DOUBLED. THE STAFFORD LOANS, NAMED AFTER VERMONT'S BOB STAFFORD, HAVE GONE FROM 3.4% ON JULY 1 TO 6.8%. WHEN THE GOVERNMENT IS BORROWING MONEY AT 2.5% OR LESS, WHY ARE WE STICKING THAT HUGE BURDEN ON MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES AND KIDS. SO A YEAR AGO, WE HAD EXTENDED THE STAFF STORD LOANS AT THE -- STAFFORD LOANS AT THE LOWER RATE AND WE TRIED TO DO THAT THIS YEAR, BUT WERE UNSUCCESSFUL. THAT MEANS A THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR, ADDITIONAL EXPENSE, TO OUR KIDS. YOU KNOW, VERMONT KIDS, WE HAVE THE SEVENTH HIGHEST DEBT RATIO IN THE COUNTRY AND THOSE KIDS GRADUATE WITH A DEBT OF ABOUT CLOSE TO $30,000. SO WE'VE GOT TO CHANGE THIS AND THERE'S PROGRESS IN THE SENATE. IT'S NOT IN THE HOUSE, BUT MY HOPE IS WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO, BEFORE TOO LONG, TO GO BACK TO THE LOWER RATE OR SOMETHING CLOSE TO IT.

>> WHAT IS THE PROGRESS THAT'S BEING LOOKED AT IN THE SENATE RIGHT NOW AND WHAT IS THE HOLD-UP IN THE HOUSE?

>> WELL, THE HOLD-UP IN THE HOUSE IS THAT THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY PASSED LEGISLATION THAT ACTUALLY CREATED A VARIABLE RATE AND HAD RATES GO UP ALMOST TO 8%. SO WE JUST WERE BEATEN.

>> THAT'S TIED TO BORROWING, WHAT THE U.S. BORROWS, RIGHT?

>> THAT'S CORRECT, AND THEN AN AMOUNT ABOVE THAT AND IT'S A VARIABLE RATE. SO WECH WE HAVE A FAMILY TAKING OUT A LOAN AND IT WOULD BE LIKE A VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE AND I THINK WE ALL KNOW THAT INTEREST RATES ARE HEADING UP, NOT DOWN, SO THIS WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO OUR KIDS. IN THE SENATE, THEY'RE MAKING MORE PROGRESS AND THOSE NEGOTIATIONS ARE BIPARTISAN. SENATOR ALEXANDER, REPUBLICAN FROM TENNESSEE WHO USED TO BE EDUCATION SECRETARY, IS TRYING TO COME UP WITH A MIXTURE OF A RATE THAT'S PEGGED TO THE AMOUNT THE GOVERNMENT BORROWS, WHICH IS A LOT LOWER THAN WHAT YOU AND I CAN BORROW AT, AND HAVE IT BE A FIXED RATE. MY HOPE IS WE'LL BE SUCCESSFUL IN A BIPARTISAN WAY TO GET THESE RATES DOWN. BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S TWO THINGS. NUMBER ONE, WE'VE GOT TO WORK WITH OUR EDUCATION ADMINISTRATORS TOO BECAUSE THE COST OF COLLEGE EDUCATION IS INCREASING MUCH FASTER THAN INFLATION, WAGES, AND PROFITS. YOU KNOW, FAMILIES TAKE OUT LOANS AS WELL AS THEIR SONS AND DAUGHTERS, AND I'M JUST HEARING STORIES FROM MANY VERMONTERS WHERE THEY SIT AROUND THE KITCHEN TABLE AND THEY REALLY WONDER WHETHER THEY'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD FOR THEIR SON OR DAUGHTER TO GO TO COLLEGE. IF THEY HAVE THREE KIDS, I HAD ONE FAMILY WHERE THEY WERE DECIDING WHICH ONE OF OUR KIDS WILL BE ABLE TO GO AND WHICH ONE WON'T BE ABLE TO TO. SO THIS AFFORDABILITY ISSUE FOR COLLEGE EDUCATION I THINK IS REALLY SIGNIFICANT. COLLEGE HAS TO BE AFFORDABLE TO BE THE PATHWAY TO THE FUTURE FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS AND THE STRENGTH OF OUR ECONOMY AND COUNTRY IS THROUGH EDUCATION. WE HAVE A TRADITION HERE GOING BACK TO SENATOR STAFFORD WHERE THERE'S A COMMITMENT TO HELP KID AND FAMILIES SEND THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL AND NOW WE'VE GOT TO GET OUR ADMINISTRATORS TO WORK WITH US TO KEEP THE TUITION INCREASES MUCH MORE RESTRAINED.

>> DO YOU THINK UVM HAS DONE THAT SUCCESSFULLY OR NOT? BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL INCREASES AT THAT INSTITUTION.

>> NONE OF THE INSTITUTIONS HAVE DONE IT, THAT I RECALL, SUCCESSFULLY, BECAUSE TUITIONS GET UP IN 50 AND $60,000 RANGES FOR COST OF A YEAR IN COLLEGE AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS --

>> THAT'S ALMOST STANDARD NOW. IT'S STAGGERING TO THINK THAT YOU SPEND $200,000 TO ATTEND COLLEGE.

>> IT REALLY IS AND IT'S RAISING THE QUESTION WHETHER THAT'S A SUSTAINABLE MODEL. WE CAN'T MICRO-MANAGE THAT FROM WASHINGTON, BUT I THINK THAT UVM AND MIDDLEBURY, THEY UNDERSTAND THAT THIS TREND HAS GOT TO BE ADDRESSED, SO THAT'S A POSITIVE SIGN. BUT THEY DO NEED PUBLIC SUPPORT AND THAT'S BEEN GETTING DIMINISHED, NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO, WE NEED EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP TO TRY TO HELP RESTRAIN THOSE TUITION INCREASES AND THAT MEANS ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MODEL AND WHAT THEY'RE DOING. AND THEN FOR THE KIDS AND FAMILIES WHO ARE GOING TO DIP INTO THEIR POCKETS AND MAKE GREAT SACRIFICES, YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS I SEE SO MANY VERMONT PARENTS WHERE THEY ARE CLOSE TO BEING ABLE TO PAY OFF THEIR MORTGAGE AND CLOSE TO RETIREMENT AND THEY THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE THAT CRUISE OR VACATION THAT THEY POSTPONED WHILE THEY PUT ALL THEIR HEART AND SOUL INTO RAISING THEIR FAMILY AND THE COLLEGE EDUCATION COMES AND THEY HAVE TO POSTPONE ALL THAT AND THAT'S TOUGH. WE HAVE TO HELP THEM OUT.

>> YOU MENTIONED THE SITUATION THAT YOU TALK ABOUT WITH THE THREE CHILDREN TRYING TO DECIDE WHICH CHILD TO SEND. WHAT DO YOU TELL THEM?

>> WE CAN'T TELL THEM AND THE REALITY IS THAT THE TUITION IS REALLY HIGH. THE AID IS GETTING DIMINISHED. WHAT I TELL THEM IS I'M GOING TO DO ALL I CAN AND LAST YEAR WE WERE SUCCESSFUL. THE DAY BEFORE THE STUDENT LOAN RATES DOUBLED, WE WERE SUCCESSFUL IN GETTING LEGISLATION PASSED TO EXTEND IT FOR A YEAR. WE DIDN'T MAKE IT THIS YEAR, BUT WE'RE STILL TRYING AND WE WANT TO MAKE IT RETROACTIVE, SO MY JOB IS TO ADVOCATE FOR REASONABLE SUPPORT. VERMONTERS, FAMILIES AND KIDS ARE WILLING TO DO A LOT ON THEIR OWN, AND BY THE WAY, KIDS GOING TO COLLEGE NOW, A LOT OF THOSE KIDS ARE WORKING 15, 20, 30 HOURS A WEEK, TAKING OUT LOANS AND TRYING TO -- AND TAKING FULL COURSE LOAD. SO THAT'S A BIG CHALLENGE. EDUCATION IS ESSENTIAL.

>> WE SHOULD POINT OUT, THOUGH, THAT THIS CURRENT RATE, THE DOUBLING OF THE INTEREST RATE, DOES NOT AFFECT LOANS THAT ARE ALREADY IN PLACE.

>> YOU'RE RIGHT.

>> THIS IS FOR LOANS THAT WILL BE UPCOMING THIS FALL.

>> THAT'S CORRECT. THANK YOU FOR REMINDING US.

>> SO LET'S TALK ABOUT ANOTHER BIG DEBATE THAT HAPPENED AND THAT HAS TO DO WITH THE FARM BILL. THE FARM BILL FAILED IN THE HOUSE. IT'S ONE OF THOSE MUST-PASS LEGISLATIONS THAT TYPICALLY DOES MOVE FORWARD, SO IT DID NOT HAVE THE FOOD STAMP PROVISION WHEN IT PASSED, AND THURSDAY'S DEBATE IN THE HOUSE WAS PARTICULARLY BRUTAL. SO AGAIN, THAT FARM BILL PASSED, BUT WITHOUT THE FOOD STAMP PROVISION. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT DEBATE? YOU WERE THERE FOR IT.

>> WELL, IT WAS TERRIBLE AND VERY FRACTIOUS AND THE REASON IS THE BILL CREATED STRENGTH BETWEEN THE FARM COMMUNITIES AND THE NUTRITION COMMUNITIES, URBAN LEGISLATORS AND RURAL LEGISLATORS AND THAT GOES BACK TO 1973 AND WE NEED FARM SECURITY AND WE NEED FAMILY SECURITY, BUT WHAT HAPPENED IN THE HOUSE WAS TERRIBLE. WE ESSENTIALLY PASSED A POLITICAL, NOT A PRACTICAL BILL. THAT'S THE BAD NEWS. THE GOOD NEWS IS, THE SENATE HAS PASSED A, I THINK VERY REASONABLE FARM BILL, SO MY HOPE IS THAT WE'LL BE ABLE TO GO INTO CONFERENCE AND COME OUT WITH SOMETHING MUCH CLOSER TO WHAT THE SENATE DID. YOU KNOW, THE FARM BILL IS -- AMERICA NEEDS A FARM BILL AND SO THAT EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS, IT'S ABOUT A LOT OF THINGS. IT'S ABOUT THE NUTRITION PROGRAM, WHICH IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO MANY KIDS AND FAMILIES. BUT IT'S ALSO ABOUT CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENTAL PROVISIONS, FARM-TO-SCHOOL PROGRAMS, ORGANIC VEGETABLE GROWING, THINGS THAT ARE ABOUT TO AFFECT ALL OF OUR NUTRITION AND IT'S ABOUT TO COME OUT OF THESE PROGRAMS AND FOR VERMONT, IT'S ABOUT DAIRY AND ONE OF MY BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS IN CONGRESS WAS THAT IN THE FARM BILL, IN COMMITTEE, WE HAD A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT, REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WORKING VERY WELL TOGETHER, TO ADOPT WHAT ESSENTIALLY WAS A PROPOSAL BY VERMONT DAIRY FARMERS WHO WORKED WITH OTHERS AROUND THE COUNTRY TO CHANGE THE CURRENT PLAN FOR HELP TO DAIRY FARMERS, TO A DAIRY STABILIZATION PROGRAM WHICH WOULD HAVE SAVED TAXPAYERS MONEY AND GIVEN FARMERS MORE STABILITY. BUT THAT GOT TAKEN OUT BASICALLY AT THE URGING OF JOHN BOEHNER.

>> DO YOU THINK THEN, DO YOU SEE A PATH -- I'M SURE YOU'RE TALKING TO SENATOR LEAHY'S OFFICE ABOUT THIS AND IS THAT GOING TO -- IS THE MESSAGE TO VERMONT FARMERS THAT IT GETS HUNG UP IN THE POLITICS?

>> IT'S OUT IN THE HOUSE, BUT WE GET A CONFERENCE, THE SENATE PASSED IT WITHOUT A DISSENTING VOTE, SO WE HAD STRONG OPPOSITION WITH SPEAKER BOEHNER IN THE HOUSE, SO IN CONFERENCE, OBVIOUSLY I'M GOING TO BE SUPPORTING SENATOR LEAHY OVER SPEAKER BOEHNER. IT'S HARD, BUT WE HAVE TO HANG IN THERE.

>> YOU LISTED OFF THE NUMEROUS THINGS THAT FALL UNDER THE FARM BILL. SHOULD IT BE SPLIT UP INTO SEVERAL BILLS? DO YOU THINK IT COULD GET MORE TRACTION IF, SAY, ONE BILL DEALT WITH NUTRITION AND FAMILY AID AND THE OTHER DEALT WITH AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROVISIONS?

>> WE GET LESS SUPPORT, FRANKLY. NATURALLY, YOU SAW THAT. TRADITIONALLY TRADITIONALLY, THE FARM BILL HAS BEEN ABOUT FARMING AND NUTRITION. AND BY THE WAY, OUR FARMERS, WE'RE VERY PROUD OF THE FACT THAT OUR VERMONTERS FEED AMERICANS, SO THEY FEEL GOOD THAT THE FARM BILL INCLUDES WAYS TO HELP FOLKS SO THEY CAN GET THREE SQUARE NEELS A DAY, BUT -- MEALS A DAY, BUT THAT POLITICAL AND SUBSTANTIVE UNITY OF RURAL AND URBAN HAS BEEN GOOD IN GETTING FARM BILLS PASSED. THERE'S A LOT OF NEED TO REFORM IN THE FARM BILLS. THERE'S SOME AREAS IN FOOD STAMPS WHERE WE CAN MAKE CHANGES. THERE'S CERTAINLY PLACES IN THE COMMODITY PROGRAMS WHERE WE NEED TO MAKE MORE CHANGE. THERE WERE GOOD CHANGES. YOU KNOW, THOSE FOLKS COLLECTING CHECKS LIVING IN CONDOMINIUM HIGH-RISES IN SOME OF OUR CITIES AND WERE, QUOTE, FARMERS, THAT WON'T HAPPEN ANYMORE UNDER THE BILL WE PASSED, SO THERE ARE NEEDS FOR REFORM THAT IF YOU SPLIT EVERYTHING UP, THEN THE UNITY YOU NEED DISSOLVES POLITICALLY AND I THINK IT COMPROMISES THE POPULAR APARTMENTING BILL AND A POPULAR REFORM -- FARMING BILL AND A POPULAR REFORM BILL.

>> YOU'VE MENTIONED SEVERAL TIMES THE ACRIMONY AND THE TONE. YOU'VE BEEN IN D.C. NOW FOR SEVERAL TERMS. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HOW THIS LEVEL OF DEBATE COMPARES TO WHEN YOU FIRST GOT THERE?

>> IT'S WORSE, AND THE PROBLEM IN CONGRESS, IN MY VIEW, IS THAT THERE'S TOO MUCH FOCUS ON IDEOLOGICAL BATTLING AND TOO LITTLE FOCUS --

>> POSTURING.

>> POSTURING, AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF POSTURING, AS OPPOSED TO PRACTICAL PROBLEM-SOLVING.

>> WHY IS THAT?

>> THERE'S A LOT OF REASONS, BUT I THINK ONE IS THE GERRYMANDERED DISTRIBUTIONS AND SO BOUTIQUE DISTRICTS THAT ARE DESIGNED FOR REPUBLICANS AND IN SOME CASES FOR DEMOCRATS. SO MEMBERS IN THOSE DISTRICTS, AND THIS IS TOUGHER ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE RIGHT NOW, ARE MORE FEARFUL OF A PRIMARY THAN THEY ARE OF THE GENERAL ELECTION. IN VERMONT, WE HAVE ONE MEMBER OF CONGRESS, SO WHOEVER THAT IS --

>> FOR THE WHOLE STATE, YES.

>> YOU HAVE TO BE TALKING TO EVERYBODY, OKAY? AND LISTENING TO -- MORE IMPORTANT, LISTENING TO EVERYBODY. BUT MY COLLEAGUES, A COUPLE TIMES I'VE ASKED THEM DO YOU WANT TO CO-SPONSOR ONE OF MY BILLS, AND THEY LIKE IT, BUT THEY SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT? IF I PUT MY NAME ON A BILL AS A DEMOCRAT, IT MIGHT COST ME A PRIMARY. THAT'S PRETTY BAD. YOU HAVE OUTSIDE GROUPS THAT WEIGH IN VERY QUICKLY ON BOTH SIDES, AND THAT'S GETTING VERY TOUGH. AND ALSO IN CONGRESS, WE DON'T SPEND ENOUGH TIME TOGETHER. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'VE REALLY TRIED TO MAKE A POINT OF IS GETTING TO KNOW MY DEMOCRATIC BUT ALSO MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES BECAUSE WHAT I FOUND WHEN I SERVED IN MONTPELIER, IS THAT PEOPLE -- YOU HAVE DISAGREEMENTS WITH PEOPLE, BUT OFTENTIMES THEY'RE VERY, VERY DECENT PEOPLE AND THEY HAVE THE SAME MOTIVATION THAT I DID. THEY WANTED TO MAKE VERMONT A BETTER PLACE A STRONGER PLACE, WE JUST DISAGREED TO HOW TO DO IT. WHEN YOU GET TO KNOW THAT PERSON AND YOU SEE THIS AT TOWN MEETING, YOU GET TO UNDERSTAND, HEY, WE'RE TRYING TO DO THE SAME THING. WE DISAGREE WITH THIS, BUT HERE'S WHERE WE DO AGREE.

>> A MEMBER OF STAFF A LOT OF TIMES CONDUCTS MEETINGS AND IN VERMONT, PEOPLE ARE MORE CLOSELY CONNECTED.

>> RIGHT.

>> MANY PEOPLE LOOK AT CONGRESS AS ONE OF THE MOST DEEPLY DYSFUNCTIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN AMERICA. WHY WOULDN'T AMERICA JUST THROW EVERYONE OUT AND START OVER AND GET NEW PEOPLE IN THERE?

>> IF THAT WOULD WORK, THAT WOULD BE FINE, BUT I THINK THE PROBLEMS ARE DEEPER THAN THE PEOPLE. AS DYSFUNCTIONAL AS IT IS, I KNOW THAT THERE ARE MANY MEMBERS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THAT I TALK TO WHO SHARE THE FRUSTRATION THAT VERMONTERS SHARE BECAUSE I ASK THEM, WHAT ARE YOUR CONSTITUENTS SAYING AND THEY SAY THE SAME THING THAT VERMONTERS SAY TO ME, PETER, WHY DON'T YOU GUYS GET TOGETHER AND GET SOMETHING DONE?

>> SO WHY DON'T YOU GUYS GET TOGETHER AND GET SOMETHING DONE?

>> THAT'S RIGHT. A LOT OF US ARE MAKING THAT EFFORT TO DO IT AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE REACHING OUT AND GETTING BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR OUR WORK ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY. IT'S WHY WHEN WE HAD TROPICAL STORM IRENE, THE FACT I HAD GOOD RELATIONS WITH ERIC CANTOR WAS HELPFUL IN THE HOUSE TO GET THE AID THAT VERMONT NEEDED, BUT THE CHALLENGES HAVE TO DO, GERRYMANDERING IS A BIG DEAL. THE MONEY IN POLITICS IS A BIG DEAL. THE OUTSIDE GROUPS ARE A BIG DEAL. IN THE CONGRESSIONAL ORGANIZATION WHERE WE DON'T SPEND ENOUGH TIME IN COMMITTEE LISTENING TO ONE ANOTHER AND ACTUALLY WORKING TOGETHER IS A BIG DEAL.

>> WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A BRIEF BREAK AND CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION WITH CONGRESSMAN PETER WELCH. THERE ARE LOT

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE'RE TALKING THIS MORNING WITH CONGRESSMAN PETER WELCH. AGAIN, THANKS FOR BEING HERE. LET'S MOVE ON TO IMMIGRATION REFORM. SEEMS LIKE A NO-GO IN THE HOUSE THIS SESSION. IS IT? YOU THINK IT'S GETTING ANYWHERE?

>> WELL, IT'S UPHILL IN THE HOUSE, LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE, BUT IN FACT, AMERICA NEEDS A GOOD IMMIGRATION BILL AND A GOOD IMMIGRATION BILL HAS THE ELEMENTS I THINK THAT THE SENATE HAD. WE'VE TIGHTENED BORDER SECURITY, GUEST WORKER PROGRAMS, SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT FOR VERMONT, AND THEN A LEGAL WAY FOR PEOPLE TO BECOME CITIZENS. AND THOSE ELEMENTS ARE ALL IN THE SENATE BILL. MY HOPE IS WE'LL GET THAT IN THE HOUSE. THERE'S A LOT OF OPPOSITION, PARTICULARLY AMONG MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS IT'S A TOUGH CALL AND I THINK IT'S MUCH MORE ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE THAN THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE. THERE'S MANY MEMBERS IN SOME OF THESE GERRYMANDERED DISTRICTS I'M TALKING ABOUT WHERE THEY CAN JUST SAY NO AND POLITICALLY FOR THEIR FUTURE, THEY PERCEIVE THAT TO BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO. BUT ALSO, THERE'S A LOT OF REPUBLICANS WHO UNDERSTAND THAT IF THEY WANT TO HAVE A NATIONAL FUTURE, THEY'VE REALLY GOT TO DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE ON IMMIGRATION REFORM, SO THAT DEBATE IS GOING TO BE LARGELY ON THEIR SIDE AND MY HOPE IS WE CAN ULTIMATELY GET A BILL VERY CLOSE TO WHAT HAPPENED IN THE SENATE THROUGH THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE FROM SENATOR LEAHY.

>> BUT IT SEEMS UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN THIS SESSION, DO YOU AGREE?

>> WELL, IT'S UPHILL. WHEN YOU HAVE MY JOB, AND MY JOB IS NOT TO MAKE PREDICTIONS, IT'S BEST TO GET RESULTS, NO MATTER HOW STEEP THE CLIMB. THIS WILL BE MANAGED IN THE HOUSE. THE MAJORITY RULES AND SPEAKER BOEHNER SAYS THE HOUSE IS GOING TO DO ITS OWN BILL. IN THE HOUSE SIDE, THERE WAS A GROUP IN THE HOUSE, GANG OF SEVEN IN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE HAD A GANG OF EIGHT, BIPARTISAN, AND THEY MORE OR LESS AGREED IN PRINCIPLE TO THE THREE ELEMENTS I MENTIONED, SO THIS IS GOING TO BE A BIG INTERNAL DEBATE ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, BUT AMERICA DOES NEED TO MAKE PROGRESS ON THIS AND I'M JUST GOING TO KEEP HANGING IN THERE SO WE CAN GET A COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION BILL.

>> HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED AT THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S USE OF DRONES?

>> I'M NOT SURPRISED ON THE DRONE USE, BUT I DO THINK WE NEED RESTRAINT OF THE DRONE USE. YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU -- THE DRONE IN THE CASE OF AFGHANISTAN IS A WEAPONS SYSTEM. IT'S BEING USED IN PAKISTAN AND IT HAS SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS IN TERMS OF WHAT THE REACTION IS TO THE PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT, THE SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENT, BUT DRONES HAVE BEEN BEING USED IN MANY OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD, AND IT IS A MILITARY TOOL THAT WE NEED A POLICY ON BECAUSE RIGHT NOW, YOU CANNOT, IN MY VIEW, HAVE ONE PERSON BE THE JUDGE, JURY, AND EXECUTIONER IF YOU'RE GOING TO USE THE DRONE FOR ALET THAL STRIKE. AND -- A LETHAL STRIKE, AND THE PRESIDENT HAS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THERE LASS TO BE DISCUSSIONS AND SAFE -- HAS TO BE DISCUSSEDS A SAFEGUARDS ABOUT WHAT THAT PROCESS IS AND WE'VE GOT BRING OUR LAW UP TO WHAT OUR TECHNOLOGY IS ALLOWING TO HAPPEN.

>> SO WHAT IS THE NEXT MOVE?

>> I THINK THERE'S GOT TO BE SOME PUBLIC DISCUSSION AND DEBATE ABOUT WHERE YOU CAN USE DRONES. YOU KNOW, IN A WAR ZONE, THAT'S A WEAPONS SYSTEM AND CONGRESS DOESN'T MICROMANAGE THAT, BUT THE USE OF DRONES IN YEMEN OR OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD WHERE IT'S A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY, IN MY VIEW, THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF CAN'T BE GIVEN CARTE BLANCHE TO DO THAT AND AT MINIMUM, THERE HAS TO BE OVERSIGHT BY THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, SOME PUBLIC DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT THE STANDARDS ARE UNDER WHICH THIS MAY BE USED, SO THIS IS A NEW AREA BECAUSE OF THE NEW TECHNOLOGY. WE'VE GOT A DISPERSED THREAT WITH TERRORISM, SO OBVIOUSLY OUR SELF DEFENSE RIGHTS HAVE TO INCLUDE THE ABILITY TO DEAL WITH THAT, BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE COLLATERAL IMPACT OF, A, USING DRONES FOR STRIKES, AND THE POTENTIAL FOR PEOPLE BEING KILLED AND THAT'S HAPPENED, AND, B, THE IMPACT ON SOVEREIGNTY ISSUES OF COUNTRIES WHERE WITHOUT PERMISSION WE'RE ACTUALLY ENGAGING IN MILITARY ACTION.

>> AND I KNOW YOU'VE BEEN FOLLOWING THE NSA SCANDAL, THE LEAK. WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD HAPPEN TO MR. SNOWDEN?

>> I THINK LIKE ANYONE ELSE WHO VIOLATES THE LAW, HE SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO ACCOUNT. AND THAT'S BETWEEN THE LAW AND MR. SNOWDEN, SO ULTIMATELY, THAT'S WHAT I THINK SHOULD HAPPEN. BUT THERE IS A LARGER --

>> IS HE A TRAITOR?

>> THE QUESTION OF WHAT HE IS SHOULD BE A LEGAL QUESTION AND RAISING THAT QUESTION IS TRYING TO INJECT POLITICS INTO WHAT I THINK IS A VERY PROFOUND QUESTION THAT IS POLITICAL, AND THAT IS, SHOULD THE NSA HAVE THE AUTHORITY WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC DEBATE TO SPEND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO COLLECT YOUR PHONE CALLS AND MINE AND PUT THEM IN THAT DATABASE AND MY VIEW IS THAT THAT SHOULD BE A PUBLIC DISCUSSION. THAT SHOULD NOT BE DONE IN SECRET. AMERICANS ARE ENTITLED TO HAVE THEIR PRIVACY PROTECTED, AND THERE'S NO REASON IN MY VIEW THAT WE WOULD HAVE GOVERNMENT COLLECTING ALL OF THAT DATA ABOUT US WHERE IT'S NOT A SPECIFIC INVESTIGATION ABOUT SOMETHING YOU'RE DOING OR I'M DOING. IT'S JUST THIS MASSIVE COLLECTION OF DATA. WITHOUT THAT BEING A PUBLIC DISCUSSION AND DEBATE SO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE CAN WEIGH IN, IT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DONE IN SECRET.

>> SO YOU THINK MORE TRANSPARENCY IS NEEDED. DO YOU THINK THE PATRIOT ACT NEEDS TO BE REVISITED?

>> WELL, IT DOES AND I HAVE LEGISLATION TO DO THAT. IT'S KIND OF A WIDE-OPEN PERMISSION TO GOVERNMENT TO DO VIRTUALLY ANYTHING IT WANTS, AND I'VE SPONSORED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD REQUIRE MUCH TIGHTER STANDARDS BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT CAN START DOING SPYING. ALSO, THE FISA COURT IS TOTALLY IN SECRET, SO NOBODY KNOWS WHAT RULINGS THEY HAVE MADE, WHAT PERMISSION THEY HAVE GIVEN. IT TURNS OUT IT'S PRETTY MUCH A RUBBER STAMP. EVEN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DON'T HAVE A CLUE AS TO WHAT'S GOING ON THERE, SO MY LEGISLATION WILL AT LEAST ALLOW MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO HAVE ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION. BUT IN GENERAL, I THINK THAT WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT OUR SURVEILLANCE POLICIES ARE GOING TO BE, THEY SHOULD BE PUBLIC. WHAT SHOULD BE PRIVATE IS WHEN THERE'S A SPECIFIC INVESTIGATION. YOU GOT TO GIVE THE POLICE OR THE SECURITY FORCES THE LATITUDE WHEN THEY'RE ON THE TRAIL OF A SPECIFIC THREAT, BUT THE GENERAL POLICY, THAT SHOULD BE MUCH MORE TRANSPARENT. BY THE WAY, I'M CONCERNED ABOUT THE BUDGET ISSUES. YOU KNOW, BOOZ ALLEN, 95% OF THAT COMES FROM TAXPAYERS. NOBODY KNOWS HOW THOSE CONTRACTS GOT LET. MAYBE SOME OF THE MEMBERS OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, BUT MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DON'T KNOW AND THERE'S NO ABILITY TO KICK THE TIRES AND FIND OUT WHETHER -- HOW THEY'RE SPENDING THE MONEY, WHETHER IT'S WORKING. IS IT PROVIDING THE SECURITY THAT THEY CLAIM IT WOULD? ALL THAT DONE IN SECRECY ALMOST GUARANTEES THAT THERE WILL BE AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF WASTED MONEY.

>> I'D LIKE TO TALK ABOUT A PROPOSAL THAT YOU HAVE TO BASICALLY NOT ALLOW ANY MILITARY AID INTO SYRIA UNLESS IT'S APPROVED BY CONGRESS. WHY DID YOU PUSH FOR -- WHY ARE YOU PUSHING FOR THIS?

>> WELL, IT'S ACTUALLY CURRENT LAW. CURRENT LAW SAYS IF THERE'S A MILITARY COUP, THEN THE MILITARY AID HAS TO BE CUT OFF. I WANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE, IF THERE'S A COUP, COUP, AND THERE SEEMS TO BE A DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER THIS WAS OR NOT A COUP. IF YOU HAVE A MILITARY HOUSE, EVEN IN A FAILED GOVERNMENT, WHICH THE MORSI GOVERNMENT WAS, THAT'S A COUP AND FEDERAL LAW APPEARS TO REQUIRE WE TERMINATE AID. WHAT I BELIEVE IS WE HAVE TO TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT MAKES SENSE FOR US TO DO TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS THAT OUR COUNTRY HAS AND I THINK THERE'S TWO NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS. ONE, WE WANT EGYPT TO COMPLY WITH ITS INTERNATIONAL TREATY OBLIGATIONS AND THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE CONTINUE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT, AND THEN NUMBER TWO, IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THEY MOVE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE BACK TO DEMOCRATIC RULE. SO I'D BE SUPPORTIVE OF GIVING SOME FLEXIBILITY TO THE PRESIDENT ON MAKING RECOMMENDATIONS TO CONGRESS ABOUT WHETHER AID WOULD WORK TO OUR ADVANTAGE OR NOT, AND OBVIOUSLY THAT WOULD BE BASED SIGNIFICANTLY ON WHAT HAPPENS AS THE SCENE UNFOLDS IN EGYPT.

>> AND YOU'VE BEEN CLEAR THAT WE DO NOT AID THE EFFORTS IN SYRIA. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENED THERE?

>> VERY CONCERNED. WHEN WE FIRST SAW THE HUMANITARIAN LEVEL, IT'S --

>> LET ME CUT OFF, THIS WOULDN'T CUT OFF HUMANITARIAN AID, STRICTLY MILITARY AID.

>> I'M SORRY, YES.

>> I'VE INTRODUCED LEGISLATION WITH REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES, INCLUDING RAND PAUL IN THE SENATE, THAT WOULD REQUIRE CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE AND APPROVAL BEFORE THE PRESIDENT AUTHORIZED ARMS TO THE REBELS AND IN MY VIEW, THAT'S A VERY SIGNIFICANT DECISION, A MILITARY DECISION AND I'M CONCERNED ABOUT GETTING AMERICA DEEPLY INVOLVED IN THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR. WE WANT TO LEARN THE LESSON OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN AND CONGRESS SHOULD BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN THAT DEBATE, NOT MERELY A PASSIVE BYSTANDER. THE SITUATION IN SYRIA IS DANGEROUS AND DIFFICULT AND SUFFERING IS ENORMOUS. ABOUT 100,000 PEOPLE DIED AND WHEN I WENT TO A SYRIAN REFUGEE CATCH ON THE TURKEY-SYRIAN BORDER, EVERY IMPULSE IN YOUR BODY WANTS TO HELP AND DO SOMETHING, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN. THIS IS A BRUTAL ACTION IN SYRIA AND THERE'S SOME UNITY AMONG THE REBEL TO TAKE OUT ASSAD, BUT HOW WE CAN MICROMANAGE THAT AND WHETHER SMALL ARMS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE MILITARY EQUATION IS OBVIOUSLY HIGHLY DOUBT FL, SO WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP? DO WE DO A NO-FLY ZONE, TROOPS ON THE GROUND? THEN WE HAVE AMERICA TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE OUTCOME OF THE CIVIL WAR AND I THINK THAT'S VERY RISKY. CONGRESS AT MINIMUM SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE DISCUSSION AND GIVE APPROVAL BEFORE THE PRESIDENT IS AUTHORIZED TO COMMIT THIS COUNTRY TO THAT. VERMONTERS WILL BE THERE BECAUSE IF WE GET INTO ANOTHER CONFLICT, IT'S ALWAYS VERMONTERS WHO STEP UP AND DO THE MOST. OUR GUARD, OUR CITIZENS, WE HAVE MORE LOSSES ON A PER CAPITA BASIS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY AND I DON'T WANT US JUST BACKSTEPPING ACCIDENTALLY INTO AN EVENT THAT'S GOING TO CAUSE A LOT OF SACRIFICE FOR VERMONTERS.

>> WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT A POLICY DEBATE. JUST A COUPLE QUICK QUESTIONS THAT I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT POLITICS. WE TALKED ABOUT SOME OF THE PROBLEMS YOU SEE AND FEEL IN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE SEEMS TO BE RIGHT NOW, YOU SAY, WORKING SMOOTHER. IF SENATOR LEAHY WERE TO EVER RETIRE, WOULD YOU WANT TO RUN FOR SENATE?

>> YOU KNOW, MY HOPE --

>> IS THAT HE RUNS FOREVER.

>> SERIOUSLY. HE'S LIKE --

>> YOU WANT HIM THERE WHEN HE'S 100? WHAT DO YOU THINK?

>> HERE'S THE TRUTH. SENATOR LEAHY HAS DONE AN INCREDIBLE JOB. HE WAS A MAJOR PLAYING IN GEK A GOOD AG BILL OUT OF THE SENATE, GETTING A --

>> BUT IF HE WERE EVER TO DECIDE THAT HE WAS DONE WITH IT AND HE'S HAD A LONG CAREER AND SUCCESSFUL CAREER, WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO MOVE INTO THE SENATE? HAVE YOU THOUGHT OUR CONGRESSMAN BERNIE SANDERS, WHEN HE MOVED TO THE SENATE, HE LOVES THE SENATE.

>> BERNIE DOES LOVE THE SENATE AND HE IS DOING A GREAT JOB, AND PATRICK IS DOING A GREAT JOB AND I FULLY EXPECT HE'S GOING TO CONTINUE, SO WHY SPECULATE ON IT? I'M DOING EVERYTHING I CAN TO HELP SENATOR LEAHY. HE'S DOING A GREAT JOB, PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THIRD IN LINE FOR THE PRESIDENCY, THAT'S REALLY GOOD FOR VERMONT AND HE'S DOING A TREMENDOUS JOB AND BEEN AN ENORMOUS HELP TO ME, SO PATRICK, RUN FOR RE-ELECTION.

>> AND DO YOU PLAN TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION IN THE HOUSE?

>> YOU KNOW, AS BAD AS CONGRESS IS, I LOVE MY JOB AS MUCH AS ANY VERMONTER, BUT I'M JUST IN THE FIRST YEAR OF MY TERM.

>> THAT SOUNDS LIKE A YES.

>> I LOVE MY JOB. I HAVEN'T SENT MY RESUME OUT YET, BUT THANK YOU.

>> CONGRESSMAN WELCH, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME. I KNOW VOTERS AND VERMONTERS CAN ALWAYS REACH YOU, YOUR STAFF, YOUR OFFICE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.

>> THANK YOU.

>> AND THANK YOU AT HOME FOR JOINING US, EVERYONE. HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY. CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY. CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLC www.captionassociates.com

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