Now Let’s bring in Democratic North Carolina Congressman David Price. He’s also a member of the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Congressman, thank you for being with us Thank you. So I want to talk a lot about infrastructure, but before we get into all of that, I want to have you react to Senator Blackburn’s comments about the border and the vice President’s trip. Do you think that the vice president should have gone to the Rio Grande Valley and should the President go?
Of course. And they will go? This was a trip to El Paso. It was a well-conceived trip. I think the most interesting thing the Senator just said was that it was inappropriate for the Congresswoman from El Paso to be involved. I wonder who she thinks would be more appropriate. Congresswoman Escobar, of course, was there, and she should have been. But the trip was focused on the progress that’s been made on the border where we had something like over 5,000 children in detention being held. Now it’s under 500.
We’ve had a lot of progress in getting the children into the care in facilities as their status is determined. But we’ve made orderly progress in getting the process in place where people can seek asylum. They don’t have to stay in these dangerous, squalid conditions in Mexico for weeks, months on end. I visited some of those facilities. It did not do our country proud. We need an orderly process, hopefully, that people can apply for asylum back in their home country and not make that track. We’re getting there.
We have cooperative arrangements now with the Mexican and Guatemalan governments that are helping us get there. A lot of these people are applying for asylum in Mexico and not the Us, and that’s probably more sensible for lots of them. So the vice president’s trip was to call attention to the situation, which still demands a great deal of attention, but also to call attention to the progress we’re making.
Well, Congressman, that trip did come 90 days into this whole initiative. I mean, she’s made the assertion that this was not a response to political pressure, but do you think the Democrats need to have a more consistent, sizable presence at the border and making that effort visible to people?
Sure, that’s what the trip was about. And there are lots of indications that we’re making progress on a very difficult challenge. By the way, the first thing she did was to go to the countries of Central America where these migrants are coming from. I don’t know why anybody would think that that is inappropriate. I remember when he was late in the Obama administration, I was on a homeland security trip. I remember General John Kelly. He was head of Southern Command back then, and he was one of the first who said, you need to address the root causes.
We need to have something like a planned Columbia for these countries in Central America so that people stay in their own countries. They are secure, and they have some hope there. And, of course, he came into the Trump administration, and Donald Trump didn’t listen to him. But we need now to understand once again that long run. These people need to stay at home and be able to stay at home safely and securely.
I want to get to infrastructure. The White House has walked back the president’s statement that he’s not going to sign this bipartisan bill if the reconciliation piece doesn’t also come to his desk. The White House negotiator, Steve She told Senate Republicans that the administration would clarify its position. But yesterday, press Secretary Jenski did not repeat Biden’s conditions took a softer tone than the President. I want you to listen to this sound, and then I’ll ask you a question.
We’re going to leave it to leaders in Congress to determine the sequencing and the timeline for those pieces moving forward. But he’s going to use every lever at his disposal, is going to be involved, is going to roll up the sleeves. He’s going to work like hell to get both of these pieces of legislation done. He fully expects hopes, plans to sign both into law, and he will leave it to leaders in Congress to determine the timeline and the sequencing.
So clearly a softer approach from Jen Saki there. But do you think that President Biden himself needs to make a new statement to save this bipartisan plan?
No. It’s very clear what’s going on here. And the previous interview, she was so shocked to find that the President wants to move ahead with a broader infrastructure and American families plan, probably using this reconciliation process. Republicans, hopefully, some will go along with that, but it probably could be successfully filibustered. So that has to proceed alongside whatever can be agreed upon in a bipartisan way. I don’t think I’ve ever had any doubt about that. I’m surprised.
Yes, it was a condition, though, that he would well.
The conditional language, the conditional language, as they’ve clarified this is not totally in his control. There will be, in the congressional process a determination of what of this we can pass. And then we’ll hopefully do both in tandem.