Scalise in studio to discuss gun control, immigration, abortion and more

A deep dive into the most controversial topics in American politics today

Newell Normand
August 16, 2019 - 5:27 pm

US Congressman and Minority Whip Steve Scalise joined Newell in studio today for a 'radio town hall' of sorts and give listeners a chance to call in with questions, as well as update everyone on what he's working on in Washington. What does he see coming down the legislative pike while Congress is in recess, and the 2020 race is looming larger on the horizon? 

The first thing Newell wanted to know about is the National Flood Insurance Program, which is crucial for Americans everywhere but is of particular importance to Louisianians. 

"Do we ever get to a point where this thing is resolved once and for all?" he asked.

"I think we will, and we need to," Scalise replied. "It expires again September 30 and we've seen a dozen short term patches in the last two years... last year I helped pass a bill that was a five-year re-authorization of the program but it didn't pass the Senate, unfortunately. This year I've actually been working with Maxine Waters, the Chair of the Financial Services Committee. She and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things but we actually work very well on what we need to do to renew the Flood Insurance Program, and we've worked together for a bill that would be fairer to ratepayers and to taxpayers across the country. We're building a coalition of people, Republican and Democrat, to get that five-year re-authorization passed, and I think we'll get that done in the first two weeks of September."

There's a sense that after the twin mass shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, legislators may be close to advancing some sort of gun legislation that may have a chance at becoming law, but of course there are divergent ideas about how to get that done in a bipartisan way. 

"One of the other issues at the forefront of a lot of people's minds... the Democrats are trying to create an environment where there's an up-or-down vote on any number of provisions relative to gun control - is that something that is going to be entertained by the Senate and the House? Some of what they're proposing doesn't lend itself well to that because it doesn't stay in one silo, it cuts across on the issues. Where are the Houses on this?" Newell asked.

"I've worked on a number of things to address the real problems... every time there's a mass shooting, there's some people that want to immediately propose a bill, their agenda... it angers me when I see people, when there's tragedy, they immediately think of how to use that to propose their own political agenda, but that's not the place for it. In many of these cases, what you find out is there's existing laws that should have stopped them. Like at Parkland High School, this kid was literally going around telling everyone he was going to be a school shooter. The FBI had a file on him, twice they were alerted to this kid and the FBI didn't do anything. Lo and behold, he's a school shooter, and we say 'gee whiz, what laws should we pass?' Who's been held accountable at the FBI, who dropped the ball? Many other cases - Charleston, Sutherland Springs - the person shouldn't have been able to legally buy a gun under existing laws. Let's go focus on getting more of these people with mental health problems that are slipping through the cracks, get them into the background checks system, people with criminal records who were not in the system, put them in the system so they can't legally buy a gun."

Another divisive issue that needs to be tackled in a serious way is immigration.

"Obviously the immigration policy we have today is bastardized at best," Newell said. "Are we ever going to get to a resolution? At first it was a manufactured crisis, then its not... the border towns are the ones who have really stepped up in a huge way in helping deal with the challenges down there. But it seems as though the level of frustration is growing by the day."

"It is, and it's a real crisis!" Scalise agreed. "For anyone to deny that it's a crisis when three or four thousand people a day come across our border illegally. It's overwhelmed the system. It's overwhelmed those local communities like you mentioned but also our departments like Homeland Security and HHS who are taking care of these young kids who have come across the border and are being abused. These aren't just people who come here seeking the American Dream, there is human trafficking going on, there are drugs being brought across and people know this, and so to solve the problem, you need physical barriers, you need a wall and a lot of other things as well like solving the DACA problem, solving the interior loopholes... politically is where it's run into so many problems, with politics. We ought to come together, Republicans and Democrats, to solve this problem."

The issue of abortion seems to stand in the way of any number of things, a proverbial badminton birdie that just gets whacked back and forth across the net all day. Where are we with that?

"People on both sides have passion," Scalise said. "I'm strongly pro-life. I'm proud of the fact that Louisiana is still considered the most pro-life state in the nation... what concerns me is you see some states going the other direction. New York has done this, you saw this Virginia, where they say if a baby is born alive as a result of an abortion that isn't successful, if the baby is alive outside the womb, they say you can kill that baby and call it an abortion. Most pro-choice people will tell you that if the baby is born alive outside the womb and you kill it, it's murder. We ought to have a federal law, and I'm a co-sponsor of the Born Alive Act, a bipartisan bill that says if the baby is born alive outside the womb, that baby ought to be fully protected under the law, and if you kill it, it's murder. We shouldn't need that law, but we do. That's a bill that people on both sides can come together and at least agree on that. That shouldn't even be part of the abortion debate."

To hear the entire conversation with Steve Scalise, click the audio player below.


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