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'This Week' Transcript 4-4-21: Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré (Ret.) Pete Buttigieg

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, April 4

This copy might not be in its final shape, might be updated and might include minor transcription errors. For preceding show transcripts, take a look at the"This Week" transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER:"This Week With George Stephanopoulos" begins right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we will need to clearly understand that the motivation.

The National Guard swarms the scene. New questions this week on the best way to balance security and democracy.

And:

It's bold, yes. And we can get it done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Biden's $2 trillion push to reconstruct our country.

BIDEN: It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A sweeping strategy, a steep price tag. Republicans united in opposition.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It is like a Trojan horse. It is known as infrastructure. But inside the Trojan horse is going to be borrowed money and enormous tax increases.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Biden banking on people support.

BIDEN: I believe the Republicans' voters are going to have a lot to say about whether we get lots of the done.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): This means cancel civilization and partisan activists are coming to your business.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The most recent fallout from Georgia's new voting legislation.

And:

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC"THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Have you been altering background?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The battle over military bases name for Confederate generals. Martha Raddatz reports.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Here now, main anchor George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to this week on this Easter Sunday.

A quiet Good Friday at Washington was shattered this week by the next attack on the Capitol in 3 months. A troubled tribe of the Nation of Islam rammed his car into northern barricade, conducted towards officers with a knife, even before police shot him dead.

And, this morning, flags at the Capitol and the White House are flying at half-staff to honor officer William"Billy" Evans, an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police who lost his life defending that chair of our democracy.

All of this has prompted renewed questions about how to procure the Capitol, so we begin this morning with retired General Russel Honore, who led the task force appointed to review security in the aftermath of the January 6 siege.

General Honore, thanks for joining us again on this Easter Sunday.

We don't know exactly what prompted the killer Friday, but it will look increasingly clear that the Capitol has become more of a target than ever.

, U.S. ARMY: Absolutely, George.

From within the Capitol, talking to a lot of members of Congress on both the Senate and the House side, both parties, they left us with the impression their number one mission is to secure the Capitol, but make sure it's 100 percent public accessibility.

This is something which is valued by every member of Congress we talked to at the six months we had been there, and that they want public access. That comes at -- with a balance, with reengineering, with tools needed into the Capitol Police, with upgrading our cameras and sensors and the obstacles around the Capitol.

That is going to come at a price tag. And we've given part of the invoice to the Congress, and we need them to work -- proceed today and fund the supplemental that could find this began, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But can an attack such as this really have been averted? This seems like a troubled loner.

HONORE: Well, we've always concerned about the lone wolf.

When it's personally motivated or dominated by a few ideology, in the conclusion of the afternoon 24/7, 365, the Capitol Police need to be ready to safeguard that Capitol.

This really is the only police force in America that works for Congress. There is no layer of a control between that police force and Congress. That's their police force. It is designed and built to protect that one construction.

And, yes, there are those who made snorty opinions about, well, they've got all these authorities to protect one building.

Yes, it is by far the most significant building in America, as it's the seat of our democracy. If that construction and the people inside don't function, we no longer have democracy. And whatever price we have to pay to protect it, we need to perform it, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say we are attempting to balance accessibility and security.

We are aware that many members of Congress have called for the permanent fencing to return following the January 6 siege. Did it start to come down too soon?

HONORE: I don't believe so, George.

The fencing and folks we were visiting were a consequence of post-1/6, in addition to prep for the inauguration. It never came because there was lots of threat messages that came in for possible activity on 4 March.

So, the police left it up according to chatter.

And once that time passed, the decrease in the National Guard was decreased to approximately a fourth of what it was, and they're in transition.

The architect of the capitol, along with the Capitol Police Board, we've given them recommendationthe Corps of Engineers is standing to reinforce the outer grounds of the Capitol with builders coming in to put advanced fencing that may come out of the floor as required, that may provide more sensors in addition to an integration of their cameras.

We have given them the strategy. We worked the plan difficult. Now it's time for Congress to perform the plan. We gave them the plan. We worked tirelessly to give it to them. Now they've got to work to make that strategy come through, and that's referred to as a supplemental since the authorities from the Capitol deserve this. Our state deserves it. And those families who have lost loved ones deserve it. And we need to up our game in service of the Capitol Police, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You did lay out a set of recommendations, including more officers, upgraded screenings and background checks. What is most important for Congress to implement at the moment?

HONORE: The additional resources. They will have to recruit tough, and also so as to recruit, they're likely to need a particular budget to find a person to come and help them operate -- you know, we are competing against police officers for police forces all around the country, including the Capital Region. And hiring authorities today is not easy, George. Maybe one in 10 get through the screening procedure.

The Capitol created some adjustments. They increased their recruiting age to 40 that could permit them to carry on veterans coming out of the military, in addition to extending the age to 60. Every one of these internal activities they were able to take. But when you have been 233 (ph) officers brief now, you may have a issue and that has been exacerbated last year since they did not get a police class through due to COVID.

So they've got catching up to do. They are likely to want help. Along with the National Guard will need to continue to assist them. After 9/11, we'd 250 National Guard remained in the Capitol for two decades. And thank God into the National Guard, all the fantastic work they have done, and hats off to them, and those who are away from their own families now at the Capitol, America enjoys the work they do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We surely do. General Honore, thanks for your time .

HONORE: Happy Easter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri.

Senator Blunt, Thank you for joining us this afternoon. You only heard General Honore correct there. He said it's time for Congress to pass this funding.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Well, when it comes to supplemental budget, I concur with that. I believe we need to be looking at exactly what our needs are. We will need to be considering how we are gathering intelligence as it pertains to the Capitol, and also what we're doing to recruit, and what we're doing to educate. I believe that's maybe even more significant than the magnitude of this force.

As the former chairman of the Rules Committee, and now the top Republican on that committee, clearly working with Capitol Police to help resolve these issues and functioning normally to look at how we protected the Capitol, however in precisely the same time, make it as safe as it needs to be but as free as we can make it.

It's a significant element of that we are. It is an important sign of who we are. And we must bear that in mind with every decision we make.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no wonder, this permanent fencing still has to come down?

BLUNT: I believe that the permanent fencing ought to come down. I really don't believe it does the job. In fact, the fencing was right there as soon as the vehicle drove through. The question, how far back would you ever establish fencing? One of the things that General Honore talked about months ago was the fact that actually fencing can create a false sense of security on a daily basis.

Some sort of temporary fencing which can be put up when you need it like we consistently fasten the Capitol before the inaugurations, two of that I've chaired, is an important component to this event, but I believe that it would be a mistake for fencing for a permanent part of the Capitol. The message we send is the incorrect message. Frankly, we are likely planning for the wrong thing. The concept that what happens next at Capitol is what occurred last is almost sure to not be the case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are we really seeing intelligence? I understand you get a unique focus on Capitol security. Are we indeed seeing intelligence that the Capitol has become more of a target?

BLUNT: Well, I think the Capitol has always been a target. It ended up being a target I am sure on 9/11. It is -- it's been a target more than decades, and we will need to know about that.

I really do think really doing a better job of assessing the intelligence we have, understanding what we ought to be ready for. Frankly, the new sergeant-at-arms in the Senate includes a military intelligence background. The new sergeant-at-arms in the House was in charge of the D.C. protector on January the 6th. They both bring something different to the authorities board than that plank has had in the past.

I don't think that board is perfectly organized, but I do think those 2 people together with the architect of the Capitol, Naval Academy grad Brett Blanton, that was responsible for building projects at the airports before he took this job, at Dulles and National, has a great security background.

So, I believe we need to be listening to them and we ought to be looking at what we do to make that police board work more functionally whenever there's a moment of crisis. And three of them are distracted in other ways at that moment.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS"THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: Let's talk about President Biden's infrastructure suggestion.

Your leader, Mitch McConnell, has signaled Republicans are going to oppose those proposals. But surveys show that investing more in streets, bridges, high speed rail, broadband is now widely common.

BLUNT: Well, I'm actually for all of that. In case the suggestion was to do that, I don't think there'd be a issue with the bipartisan group of supporters for this package. I've achieved to the White House a couple of times now and said, you've got a simple bipartisan win here if you will keep this bundle nearly focused on infrastructure, and then another 70 or so percent of the package that doesn't have really much too do with infrastructure, if you'd like to force that in a partisan manner, you can still do that.

Why could you pass up the opportunity here to focus on streets, bridges, what is happening underground as well as above the earth on infrastructure, broadband, all which would not be 40 percent of this bundle, and that would be a stretch I think to find all those items to 40 percent.

There is more in the bundle, George, for charging stations for electric vehicles, $174 billion, more than there is for roads, bridges and airports and ports.

If folks think about infrastructure, they are thinking about roads, bridges, ports and airports. That is a very small portion of what they're calling a infrastructure bundle that does so much more than infrastructure which -- I understand the dynamic of carrying a favorite title and set it, wrapping it about a bill that it's a fairly small fraction of, but it's the difference of if you have a bipartisan, simple win or a very partisan, broad-based $2.25 trillion package.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But this leaves the question of how to cover it, and the Republicans are against the tax increase and corporate tax increase that President Biden is suggesting, raising it back to 28 percent, which is still below where it was before President Trump's tax cuts.

The stock market is flourishing today. Corporate stocks are up.

So, is not this a fantastic time to commit some of those gains in the future? And if not a corporate tax increase, then how can you pay for it?

BLUNT: It could be a corporate tax growth. Of course, we go back to the second -- first or second highest corporate tax in the world which works to our disadvantage. As companies are thinking about resourcing and bringing matters back to the usa, restructuring how their businesses are put together, the corporate tax is an important element of this.

Every Republican in the Senate that had been there in 2017 voted for the 2017 tax bill. To ask them to flip around, and over less than four decades, turn that around is a really unlikely thing to happen.

But, again, if you went back to infrastructure and appeared in the way we traditionally served -- financed the infrastructure of the nation and added to that, a few public-private partnerships.

I've introduced a bill with Senator Bennet previously and Senator Warner previously, a slightly different bill that would make us new financing resources, figuring out how if you are going to invest all this money on electrical vehicles that I think is part of this future, we need to figure out how electrical vehicles cover using the machine just like gas-powered vehicles have always paid for it with a gasoline taxation.

It's a system which -- you can work out how that component of the system supports itself, and again, then you may obtain a larger, distinct fight on all the other things that this bill purports to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Blunt, thanks for your time .

BLUNT: You bet.

Plus, our powerhouse roundtable.

Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): If we're taking a look at ideals and what we think is the actual investment that can create tens of thousands of millions of good union jobs in this country that can shore up our healthcare, our infrastructure, our home, we're speaking about nearly $10 trillion more than ten decades.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The last thing the market needs right now is a large whopping tax increase on most of the productive sections of the economy.

I'm going to fight them every step of the way since I feel this is the wrong prescription for America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Debate is joined on President Biden's infrastructure bill. We only heard from Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri. Now we are joined by one of those cabinet members leading the charge with this bill, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Secretary Buttigieg, Thank you for joining us this morning.

You just heard Senator Blunt right there said, if you actually focused on center infrastructure, then you might have a chance of passing this. And it's true that only about 5% of the bill goes for conventional bridges and roads. You have got 20 percent caregiving for the elderly, about 13 percent for investments -- in such as the green fresh thing.

So why not focus on that traditional core infrastructure?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, let us be clear, there's a whole lot more than roads and bridges which are a part of infrastructure. I heard the governor of South Dakota lately saying that this isn't infrastructure. It's got cash for pipes. Well, we feel that plumbing are infrastructure since you need water to live and a lot of households now live with the danger of lead poisoning. That's absolutely infrastructure.

You know, you talk about roads and bridges, but also ports and airports. We will need to make sure we have broadband. I understand that traditionally the Internet was not considered infrastructure since in the Eisenhower years, needless to say, it did not exist. But infrastructure investment must include looking to the future.

Railroads seemed futuristic and we actually built them. Now they are considered traditional infrastructure. You can say the same about highways.

And I've got a lot of admiration for Senator Blunt, however I'm going to work to try to persuade him that electric vehicle charging infrastructure is completely a core part of how Americans are going to have to avoid in the long run, and not the remote, far off future, but right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand you are going to work hard to convince him. Do not get any Republicans, however, about the initial aid bill. Is it a realistic prospect to anticipate Republicans are going to come about now?

BUTTIGIEG: I believe it can be. I'm having a lot of discussions with Republicans in the House and Senate who were wanting to do something large on infrastructure for years. We might not agree about every piece of it, but this is 1 area in which the American individuals absolutely want to see us do it, where members on each side of the aisle are talking about getting it done for a long time.

And in my view, this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I don't believe, in the next 50 decades, we're likely to find another time once we have this blend of a proven need, bipartisan interest, widespread impatience and a very supportive president who's committed, incidentally, not simply to the infrastructure but into the tasks we're going to create.

And independent investigation by economists previously -- last week said that this will lead to 19 million jobs. And among the most interesting things is that lots of the study is also saying that the vast majority of those jobs won't require a college degree.

That is critically important due to all of the changes which are already occurring to labour and -- and to manufacturing in this country, to be generating and encouraging those jobs for the future.

Soyes, I think that this is something that everyone can get behind, and we're going to keep working to attempt to earn that support throughout the aisle.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's some...

BUTTIGIEG: One way or the other, we have got to do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's some skepticism out there in certain areas of the labor community. Shawn Steffee in the Boilermakers Local 154 in Pennsylvania talked about this attention green fresh jobs. That's not how it functions. We build power plants, petrochemical plants and maintain steel mills. Would you ask Tom Brady to play middle linebacker just because he's a football player?"

BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, I'm not saying we're going to have a machinist and flip them in a computer programmer. What I'm saying is that we are going to have jobs for insulators on these building retrofits and painters -- and and carpenters, all good union jobs.

We are going to have auto workers, union auto workers, I expect, making cars one way or another. Why not have them directing the revolution into electrical vehicles, which, incidentally, there's a really hot competition for with China and a lot of different areas.

We're not discussing extremely mysterious job creation here. We are talking about jobs that already exist that we can understand. If you are an expert in -- in managing mining, then we have got to cover a lot of mines, too, and that is going to create a lot of jobs.

So I understand there's hesitation, particularly because, you know, honestly, there are a lot of moments where promises have not been kept to labor, which is one of the reasons why I believe having the most pro-labor president we've had in a very long time is going to work really nicely for workers. And it is among the reasons why we are seeing workers right there alongside a lot of other advocacy and community teams lining up in support of this bill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The biggest debates are on how to cover it. The margins are narrow. If you don't have any Republicans to vote to get those tax increases, you need every Democrat. However, senators such as Joe Manchin have signaled that a 28 percent corporate taxation is too high. You can't pass it with no Democratic senator, if Republicans are opposed?

BUTTIGIEG: I believe we're going to find a great, strong, deal space on this. Because, again, most Americans wish to get it done. And one of those things that's really striking -- you know, I don't spend too much time taking a look at polls, but I watched a few research return revealing the American people like this plan even more when you describe how we are going to pay for it.

And the reason is straightforward, which is that corporations, most of us know, have not been paying their fair share. A lot of multinational corporations are paying on billions of dollars in earnings. They are -- they're paying over a firefighter or a -- sorry --less than a firefighter or a school teacher, not just in percentage terms, but in dollar terms, and that is incorrect.

So we are going to reset the corporate tax rate to a speed that is, incidentally, still lower than it's been for most of my life, and continues to be a rate where America has been perfectly competitive for decades, and in doing that, create , by some estimates, 19 million good-paying jobs, the majority of which do not require somebody to have a college diploma.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Many House Democrats, however, have said they won't support the bill if you don't reinstate the national income tax deduction for state and local taxes, probably enough to sink the bill if they don't support it. What do you say to these Democrats?

We can look at numerous thoughts. We are aware that this really is entering a legislative process where we're going to be hearing from both sides of the aisle, and I think you'll get the president's got an extremely open mind. But, time is of the essence.

So we will look at these ideas on the best way to cover it. We are going to look at ideas on where the investments ought to be, too. However, the president is hoping for significant progress from Congress before Memorial Day. And we can't let this thing to just keep pulling on, because the need is there now.

Each passing day that our infrastructure crumbles, which hurts our economy and it puts our security at risk. And, again, the American men and women are really reluctant to get this done. I'm -- we are determined to be certain the Infrastructure Week is no more a punchline around Washington. That is exactly what this strong plan will do. And it is time for action.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And do these progressives such as AOC -- we showed her at the top -- she says $10 trillion is needed right now, this is not big enough.

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