Iowa Public Television

 

Congressman-elect Bruce Braley

posted on December 8, 2006

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Yepsen: THE ELECTION OF 2006 BRINGS A CHANGE TO THE BALANCE OF POWER IN CONGRESS AND A NEW MAKEUP TO THE IOWA DELEGATION IN WASHINGTON. WE DISCUSS THE UPCOMING 110TH CONGRESS WITH DEMOCRAT BRUCE BRALEY OF WATERLOO, CONGRESSMAN-ELECT IN IOWA'S FIRST DISTRICT, ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, IS THE DATE ON THE LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL CALENDAR THAT OPENS THE 110TH UNITED STATES CONGRESS IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL. DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP, HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI AND SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID, HAVE PROMISED THAT VOTES WILL BE TAKEN ON THAT FIRST DAY OF THE SESSION. AND TAKING PART IN THOSE VOTES ARE TWO FRESHMEN FROM IOWA, DEMOCRATS DAVE LOEBSACK AND BRUCE BRALEY. CONGRESSMAN-ELECT BRALEY OF WATERLOO WAS THE WINNER ON NOVEMBER 7 IN IOWA'S FIRST DISTRICT IN A CAMPAIGN THAT WAS IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT FOR BOTH PARTIES. CONGRATULATIONS, CONGRESSMAN.

Braley: THANK YOU, DAVID.

Yepsen: WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.' IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU.

Braley: IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK.

Yepsen: ALSO WITH US AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE ARE KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR WITH 'RADIO IOWA,' AND MIKE GLOVER, SENIOR LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL REPORTER WITH THE 'ASSOCIATED PRESS.'

Glover: CONGRESSMAN, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ELECTION, FIRST OF ALL.

Braley: THANK YOU.

Glover: LET'S LOOK BACK ON THE ELECTION BEFORE WE LOOK FORWARD AT WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE DOING IN CONGRESS. YOU WON A PRETTY TIGHT, PRETTY HOTLY CONTESTED ELECTION. WHAT MESSAGE ARE YOU TAKING FROM THAT ELECTION? WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU THINK VOTERS WERE TRYING TO SEND?

Braley: WELL, I THINK IF YOU LOOK AT MY RACE AND RACES AROUND THE COUNTRY, MIKE, IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT VOTERS ARE ANXIOUS FOR CHANGE. THAT WAS THE THEME THAT I RAN ON IN THE CAMPAIGN. THAT WAS THE NEW DIRECTION FOR AMERICA PLAN THAT THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATS WERE PROPOUNDING TO THE VOTERS OF THIS COUNTRY. AND I THINK THAT THAT'S WHAT WE HEARD RESOUNDINGLY ON NOVEMBER 7, AND THAT'S WHAT I INTEND TO PUSH FOR WHEN I GO TO WASHINGTON ON JANUARY 4.

Glover: A LOT OF REPUBLICANS ARE DISMISSING IT AS SAYING IT WAS SIMPLY A DEMOCRATIC YEAR. WAS THERE MORE TO IT THAN THAT?

Braley: I THINK IT WAS A VERY DEEP-SEATED FEELING OF DISSATISFACTION WITH THE DIRECTION THE COUNTRY IS HEADED IN AND A DESIRE FOR A MORE BIPARTISAN APPROACH TO GOVERNING AND A DESIRE TO SEE REAL LEADERSHIP IN MOVING THIS COUNTRY IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION.

Henderson: I DON'T WISH FOR A MINUTE-BY-MINUTE RECOUNTING, BUT WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING SINCE THE ELECTION, AND DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOUR COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS MIGHT BE?

Braley: I'LL START WITH THE FIRST PART OF THAT QUESTION, KAY. IT'S BEEN VERY HECTIC. THERE HAS BEEN REALLY NO DOWN TIME SINCE THE ELECTION BECAUSE WE WENT OUT FOR NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION THE FOLLOWING WEEK. AND FROM THE VERY MOMENT WE ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON UNTIL WE LEFT, IT WAS PACKED WITH INFORMATIONAL SESSIONS, ORIENTING US TO POLICY AND PROCEDURE, THE WORKINGS OF OUR OFFICE, ALL OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO GET SET UP TO BE FUNCTIONING AND EFFECTIVE FOR THE PEOPLE OF OUR DISTRICT. AND THEN THE DIFFICULT PROCESS OF PLANNING TO OPEN UP A DISTRICT OFFICE IN WASHINGTON AS WELL AS DISTRICT OFFICES BACK HERE IN IOWA, HIRING STAFF, AND JUST THE INCREDIBLE TRANSITION THAT OCCURS AS YOU MOVE INTO A NEW ROLE FROM POLITICS TO GOVERNING. AND THEN IN TERMS OF COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS, THERE HAS BEEN AGGRESSIVE LOBBYING GOING ON FROM THE MOMENT WE ARRIVED IN WASHINGTON. I'VE BEEN MEETING WITH LEADERSHIP. I'VE BEEN MEETING WITH COMMITTEE CHAIRS, MEETING WITH INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THE STEERING AND POLICY COMMITTEE, BECAUSE WITH THIS MANY NEW DEMOCRATS ARRIVING IN WASHINGTON, THE COMPETITION FOR THOSE KEY COMMITTEE SLOTS IS VERY FIERCE.

Glover: SO WHAT ARE YOU AFTER?

Braley: WHAT?

Glover: WHAT ARE YOU AFTER?

Braley: WELL, THE ARGUMENT I'VE BEEN MAKING IS TAKEN RIGHT FROM THAT NEW DIRECTION FOR AMERICA PLAN, WHICH IS TO REDUCE OUR DEPENDENCY ON FOREIGN OIL BY MAKING THE MIDWEST THE ENERGY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. AND I'VE BEEN ARGUING THAT THERE ARE NO IOWANS ON THE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMISSION. WITH IOWA BEING THE EPICENTER OF THE RENEWABLE FUELS EXPLOSION, IT'S TIME WE HAD SOMEONE ON THAT COMMITTEE.

Yepsen: YOU GOT A TOUR OF THE WHITE HOUSE TOO, AS I UNDERSTAND IT.

Braley: YES, IT WAS A VERY INTERESTING EXPERIENCE.

Yepsen: AND WHO WAS THE TOUR GUIDE?

Braley: WELL, PART OF THE TOUR GUIDE WAS THE FIRST PERSON FROM THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO COME OUT AND ACTIVELY CAMPAIGN AGAINST ME, KARL ROVE, AND WE SPENT ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES IN HIS OFFICE HAVING A VERY INTERESTING CONVERSATION.

Yepsen: HOW WAS THAT?

Braley: WELL, IT BEGAN WHEN WE WERE OFFERED A TOUR OF THE WEST WING. AND I HAD NOT BEEN IN THE WHITE HOUSE SINCE THE JOHNSON ADMINISTRATION, SO I WAS ANXIOUS TO SEE HOW THINGS HAD CHANGED. SO WE WENT DOWN AND WENT BY THE CABINET ROOM AND THE OVAL OFFICE, AND THEN SOME MEMBERS OF THE TOUR TURNED AND HEADED BACK TO GET ON THE BUS. AND A GROUP OF ABOUT SIX OF US LOOKED DOWN A HALLWAY, AND A FIGURE WAS GESTURING TO US LIKE THIS. AND WE WERE BOLD AND WALKED DOWN, AND IT WAS KARL ROVE. HE INVITED US INTO HIS OFFICE, WHICH WAS MUCH SMALLER THAN ANY OF US THOUGHT IT WAS, PROBABLY. SO HE WAS VERY GENEROUS IN TALKING ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT HE DID. HE HAD THREE PICTURES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON HIS WALL TO SHOW HOW THE PRESIDENCY AGES SOMEWHAT. AND I LOOKED BEHIND HIS DESK AND HE HAD A LARGE PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM MCKINLEY AND I ASKED HIM WHY. AND HE GAVE US ABOUT A TEN-MINUTE EXPLANATION.

Yepsen: MORE THAN YOU WANTED TO KNOW.

Braley: AND IT WAS JUST ONE OF THOSE SURREAL EXPERIENCES. WE WERE ALL DEMOCRATS. AS WE WERE WALKING OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE TO GET BACK ON THE BUS; WE SAID DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN.

Glover: SINCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT YEAR IS AN IOWA CAUCUS CAMPAIGN. YOU'RE NOW A CONGRESSMAN FROM IOWA, A PLAYER IN DEMOCRATIC POLITICS. WHAT'S YOUR INTENTION OF THE ROLE YOU INTEND TO PLAY IN THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CAMPAIGN?

Braley: WELL, I'M GOING TO TAKE IT VERY SLOW BECAUSE I AM JUST FEELING MY WAY AS A NEW MEMBER OF CONGRESS. I'VE GOT A VERY DIFFICULT JOB IN GETTING MY STAFF SET UP, GETTING MY COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS, AND STARTING TO GET A FEEL FOR THE WAY THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS WORKS IN WASHINGTON, D.C. THERE WILL BE PLENTY OF TIME TO DEAL WITH THE POLITICS OF THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, EVEN THOUGH WE ALL KNOW IT IS RAPIDLY HURDLING TOWARD US.

Glover: WE'RE ALREADY THERE.

Braley: IT IS THERE. I HOPE THAT ONE OF THE THINGS I CAN DO IS AFFORD THE VOTERS OF THE FIRST DISTRICT OF IOWA AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET AS MANY OF THE CANDIDATES AS POSSIBLE, POSSIBLY IN A TOWN HALL TYPE SETTING SO THAT THEY CAN GET TO HEAR WHAT THEIR IDEAS ARE TO MOVE THIS COUNTRY FORWARD.

Yepsen: ARE YOU GOING TO STAY NEUTRAL, OR ARE YOU GOING TO ENDORSE A CANDIDATE?

Braley: AT THE CURRENT TIME I'M PLANNING TO STAY NEUTRAL, DAVID, BUT THAT COULD CHANGE DEPENDING ON HOW THINGS PLAY OUT.

Henderson: THIS WEEK THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP REPORT CAME OUT.

Braley: YES.

Henderson: I'M WONDERING IF YOU AGREE WITH ALL OF ITS CONCLUSIONS. THERE'S ALSO BEEN DISCUSSION IN WASHINGTON ABOUT THE NEED FOR MORE TROOPS, AN INFUSION OF TROOPS IN IRAQ. WOULD YOU SUPPORT PUTTING MORE TROOPS THERE?

Braley: LET ME START WITH THE FIRST PART. I MEAN THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP REPORT IS QUITE COMPLEX AND LENGTHY. IT CAME OUT DURING A PERIOD OF TIME WHEN WE WERE ALL HEAVILY ENGAGED IN MEETINGS AND DISCUSSIONS THAT WERE ON A WIDE VARIETY OF TOPICS. I HAVE READ THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. I ATTENDED A BRIEFING YESTERDAY FOR THE HOUSE MEMBERS BY SECRETARY BAKER AND REPRESENTATIVE HAMILTON. WE HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO QUESTION THEM. SO IN TERMS OF ENDORSING THE ENTIRE STUDY, I'M NOT IN A POSITION TO DO THAT.

Henderson: WHAT WERE YOUR QUESTIONS?

Braley: THE QUESTIONS THAT -- THERE WERE A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THERE. I DIDN'T HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO ASK QUESTIONS BECAUSE WE ONLY HAD 45 MINUTES WITH THEM, AND THE LINES AT THE MICROPHONE WERE VERY LONG. IT WAS A BIPARTISAN SESSION SO THERE WERE MEMBERS THERE. BUT A LOT OF THE QUESTIONS FOCUSED ON A COUPLE OF THE KEY COMPONENTS OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS: ONE, WHAT EXACTLY WAS MEANT BY INCREASING THE NUMBER OF TROOPS IN THE SHORT TERM FOR TRAINING THE IRAQIS AND EMBEDDING THEM? AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT SECRETARY BAKER MADE CLEAR WAS THAT THAT MIGHT NOT INVOLVE A NET INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF TROOPS SENT TO IRAQ, THAT IF THE TRAINERS CAME FROM THE POOL OF EXISTING TROOPS WHO WERE DEPLOYED OVER THERE, IT MIGHT NOT RESULT IN A NET INCREASE. BUT I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THAT COMPONENT JUST BECAUSE OF THE MESSAGE THAT IT SENDS.

Henderson: BUT ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF THOSE TROOPS? SOME SAY THAT WHEN YOU EMBED THOSE TROOPS IN AN IRAQI UNIT THAT THEY'RE THE MOST VULNERABLE AMERICAN TROOPS IN IRAQ.

Braley: OH, I THINK EVERYONE IS VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THAT, YES.

Glover: AND YOU HAVE SUGGESTED DURING THE CAMPAIGN THAT ONE OF THE WAYS THAT CONGRESS OUGHT TO DEAL WITH THE WHOLE IRAQ SITUATION IS BY USING THE POWER OF THE PURSE STRINGS. DO YOU STILL THINK THAT'S A SOLUTION TO THIS?

Braley: WELL, I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE OPTIONS THAT CONGRESS HAS AVAILABLE TO IT. CONGRESSMAN LEACH MADE THAT SAME POINT WHEN HE APPEARED ON THIS SHOW THIS SUMMER. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT RIGHT NOW IS WHAT IS THE PRESIDENT'S RESPONSE GOING TO BE TO THIS STUDY GROUP REPORT. ONE OF THE ENCOURAGING DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK WAS THE TESTIMONY OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE NOMINEE GATES AT THE SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS WHERE HE, FOR THE FIRST TIME, SEEMED TO BE GIVING MUCH MORE CANDID ASSESSMENTS OF THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION IN IRAQ THAN WE HAD BEEN GETTING FROM THE ADMINISTRATION IN THE PAST. BUT WE REALLY DON'T HAVE A CLEAR SENSE OF THE PRESIDENT'S REACTION TO THESE STUDY GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS AND WHETHER IT'S GOING TO SIGNAL A REAL CHANGE IN HIS POLICY. UNTIL WE KNOW THAT, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE FOR CONGRESS TO DECIDE WHAT THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE IS GOING TO BE.

Glover: AND AREN'T YOU REALLY BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE WHEN YOU START TALKING ABOUT THINGS LIKE THAT, BECAUSE AS SOON AS YOU START TALKING ABOUT USING THE POWER OF THE PURSE STRINGS TO BRING THIS CONFLICT TO AN END, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE PEOPLE TELL YOU THAT YOU'RE PUTTING OUR TROOPS AT RISK?

Braley: WELL, THAT'S ALWAYS A CONCERN. I MADE IT VERY CLEAR THAT THE SAFETY AND WELFARE OF OUR TROOPS ON THE GROUNDS IS A TOP PRIORITY FOR ME AND THE DEMOCRATIC MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OVERSIGHT HEARINGS AS PART OF ANY APPROPRIATIONS BILL THAT COMES UP DEALING WITH OUR LEVEL OF COMMITMENT IN IRAQ. AND ONE OF THE THINGS WE'RE GOING TO DO IS WE'RE HOPEFULLY GOING TO GET SOME SERIOUS ANSWERS TO THE SERIOUS QUESTIONS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT WHY WE HAVE NOT FULFILLED WHAT THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS SET OUT IN THE 2005 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL, WHICH WAS TO MAKE 2006 THE YEAR OF TRANSITION WHEN THE IRAQI ARMY WOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SECURITY IN THAT COUNTRY.

Henderson: ONE OF THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP CONCLUSIONS IS THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE A DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. WHAT IS YOUR VIEW IN REGARDS TO ISRAEL AND LEBANON AND PALESTINE, WHICH SEEMS TO BE REALLY AT THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING THAT NEEDS TO BE RESOLVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

Braley: WELL, WE TALKED ABOUT THAT ALSO YESTERDAY, AND I THINK THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT BOTH SECRETARY BAKER AND REPRESENTATIVE HAMILTON FIRMLY BELIEVE IN -- AND BOTH OF THEM HAVE USED THE EXAMPLE OF THE FACT THAT WHEN THE SOVIET UNION WAS PLEDGED TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THIS COUNTRY, WE STILL HAD DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH THEM. THEIR POINT IS THAT WE CAN'T AFFORD TO HAVE NO ONGOING COMMUNICATIONS WITH IRAN, WITH SYRIA, WITH THE ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN CONFLICT BECAUSE THE REGIONAL CONFLICT IS TOO INTERRELATED TO IGNORE THOSE COMPONENTS. SO I THINK THAT THE CALL FOR INCREASED DIPLOMACY IS A GOOD ONE. HOW THAT PLAYS OUT IS GOING TO BE DETERMINED BY HOW THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION CHOOSES TO USE ITS FOREIGN POLICY. AND I HOPE THAT THE FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE OF SECRETARY BAKER IS GOING TO HAVE SOME BEARING ON HOW THEY RESPOND.

Yepsen: MR. BRALEY, DURING THE CAMPAIGN YOU SUGGESTED THAT CONGRESS NEEDED TO DO MORE OVERSIGHT --

Braley: YES.

Yepsen: -- ON CIVIL LIBERTIES QUESTIONS, ON THE WAR, ON ALL THIS. DO YOU EXPECT THIS CONGRESS TO DO OVERSIGHT, OR ARE WE GOING TO SPEND THE NEXT TWO YEARS WITH DEMOCRATS CONSTANTLY PICKING AWAY AT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION LOOKING AT THE PAST?

Braley: WELL, I THINK THAT YOU'RE GOING TO SEE OVERSIGHT. I THINK THAT THE LEADERSHIP HAS MADE IT CLEAR THAT ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS WE'VE HAD IN TERMS OF ACCOUNTABILITY IS THE LACK OF CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED OVERSIGHT THAT IS SUPPOSED TO OCCUR NATURALLY AS PART OF THE BALANCE OF POWER BETWEEN CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE. SO I THINK WHAT WE'RE REALLY LOOKING AT IS A RESTORATION OF THAT ESSENTIAL FUNCTION. AND I HAVE CERTAINLY BEEN TALKING TO LEADERSHIP ABOUT PLAYING A ROLE, USING MY BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT OVERSIGHT TAKES PLACE. BUT I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE DONE IN A MANNER THAT'S GOING TO BE FORWARD LOOKING AND IN A BIPARTISAN SPIRIT TO SAY HOW CAN WE MOVE THIS COUNTRY FORWARD IN ANSWER TO SOME OF THE PROBLEMS THAT HAVE BEEN DEVELOPING BECAUSE OF A LACK OF OVERSIGHT.

Glover: A TWO-PART QUESTION, CONGRESSMAN. FIRST, THE DEMOCRATS AS THEY TAKE OVER THE CONGRESS HAVE TALKED ABOUT A HUNDRED-HOUR PROPOSAL. THEY'RE GOING TO DO A BUNCH OF STUFF IN THE FIRST HUNDRED HOURS. WHAT DO YOU SEE HAPPENING? WHAT DO YOU SEE COMING OUT OF THAT FIRST HUNDRED HOURS?

Braley: WELL, I HAVE A VERY CLEAR IDEA BASED ON THE MEETINGS WE HAD THIS WEEK, MIKE. THE VERY FIRST THING THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IS THAT WE'RE GOING TO DEAL WITH THE HOUSE RULES AND AN ETHICS REFORM PACKAGE BECAUSE THAT WAS ONE OF THE CENTER PIECES THAT MOST FRESHMAN MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS RAN ON. AND I CAN TELL YOU THAT IN OUR OWN FRESHMAN CAUCUS MEETINGS, THERE HAS BEEN UNANIMOUS CONSENSUS THAT WE ARE GOING TO MAKE THAT A TOP PRIORITY. SO THAT IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THAT HAPPENS, AND IT'S GOING TO SEND A VERY STRONG SIGNAL THAT BUSINESS AS USUAL IS GOING TO CHANGE IN HOW WE FUNCTION. I THINK THAT THE SPEAKER HAS MADE IT CLEAR SHE WANTS TO HAVE MORE BIPARTISAN PARTICIPATION. WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY MORE OF THESE SHUTTING OUT OF THE MINORITY PARTY FROM COMMITTEE MEETINGS, FROM POLICY CONSIDERATIONS, AND SHE WANTS TO REINSTATE REGULAR MEETINGS WITH LEADERSHIP IN BOTH PARTIES SO THAT THE COUNTRY HAS A SENSE WE'RE ENGAGED IN A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION TO THESE PROBLEMS. NEXT ON THE LIST OF PRIORITIES, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, IS TO ADOPT A PAYGO SYSTEM TO ADDRESS THE INCREDIBLE BURGEONING FEDERAL DEFICIT. THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT WE USED DURING THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, AND THE HOUSE LEADERSHIP HAS MADE IT CLEAR THAT THEY WANT TO REIMPLEMENT PAYGO.

Glover: THAT MEANS THAT IF YOU PROPOSE A SPENDING BILL, YOU HAVE TO PROPOSE A METHOD TO PAY FOR IT.

Braley: THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT. IT HAS TO BE DEFICIT NEUTRAL. THE THIRD THING THAT THEY'RE GOING TO BE LOOKING AT IS INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE, REDUCING THE INTEREST RATE ON FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS TO PROVIDE GREATER ACCESS TO EDUCATION, DEALING WITH THE MEDICARE D PROBLEM BY GIVING THE GOVERNMENT BACK THE ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES FOR SENIORS. AND THOSE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO HAPPEN IN THAT FIRST ONE HUNDRED HOURS, AND THE GOAL, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, IS TO MAKE SURE THAT THOSE ARE ON THE PRESIDENT -- OR THAT THOSE BILLS HAVE BEEN SENT TO THE SENATE BEFORE THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS.

Yepsen: YOU CAN GET ALL THAT DONE IN FOUR DAYS? A HUNDRED HOURS? I MEAN THAT SEEMS LIKE A LOT.

Braley: IT IS A LOT. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THINK THAT WE WANT TO DO IS SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE THAT THE DO-NOTHING CONGRESS HAS ENDED. AND THAT WAS CLEAR WHEN WE RECEIVED THE INFORMATION FROM OUR NEW MAJORITY LEADER, THAT WE ARE GOING TO BE WORKING EXPANDED HOURS IN THE 110TH CONGRESS, FIVE DAYS A WEEK.

Glover: AS A PRACTICAL MATTER, DOES THE CHANGE IN CONTROL OF CONGRESS, DEMOCRATS TAKING OVER BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE, MEAN A PRACTICAL END OF THE BUSH PRESIDENCY? IS HE NOW OFFICIALLY A LAME DUCK?

Braley: I THINK THAT CHOICE IS UP TO THE PRESIDENT, MIKE, BECAUSE HE HAS TO DECIDE WHETHER HE WANTS TO CONTINUE ON THE COURSE HE'S BEEN PURSUING FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS. IF SO, IT WILL BE OVER. IF HE DECIDES HE WANTS TO WORK IN A BIPARTISAN SPIRIT WITH A DEMOCRATIC CONTROLLED CONGRESS, WE CAN MAKE PROGRESS FOR THIS COUNTRY. I'M HOPEFUL THAT THE SIGN HE SENT BY SENDING A SECRETARY OF DEFENSE NOMINEE WHO IS WILLING TO BE CANDID AND ADMIT THE MISTAKES WE'VE MADE IN IRAQ, SENDS A SIGNAL THAT HE'S WILLING TO REACH OUT AND MAKE SOME SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS, AND I HOPE THAT HAPPENS.

Henderson: WHILE THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DOESN'T RATIFY U.S. TRADE DEALS, DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE HOUSE WILL MOVE IN ANY WAY TO TRY TO MODIFY U.S. TRADE POLICY?

Braley: YES.

Henderson: HOW SO?

Braley: WELL, I THINK THAT THE FREE-FLOWING DAYS OF ABSOLUTE ADHERENCE TO A FREE-TRADE PHILOSOPHY IS OVER, BECAUSE MANY PEOPLE SERVING IN THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW FEEL THAT OUR FREE-TRADE POLICY HAS BEEN HARMFUL TO AMERICAN WORKERS, THAT IT'S BEEN HARMFUL TO ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS AROUND THE WORLD. AND I THINK THERE'S GOING TO BE A GREATER INSISTENCE AS PART OF THIS OVERSIGHT RESPONSIBILITY THAT FREE TRADE EVOLVES INTO A FAIR-TRADE PHILOSOPHY.

Glover: AND HOW DO YOU PUT RESTRICTIONS ON IT? WHAT RESTRICTIONS ARE PUT IN PLACE?

Braley: WELL, I THINK WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING AT RATIFICATION OF TRADE AGREEMENTS, ONE OF THE THINGS YOU CAN DO IS GO BACK TO SOME OF THE EARLIER REQUIREMENTS THAT THERE HAS TO BE SOME QUID PRO QUO IN TERMS OF WORKER SAFETY STANDARDS, WORKER ENVIRONMENTAL AND WORKPLACE HIRING STANDARDS SO THAT FOREIGN WORKERS ARE NOT BEING EXPLOITED AS FAR AS THOSE TRADE AGREEMENTS.

Yepsen: HOW MUCH TENSION IS THERE INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OVER THIS QUESTION? THE REASON I ASK THAT IS YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT UNDOING A LOT OF THINGS THAT THE DEMOCRATS STOOD FOR DURING THE CLINTON PRESIDENCY. IS THERE TENSION INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY TODAY OVER THESE QUESTIONS?

Braley: THERE'S ALWAYS TENSION WHENEVER YOU HAVE PEOPLE IN A CAUCUS WHO COME FROM DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW. AND THE ONE THING THAT WE HAVE TO OFFER THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, CERTAINLY THE FRESHMAN CLASS IS AN EMBLEM OF THIS, IS THAT PEOPLE COME FROM VERY DIFFERENT AND DIVERSE VIEWPOINTS ON A LOT OF DIFFERENT ISSUES WITHIN THE CAUCUS. ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE HAVE IS TO TRY TO TAKE THOSE DIFFERING VIEWPOINTS, COME TO SOME SORT OF CONSENSUS THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN THE CAUCUS CAN GET BEHIND AND SUPPORT, AND THEN MOVE FORWARD HOPEFULLY IN A UNIFIED VOICE.

Yepsen: ARE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL THAT THE COUNTRY IS GOING TO BE HEADED DOWN A PATH THAT COULD LEAD TO PROTECTIONISM AND ISOLATIONISM? YOU KNOW, WITH A BAD EXPERIENCE IN IRAQ, THE CONCERNS THAT PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT TRADE, I MEAN DO WE GET PROTECTIONIST? DO WE GET ISOLATIONIST AS A RESULT OF THIS?

Braley: WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE RECEIVED AS PART OF OUR NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION, DAVID, WAS ROBERT REMINI'S 'HISTORY OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.' AND I'VE BEEN READING THAT WHEN I'VE BEEN FLYING BACK AND FORTH, AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S BEEN FASCINATING TO ME IS THE ARGUMENT YOU JUST BROUGHT UP IS A CYCLICAL ARGUMENT THAT WE HAVE FACED THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY. SOMETIMES IT'S REPUBLICANS ACCUSED OF BEING PROTECTIONISTS AND ISOLATIONISTS. SOMETIMES IT'S BEEN DEMOCRATS. AND I THINK WHAT IT IS, IT'S A CONSTANT EFFORT TO TRY TO DEFINE WHAT TRADE POLICIES MAKE THE MOST SENSE AT THAT POINT IN OUR HISTORY TO BENEFIT THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY. AND IT CAN CHANGE OVER TIME, DEPENDING UPON FOREIGN INFLUENCES AND THE PLAYING FIELD THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH IN AN INCREASINGLY GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT. WHAT WE KNOW IS THAT OTHER COUNTRIES WE'RE COMPETING WITH, CHINA FOR EXAMPLE, DOES NOT PLAY BY THE SAME RULES THAT WE PLAY WITH HERE. AND THE HARD PART IS FINDING A BALANCE THAT INCREASES COMPETITION, PROVIDES THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY TO FREE TRADE, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, RECOGNIZES THAT WE ARE NOT ALL DEALING WITH THE SAME RULES.

Glover: TIED INTO THIS WHOLE ISSUE IS THE WHOLE PLETHORA OF ISSUES AROUND IMMIGRATION.

Braley: YES.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE HERE ILLEGALLY? WHAT KIND OF RESTRICTIONS DO YOU PUT ON PEOPLE COMING IN HERE? WHERE DO YOU STAND WITH ALL THAT? AND IS THERE A POSSIBILITY THAT THIS CONGRESS WILL BE MORE WILLING THAN THE PREVIOUS CONGRESS TO WORK WITH PRESIDENT BUSH ON THIS ISSUE?

Braley: I THINK THAT'S TRUE. I THINK THAT'S TRUE, MIKE, BECAUSE I THINK THAT THE NEW DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS HAS A GREATER INCENTIVE TO TRY TO WORK WITH THE PRESIDENT ON THOSE ISSUES THAN THE PAST CONGRESS DID. I HAVE -- WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THIS AS WELL IN OUR FRESHMAN CLASS MEETINGS, BECAUSE GABRIELLE GIFFORDS WON IN ARIZONA, AND HER DISTRICT HAS ONE OF THE HUGEST PROBLEMS RIGHT NOW WITH ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. AND SO SHE NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO SEE SOME MOVEMENT IN MAKING PROGRESS ON THAT AREA. ALMOST EVERY ONE OF US CAMPAIGNED ON THE NEED TO BRING ABOUT IMMIGRATION REFORM. SO I'M HOPING THIS WILL BE ONE OF THOSE AREAS WHERE THE WHITE HOUSE SEES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION AND MOVES QUICKLY TO TRY TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

Glover: SO WHAT DO WE DO?

Braley: WELL, WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IS RECOGNIZE THAT WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE SOLVED AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE EXPECT ACTION. AND I THINK THAT THAT IS GOING TO REQUIRE THAT WE LOOK AT NOT ONLY INCREASING BORDER SECURITY AND THE ABILITY TO IDENTIFY PEOPLE COMING TO THIS COUNTRY ILLEGALLY, BUT WE ALSO NEED TO DO WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT EARLIER, IS WE NEED TO CRACK DOWN ON EMPLOYERS WHO ARE HIRING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND HAVEN'T BEEN PENALIZED UNDER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR DOING THAT.

Glover: AND ANY KIND OF A PROPOSAL THAT IS GOING TO PASS HAS TO GIVE SOME MANNER OF LEGAL STATUS TO PEOPLE HERE.

Braley: I THINK THAT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE COST OF DEPORTING ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HERE ILLEGALLY THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT STAND TO ADD THAT ADDITIONAL COST TO OUR FEDERAL DEFICIT. SO I THINK IT DOES, YES.

Henderson: NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON THIS WEEK SAID IT'S TIME FOR THE U.S. TO ENGAGE IN A DISCUSSION WITH MEXICO'S PRESIDENT, FOR HIM TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT IT'S A PROBLEM ON HIS END. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

Braley: WELL, I DON'T KNOW BECAUSE AFTER WATCHING WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE SWEARING IN CEREMONY AND LOOKING AT HOW PRESIDENT BUSH IS STRUGGLING WITH THE INCREDIBLE PROBLEMS THAT WE'RE FACING IN IRAQ IN THE MIDDLE EAST, HOW YOU GET THE TWO OF THEM OR THEIR ADMINISTRATIONS TOGETHER TO DISCUSS THIS VERY IMPORTANT PROBLEM IS SOMETHING THAT I HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT, KAY.

Henderson: I'M WONDERING, JUST STEPPING BACK AND TAKING A BIGGER PICTURE LOOK AT THIS, ARE YOU AS A CONGRESSMAN GOING TO BE A GUNSLINGER OR DO YOU INTEND TO BE SORT OF A POLICY WONK? HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS JOB?

Braley: I HAVE NEVER SEEN MYSELF AS A GUNSLINGER, AND I'M PROBABLY NOT SOPHISTICATED ENOUGH TO BE A POLICY WONK. THE WAY I'M APPROACHING THIS JOB IS THE WAY I APPROACH EVERYTHING. MY MOTHER HAS BEEN A SCHOOL TEACHER FOR FIFTY YEARS. I COME FROM A LONG LINE OF TEACHERS IN IOWA, AND I TRY TO DO MY HOMEWORK. I TRY TO STUDY AS MUCH AS I CAN TO EDUCATE MYSELF ON THE ISSUES. I TRY TO TALK TO PEOPLE IN A BIPARTISAN SPIRIT TO FIND OUT WHERE WE'RE COMING FROM AND WHERE WE CAN GO. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'VE DONE IS I SAT DOWN YESTERDAY AND HAD A VERY GOOD DISCUSSION WITH JIM NUSSLE TO TALK ABOUT SOME TRANSITION THINGS. AND WE HAD A GREAT CONVERSATION, WITH HIM GIVING ME SOME INSIGHTS TO LESSONS HE LEARNED FROM HIS LONG TENURE IN CONGRESS AND HOW I CAN BE A MORE EFFECTIVE LEGISLATOR. SO THAT'S WHAT I'LL CONTINUE TO DO.

Glover: AND YOU SAID EARLIER THAT YOU WANT TO PICK A COMMITTEE BECAUSE OF YOUR COMMITMENT TO ISSUES LIKE ETHANOL.

Braley: YES.

Glover: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CONGRESS CAN DO TO INCENTIVIZE THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY?

Braley: WELL, I THINK WHAT THE HOUSE IS GOING TO DO IS TO TAKE A VERY AGGRESSIVE APPROACH IN PROVIDING INCENTIVES FOR RENEWABLE FUELS DEVELOPMENT AND MAKE THE MIDWEST A CENTERPIECE OF THAT. AND IN THE NEW DIRECTION FOR AMERICA PLAN, THERE ARE SPECIFIC PROPOSALS DEALING WITH INCENTIVES: TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF E85 PUMPS THAT ARE AVAILABLE; TO OFFER INCENTIVES TO SMALL ETHANOL PRODUCERS WHO WANT TO GET TOGETHER, AS WE HAVE SEEN HERE IN IOWA; AND TO REWARD THOSE PEOPLE, LIKE THE PEOPLE HERE IN IOWA WHO ARE TAKING RISK IN GOING OUTSIDE THEIR TRADITIONAL NOTION OF ETHANOL, FROM CORN-BASED ETHANOL, BIODIESEL, AND SAYING HOW CAN WE MOVE TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF RENEWABLE FUELS.

Glover: ARE THESE DIRECT INCENTIVES? ARE THEY TAX INCENTIVES?

Braley: BOTH.

Glover: BOTH?

Braley: YES.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE FARM BILL?

Braley: I WANT TO SEE TOM HARKIN CHAIRING THE SENATE FARM COMMITTEE BECAUSE I THINK THAT HIS EXPERIENCE IS GOING TO BE INCREDIBLY VALUABLE, HAVING SHEPHERDED THE 2002 FARM BILL THROUGH, AND HOPEFULLY CONTINUING IN THE SAME LINE OF THINKING THAT GETS AWAY FROM SOME OF THE SOUTHERN PRIORITIES THAT HAVE CREATED GREAT CONFLICT IN HOW WE SHAPE A FARM POLICY AND GET BACK TO MORE MIDWESTERN VALUES, WHICH ARE MORE FAMILY FARM ORIENTED AND TRYING TO REWARD PEOPLE WHO WANT TO COME IN AS NEW PRODUCERS AND GIVE THEM A START IN THEIR CAREERS.

Yepsen: HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

Braley: WELL, I THINK YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT REDUCING THE SIZE OF SOME OF THE SUBSIDIES THAT ARE CURRENTLY BEING GIVEN TO SOUTHERN FARM PRODUCERS AND LOOK AT REINVESTING IN WAYS THAT YOU CAN ATTRACT THE NEXT GENERATION OF AMERICAN FARMERS TO KEEP INNOVATING AND STAYING ON THE LAND.

Yepsen: I WANT TO GO BACK TO POLITICS FOR JUST A SECOND. WAS THIS ELECTION OF 2006 A HARBINGER ELECTION? SOME ELECTIONS -- OFF-YEAR ELECTIONS SORT OF TELL US WHAT MAY HAPPEN TWO YEARS HENCE. I'M THINKING OF 1978, WE SAW THE BEGINNING OF THE REAGAN REVOLUTION. WAS 2006 THE BEGINNING OF A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENCY IN 2008?

Braley: I THINK IT CERTAINLY IS A GOOD SPRINGBOARD FOR THAT TO HAPPEN. ONE OF THE THINGS WE HAVE TO DO IS GOVERN WISELY. WE HAVE TO TAKE THIS MANDATE FOR CHANGE AND PRODUCE RESULTS. AND IF WE DO THAT AND IF WE CAN TRY TO SEND A NEW SPIRIT OF BIPARTISAN COOPERATION IN THE WAY THAT WE'VE RUN THE HOUSE, THE WAY THAT WE'VE RUN THE SENATE, I THINK IT WILL HELP ANY DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE IN 2008 TO CONVINCE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT DEMOCRATS REPRESENT HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. THAT'S THE MESSAGE WE RAN ON IN 2006, AND I THINK AS LONG AS WE CAN DELIVER ON OUR CAMPAIGN PROMISES, IT WILL GREATLY ENHANCE THE LIKELIHOOD OF A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT IN 2008.

Henderson: DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A CONGRESSMAN FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, OR DO YOU WANT TO BE A GOVERNOR OR A SENATOR OR MAYBE A PRESIDENT?

Braley: FIRST OF ALL, I LOST MY DAD WHEN I WAS IN MY FIRST YEAR OF LAW SCHOOL, KAY. AND THAT LESSON TAUGHT ME THAT YOU CAN'T COUNT ON ANYTHING IN THE FUTURE OTHER THAN WHAT'S IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF YOU. MY PRIORITY IS TO BE THE BEST CONGRESSMAN I CAN FOR IOWA'S FIRST DISTRICT, AND WHATEVER HAPPENS IN THE FUTURE IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, ONE THING I HAVE TO COUNT ON IS THE CLOCK, AND WE'RE OUT OF TIME.

Braley: IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT THE TIME IS NOW PASSED.

Yepsen: THANKS FOR BEING WITH US.

Braley: THANK YOU.

Yepsen: WE APPRECIATE YOUR TIME.

Braley: YOU'RE WELCOME.

Yepsen: NOW, ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE FOCUS ON THE CONTINUING SEARCH FOR A NEW PRESIDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA. JOINING US HERE AT THE 'IOWA PRESS' TABLE IS MICHAEL GARTNER, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE BOARD OF REGENTS, HERE TO DISCUSS THAT SEARCH AND OTHER HIGHER EDUCATION ISSUES IN FRONT OF THE REGENTS. WE RETURN NEXT WEEKEND AT OUR REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' AIRTIMES: FRIDAY AT 7:30 P.M. AND SUNDAY MORNING AT 11:30. THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEKEND'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER,' SITTING IN FOR DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.


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