Diamond in the Rough: CNN’s Harlow Grills Freshman Dem on Why Dems Won’t Compromise

In the latest installment of the broken clock known as CNN being occasionally right, Friday morning’s CNN Newsroom featured co-host Poppy Harlow taking freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill (CA) to task for her party thus far refusing to compromise with the President and Republicans on securing the southern border.

Harlow went right to the issue, noting Hill’s “strong words” to MSNBC’s Ali Velshi the day before that the President’s engaging in “political terrorism” on the shutdown and admitting that “you came to Washington to change things” even though she’s “been a big supporter of Nancy Pelosi.”

 

 

“[B]ut this week when the White House, the Vice President Mike Pence, our reporting is came to the table and said to Pelosi, you know, where will you give on this? Here’s our compromise, where will you give? She offered nothing. Are you at all concerned that the Democrats are digging in too much,” Harlow wondered.

Hill offered talking points that asserted Democrats “will come to the table and negotiate, but” only when there’s a clean bill to reopen the government. Hill claimed that Democrats have “lots of things we want,” including “border security” and “immigration reform,” but Harlow pushed back (click “expand”):

HARLOW: I know that, but how can the White House, Republicans believe you 1,000% that you’re going to give money on the wall when the president — when it’s been very — I mean, Nancy Pelosi herself said no, zero dollars for the wall. So, the way they see it is if you reopen, right, how do we know you will give us any of this? Should — do you think Democrats should give any money to the wall? 

HILL: Look, I think that there — there is a lot of talk about physical barriers of some kind. Even President Trump isn't calling it a wall anymore. So, it’s really so silly that we are continuing to have this conversation about a wall. It’s not going to be a wall. It’s physically impossible. There are so many things that we can do in terms of technology, in terms of where we should be investing our money well on border security. It is a high priority for my district. You know, like you said, I come from a Republican family, a law enforcement family. We understand the need for border security. 95% of the drugs coming into our country come through legal ports of entry, so we need to be addressing.

Moments later, Harlow suggested Hill could refer to the wall as “steel slats” or “what[ever] you want” in other places, but the more important point was whether “will you, as a Democrat, vote for funding for that.”

Hill tried to avoid the question, but Harlow pinned her down (click “expand”):

HILL:  I think that I am definitely someone who will vote for a comprehensive border patrol — border security package that includes immigration reform, so —

HARLOW: But is that sound? Congresswoman, I want a really straight answer here. 

HILL: Yeah?

HARLOW: Will you vote for any money for a steel barrier? 

HILL: I mean, I will definitely, I don't know if it’s steel. I will vote for some money for physical barriers. 

HARLOW: Okay. Okay.

HILL: Yeah, it's not going to be across the entire 2,000 mile stretch and it is certainly not going to be a concrete wall. It will be part of the package. I can almost bet on it. 

HARLOW: Alright. Well — alright, that is more than a lot in leadership are willing to do right now. 

The interview then pivoted with a question about whether Hill for forgo her congressional pay until the shutdown ends. The freshman Democrat replied that she “hasn't taken a paycheck in 18 months either since campaigning,” so she’ll cross that bridge when she’s slated to be paid on February 1.

Harlow concluded with questions about Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s expletive against the President last week while insisting he’ll be impeached. Hill opined that Tlaib was “not the only one that is angry and this upset” with the Trump presidency because “he has really hurt so many people, so I understand the sentiment,” but “I think that the way that we approach it is through allowing the investigation to play out.”

To see the relevant transcript from January 11's CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto
January 11, 2019
10:25 a.m. Eastern

POPPY HARLOW: So I wish I had better news, but I don't. This morning, 800,000 federal employees are seeing only 0s on their paycheck as the president is closer to declaring a national emergency to get funding for his border wall as the shutdown enters day 21 now, tying it with the longest shutdown ever. Joining me now is freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill of California. Interesting note here, congresswoman, you’re the daughter of a Republican police officer who switched parties just to vote for you. If your dad can do it, you know, maybe you guys can agree on something. Thanks for being here.

CONGRESSWOMAN KATIE HILL (D-CA): Thanks for having me, Poppy.

HARLOW: You used the words yesterday with my friend Ali Velshi on another network “political terrorism.” Those are strong words to use, but clearly you meant it. But let me ask you about your party's role in this, right? I mean, you came to Washington to change things. You have been a big supporter of Nancy Pelosi, but this week when the White House, the Vice President Mike pence, our reporting is came to the table and said to Pelosi, you know, where will you give on this? Here’s our compromise, where will you give? She offered nothing. Are you at all concerned that the Democrats are digging in too much? 

HILL: No. I think the difference is that we’re saying we will come to the table and negotiate, but we cannot use the paychecks of 800,000 federal workers, many of whom are law enforcement professionals, all of whom are working middle class people who have families to feed and bills to pay. That’s not our negotiating and that’s not an option. So, we’re saying open the government and we will come to the table. We have lots of things we want. We want border security. We want immigration reform. Plenty of things to negotiate on, but it’s not here. 

HARLOW: I know that, but how can the White House, Republicans believe you 1,000% that you’re going to give money on the wall when the president — when it’s been very — I mean, Nancy Pelosi herself said no, zero dollars for the wall. So, the way they see it is if you reopen, right, how do we know you will give us any of this? Should — do you think Democrats should give any money to the wall? 

HILL: Look, I think that there — there is a lot of talk about physical barriers of some kind. Even President Trump isn't calling it a wall anymore. So, it’s really so silly that we are continuing to have this conversation about a wall. It’s not going to be a wall. It’s physically impossible. There are so many things that we can do in terms of technology, in terms of where we should be investing our money well on border security. It is a high priority for my district. You know, like you said, I come from a Republican family, a law enforcement family. We understand the need for border security. 95% of the drugs coming into our country come through legal ports of entry, so we need to be addressing.

HARLOW: So, yes. So — look, in your district, you have a lot of federal workers, a third of the workers — federal workers in this country are veterans. 

HILL: Yes.

HARLOW: That’s a passion point for you. I know, You held a town hall with all of them and they’re seeing 0 in their paycheck this morning. 

HILL: Right.

HARLOW: Call it steel slats then, if you will, okay, in areas where there aren't natural barriers. Call it what you want. 

HILL: Right.

HARLOW: Will you as a Democrat vote for funding for that?

HILL:  I think that I am definitely someone who will vote for a comprehensive border patrol — border security package that includes immigration reform, so —

HARLOW: But is that sound? Congresswoman, I want a really straight answer here. 

HILL: Yeah?

HARLOW: Will you vote for any money for a steel barrier? 

HILL: I mean, I will definitely, I don't know if it’s steel. I will vote for some money for physical barriers. 

HARLOW: Okay. Okay.

HILL: Yeah, it's not going to be across the entire 2,000 mile stretch and it is certainly not going to be a concrete wall. It will be part of the package. I can almost bet on it. 

HARLOW: Alright. Well — alright, that is more than a lot in leadership are willing to do right now. What about your paycheck? So far, 71 members of Congress have agreed to forego their paychecks while federal workers aren’t getting paychecks, but the majority members of Congress are taking home those paychecks. Are you? 

HILL: We don't get paid as freshmen until February 1. So, it’s not — as far as I'm concerned, we better get this thing fixed by February 1.

HARLOW: And if it goes past that, will you forego your paycheck? 

HILL: I mean, I’m going to have to figure it. I am somebody who hasn't taken a paycheck in 18 months either since campaigning 

HARLOW: Yeah.

HILL: And I’m also — I’m currently in the situation that many others are, so really, I'm here fighting for the people to make sure that we all get paid. So, I’m hoping I don't have to make that decision. 

HARLOW: Yeah. You get it. You need this paycheck —

HILL: Yeah.

HARLOW: — is what you are saying like these federal workers do. 

HILL: Yeah, absolutely.

HARLOW: Finally, on impeachment of the President, any potential impeachment, you have said impeachment is the wrong conversation to be having right now. As you know your fellow freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan made a lot of waves when she used an expletive to explain how she feels Democrats should go after the President on impeachment. You know, you’ve said playing nice isn't really in my vocabulary, but I’m wondering if you’re in her camp. Do you agree with her when she says this? Listen.

CONGRESSWOMAN RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): He has to understand that the culture and this kind of dissent he has for me is something felt across this country. I am not the only one that is this angry and this upset. 

HARLOW: You with her on that? 

HILL:  I agree that she’s not the only one that is angry and this upset. I mean, he has — he has really hurt so many people. So I understand the sentiment. I think that the way that we approach it is through allowing the investigation to play out. I think that the focus needs to be on how we are going to get him out in two years. If there is something that we can use legitimately to get the nation on board, you know, if we’re trying to impeachment him right now without the Republican support, it’s going to go nowhere and I think that can be really damaging for us. So, that’s why I say it’s the wrong conversation. But I think we really have to focus on how we are going to make sure that we elect a new president in two years and that we elect a Senate that is truly supporting the American people. 

HARLOW: Congresswoman Katie Hill, good luck. A busy few weeks. 

HILL: Thank you.

HARLOW: An important first we weeks on the job. We appreciate your time this morning. 

HILL: Thank you so much. 


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