The traffic cop of the House of Representatives, Pete Sessions, joined Hugh earlier this morning, and put to rest the rumors that the caucus was poised to cave on the shutdown fight. The audio and interview are available below.
HH: The traffic cop of the House, the operations manager, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, and a man who never backs down, Texas’ finest, Pete Sessions, Congressman, welcome, great to have you on.
PS: Love the walk up music there, Brother. I will tell you, we will not back down, but there is much, much that we must understand about what is out there and how to accomplish it. And I’m delighted to be on today with you to talk about every bit of this stuff.
HH: Give us a look at the weekend ahead, Chairman Sessions. You are the traffic cop. So if anyone knows when the planes are landing, or scheduled to land, and ETA’s and ETD’s, it’s Pete Sessions. You going to be working all weekend?
PS: You know, it’s a good question. First of all, let’s say this. There’s a lot of work that’s got to be done. We have, as you know, a series of engagements. One is the farm bill, and talking about that. That means we’ve got to do something at the Rules Committee. By the way, your audience is already well-versed. The Rules Committee handles anything that goes to the floor, except for suspensions. Essentially, that’s correct. And what we’re doing is waiting to find out what the negotiation with the White House looks like. And Hugh, I will tell you, what lies ahead that we have to keep our eyes on the ball about is next Tuesday, people who have been working during this shutdown, people who are considered essential services, in other words, people who get up and go to work every day and get back and try and do their families, and have not had time to make other arrangements with their bank or someone else, they’re not going to get paid on Tuesday. On November 1st, you are going to see where there’s $80 billion dollars’ worth of Social Security payments that need to be made. So this debt limit issue is real, and it deals with, really, what I think is 240 years of Constitutional government. Our country is unlike anybody else. We are the standard bearer for financial success and stability as well as our government and all the institutions and rule of law. And we have to figure out the debt limit above all.
HH: And so do you expect, and that obviously paying people on Tuesday would require some sort of a CR, and there are a lot of moving parts here. There’s the repeal of the medical device tax, there are these crazy exchanges that aren’t working, there’s the sequester that’s destroying the military preparedness. Can Paul Ryan, who I know has got the lead on this, and you, who’ve got the operations side of this, can you get it all together for a vote on Monday?
PS: Only if it’s a good deal. And then let’s go back to the walk up song, Don’t Back Down. The House Republicans are not going to agree to a bad deal. And it’s, this is no threat. This is reality. House Republicans recognize that the president of the United States has within his wherewithal, like he did at the World War II memorial, like they did over in other burial sites, Normandy, other places, as well as paying the family members upon the death of their loved one who’s a soldier. The President has enormous latitude, and he is trying to make this as difficult as he can on us, and shame on anyone that does not do the right thing. We have passed these bills to the Senate. We have given Harry Reid an opportunity to approve them. Normal common sense operational things should and must be done. They are trying to force our hand. So the question is, will we be for a bad deal just to get people paid? Sorry, that’s their problem. We will not back down.
HH: Last question, Congressman. We only have about 45 seconds. The tone in the Roosevelt Room yesterday where you were, did the President seem conciliatory? Or did he seem like the President we know as bait and switch?
PS: I need to, since we’re still engaged in very sensitive talks, I need to simply say the outcome is we’re trying to work together. I will be very pleased when this is all done. I’m not going to write a book. I’ll be pleased to come on your show. There is much to be learned.
HH: Mr. Chairman, Pete Sessions, it’s always a joy to talk to you. I’m sorry you’re working this weekend, but I’m glad you’re working this weekend. Pete Sessions, thank you.
End of interview.